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Background on the ongoing crisis in South Sudan (Part I)


By Arop Madut Arop Gotnyial

February 19, 2014 - Many writers have written much on the current events in the World newest nation, the Republic of South Sudan, since it obtained its political independence from the old Sudan, 2011. Some reporters appeared to have been unable to give sufficient background for their stories for their intended consumers. They failed to understand the way this country started to organise itself and the insurmountable difficulties that it went through from the time it was born until the recent crisis, which if not handled with wisdom may, destroy the very fabric of South Sudan as a nation state. Some also based their reports on ear says without making thorough investigations by giving sufficient background of the current issues as they unfolded. Furthermore most of the reporters on the crisis in the South Sudan do grossly miss one important fact and that is; building a new state in which everything; had been destroyed and the entire population displaced and traumatize by the twenty-one old civil war, a state which has just emerged from long destructive war; is not a glamorous affair. However those writers who claim to be experts on the current affairs in our country can be forgiven because they write their stories against the background of coming from the developed world where everything is in order. Of late I read about a report claimed to have been given to the White House by the USA intelligence regime which assumed to have had sufficiently analysed the state of affairs in the country thereby misleading their President to issue uninformed orders, instead of constructive engagement with state in question so as to provide sustained solutions to their problems.

When the British Government, in alliance with the Egyptian regime, wanted to administer the South Sudan during their stay in the country, Anthropologists were sent ahead to study the makeup of the country and the culture of its indigenous people. Even so, the British Administrators who were assigned to work in South Sudan, had to have some rigorous courses on anthropological studies of the indigenous people they were about to administer and before they were stationed to South Sudan. It is advisable that countries with vested interests in the young republic, like the United States Government and its intelligence gathering regime must inform themselves, adequately about the makeup of the country called South Sudan which came into being through their concerted lobbying and political support. There are people who could be consulted by the State Department, who can give right information to enable the Government make informed decision. Such experts include Dr Douglas Johnson, who has extensively studied and written books about the two sisterly South Sudanese Nationalities; the Nuer and the Dinka. The USA Government and its Intelligence regime could benefit from him and from numerous books written by the former British colonial regimes and by anthropologists who studied the diverse nationalities in the South Sudan, their culture and traditions. Please bear with me I may now turn and discuss the background and the environments about what has been going on in my country and the way forward which will run into two parts.

First this article will shed light on the environments in which the Government of South Sudan was born in, and how it has been operating. This article will cover first South Sudan relations with its former colonial master, the republic of the Sudan, the inflow of finances to the South Sudan from the national treasury, the difficulties the new state underwent in attempt to maintaining the security situation in the country; failure in bringing to a halt inherent corruption and bad governance in the administration of the young nation since in 2005. Readers may forgive me, if I may not discuss the allegations of corruptions heaped on the Government of the South Sudan e.g the four billions reported missing, during the last eight years for instance. I will rather choose to discuss about the environments in which this infant nation was born in and is still confronted by scores of insurmountable challenges. In fact the main reason of my writing this piece is my fears that international community is not being well informed or inflicted by vested interest bias, about the affair of the young republic and may make decisions that can adversely complicate matters further instead of correcting them. I am afraid the international community sometimes do make decision and eventually take action without being given sufficient information and only give orders to a country in which they have vested interest to cooperate or threatening it with sanctions. Take example of the order given recently by US and Norwegian Governments for the Ugandan forces to decamp from the South Sudan immediately. I am sure Britain, the former colonial ruler of the Sudan will advise against that idea for fear of revenge killings. British authorities have the hindsight knowledge about South Sudan and its people and can give wise advice to other Troika members; informing them that such a decision like the crisis in South Sudan should be handled with wisdom so as to avoid the possible looming vengeance killings. If that happen God forbid, the situation in South Sudan will be worst than what is happening now in the Central African Republic where the international communities and the former colonial master, France, are unable to stop the revenge killings. The priority should therefore be given to the restoration of peace and reconciliation initiative which have already been launched by the Churches and Civil Societies. My fears can be given credence because according to the Dinka and the Nuer time honoured tradition of an injury to one is an injury to all, those who have lost their love ones in the ongoing crisis, will definitely embark on revenge killings spree if the time is opportune for them. God forbid, what is now going on the Central African Republic shouldn’t be echoed in the Republic of South Sudan. All efforts by the international community should rather be directed towards efforts to bring the Government and the rebels to negotiate peace now that the ceasefire though elusive is in place. President Salva Kiir’s recent appeal to the people of South Sudan not to embark on the looming revenge killings should be applauded and encouraged. The IGAD Countries have already started a good move and hopefully the restoration of peace in the South Sudan is on track. Once all peace began to reign in the country, national reconciliation base on Wunlit experience when the Nuer and Dinka who had been fighting savage wars amongst themselves were brought together in a marathon conference led by traditional and spiritual leaders, and were reconciled and resumed their normal relation sisterly normal life being one people with one destiny.

