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The Camel Has Gone through the Eye of the Needle!

By Tongun Lo Loyuong

July 31, 2013 (SSNA) -- Now that what hitherto seemed impossible, risky, unimaginable and atypical of the modus operandi of the President has taken place and the camel has gone through the eye of the needle, what next for South Sudan? Now that not only the government exit door was pushed wide open to accommodate a camel or two on the way out but the door that also seemed open for a stormy wind to blow in, have been firmly closed and will perhaps dictate the outcome of the formation of the new cabinet, what must our leaders do? Could this be a turning point and an end to the “open tent” or “appeasement policies” that have been identified as the menacing seal of the President leading to the fateful July 23rd, 2013 day? Could this be a game changer in the race to the next presidency of South Sudan come 2015 general elections? Most importantly though, where does this leave us going forward, in terms of the making or unmaking of South Sudan?

Breathtakingly, as we continue to keenly observe the political unfolding in the land with intrigue and anxiety, there are several catchphrases around which a consensus seems to have been built thus far. Almost all South Sudan’s stakeholders are unanimously agreeable in the wake of these latest political developments that the promise lies in political prudence and staying calm; expeditious and transparent formation of a new ethnically representative and accountable cabinet; and the upholding of democratic principles and human rights and the delivery of social and economic services.

On the ground, the current political situation and the race to the formation of the new cabinet is, however, complexified by what looks like the blurring of lines between that which is opposition and that which is loyalist. Who exactly is what, is anyone’s imagination. In what can be credibly described as a “nyakama” (a scramble) for a piece of the pie in the upcoming lean and hopefully clean new cabinet, the opposition seems to have awfully turned into presidential loyalist. Some Juba based analysts have sarcastically characterized the scramble for office in the upcoming new cabinet as a daily formula 1 race to the presidential palace, where some had to change their car wheels and refuel in the process!

Indeed the current unprincipled sham that we are witnessing where the President’s friends and foes alike are indistinguishable at the moment and are both seen to be padding the President on the back for his latest political move of cabinet dissolution must be taken with caution by the presidential advisors. This is a decisive make or break moment not only in the President’s political career but in the direction that will determine the future of South Sudan. No more belly politicians in the new cabinet please. The President must begin to listen to those who make him cry rather than the clowns that make him laugh. He must choose carefully and wisely, however long the consultations take and preferably give chance to new, young, vibrant and competent faces in the final setup of the new cabinet.

If the rumors from the corridors of presidential palace are true that the President’s new political agenda is to go back to the drawing board and revisit the vision and direction of the liberation struggle to empower the meek, the orphans and the widows and deliver basic services of clean drinkable water, health care, quality education, bread on the table and infrastructure development more generally, then what better place to reflect these intent and purpose than in a new people-friendly and policy-driven cabinet?

Be that as it may, the change agents including the international partners have been dumbfounded and caught off guard by the rapidly evolving political terrain in South Sudan. We are all left scratching our heads thinking the President is got big testicles to pull this off! But this is now an opportune moment for the President to show the whole world what he is made off in terms of moral consciousness, and promoting the widely implored democracy, human rights, liberties and freedoms, and impartial rule of law enforcement.

The world eagerly anticipates seeing the President defy the rhetoric of totalitarianism that is seen to have closely accompanied his every step in recent times, imagined or real. One way of restoring confidence on the President’s good faith is to revoke the Chairman’s order that banned the Secretary General of the SPLM, Mr. Pagan Amum from traveling and curtailed his freedom of expression. There should not be anything to hide any longer even on the corruption front. It is time to come clean. Such a symbolic political gesture should bode well with the transparency personnel and those who are currently confused and paranoid about some looming appeal to authoritarianism in the land. The party documents must urgently be passed, and the convention to elect a new Chairperson or re-elect the existing one be convened at the earliest convenience, in time for a timely conduct of the 2015 general elections.

