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Abyei’s Future Status in South Sudan

By Deng Vanang

June 28, 2013 (SSNA) -- This article is in reply to the question posed by one of those who read my June 15th, 2013 opinion piece titled: On Abyei enough is enough. I wished to address the reader’s concern much earlier but my little bit busy schedule at the time I read his/her responsive concern couldn’t allow me to do so. Now that I have got some ample time I would like to answer his/her shilling concern no matter how unsatisfactory to him/her it shall sound. In the process of answering I beg the questioner to bear with me as I take him/her through somehow delicate historical trajectory that snakes around the story. The reader though appreciated me for the elaborate way I tackled the subject matter, s/he remained in the dark on what Abyei will be, a state or a county like Pibor, if it joins Republic of South Sudan by which ever means. S/he told me I fell short of telling him/her and the rest of what status Abyei shall be if it is incorporated into South Sudan. For him/her s/ he loathed Abyei becoming a state of its own. Should that happen, s/he said his/her home county of Pibor should as well be made a state. This fear is not found in this particular reader alone, several brothers and sisters in different parts of our beloved country share the same with him/her. The skepticism is traced to the distribution of power and resources that accompanies the creation of geo-political units not only in South Sudan but the world over as well.

In South Sudan different from other countries, sadly the process of creating such units is shrouded in serious flaws. Instead of bringing services closer to the people, the process is adversely used to reward the few while denying more deserving multitude. This is the case when all states and counties irrespective of land mass and population sizes are treated equally and not equitably in sharing out both national and states’ annual budgets among them. That is the main concern bothering our brother/sister in particular and the rest in general.

However, this narrative cannot proceed without the privilege of sharing with you the fact that I actually wrote this article in the dead of the night of Tuesday 25th June 2013 at Africa Regional Conference on an Inter-party dialogue and democratic consolidation in Naivasha Simba Lodge where the late hero Dr.John Garang heatedly negotiated Comprehensive Peace Agreement with Ali Osman Taha. And in a spacious suit not far away from the one that housed John Garang throughout the entire negotiations period, now turned into a mini-museum of sorts. This flash back, has undoubtedly given me the accurate view of the details behind Abyei’s protocol, being the subject currently under discussion.

Answer

To answer the concerned questioner and the rest of his/her colleagues in the interactive world of social media, during the negotiation of Comprehensive Peace Agreement in Naivasha eight years ago, the area became as it is still today the focus of dispute between the north and the south. Each side claims it as its own. To defuse the tension that almost brought the negotiations to a standstill; the mediators suggested the area should be administered right in the centre, the presidency until its fate is decided through peaceful referendum by native nine Ngok Dinka fiefdoms.  The Presidency at the time was joint one under President Omar Hassan Albashir and First Vice President Salva Kiir Mayardit when our late hero Dr. John Garang unfortunately and suddenly passed on. Abyei Currently continues to enjoy the same special status but under separate presidencies of both Sudan and South Sudan until it goes in one way or another. That is to be an integral part of South Kordofan State if it goes north or Warap State if it turns out to become part of the new Republic of South Sudan.

Therefore, it is not the largeness of land mass and neither the population size as some people may think that makes Abyei a special case with distinct geo-political status. It is rather the conflict over its ownership as each rival side claims the disputed territory for itself being the reason behind such a status. For Abyei occupies an area of 4,000 square kilometers with an estimated population of far less than three hundred thousand souls. All the two features fit Abyei in the category of a county, especially in demographic term of population.

Provisional vacuum

However, what cannot be ruled out is the likely hood of it being declared a state if it joins South Sudan as some people in the area band around such an idea.  They can even be at liberty to exploit the absence of legal provision that could determine what geographical area and population size the state supposes to have.

The exploitation of this provisional vacuum exactly came to light during 2008 SPLM’s Second National Convention when Abyei was awarded roughly over thirty delegates several times above the number of each county’s delegates and slightly below that of state’s delegates. That alludes to the fear currently gripping those who suspect Abyei shall be rammed down the throat of South Sudanese as the 11th State of South Sudan despite its tiny geographical area and population size. With callous aim of getting robust resources it doesn’t deserve from the national pool.