The second factor to discuss is to throw some light on, has to do with relations between South Sudan and its former colonial master, the Republic of Sudan. Needless to remind the readers that, the successive regimes in Sudan have never conceived or accepted the idea that South Sudan will one day separate from the Arab Islamic North Sudan and establish its own African personality. In that context all the policies pursued by successive regimes in Khartoum were mainly directed with one objective in mind, to prevent South Sudan, considered by the entire North; as the Lost Paradise to secede. Consequently attempts to keep the South Sudan within its territory had received trillions of dollars from the Islamic world with a promise to export Islamic Religion and Arab culture into South Sudan and beyond its confines. I have in mind the period when Bin Laden brought part of his fortunes for that purpose during his short stay in the country. It was apparently against this backdrop that successive authorities in Khartoum had tried to move heaven and earth to see that South Sudan did not separate from the Sudan and move which took five decades to achieve. But if it did, as it later did, later must never be to allowed to live in peace so as to enjoy the fruits of their hard won freedom and move forward to the era of sustainable development.

Apparently in fulfilment of its above thesis; to keep South Sudan within its territory or regain it as the lost paradise, in case it seceded, Muthrif Siddig, a well known diehard Islamist and a renounce Jahdist was appointed as its ambassador to Juba, allegedly with huge amount of money to the South Sudan, was not accidental but a well studied move to come and destroy the mighty SPLM and its committed historic leaders, who with them in power in Juba, the object of claiming the lost Paradise may not to be realised. Despite the protests from well informed sources against the appointment of Mutrif Sidig, he was eventually accredited to the newest state. The Ambassador may have also had second agenda according the alleged reports, he would do all things possible to prevent or fail South Sudan from flourishing as a sovereign state standing solidly on its own feet. However one cannot be too sure whether the intelligence gathering agency in the young republic had taken appropriate preventive measures to prove the allegations and had stopped the nocturnal operations in accordance to Khartoum agenda. But did they?
The third issue to discuss centres on the inflow of the promised money from the national treasury from Khartoum to the regional chest, (central theme) a move that would have enabled the new nation to start building its destroyed infrastructure and establish its new Administration, was not forthcoming to say the least. As a member of the legislative assembly since 2005, I have participated in the budgets making, discussion and appropriations I can shed some light on the situation that has plagued the South Sudan and to testify that the budget of the South Sudan during the interim period contained the following: 50% oil revenue, 50% non oil revenue, contribution from the central government, Multi Donors Funds and revenue collected locally. During the making of the first budget for 2005/2006, South Sudan budget stood at 700 million USA dollar, unfortunately during the budget debate by the Assembly, it was discovered that with the total earmarked budget of 700 million USD only half of that amount (350,000,000) was budgeted for and which was just enough for the salaries of the huge public service spending.

