Home | Comment & Analysis    Sunday 25 August 2019

Problems facing South Sudan must be told

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By Dak Buoth

The issues pertaining to our country have always been emotive for they are things to do with war. Over the last seven or so years, South Sudan has dominated the international headlines since President General Salva Kiir Mayardit introduced the ongoing civil war in the country on December 15th 2013.

So far thousands South Sudanese majority of whom are from Nuer nationality have been maimed and killed in the conflict. More than 2.5 million people had been displaced from their ancestral homes. And as we dialogue vast majority are sleeping without food and shelter in various internally displaced camps across the country.

Sadly, children have not been going to school in many places. Thus, the future is red and uncertain for our generation. We are in a bleeding and weeping country where everybody is insecure for one reason or another.

It is unfortunate that President Salva is not yet satisfied with war; he wants to continue fighting to scuttle the chance for peace and accountability so that he can continue looting and grabbing our arable land in the name of the newly created 32 states.

The states issue is one of the major factors hindering the implementing of the peace accord. How possible is it for someone to just wake up one day and creates 32 states without identifying the boundaries and expect no war?

The Addis Ababa peace agreement signed on 12th September 2018 has stalled. The timeframe set for its implementation has passed in April 2019. This week, IGAD mediators have called for stakeholders’ meeting in Addis Ababa.

The consultations meetings are still ongoing but it is almost certain that they will reach deadlock due to leaders’ lack of political will. The other day President Salva Kiir refused to meet his arch-rival Dr Riek Machar at the peace venue, instead, he went to meet Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni in the capital Kampala yesterday. If Dictator Museveni continues to coach Kiir, we are yet off the hook. President Museveni is a mediator who has taken aside. Thus, peace will takes longer to come as long as Museveni is still a mediator by virtue of him being the President of the neighbouring Republic of Uganda. A peace mediator must exercise utmost neutrality, a person with certified skills of dialogue and accepted by parties to the conflict.

However, we have seen that Museveni’s interest in South Sudan is not peace but war and other profits; and so he wishes the war to persist so that the warlords in juba can purchase his sophisticated weapons.

The start of the problems we are facing today in South Sudan needs to be told and made known to the people. It started when President Salva Kiir unilaterally decided to rule the country using ‘presidential decrees’ instead of using the law and constitution, 2011. From then things have never been the same. We then descended into a lawless country. Each time the president makes a decision, you hardly find him quoting an article in the constitution.

I’m attempted to think that he has forgotten the South Sudan transitional constitution and its overall meanings. Justifiably, in 2016, he told former CNN journalist, Jeff Koinage when he was asked in an interview: what is one good thing with the presidency? In response, he said that the Presidency is imprisonment. This is not true. As long as President Kiir doesn’t know and appreciate the functions and meanings of the presidency, nothing good will comes out from it.

Just like in many countries, the presidency is a constitutional office with defined roles and functions. A person occupying a presidential office is considered a symbol of national unity with the responsibility to practice equality and fairness; he ought to distribute national cakes to all his or her citizens so that they can coexist harmoniously. In return, citizens owe such president respect as father and the mother of the nation. And when he comes to talks everyone should maintain pin-drop silence.

Contrary, when President Kiir come to talk today everyone tends to switch off the television because he has lost public confidence largely because he exercises inequality; he favours a few people from his ethnic community, Dinka.

More often than not you hear people saying that Dinka are the majority in South Sudan, that is partly true, but Dinka are not the majority of South Sudanese from other 63 tribes combined. Dinka are the only the majority in all public institutions due to the makings of President Salva Kiir.

This is not to say they are not suffering like the rest of South Sudanese. But the truth is that when you go to any national institution today, you will find many people seeking services holding their cheeks and chins not because they are tired on the queue but because they are not happy with what they are seeing around that national institution. SPLM under president Kiir has institutionalized Tribalism and hence our society becomes meritless.

President Salva Kiir cannot claim that he was not shown and told what to do when he ascended to power in 2005 after the unfortunate and untimely death of our great, Dr John Garang de Mabior (1945-2005). I know he was shown everything including secrets and blessings to lead all of us to prosperity. Nonetheless, all these he is doing are due to his sheer desire to betray his once loyal, diehard supporters and comrades in the struggle, and I’m sure he won’t succeed in this politics of betrayal.

The core problem of South Sudan is indeed a leadership problem that has now cascade down to mainstream society. And as Collin Powell once said, leadership is solving problems. He argued that ‘‘the day soldiers stop bringing you their problems is the day you stop leading them. They have either lost confidence that you can’t help or conclude you do not care. Either case is a failure of leadership’’.

President Kiir and SPLM party have demonstrated that they are deformed to be reformed. We need to focus on Kiir and SPLM for the two are one and the same. And they must be made to pack and go for us to achieve much-needed reforms in the country. When I talk of SPLM, it means that SPLM –IO is no exception. The entire SPLM has lost vision and its leaders are generational traitors. All leaders of SPLM need to retract and retreat to give chance and space to a new crop of leaders who are ready to partake and preside over Africa newest country. If they so wish, they should make a come-back in another form if they want to remain relevance.