But that should not be the issue people could get bogged down on with unnecessary waste of valuable time and energy debating about it. It is not a necessity at the moment whether it shall be a county or a state for it is fool hardy to quarrel over who should get what chunk of meat from the game that is still alive and kicking in the wild and yet to be killed. And it would do us more justice to avoid any divisive question about Abyei that aims to get us backward rather than forward as some people might need to pose it as an excuse to make the area look like the preserve of Ngok Dinka with sole responsibility to liberate it. This negative concept is coupled with the blame game as to how Abyei switched side to the north in 1905 in the first place and at times causes some people to say that is none of their business to liberate the land that is now threatening the return of two hostile neighbors to war. Without asking themselves, if people of Abyei like Pieng Deng, Deng Alor and only to mention a few from Abyei participated in liberation of South Sudan in which we are today, why shouldn’t the concerned individuals mind liberating Abyei? Their inverted thinking is not isolated anyway. It is the same thing which causes a relative unease between the ex-allies in original SPLM/A at presence. Divided into two separate entities by South Sudan independence in 2011, the SPLM north faults SPLM South for deliberately using it in pursuit of liberation of South Sudan the former had nothing to do with.

Additionally, skeptics ought to know that any piece of land that lies within the national borders doesn’t give its local inhabitants the prerogative to either annex it to another country or liberate it if invaded by a neighbor. It is the duty of national army to either defend or liberate it if invaded by a hostile neighbor. What may be needed from the natives of the area is the emotional urge that can serve as morale booster for the national armed forces in the course of liberating the area from the invaders. Conversely, resources in any integral part of South Sudan like it is the case in several unitary states globally are well defined within the national revenue bracket except the allocated percentage as may be determined by the country’s national constitution.

Hence, in a nutshell Abyei like any other disputed border areas such as Heglig, Kupranath, etc. with people and immense mineral wealth should be wrested from the control of anybody that claims them as his. Their resources no matter how minute they may be shouldn’t be traded off as small benefits that spoil what are considered to be bigger gains extracted from oil fields currently in operation. 1999 inaugural opening of Bentiu oil fields to the benefit of the rival north and to our advantage should not in any way repeat itself. Not to allow continuing under our nose and watch is the issue of Kapoeta gold presently being mined by foreigners in cohorts with local cartels and neither the same to be allowed to take roots in West and Central Equatoria States where timbers are illegally logged by outsiders next door. This is the responsibility of any leadership with constitutional obligation to dutifully safeguard public interests and not least that of future generation which shouldn’t be mortgaged for the comfort of the present few. Overlooking such matters of posterity is the reference point at which the governing party SPLM scores poorly for it desperately pursues short term interests that are more beneficial to it directly. One of these short term interests is the way it is being high on its toes to cut deal on oil flow with Sudan government that has snatched many parts of our land with people and resources. Desperate to refill bank accounts that have run drier due to oil shut down and subsequent biting austerity, SPLM’s big men are ever busy to ensure Tharjath and Polouch’s oil flows north again while leaving to their fate people and resources trapped in disputed border territories already over run by Sudan.

Deng Vanang is a Journalist and member of SPLM-DC’s National Executive Council. He can be reached at: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . NB: The views expressed above are solely mind and not attributed to SPLM-DC as the party.

President Kiir’s pedantic tricks in the SPLM Oyee machine

By Elhag Paul

June 26, 2013 (SSNA) -- President Kiir with his pedantic tricks is at it again.  This time he picks on those in the inner circle of the SPLM Oyee machine.  Do not be carried away by the headline grabbing subject of corruption.  This is just part of the trick.  Keep your eyes wide open during this interesting period of power struggle in the SPLM.

On 18th June 2013 Sudan Tribune under the title, ‘South Sudan president suspends two ministers for corruption probe’ http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article46997  reported that president Kiir had suspended Ahmed Deng Alor, the minister for cabinet affairs and Kosti Manibe, the minister of finance for involvement in transfer of millions of dollars for personal benefit.  In the same order the president further appointed Judge John Gatwech Lul, the head of the anti-corruption commission to investigate the allegation within 60 days with the view of bringing prosecution against the accused.  A good section of the society already appears to approve of the president’s action.  This is what is expected in any normal functioning government.  However, I am afraid that some citizens may already have had their hopes raised for nothing.  The reality could be different. 