In regard to the oil and none oil revenues and contribution from the central Sudan Bank due to the South Sudan, very little did reach the South Sudan coffers. For all intent and purposes, the Sudan government did intentionally failed to release sufficient revenues due for the South Sudan, during the interim period apparently for fear that such huge money, particularly foreign components, if sent to the South Sudan, would have apparently enabled her to buy sophisticated weapons for her self defence in the event of any eruption of war again, between her and the Southern Region. It was also in this light that South Sudan has not been able to buy necessary weapons for self defence such as aeroplanes and anti aircraft, long range war arsenals and even radars. The latter can also explained why the Government of South Sudan has not been able to fight rebels that took up arms against her before and after independence against the Sudan government’s frequent aggressions and provocation against the South successfully due to the absence of radars. For a complete one year of its existence, the government of South Sudan was living at the skin of its teeth, so goes the saying. It was only in January 2006, when President Salva Kiir Mayardit held a press conference outside the Presidential Palace in Khartoum, and informed the international community, that Khartoum did not live up to its commitment for the release of the funds due to the South Sudan as per the CPA; wealth sharing protocol. Unfortunately he was immediately contradicted by his ministers of finance in Juba and Khartoum, who stated contrary to what the President Mayardit said in his Press statement. The two ministers had the gut to state that, the money due to the South was actually received by the South Sudan Treasury. President Mayardit, though apparently embarrassed did not discipline his two ministers apparently because the time was still sensitive for any controversy that may derail hard won peace. It was only in February and March of the same year that financial documents were made available to prove that financial releases did reach the South Sudan treasury.

In summary South Sudan would have met its financial commitments, after independence, to start organising the newly born nation. But all that we know is that, two months before independence, the central government refused to remit, the money due for the South Sudan. As that was not enough and within only few months of its independence, the Sudan got involved in stealing South Sudan oil by constructing secret pipelines and diverted the oil to its refineries. Khartoum also, refused to remit the oil revenues due, and stopped the oil from reaching international markets through its Ports; these put together led to the subsequent shutdown of oil industry for almost a year; hence a loss of 98% of revenue for the South Sudan. Austerity measures were put in place immediately to enable the young nation survive. During this period from the time the oil was shut down till it opened in 2012, the South Sudan subsisted through charity from its benevolent friends and through borrowing from those with vested interests in the exploration and production of oil in the South. Equally important to stress is that, the South Sudan did not appoint counter- part officials with fair knowledge about the running and management of the mother oil industry in Khartoum. Sadly to mention, from the time the Government of South Sudan was put in place, authorities in the region were unaware of its oil money due to her from the oil industry in Khartoum. It remained so, until a little time later, when Dr Lual Achuek Deng an expert on oil development and its management, was appointed Minister of Petroleum in the National Government. His extensive visit to all the oilfields and all the oil production facilities and processing areas, the authorities in South Sudan began to know what went wrong in the oil industry. Until the appointment of Dr Lual Achuek Deng, the authorities in the South Sudan did not know for instance; how many wells for the South Sudan were there; how many wells were producing, how many barrels for a day from each well belonged to the South Sudan, how the oil was sold in the international markets and how much money was due to the South Sudan. The lost of oil revenues due to the South Sudan during the interim period was not known and will never be known,

As for the Multi Donors money, South Sudan did benefit much because it demanded that; South Sudan officials concerned, should present necessary well studied and researched projects. But due to lack of trained personnel capable of project making, little donors’ money was utilized for the development of the region during the interim period and beyond. The little money that was released by the donor countries and the Sudan Government and from well wishers did cover mainly government officials’ salaries addition to the rehabilitation of destroyed infrastructure. In this contact, corrupt practices, for lack of qualified financial personnel in addition to lack of financial regulations and poor management, these put together, contributed to the failure for the region to carry out any meaningful development. In brief, very little money did reach the South Sudan national coffers from Khartoum or donors country as being claimed by many. This can explain why the old projects and industries initiated and developed in the ten years of the regional self rule experiment period, like Nzara Agro-Industry, Wau Canning Factory, Sugar Melut project and Mongala, Sugar, textile industry in Bor and tea and coffee plantation in Eastern Equatoria were not rehabilitated. On the revenue collected locally during the interim period and after independence, it is a known fact that most of it did not reach the government treasury but went to individuals’ pockets. It was only after independence that the Parliament passed financial regulations and management Bills that revenues collection is now reaching the government coffers.