I now speak with conviction while aware that SPLM and Kiir will vacate sooner or later whether they like it or not. There is no record in history showing that a Party like SPLM with leaders who had perpetuated gross human rights violations can continue to rule by force of armed for long. Rogue parties like Kenya African National Union (KANU) under President Moi was removed in 2002; Workers Party of Ethiopia (WPE) under President Colonel Mengistu was evicted in 1991, and in the next three years National Congress Party (NCP) will be shown the door in the long-awaited elections. Fugitive Omar El Bashir is gone, and his fate should serve as a lesson to President Salva Kiir and all his SPLM/SPLA followers.

The trending news is the recent sacking of Foreign Affairs Minister Nhial Deng Nhial and other officials. On 20th August 2019, President Kiir Issued decree removing and replacing him with lady Awut Deng Acuil, former minister, Gender.

As usual, the media reported that President Kiir sacked Nhial Deng without giving reasons. Over the last few days, I had been following the social media with hope to see if someone will slightly mention why Nhial was removed by Kiir.

After Nhial’s removal I soon liken his case to that of James Gatdet Dak, then Spokesperson of SPLM-IO chairman Dr Riek Machar. In the aftermath of State House (J1) fighting in 2016 between Kiir and Machar forces, James Gatdet was abducted in Nairobi and forcefully taken to Juba on the allegation that he praised the sacking of UNIMISS forced commander, Gen. Ondieki Kimani by former United Nations Secretary-General Ban KI Moon. The sacking of Gen. Ondieki made President Uhuru Kenyatta angry but because the former was too senior, Uhuru vented his anger on small fish, Gatdet who was simply expressing his opinion on social media.

Luckily, the latter is now out from prison in Juba. In fact, nobody knew he would come out alive from the den of murderers in Juba, he must thank God for saving his life. The likes of Idris Aggrey and Samuel Dong Luak who later got abducted in Nairobi were reported to have been killed at the outskirt of Juba before reaching Juba Prisons.

By then Gatdet had registered as a refugee with UNHCR in Nairobi, and the Refugee Laws which Kenya has adopted compelled all member states not to take a refugee by force to his country of origin where he can face possible danger to his life.

However, because President Uhuru got angry, he decided to take Gatdet to Juba by force to show the former UN SG that he does not have respect for UN laws. The immediate former foreign Affairs Minister, Nhial Deng. Nhial was sacked hours after Mr Klem Ryam, the former Chair of UN Panel of Experts on South Sudan tweeted saying ‘‘ Kiir is merely a ‘Useful idiot’ protected by the region for their own political and economic profit’’.Nhial’s silence has been misconstrued or understood by Kiir to mean that he was behind the statement and or that he shares the view with Mr Klem Ryan.

I’m pretty sure that Nhial’s sacking was prompted by Klem Ryans’ Statement, and the rest was just collateral damage.

If Nhial had perfected the arts of sycophancy like the rest, he could probably respond to Mr Klem Ryan dismissing his opinion but he could not do so because he knew Mr Klem was right. This is not the first time President Kiir removed Nhial Deng in the foreign Affairs docket. In 2012, he was sacked allegedly over his silence on the unnecessary war between Sudan and South Sudan over the border town of Heglig in Unity state. We knew the War was declared unilaterally by Kiir and Riek without the approval of the national parliament, and many people died. It was an impasse which was to be solved diplomatically between sisterly countries.

The question now is: who owns Heglig and Abyei? Honourable Nhial Deng is UK trained lawyer who understands issues of governance properly. He has grown passed sycophancy and he has the dignity to protect. Counsel Nhial is a pride of Bahr el Ghazal region and South Sudan at large. He has been on the side of President Kiir with extra caution.

NHIAL’S SHOES ARE NOT FILLED

Lady Awut Deng Acuil as a wrong replacement. I have always supported women but not her. She doesn’t deserve this foreign Affairs ministry. A lady who openly denied atrocities committed against her fellow women in South Sudan cannot fit in that position. In 2018, UN agencies released a report on how over a hundred women were rape in Unity State, Bentiu. Soon President Kiir appointed her to lead an investigation team to find out the perpetrators behind this heinous crime.

Unfortunately, within a short time, she came on TV saying rudely without mercy that the NGOs report was baseless and rubbish, that no single woman was raped and that no single woman came to testify to her. She was speaking as if she was not aware of the stigma, and fear of retaliation on the side of those women and other potential victims? Thus, lady Acuil is not a good woman leader. How will she sit with regional and international leaders who are a proponent of human rights? She is a bad woman leader. We must stand up to reclaim the South Sudan we want.

The Writer is the Convener of Senior Youth of South Sudan (SEYOSS), he is Chairman of Liech community Association in Kenya. The views expressed here are his own. He can be reached for comments via eligodakb@yahoo.com



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