President Kiir is using the corruption vehicle to get at people he believes have abandoned supporting his leadership in the ongoing struggle between him, his deputy and Pagan Amum.  So the suspension of the two ministers has more to do with their views in the current battle for leadership of the SPLM Oyee machine than corruption per se.  President Kiir is trying to prepare the ground by weeding out all those who have either publicly withdrawn their allegiance to him or those who have remained silent without expressing their allegiance to him. 

Why is the corruption vehicle a charade?  SPLM Oyee itself is a product of corruption and it will not survive without exercise of corruption.  Corruption runs deep in its veins and it is what keeps it alive.  Please see, ‘Fudging the issue- President Kiir and corruption in RSS.’  http://allafrica.com/stories/201206250013.html  We already know that Ahmed Deng Alor is a Don of corruption and there is nothing new about this latest accusation by the president.  The vital thing for the public to note is that nothing will come out of this investigation and here the editorial of South Sudan Nation under the heading, ‘Latest mega-corruption: Is Kiir yet again a toothless bulldog?’ published on 19th June 2013 is spot on.

Judge John Gatwech Lul, is a sworn poodle of John Luke, the minister of Justice and president Kiir.  He is a fixer of the regime.  He runs the launderette of SPLM Oyee.  Having been reduced from the prestigious position of a judge to an SPLM laundry man, his main task is washing of Oyee dirt and issuing clean bill of health to the criminals brought to his attention.  For instance, recently the kith and kin of president Kiir hammered their way into the president’s office safe in J1 in Juba and helped themselves to millions of dollars of South Sudanese money.  Instead of a proper investigation by the relevant organs, the president referred the matter to Judge Lul and as expected he bathed the thieves with legal detergents and cleared them on grounds that the evidence got contaminated.

Unlike Lul, his predecessor Dr Pauline Riek was a lady of integrity who could not allow her character to be tarnished by SPLM Oyee crimes.  While she was leading the Anti-corruption commission she acted professionally and was committed to clean South Sudan of corruption but she was sabotaged and denied the necessary legislation to carry out her duties by none other than president Kiir himself.  This remains a shame on South Sudanese.  Her removal underscores the fact that the problem in South Sudan is not lack of educated people or professionals but rather it is the pugnacity of Dinkocracy. 

Judge Lul in the current case will implement what has already been agreed between president Kiir and the minister of Justice John Luke which is that no SPLM Oyee member will be prosecuted for corruption.  Actually the exoneration of the kith and kin of the president referred to above is the result of this policy.  John Luke is on record that nobody will be prosecuted for corruption.  Please see the following articles, ‘South Sudan: Don Salvatore Allegiance to the Code of Omerta in RSS’ http://allafrica.com/stories/201206100131.html?page=4 and ‘Sudan: Corruption Saga - the SPLM Five Big Guns or the Quintet Squirrels’ http://allafrica.com/stories/201202271279.html?page=2

Reacting to president Kiir’s suspension of the Ahmed Alor and Kosti Manibe; John Luke in ‘South Sudan says lifting immunity not automatic indictment of corruption’ http://wwws.udantribune.com/spip.php?article47040 subtly reiterates and re-invokes the SPLM Oyee policy of no prosecution for corruption.  

Therefore, all those who are hoping for a critical and factual report of the investigation followed by prosecution of the duo in court may be raising their hopes to be dashed.  John Luke erected a clear sign post as notice to the public last year when he said, “No Prosecution for Corruption in Republic of South Sudan”.

Now that we have explored the president’s action in light of the information and experiences available to us, let us move on to talk about the proposition of this paper which is that the president is using the corruption vehicle as a tool to weed out his opponents in the SPLM Oyee machine and to strengthen his position for the expected leadership contest.