On his part Mr. Amum must agree to exercise his freedom of movement and speech responsibly in a manner that will not be interpreted as violating previously signed confidentiality contracts if any, nor be seen as stirring tribal hatred or inciting political violence in the country. In doing so the President will appear to be equally subject to the Supreme Law of the Land and respects individual rights and liberties, including that of freedom of expression as enshrined in the South Sudan Transitional Constitution, a constitution that many see him to be violating at will nowadays.

Separately, it is encouraging that the former Vice President has led the way in providing the promising and reassuring signs that this political storm in South Sudan may well come to pass without wrecking and sinking the ship. Credit to him, Dr. Machar was the first to quell any lingering fears on potential eruption of violent carnage in the land by urging not only his political support base to remain calm and that the situation will be resolved politically, but he also warned the army on more than one occasion in the past few days, to stay away from current political developments in South Sudan. Not only that Dr. Riek went on to publically heap some morale and confidence boosting praises on the national army by commending the army discipline as crucial to the current prevention of violence and the relative peace and stability that many were not expecting. If this remains the case, this is turning out to be a healthy non-violent political battle indeed, and may serve as a measure of how far democracy and non-violence culture is being rediscovered in South Sudan.

Of course this does not mean that the current storm has been entirely withered just yet. Much hinges on the exercise of self-restraint by all stakeholders from the President to the foot-soldier. But that Dr. Machar has at least publically acknowledged the constitutionality of his removal by the President though not necessarily the removal of the elected governors of Unity and Lake States, may serve as a platform for managing South Sudanese political differences with civility and peaceful dialogue. Mr. Amum seems equally on board by reiterating that he will examine the constitutionality of his suspension in the party’s constitution before engaging discussing with the President.

What most seem to be oblivious to in the former Vice President’s avid stance on peaceful resolution of conflicts is that he continued to be unjustly haunted by his violent political past. But with the way he has conducted himself in recent times, the man must be given a break. For those who seem to forget, Dr. Machar also has some remarkable records as a man of peace, and has brokered several regional and local peace and reconciliation agreements whether between LRA and the government of Uganda or between the President and the late Dr. John Garang in 2004.

Nonetheless, building on the current of peaceful dialogue as the only amicable manner by which the present political differences and challenges must be addressed in the land, three recommendations cannot be overstated enough moving forward in peace and civility in the land: reconciliation, reconciliation and again reconciliation.

With every challenge comes opportunity. What is needed in South Sudan at the moment is exploring the window of opportunity in the current political fracas. The national healing, peace and reconciliation seems to provide that window to permanently address past and present political, social as well as economic issues and arrest any potential fall into political violence. But first the political rhetoric must be toned down. We must refrain from stretching it.

Most importantly, current political crisis cannot be seen in isolation from past political beef mainly resulting from the eruption of South-South inter-communal violence in 1991, which was precipitated by similar political power struggle over contesting claims of vision and direction of the liberation struggle that had developed in the SPLA high command and structure, between Dr. Riek Machar, and the late Dr. John Garang de Mabior, the SPLA Commander in Chief. It is conventional wisdom that the 1991 deadly rift in the liberation movement that left thousands of self-inflicted tragic death in South Sudanese ranks is yet to be amicably resolved.

The church which tried only managed to forge a semblance of reconciliation belligerent parties to the conflict on the grassroots level through the people-to-people peace and reconciliation process, but fell short on reconciling the top-level political leadership in the land. The result was a fragile patchwork assembly of unity but differing ideologies in the political leadership of South Sudan. It was understandable because the aim was to ensure the navigation of the struggle to the shores of an independent South Sudan. But the plastered upon wounds of that crisis remains and will continue to re-open unless healing through a genuine reconciliation process is taken seriously.