The fourth discussion will centre, on the state of insecurity currently prevailing in South Sudan, which have many angles to explain. It is a known fact that the majority of people of the South Sudan came out of the long protracted war with the enemy; traumatize, sick and poor to cope with new challenges of healing the wounds of the war and national building. This can explain why many of them have been struggling to make the ends meet, a move which led to inherent corrupt practices and mismanagement of things once the government has been put in place. The other point to mention, in this connection, is that, South Sudan since time immemorial has never been at peace with itself as many of its amalgam of nationalities continued fighting ceaseless and senseless wars among themselves.

Sir Winston Churchill writing in his famous book “The River War’’ after the Anglo Egyptian forces annexed the Southern region to the Sudan, had this to say. We found the people of South Sudan- hunting, dancing, marrying and dying. More than a hundred years on, the people of South Sudan, as seen by Mr Churchill; are currently continuing doing the same practice. This can explain the continuous state of insecurity mainly in the cattle owning nationalities particularly, in Jonglei, Unity, Warrap, Lakes and to some extent Eastern Equatoria state. The UN, the African Union and friends of the South Sudan must assist to bring peace to these embattled nationalities; rather than blaming it on the new country with little untapped material resources as well as disorganised human resources and poor infrastructure as described previously. In short one can safely say that, those who read the true makeup of South Sudan and its tortured history must think of how best to assist it to build itself into a modern state. This should specifically be the role of the South Sudanese intellectuals being the cream of their respective nationalities.

The fifth, point that I would like to comment on briefly, has to do with the formation of the South Sudan civil service in the post war period. Once peace was restored in the southern region of the Sudan, after the conclusion of the long destructive war in 2005, the regional authorities were expected to recruit suitable and qualified cadres particularly from Diaspora, into the South Sudan civil service. But instead the authorities decided to harmonise the two incompatible administrations: The Civil Administration of the new Sudan (CANS) in the former SPLM/SPLA controlled areas and the South Sudan Coordinating Council (SSCC) under NIF Government control; became the public service of South Sudan. The harmonisation of the two administrations with no adequate knowledge of the mechanics of modern civil service systems instead of recruiting well trained and knowledgeable personnel, would in the end affect the regional governance negatively as discuss below.

Basically the subsequent failure to establish modern civil service in South Sudan in the post war period, was because, the Civil Administration in New Sudan (CANS) throughout the twenty one years of war was composed mostly of people whose focus was largely on the liberation of their country. Thus when the war ended, the members of CANS came out of the bush with very little knowledge about the mechanics of modern civil service. The administration of the South Sudan Coordination Council (SSCC), on the other hand, was composed by people who were handpicked by the National Islamic Front (NIF) establishment just because many of them were either anti SPLM/SPLA or have embraced Islamic Religion. The administration of the South Sudan was indeed, handed over to inexperienced, semi literate lots. Thus harmonization of the two administrations (CANS and SSCC), was indeed a bad start because in the course of time, regulations that usually govern the dispensation of government’s money were disregarded with resultant corrupt practices that became the order of things during the interim period and after independence.

Unlike the Regional Government under the most revered Justice Abel Alier, who picked well trained and experienced Southern Sudanese from the Central Government when he established the first ever government in the region in 1972, which started a number of development projects and factories, that were later destroyed by the war, the Government of South Sudan recruited its civil service out of convenience and expedience. Most of the recruits into the civil service were thus handpicked through nepotism and favouritism practice or from among those had played positive part in advocacy and lobbying for the SPLM, irrespective of their humble academic qualifications. Because of the lack of establishing system that is well managed by experts, and lack of resources the government of South Sudan could not rehabilitate the old projects destroyed by the war as stated previously. These Schemes rehabilitated would have given employment opportunities to the citizens in the new nation, well after independence. The above mentioned projects have remained in ruins till the time of writing this piece.