In terms of the leadership contest, president Kiir is in a very awkward position.  First, he has practically proved beyond doubt that he is ineffective, weak and a tribal leader.  Under his watch South Sudan deteriorated to a failed state because he was focused on enriching the so called ‘born to rule’.  Secondly, he knows that his colleagues in the Oyee machine have lost confidence in his leadership.  Thirdly, he is a hostage to the semi illiterate and powerful group of tribalists led by people like Salva Mathok, the deputy minister of interior and Paul Malong, the governor of Northern Bahr El Ghazal.  Fourthly and crucially he has tasted power and does not want to lose it.  So if he is to remain in power he must secure re-election to the post of chairman of SPLM Oyee during the coming convention.  This requires him to be brutal to knock heads.  But knocking heads in an organisation of criminals can be a very dangerous business.  It is this very reason that has forced president Kiir to be selective like a predator stalking a herd while looking for the weak and easy prey.

Ahmed Alor and Kosti Manibe happen to be the weakest quarry in the herd to start the game with.  To send a strong message to the SPLM Oyee membership to tow the line, president Kiir has decided to sacrifice the duo.  Ahmed Alor is sacrificial because he is a foreigner and the overwhelming majority of South Sudanese know that and they would not go out to the streets to protect him.  After all, Ahmed’s opportunism disgusts a lot of people.  All his life in the then Sudan he did not want to associate with South Sudanese.  All his friends were Arabs and he did not want to identify with the South Sudanese cause.  In 1983 as a staunch Arabist and unionist he saw an opening in Dr John Garang’s ideology of New Sudan to become somebody.  He grabbed the opportunity and became a close friend of the late.  During that period he manipulated the late and enriched himself.  When Dr Garang died, he quickly jumped ship abandoning his group of Garang boys and attached himself to president Kiir; again he further enriched himself obscenely.  Now sensing that president Kiir is about to lose, he has began to reposition himself for another leap to place of power.  It seems president Kiir has noticed and hence his present predicament.

Although Ahmed Alor has support in the Abyei boys like Luka Biong, Gen. Pieng Deng, Dr Francis Deng and so on, this would not pose any threat on its own to president Kiir.  This obviously is a huge draw back for Abyei.  Ahmed Alor since Garang days has been the pivotal character distorting South Sudan politics.  The power that Ahmed wields in the SPLM Oyee machine via manipulation should not be underestimated especially in absence of ideology and a coherent policy in the party.  Ahmed is the one person responsible for the invisibility of the minister of foreign affairs and the forceful assertion of Abyeians as citizen of South Sudan contrary to the provision of the CPA of 2005.

With Ahmed’s fall from grace, it now remains to be seen whether this will result in shift in the unarticulated foreign policy of South Sudan.  It is worth remembering that South Sudan lost Panthou to the Sudan due to the machinations of the Abyei boys led by Ahmed and the negligence of Dr Riek Machar.    

Unlike Ahmed Alor, Kosti Manibe’s citizenship is unquestionable.  He hails from an area deep inside South Sudan.  An area that has produced patriots throughout the struggle for secession of South Sudan.  Kosti is not only a member of the SPLM Oyee but a committed loyal member whose character has all along been immaculate.  He is well educated, well mannered and very calm.  Kosti is a force for stability and good but unfortunately a self constructed victim of his very self.  Kosti is very disadvantaged.  He has no local support as proved by the general election of 2010.  He also has no followers in the SPLA as he is not a military person coupled with the oppression of Equatoria has made him to be disposable.  Kosti may have been chosen by president Kiir to make example of because he may not have revealed his political preference and allegiance as to who should be the next leader of South Sudan.  Kosti is reported to be notorious for silence and keeping things to himself and this may not have earned him friends among the Warrap cartel.

The dragging of the duo into the mud is also a serious warning to the other contenders.  Pagan has made his ambitions clear and it appears he may not be in good book of president Kiir.  Pagan being in the same predicament like Kosti without local support from the Chollo people may soon find himself in difficulties.  In the general election of 2010 he failed to win a seat in his home area.  However, he has advantage over Kosti as he appears to have some support in the SPLA and among the Bor people because he is a ‘Garang boy’.  Although this support puts him in a better position, there is no guarantee that he will not be dragged into the mud.

