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Fighting in the shadow of Justice

By: Justin Ambago Ramba

August 16, 2013 (SSNA) -- What had started as an internal power wrangling within South Sudan’s ruling SPLM party, finally took a turn for an all-out settlement of old political scores and grudges between the newly disenfranchised members and a handful  who until yesterday were seen as invincible. 

As for the vast majority of the people of South Sudan, life in their towns, villages, cattle and IDPs camps remains as bad as it has ever been. Talk to them about the much loved government expression of “austerity measures”, and they will tell you that, since God created South Sudan, the common people have lived all their lives under ‘austerity measures’. Oil or no Oil, it has always been like that. “Austerity Forever”, while the chief in the black hat goes around purchasing a piece of land for US$600m!

The true perception of the concept of justice by the former freedom fighters has long been under question. Maybe only of late that it has come all-out for the first time to publically disgrace them.

Notwithstanding the fact that the average South Sudanese is since long disgruntled by the appalling conditions of justice and the widespread lawlessness in the country, the National Legislative Assembly (NLA) might have opened a new chapter.

And one can say that in its latest show of bravado, while vetting the newly appointed cabinet ministers, the NLA brought back to the people a mini victory to celebrate.

The NLA knew well that despite the overwhelming call by the general populace for a slim cabinet this time around, the president chose his time, occasion, faces and persons to mark this popular demand.

With the exception of a couple of new faces, president Kiir not only recycled most of the old faces, but in a rare move even went one step further to join hands with both the diehard Islamists and a couple of  others from the “All season proof” political club of opportunists. Marvelous, isn’t?  This is inclusiveness for you!

Who doesn’t know that there are no officially registered political parties in this sovereign country?  Yet no one is bothered when the ruling SPLM party, itself without a legal certificate to operate, finds no embarrassment in hosting a new government in the name of multi-party democracy. 

If we cannot still register our political parties two years past our declaration of independence from Khartoum, then we are politically stuck in the Old Sudan.

As if we are being nostalgia for the second class citizenry that we have lived with for a century or so, that the so-called ruling party, and the supposedly RSS’s national army are still officially known by their ‘Old Sudan’s’ nomenclatures – SPLM and SPLA respectively.  Could it be that the mindset of the leadership has gone unduly frozen in time and space?

Before we are all taken away by the new found courage of the NLA and it performance at the very rare grilling secessions on citizen Telar Ring Deng, let’s not be fooled into believing  that president Kiir  had no  ulterior motives when he chose this infamous person for the portfolio of Justice. 

Put president Kiir’s choice of Telar and their relationship in the near past, alongside with the way that the duo (president Kiir & aide Telar) rapped up the infamous US $600m dollars deal of supposedly purchasing a piece of land in Juba, South Sudan and not in New York, London, or Tokyo you can look   years back and imagine how many times these duo have been in such dirty businesses together!

What is obviously now,  is that Telar Ring Deng we all know is no longer Justice Telar Ring Deng. This is very important for the records, as we don’t want any more surprises.

However the whole grilling process was more of a set stage show, than any. For while they were grilling him, only a few of the new ministers have actually suffered any tension of having to wait in a queue for an interview of a life time.

Seemingly acquainted with the rules of the game and already been briefed beforehand of its main objectives, all the others maintained their cool. They knew it was just one of those government boondoggles, blown out of proportions.

Again it wasn’t a surprise that what had started as a benign vetting process went on to unearth old hidden bush crimes and blunders committed by both the potential cabinet aspirant and some ex-powerful rebel commanders. It even went all the way to include persons very high in the incumbent SPLM hierarchy.

These were things otherwise put to rest following the 2005 peace agreement, but no. This curse called Telar, the one-time “Bush Judge” in his confusion, unfortunately took a misguided and miscalculated turn when he opted for experiences and key skills from the bush days. Unfortunately it turned out that his drawers were full of skeletons, and then it all came crumbling on him. What a poor jungle Judge!

Telar’s very controversial appointment indeed offered the top SPLM leadership not only the optimum opportunity, but also the most conducive environment. They went for it and finally asserted to the entire world that although president Kiir took the anticipatory strike on his political opponents earlier on, he too isn’t invincible.

At this particular moment in time, one can only say that the once giant SPLM party has chosen one of its own, none other than Telar Ring Deng as a figure to fight over.  They did, and did it in style, venting out all their disingenuousness. 