As the veteran professor Peter Adwok Nyaba is recently cited to have forcefully admonished, “I don’t think the problem is between Salva Kiir and Riek Machar struggling for power. It is much deeper than that. It is a problem that is as old as the SPLM. It characterized the split with Anya-nya II in 1983/84. The SPLM/SPLA did not learn a lesson from that split in order to create space for reconciliation and reunification in 1988. This led to the Nasir Declaration when Riek and Lam Akol declared that ‘Garang must go now.’ Again there were no lessons drawn and they came back in 2002 and 2003, they’re just welcomed into the fold. Political contradiction don’t dissolve, they must be resolved….”

As South Sudan commemorates the selfless sacrifices of its martyrs, only honest reconciliation and peaceful dialogue to resolve current disagreements and political challenges in the land can ensure that South Sudan’s fallen heroes and heroines can rest in eternal peace.

The author can be reached at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Whimsical Decision Making and a Dysfunctional Political Party

By Kuir ë Garang

July 27, 2013 (SSNA) -- I was never a fan of late Dr. John Garang but, on principle, I admired one quality in him: extensive reading and autodidactic attitude. Comfortingly enough, he read and referenced issues and facts he postulated and argued for or about. This is a quality, among other things, officials in Juba should adopt. SPLM and the GOSS should also know that any institution is governed by behavioural and information dissemination protocols. People should not talk anyhow…or because they ‘feel’ it’s right. It might feel right but facts might go contrary to that feel-good-ness.

Face value application (or violation) of the constitution and out of context utterance of statements such as ‘it’s a normal democratic process’ don’t do justice to the already jittery nation. We still have an unconstitutional governor in Lake State and the president knows that’s a clear violation of the constitution’s sixty day (60) requirement. Taban Deng Gai was removed unconstitutionally because we know there is no crisis in Unity State.

What the president and South Sudanese need to realize is that section (101r) doesn’t only say there just has to be a crisis in the state. The crisis has to be one threatening ‘national security and territorial Integrity’. If the crisis is not threatening national security then citing such a crisis becomes unconstitutional. Jonglei State is the state whose crisis is threatening national security and territorial integrity but the governor is still there.

The president’s actions are just whimsical rather than constitutional!

The onus in on the president to therefore explain how the ‘crisis’, if any, in the Lake State or Unity State, threaten our ‘national security and territorial integrity’. In essence, the president is ruling a nation of people not nation of cows. People need to know. Abdon Agau, the government secretary general told the media that president Kiir can fire the cabinet with giving any reasons; arguing that it’s his ‘constitution right’ not to give explanations! What? It’s supposed to be a ‘national constitution’ not ‘whimsical presidential constitution.’

Mr. President should know that he’s a servant of South Sudanese not their boss. He’s only the boss of his cabinet; not South Sudanese. Ideally, the president has to justify his actions to the South Sudanese people because his decisions directly affect the average citizen. Make no mistake, president Kiir should account to US as South Sudan. We employed him not the other way round.

Officials like the always-in-your-face Marial Benjamin (while I know he has improved lately) have the knack of talking without checking their facts. This is indeed scary for South Sudan’s future. Besides, both the SPLM and the government of South Sudan don’t adhere to functionality protocols. This is the source of the problem within SPLM.

There’s nothing ‘democratic’ about firing a cabinet. Just because something is constitutional doesn’t mean it’s democratic. Actions of individuals can’t be called democratic even if they are clearly constitutional. Constitutional actions are necessary undemocratic decisions within a democracy. Not all decisions within a democracy are democratic. This is the culture of talking anyhow.

Both Pagan Amum and Riek Machar should know that belonging to an organization requires adhering to organizational protocols and internal avenues of problem solving. Disagreements within a political party are normal, however, these disagreements should be solved behind closed doors. If you can’t solve internal issues behind closed doors then maybe belonging to one political party isn’t such a good idea. Publicly criticizing your own political party and the president as a senior party official is wrong…it doesn’t happen anywhere in the world.

And how naïve would someone criticize the boss, tells the boss ‘I want your job’ and expects the boss to say ‘go ahead, take my job…you are a great man!’ I don’t know which world Riek Machar is living in. What he’s saying regarding the country is admittedly the general truth; that the country is off the cliff and something has to change to salvage it, however, this doesn’t mean entering into the culture of ‘care-free-ness.’ An able leader would seek helpful ways of solving problems. You don’t get to criticize your boss, an uncritical boss for that matter, and get to keep your job. What were you smoking, Mr. Machar? Ambition intoxication?