While president Kiir plays this roulette he has seriously compromised his own position and the welfare of the SPLM Oyee machine itself.  His advisors seem to be short sighted and they may have miscalculated badly.  This game which is supposed to strength president Kiir’s position ironically may be the very one that speeds the demise of his regime.  President Kiir enjoys the presidency because of the combined support of his tribe and their control of the SPLM Oyee machine.  By targeting Ahmed Alor and Kosti Manibe, he has automatically lost the support of the Abyei group and the Equatoria SPLM Oyee members.  The Abyei group due to marriage alliance may now shift their allegiance to Pagan Amum or even Dr Riek Machar in a trade off possibly for influence on foreign policy in South Sudan.  So what is emerging is the disintegration of the unity of greater Jieng which also means the loosening of their grip on power.

In effect, president Kiir’s opponents will now be the potential beneficiaries of his short sighted action.  Instead of strengthening his position, he has opened up himself to unnecessary attack weakening his authority and support base.  Ahmed Alor and Kosti Manibe are members of the SPLM national liberation council, the highest organ of the SPLM Oyee machine.  As far as it is known there is no mechanism in the organisation which will halt them from participating in the debate on the leadership question.  So, Ahmed and Kosti will have their day of revenge when things come to the NLC especially on the dispute over the voting system that decides the leadership of SPLM Oyee.

This drama should be a lesson to all those from the smaller tribes in the SPLM Oyee machine that they have no future in this organisation.  This is an organisation that serves one particular ethnic group.  It uses members of the other ethnic groups as fodder for its growth and enrichment of the ‘born to rule’.  If you swim with them, do not be surprised when they push you away from the deep clear water into the mud.

In all, president Kiir with his pedantic tricks is now stoking the disintegration of the SPLM Oyee.  This is good news for the country.  He should be encouraged to carry on.  We say well done to him and his advisors.  The disgruntled abused groups now have to carefully calculate on who to support for leadership in South Sudan because they have no future in it.  Wisdom dictates that Equatoria should pick up the mantle and challenge for the position of leadership to rescue the country from total collapse.

[Truth hurts but it is also liberating]

The Author lives in the Republic of South Sudan. He can be reached at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Political months Ahead: How Kiir manoeuvred his deputy and neutralised his venom

By: Lueth Bol Dengker

June 26, 2013 (SSNA) -- The south Sudan’s leadership conference will be an interesting episode to watch. It will be an all-out war. However, the most interesting part is when the top two will perhaps go one on one. Whoever wins, will win by a knock-out, not by points. This is the only way you can win a match and embarrass a referee, who is squaring up with your opponent to influence the outcome otherwise.

Political landscape

The current and future political landscape in the south Sudan is apparently poisonous-one that everybody fears, and a rocky place to ride. In such environment, only political Asti odes will survive. The SPLM convention will mark water shed and protests for the politicians who will not make it. But those protests will add salt to the wound .Regional conferences have been conducted, with Bhar-el-gazel, endorsing president kiir .Equatoria, might have followed a similar note. If that endorsement is anything to go by, then the president will take it all.

With the upper Nile region left, and from the look of things, Machar’s supporters may outnumber the incumbent’s, and toe the line to endorse him. There are no significant inroads that such a move could alter the overwhelming balance of support for the president, before the election. On the other side of the coin, you will find out that the opposition parties are climbing a ladder without steps. This means that they have no formidable platform or network that will bring diverse thinking intellectuals together to post a powerful opposition to the government. I wanted to say that the opposition parties are comprised of a group of “garden boys” who are neither team players nor game changers. Whatever, they articulate is a “bear hall talk” and a cosmetic exercise simultaneously.

As I have already stated, in a future to be seen, the most primary decisions and policies are made within SPLM party structures and will continue to do so. This is because the SPLM is the most irreversible tsunami of south Sudan’s politics. You must be a 140 pounds political giant, to be able to instigate a wind of change, against such a dominant party.

The outcome of political debates and political battles in the SPLM and its branches will continue to shape the content of the government. The key role modules in this arena are the SPLM and the SPLMYL and possible alliances.

The SPLM youth league, under its current leader has been a mouth piece since the days of our late leader, and is perpetuating the same nature now, upon which I can assert that; there is no leadership in the youth league, because the current leadership, has elements factored with selling -out the legacy of the youth league and a double agent - abusing the league’s platform to save the master at all costs. With his sell-out tendencies, his master will be be-abled to capitalise. He is a traitor who can never be trusted to carry out the mandate of the youth to its logical conclusion.