Before wrapping up everything, I just want to remind my fellow readers that it was this same NLA that shamelessly adopted the much manipulated Transitional Constitution 2011 (TC2011) while it now turns around to challenge the president. It’s my sincere hope that they are not underestimating the several arsenals this especially tailored constitution (TC2011) puts at the disposal of president Kiir.

For if those MPs who are now vocal about a new era of change, are to succeed in their newly raised slogan of: “South Sudan parliament shall never be the same again”, as it came in the press release signed by one of their outspoken members, Hon. Joseph Ngere Paciko, they must move swiftly in the coming few days to amend the TC2011 to reduce the too many powers it gives to the president.

The NLA and its 257 or so MPs must understand that unless they intend to fight till the end, by thoroughly weeding the executive, a thing only possible through solidarity, they are likely to end up either frustrating the electorates once more, or the big man as they categorically inch upon what he until now sees his sacred domain.

If they don’t want to find themselves where the SPLM party’s suspended Secretary General Comrade Pagan Amum is now – not to talk of the deputy chairman Dr. Riek Machar who not too long, was president Kiir’s VP, they must quickly come to the understanding that   what the people they represent want is one thing and what the TC2011 dictates is another.

As rightly stated by Dr. Lam Akol Ajawin, and I quote: “Nothing in our Constitution TC2011 stipulates that a Minister or his deputy should be literate. For the MPs the condition is to be able to read and write; that is all. So, in theory an illiterate person may be appointed a Minister or Deputy Minister without violating the Constitution”.

This if anything, it leaves a big window for Telar to come back, albeit in another post and another form – maybe a new chief for the directionless anticorruption commission. How does this sound? It may also be time we are prepared for the biggest disappointment under President Salva Kiir’s leadership, when his cronies - General Paul Malong Awan and Major General Matur Chut Dhuol make surprise leaps into national positions in Juba. 

In fact as Kiir readjusts himself for more blunders, his anticipated move towards a totalitarian regime can only be realized when he surrounds himself in both the SPLM party, and the State House by pseudo – intellectuals and politicians whose only qualifications are their “Yes Beny” status. These are nothing but blind loyalties and allegiances sealed by common interest for personal glorifications.

At the other end, we would all of course want to believe that the NLA has finally awoken from its deep, SPLM administered, “corruption anesthesia” to start a new political dawn for RSS.  In this case it must be ready to impeach the president over the several constitutional violations already committed. Following this move, it must also proceed to scrap the controversial TC2011 and replace it with a genuine supreme law that can guide the new country towards democracy, rule of law, and respect to human rights.

And before we leave the NLA to celebrate its TKO on Telar, it is worth pointing out that for blocking Telar, it only got a [D] grade, which it is celebrating now in style.  However given the current appalling political situation the country, the NLA must do more if it is to regain all the lost love and trust from the grassroots.

In other words, if this parliament wants an [A*] grade, then it better proceeds to grill president Kiir over the non-procedural approval, and release of the US$600m. The president himself has admitted authorizing his infamous ex-aide to write a letter to that effect, and that’s unconstitutional, to start with. If this happens, let’s all lie assured that everybody will true love for South Sudan will join in to celebrate    the birth of a new democratic era.

Thanks again to God that Telar hasn’t gone to become the minister of Justice. And in the search for an alternative, we mustn’t forget that beforehand, South Sudan has had many ministers of Justice with perfectly well authenticated academic credentials.  Unfortunately all came and went without leaving behind a single sense of having once served justices to our ever suffering masses.

To sum it up all…………ever since the bush days, and till now as we continue to fight for our daily breed, we have fought and continue to do so in the shadow of justice.  We  are yet to witness the real justice, which has no tribe, no race, no religion, and no gender.

Dr. Justin Ambago Ramba can be reached at: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Strong Parliament is the Key to Preventing Hoaxes from Running the New Country

By J. Omunu

August 15, 2013 (SSNA) -- On hearing the breaking news of the rejection of Mr. Telar Ring Deng’s bid to become South Sudan’s next justice minister, one prominent and respected South Sudanese intellectual whispered to my ears and said: “Whatever happens after this, for once, the NLA has redeemed its tarnished image of a rubber stamp parliament, for the record. It will give the Assembly a precedent and strength to face and handle similar situations in the future,” unquote.

Apparently, the vetting of the 20 National Ministers and 12 Deputy Ministers appointed by President Kiir last month and earlier this month has been concluded. It should be noted that in the developed democracies, vetting processes routinely ensure that Executive appointments meet the constitutional threshold, and that only the most qualified and suitable candidates take up key positions in governments.

