December 20, 2016 (JUBA)- Several leading South Sudanese armed and non-armed opposition figures contested the manner in which president Salva Kiir on Monday night issued a decree appointing over 30 eminent persons as members of the national dialogue steering committee to develop agenda for the dialogue and work with experts and resource persons to facilitate the process.
- President Salva Kiir addresses the nation at the South Sudan National Parliament in Juba, November 18, 2015. (Photo Reuters/Jok Solomon)
President Kiir, according to order number 27, read out on state-run South Sudan Broadcasting Corporation (SSBC) on Monday evening, appointed retired Catholic Emeritus Bishop Paride Taban and former Sudanese Vice President Moses Machar Kachuol as co-chairpersons to the committee.
He also appointed Abel Alier-wal Kwai, Joseph Lagu, Bona Malual Madut and Francis Mading Deng as advisors. Other members to the committee included former Upper Nile state governor, Simon Kun Puoc as Member.
The order adds Gen. George Kongor Arop, Angelo Beda, Gen.Peter Cirilo Swaka, Sultan Ismail Konyi, Manasseh Magok Rundial, Gen. Andrew Makur Thuo, Lubari Ramba Loloka, Martha Moi, Gebriel Yoal Dok, Mathew Mathiang Deng, Rachael Nyadak Paul, Monica Ayen Maguat, Emeritus Bishop Nathaniel Garang Anyieth, Sheikh Juma Mussa, Harun Ruun Lual, Mary Furu, Joseph Oryem Ismail, Lucia Utilio, Joseph Okell Obango, Mathew Pagan, and Luciano Thomas as ordinary members to the committee.
The appointed members are either members of the faction of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) under him, those in his administration or from parties allied to the government as well as religious leaders and individuals loyal or sympathetic to his administration.
The president didn’t appoint any members from armed opposition groups in the country
The selection of people perceived as close and sympathetic to his administration has generated reactions from the government critics, members of the civil society and analysts, some whom described the national dialogue as having died on arrival. Others see it as internal dialogue with friends.
“That is a not national dialogue. It is just another project in the name of the national dialogue intended to use the resources of the people to self-fund their own projects. This has nothing to do with the issues of the people. Just look at the names and you will not be surprised those appointed are friends, relatives, political associates. This cannot be a national dialogue. It has other names, may be it is an internal dialogue, or call it monologue”, one of the human right activists told Sudan Tribune on Tuesday when reached to give his view on the formation of the committee.
Another political commentator described in a separate interview with Sudan Tribune on Tuesday that the formation of the dialogue by the presidential order without considering the views other stakeholders indicate that the country would continue to experience a streak of crackdowns and power plays aimed at weakening a process to establishing credible dialogue and the country’s precarious “culture of dialogue” seems to be in danger of devolving into a stern lecture under the longtime autocrat a little over a year after an initial bipartisan truce was struck.
Others have argued that the manner in which the former has been formed is the latest test for the “the culture of dialogue and the moniker given to the country’s uneasy political peace forged between the government with armed and non-armed opposition groups in the aftermath of 201.5
“The formation of the committee with people and institutions of questionable records is basically a farce. It is an indication that President Salva Kiir is not ready for any meaningful national dialogue. He wants to maintain the status quo. If there are people who believe in this dialogue, then they need to know there is no such intention from the president and his groups”, said another opposition figure.