The sixth factor to discuss is the establishment of the Government institutions and particularly the office of the president which took a long time to establish. Currently the office of the president is still not yet completely established except legal advisory which is being run by a team of experienced legal experts. It is a known fact that the office of the president or head of government around the globe must be managed by a team of experts in various fields (think tank) to advise the President. In their everyday operations these experts are expected to analyse the affairs in the regional and international context and make synopsis for the President so as to keep himself abreast. President Salva Kiir Mayardit has been described by observers of the South Sudan, as a lone operator in this regard, and has been depending on his own wisdom, wits and personal interpretations of situations as he sees them fit. As a human being many un-call for oversights are bound to escape President Mayardit’s attention with serious consequences. Without his political will and determination, the situation in the South Sudan would have been much worse than it is now. Another commendable factor is that, President Kiir Mayardit, has managed to bring all those rebels who have been fighting against his Government during the war, after the war and after independence, into his administration with the little resources or meagre resources available. Thus money that would have been used for the modernisation of the new armed forces for the South Sudan, for instance, was used to accommodate the absorbed rebels and their generals into the army for the sake of peace. Without giving amnesty to the rebels and integrating them into his administration some as army’s top brass, independence of South Sudan from the North would have not been easily achieved. These former rebels unfortunately turned against him making President Kiir Mayardit a victim of good intention. In the tradition of the army these generals with humble background would have been tried by the court martial generals and some of them would have not live to have time to repent for their misdeeds, or revolting against the state.

President Salva Kiir has most recently made another giant step, when he also brought into his government representatives from political parties and most of the major nationalities into the national and state legislative assemblies. Currently majority of the nationalities are also represented in the country National and states Governments. For a leader with very few committed aides, and without think tank to assist him to administer the vast disorganised people all living in the primordial period, each at each other throat, in efforts to get rid of poverty of arrears; as many of them had been fighting a voluntary war for two decades, Salva Kiir Mayardit need to be applauded and assisted by all the friends of the South Sudan and People of good will for his efforts to keep the South Sudan going until independence was achieved, their final goal, to have a country of their own. This shall be President Salva Kiir Mayardit legacy. Equally important to point out at this juncture is that, the Government of the South Sudan has been unable to deal with the anarchic environment in the cattle owning states and specially the chaotic state of Jonglei, apparently due to insufficient funding, lack of all weather roads, aerial facilities, like radar, to extent that enemy planes could bring provisions and logistics to the anti government rebels;’ and are discovered long after they have delivered their loads and are out of the country. Such a situation may happen in the ongoing rebellion unless the international community and in particular the concerned friends of the people of South Sudan; particularly the Troika countries try to persuade the rebels to give up armed struggle and resort to democratic means of transfer of power. In any wars, rooms are left open for necessary reconciliation after war has ended. International community must prevent the Somali, CAR, Congo, Libya experiences should be prevented by all means to happen in South Sudan. To be continued.

Arop Madut Arop Gotnyiel is a journalist and author of two books; Sudan’s painful road to peace; The genesis of political consciousness in South Sudan. He can be reached at gotnyiel122@hotmail.com

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  • 20 February 2014 08:06, by Mr Point

    This is a very weak, immature analysis. The writer loses himself in a tangle of paths without any direction. He uses selective facts. At other times he resorts to wild and vague conjecture.
    Will his second article explain how Kiir took South Sudan from independence to civil war in two years. Why Kiir started a civil war by attempting to kill his Vice President and starting a massacre ?

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    • 20 February 2014 08:10, by Mr Point

      Will he explain Kiir’s increasing use of arbitrary power?
      Will he list the breaches of national and party constitutions that Kiir is still guilty of?
      Will he explain why 8% of the population are in camps! many more dependent on world food aid while SPLA generals can buy hotels for cash?
      Will his next article be readable?
      I doubt it.

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      • 20 February 2014 08:42, by Tutbol

        Mr Point,
        S Sudanese are still waiting for what the Nuers are fighting for. Infact, this writer is on your Nuer side in all angles, but as always, our Nuers can even go to US where opportunities to new ways (educations) of doing things was afforded them, instead, they chose not to study, only to be recruited by the AFRICOM, as brats to come & destbalize their birth country in name of non-existanc

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        • 20 February 2014 08:56, by Tutbol

          democracy, that doesn’t even exists in the US! The our Nuers armed rebellion is just a replica of Syrians US-UK-France & gulf states ploted armed rebellion. Libya according the US-UK & France was a success, and so the game have expanded. The Nuers of the S Sudan are the best fools they get the sub-sarahan Africa willing to fight for the...