Missing from the ongoing vetting deliberation in the National Legislative Assembly (NLA) is the issue of equity, fairness and competitiveness, a concern that is beyond the scope of this article. Lost in this debate, however, is the crucial issue of institutional weakness which is at the core of an inept NLA that cannot implement its tasks effectively and with integrity.

Looking back at the recent vetting controversy of the new Ministers by A Special Select Committee of the NLA, there is no doubt that it was a candid step towards the right direction. However, it could have been more transparent if the NLA constituted a competent vetting structure connected to and consulting closely with South Sudan Anti-Corruption Commission (SSACC), other groups like The South Sudan Human Rights Society for Advocacy (SSHURSA), the Association for Media Development in South Sudan (AMDISS) and the general public. In doing so, the presidential appointees to the cabinet would have been exposed to public scrutiny of their credibility and integrity through verifying credentials and requiring the individual candidate to publicly declare his or her assets, and how he or she acquired them including hidden overseas bank accounts.

While the vetting process has been commended by the public, the question of integrity surrounding Mr. Telar Ring Deng’s appointment and his failure to prove to the MPs that he had met the minimum set standards has triggered stimulating debate amongst South Sudanese across the political spectrum.  Furthermore, the majority 150 MPs have made it clear that Telar Ring Deng is unqualified and unfit for public office. After all, legislatures can do more good to transform a country’s democratic culture and build a strong institution. I would argue that a strong and forceful assembly is the key institution that can prevent a new country from cementing a One-Man rule and authoritarianism.

Certainly, the advantage of a more muscular parliament is seen by many people as the only measure to constraining the unpopular presidential decrees in South Sudan, which by the way has given any hoax out there an opportunity to sneak into the government through the back door and loot the public coffers with impunity.

It is an undeniable fact that no modern democratic society can thrive and develop economically without strong independent parliaments/assemblies and open public debates. Hence a robust and muscular legislature may balance and check the executive powers as well as block Mr. President from becoming a despotic ruler. Likewise, a weak and ineffective parliament/assembly is incapable of standing to the executive’s misappropriation of public fund, as the case is with the newly independent Republic of the South Sudan. For example, the weakness of NLA was glaringly evident when it was faced with the fact that Mr. President Kiir single-handedly authorized the $600 million “meant to acquire land meant for national security service” without the approval of the Council of Ministers or the Assembly. This means that high-handed powers enjoyed by the executive has given the office holder an insatiable appetite to authorize millions of taxpayers’ money without being held accountable by any agency or body, let alone Mr. President appointing a hoax or thugs into constitutional office without any major problem.

From the above analytical analysis, a strong national legislature is the key to transforming the new country into a vibrant democracy, and in absence of an independent judiciary or proactive civil society, NLA remains the only functioning body to check the excessive presidential powers in South Sudan if we wish to have stability and move this new country forward.

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

An Insider’s Opinion on Jonglei Political Crisis

By Martino Jackson

Juba, August 15, 2013 (SSNA) -- In the wake of series political miscalculation and ideological differences within Jonglei political maneuvering and South Sudan at large, there are few things we the citizens of the South Sudanese should reflect on and analyze critically if we wanted our society to live in peaceful environment. It is my privilege and honor to announce to you that Jonglei politics will have an enormous impact on “other eleven counties” politically, socially and economically; given to the serious trust and believe invested on former Governor, Gen. Kuol Manyang Juuk by the Country national leadership

Speculation

Instantly, there was speculation that Governor, Gen. Kuol Manyang Juuk was coming to the national government in Juba and that was the second time for Gen. Kuol Manyang Juuk to be proposed; however, he finally made it to the national government successfully while leaving behind one of his big leg in Jonglei. The question by then, remains in menu to who is going to replace him?

Former Governor Gen. Kuol Manyang was appointed as the governor of Jonglei in 2008 on the death certificate of Former Governor Philip Thon Leek. However, the removal of Mr. Philip Thon Leek still shed some red spot blames on him. When he came from Khartoum, following the attack of the Makuach village by some elements of the murle guns men, which left a number of people dead and cattle driven away, Kuol directly when to his home area in Jelei and boycotted the state Capital.

While Kuol was in the area in the following morning, the youth of Makuach and Jellei stormed the town in search for any members of the Murle community. Indeed seven patients from the Murle were killed in cold blood in Bor Civil Hospital in broad daylight. This incident justified Gen. Kuol’s campaign that Philip Thon had failed to maintain security and protect lives of the citizens.