In the end, the president needs to justify his actions, follow the constitution and let his officials know that talking to the media should be bound by party or government protocols; and that facts have to be researched and appropriately referenced for the government to have some respect in the eyes of South Sudan.

Kuir ë Garang is a South Sudanese poet and author living in Canada. He’s the author of upcoming analytical book, South Sudan Ideologically: Tribal Socio-Democracy, SPLM Ideologues, Juba Corruptocrats, Khartoum Theocrats and their Time-Frozen Leadership. To contact the author visit www.kuirthiy.info or www.kuirthiy.com

Dr. Marial Benjamin: A Political Footballer of the Year

By Deng Mangok Ayuel

July 27, 2013 (SSNA) -- Dr. Marial is taller in academic with permanent head damage {PhD}, always smart in wording when speaking; tactical like Ronaldo in footballing, marial in colours for success and friendly like a pen with writer. When politics gone astray and bitter last week after the cabinet was sacked, he remained calm and confidence, not because he has a political god-father in the government who can push his boss to reappoint him a minister, but his competency, flexibility and capability – all in politictechnolgy South Sudan are his ecstatic by passion, desire to help the new nation.

He is a laddering leader, political giant who has confidence in his doings and the best of the season. He is fit to be the minister of Foreign Affair or Education, but who can fit his 52-sized shoes of the Ministry of Information and Communication? He is a political heavy weight who boils into 99 degree Celsius in politics.      

If I were a journalist working for local radio or TV station in South Sudan, I would have invited Dr. Marial for an interview to the satisfactory of my dismay for the sake of the society. I would have friendly questioned him for lucidity.

Yeah beny Marial, why is it so hard for elected leaders to give feedback to the community who elected them? Are we the loser for democracy? The children of poor people who can’t afford a coin to send them abroad are not taught well due to lack of employed qualified teachers. Does man eats man in our society?

Another most important thing is food. There is no food at all. People are starving because food commodities are too expensive in the markets. Many people are hungry than angry. An angry man is not hungry South Sudan. Most of your colleagues {former ministers} are currently angry for losing ministerial posts. We are angry due to lack of food. Do you see the difference?

In our African traditions, we care for communities and the communities care for us, a word which might has died with Mr. Julius Nyarere of Tanzania. Do our leaders care for their communities?  Why did some of our community’s Juba MPs stash CDF portions and remained unquestioned by the chief who approved the money in Juba? Do you wanted to see their names? Oh, I am afraid. They were in Aweil West and East, Gogrial and Jur River – all over South Sudan, maybe! Some of these CDF mongers arrested people last year when questioned over mismanagement of the fund. These CDF cashiers than MPs are confronters and every ready for troubles.

Beny Marial, if an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality, to borrow words from Mr. Chinua Achebe …! Why are opinion writers, journalists intimidated, imprisoned easily? Where is John Penn de Ngong? In Boston, Kenya, Rwanda or Congo …? Why did he run into exile? By the way, I am not writing to support John Penn de Ngong because he has his own interest and ways of doing things. He is a talented writer but seemingly to be in fight with the government through media which is the opposite of my choice and writing. I am for peace.

All in all, Dr. Barnaba Marial Benjamin is a man of people. He is going to be the minister of Information for the Republic of South Sudan tomorrow in the new cabinet. This is not a dream. He is going to make it. He was there and will be there to keep doing what he has been doing for the welfare of the society. Should I say congratulation to him? No, no!  It is too early for me to congratulate him but he is the first pilot to land the job in the cabinet. I am waiting to hear his/their names read on SS TV. It is their time. Enjoy and enjoy!

Deng Mangok Ayuel lives in Aweil, South Sudan. He can be reached via This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

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