The league is in disarray, however, current status of the youth wing will not change the outcome of that conference then, or in 2015 general elections, but it will dramatically do thereafter. The youth fells that they are not represented because the current leadership constitutes the group of “house boys” who were nominated at the back yard, not whom the youth elected, and only represents the interest of the master less they are fired. It is highly inconceivable that a house boy can easily be turned against his master unless his master is deposed.

This is why it is crucial to comprehend the style of contest within the SPLM and its youth wing by measuring the roles each will eventually play when the battle is at stake. Who wins the war or who wins the battle, will be determined by the dynamics of such styles in across the spectrum.

One of these styles is that; patronage rather than ideology is now the key inertia of the SPLM politics and will shape the run up to the convention. It is still inevitable to discern some ideological consistency’ regarding the factions that coalesced around Dr Machar and President Kiir. Kiir, looks set to defy the political harmony and that is where his problem is’ because if he doesn’t, he risks losing power. And if he continues defying the SPLM Legacy; it’s not a sin to second Machar’s warning that; SPLM will be a “football”. 

What makes the president so irritant rather articulate is that; he knows’ once he lose power, he will never be back to the throne and he would have gone a failed president. He must have tasted the glory of being in the state house and insists not to buy that luxury of losing it. So, he will do anything in his power to win by hook or crook. You may level him incompetent at your own peril. But that is not the point. In Africa you don’t have to worry about being a success or a failure, or even abuse of human rights. What you need to do is, steal public money, build mansions and buy the poor to vote for you when it comes to elections. Question is; how long are you going to be stealing? There is no doubt’ the buyers and the bought are all thieves. The difference is; the buyer is the big thief and the bought is the small thief, all bear the same conviction.

If you still are wondering what simple strategy Mr “Tiger” is capable of, then you might not have monitored his personality from the angle of incident.

It is simple; smile and laugh in the public, but in reality you behave like a monster, a tyrant who will target perceived enemies without mercy, and because of that fear few dare to speak openly." That is why in South Sudan, everybody feels irritated even with a closest friend because majority has become a security personnel. In this regard, people fear the army of spies that surround the crown. Without a code of conduct, not because those codes do not exist, but because they have relentlessly been violated, these spies are fiercely willing to silence discerning voices of reasons by detention, brutal attacks or even massacre them, in an effort to install complete fear in the “opposing and opposition” in order to take full control of the embattled party and build a fault consensus, that will pave the way for a long reign of the incumbent and subsequently seal power struggle.

As I strongly suggest that power should remain in Bhar-el-gazel for some time {I understand it is not a kingdom}, I also belief in the accommodation of those individuals who have the potential. You can call me silly, stupid and many more, in so much that I would, if you do not agree with me that we, Bhar-el-gazelese have been the face of the revolution and had been extremely sidelined in the leadership circles during the struggle. Power, being in Bhar-el-gazel, is a privilege, the same way as it has been for Upper Nile years ago, and I belief we are not immune to the chance we have now. However, we do need to be killers, dictators and triblists, rather act as people holding the keys of authority and perfection.

However, the run-up to the national convention is primarily about access to state resources for the benefit of particular interest groups irrespective of their ideological attributions.  It is for this reason that SPLM and its alliances, will stand behind Kiir. It also explains why the president striped his vice of the powers he once was given ,and why he purged those rumoured to topple him, replacing them with his closest, allies in order to strengthen his grip on the party.

While there is a group of the discontented fellas, those opposed to the president has not consolidated into a coherent faction, and consists of a spiralling, confused and an often realigning mess, a group of power angry politicians without an agreed champion’. Indeed, the vice president has put himself in this uncomfortable spot, by availing himself to run for presidency. Mr Machar needs to calculate his steps well. First, he must know that he is not going to win. Secondly, if he runs against the incumbent, and doesn’t win, he will most certainly lose his position within the SPLM and in the government. If, by sympathy, he is retained, then he will lose influence because he would have been neutralised.

The author of this article, is a south Sudanese living in Australia. He can be reach at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

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