Notwithstanding though that the public have had a great impression that the former Governor should have restore the law and order in which he has not managed successfully as expected by the public. He has failed miserably to bring the issue of insecurity, development and peace to reality.

Perhaps the Jonglei society at large may salute and appreciate H.E Salva Kiir Mayardit for his immediate action of rescuing the Jonglei communities; but there are fews questions and scenarios that remain in brackets. Among those many dilemmas and questions are of two scenarios in the minds of Bor communities/people.

1. The community of Bor would feel comfortable only if Gen. Kuol Manyang Juuk himself recommends his successor without consultation from the Nuer politicians, Murle politicians and Anyuak politicians within Statewide.

2. If the nominee would be accepted only by Bor community in particular without the consent of the Murle, Nuer and Anyuak. These are tactics of divide and rule of the majority within the Jonglei State.

Brief Argument

Jonglei’s community is blessed for having a good number of politicians in national and regional level. It would be very unfortunate if the opinions of the intellectuals, politicians, academia and elders were not needed in the situation of state leadership. Former Governor, Gen. Kuol Manyang Juuk is an elder off course, and a politicians like anyone else but his game theory in the politics of Jonglei is worst to digest.  

Gen. Kuol Manyang came to national government with great interest of running the two governments at ago: The Jonglei government that he has invested his time and energy financially, and the national government.  It is regrettable by then that the Former Governor, Gen. Kuol Manyang Juuk is fighting teeth and nails to bring someone who will protect his financial assets and someone whom the Bor community has interest and assurance.

The recommendation he has offered to the president is nothing but bias and personally motivated concerns that will either encourage differences or bring the greater failure to the State in particular. I am concerned and I am here to assure you that the suggestion he has made was mainly to recycle those who will never solve the problem of Jonglei.

In case the Former Governor, Gen. Kuol Manyang Juuk recommends his successor for any reason from Nuer community, then the system in Jonglei will remain Kuol Manyang Juuk’s term twoby proxy, similar to that of the President Jaafer Al Niemeri’s term two when General Swahr Al Dhab took over power from him in 1985. On the other hand, the other communities in Jonglei especially the Nuer who are the majority would raise some concerns and put the following argument forward:

1. If the community of Bor could only accept the governor of their choice from nominees of other communities, then why did the Bor community members refused to accept their uncle Akuot Atem when Samuel Gai Tut chose him to be their leader in the movement in 1983?

2. The population of the Nuer in the State is highest than any other communities; and therefore, the principles of democracy or the rule of the majority must prevail in Jonglei State instead of reversing the logical and natural order of life by disallowing the rule of the majority in favor of minority.

In comparison, if you look back to the system of the old Sudan under Sudanese Socialist Union (SSU) in the recent past, Jonglei was a province headed by a commissioner with five secretaries of the Sudanese Socialist Union (SSU). There was no problem of power sharing among the communities of the four districts of Fangak, Akobo, Bor and Pibor because there was fair distribution of power; and we hope that the situation should have been improved better under the SPLM system of governing than it was under the SSU.

Governor Kuol was not elected

As a matter of fact, the communities in Jonglei did not elect Kuol as their favored governor in the election of 2010. He has miserably failed in eight (8) counties of the State out of eleven counties. But because he (Kuol) was in charge of the State affairs and with the help of his Bor community intellectuals who were the only members of the electoral commission in the State, he has managed to manipulate the election result in his favor. What was the reaction of rigging? Yes, there was reaction from late General George Athor Dut and David Yau Yau who opted to pick up arms against the government; instead to follow the rightful procedures through the court of law as was the case in Central Equatorial State.

Peace in Jonglei

Peaceful settlement of conflicts in Jonglei State is fragile because the rightful formula and procedures for peace are denied.  In short, Former Governor, Gen. Kuol Manyang Juuk was asked to resign recently which he did; but surprisingly he has been appointed as minister for national defense instead of facing charges on violation of human rights and atrocities he has committed in the State through his divide and rule tactics.

This divide and rule tactic had resulted to the loss of over six thousand innocent lives. Gen. Kuol Manyang Juuk is to be held responsible for the UN Helicopter that was shot down through his order by the SPLA soldiers in Jonglei, 2011 (soldiers confirm). I rest my case here and its up to the audiences to digest this concern intellectually.God bless you!

Please reach Jackson at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

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