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          • 20 February 2014 09:09, by Tutbol

            US, the UK, France & for gulf arab states corporate intrigues in the name of an ’imagined democracy’ our Nuers jumped up to these criminals entities, the the armed Nuers’ rebellion is now even calling its self israel in S Sudan! No wonder the US have over 2 millions of its citizens in prisons because, the US doesn’t educate its citizens to be good world’s citizens!

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            • 20 February 2014 09:21, by Tutbol

              The US & the UK had used Riek Machar before, in 1991, when S Sudanese where on the verge of getting their indepenence from the N Sudan with out the US supports that started in 1999, with its outrageous proposal, two countries, one system. Something that was equally denied by the S Sudanese represented. This system was experimented in Hong Kong by the British....

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              • 20 February 2014 09:41, by Tutbol

                S Sudanese are not Hong Kong Chinese peoples, they are S Sudanese & why does every piece of sh*ts in the UK or US always think they know better than what the S Sudanese peoples think is happening in there country? Not in the slightest is the US, the UK & even their criminals juus.

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              • 20 February 2014 09:59, by Tutbol

                *The US & the UK proposed ’one country, two systems*...their Hong Kong something that S Sudanese don’t want and would not want now & in the future. And criminals from the the US & the US & their juus criminals. To stick to their criminals games, S Sudanese are not any different from any citizens in the US, the UK, their juus criminals...

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                • 20 February 2014 15:24, by Tutbol

                  AS long as the the criminals in the UK, the US, France & their juus criminals. These criminals. can include their criminals in the Arab world; in the Nilotic countries, i don’t think so! the Brits, our arabs & the recent US & their juus & the US who claimed to have gave birth to S Sudanese & S Sudanese peoples. The juus in our Nilotic plains....

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                  • 20 February 2014 15:53, by Tutbol

                    with Europeans, to some extend the Aemericans; are not wanted in our nilotic plains, the US, the UK, Frances & the US-juus criminals. Don’t get me wrong, our peoples, in the plains are not fans of the US-UK or their juus mercenaries! In the nilotic plains, the Brits, the Americans & their juus criminals are the purest of criminals of all criminals, we have seen, playing their...

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  • 20 February 2014 10:32, by Tata

    "The 2005/6 budget stood at US$700M, but only USS$350M budgeted for". Did Assembly pass it like that? Where did the other half gone? Was it hared among MPs?
    "SCB failed to release fund to SS, thus was unable to buy necessary weapons". What about the 52% oil rev.? Was the money not enough?
    "President Kiir press conference contradicted by Finance Ministers" Was the statement of the 2 Ministers

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    • 20 February 2014 10:38, by Tata

      verified? If not, why?
      " Lack of financial regulations". Why not developed earlier? Whare was the MPs?
      Hon. Arop, we will be very grateful if you could kindly shed lights on the above questions in your second article of the same.
      Mr. Tata

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  • 21 February 2014 09:46, by Ambago

    What a long and tortuous way to define the background of the crisis in Republic of South Sudan (RSS)! What not call things by their names. The root cause of RSS’s problems squarely lie in Dinkocracy defined as government of Dinka, by Dinka, for Dinka and run in the Dinka way. Full Stop!

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  • 21 February 2014 20:08, by Adodi Jotuwa

    Ambago & Mr. Point,
    All of you are lost sheep. Atop Madut is defining the genesis of the problems in South Sudan and you read the article from tribal perspective. You have no idea why and how developed countries or developing countries are run. If you cannot agree with this article, pretend to be a fool and go back to Stone Age sine you do not know where RSS has come from and is heading.

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  • 21 February 2014 21:02, by Adodi Jotuwa

    If Cde. Salva Kiir were to keep switching sides/allegiance like Riek Machar, do u think South Sudan would have attained its independence? Why did he fail to become the President of Sudan when he was in bed with Khartoum not rebel against NCP? Why does Riek believe that it is easy to become President of South Sudan through violence?

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