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2015 Elections: How Many Carts Should Salva Kiir be Allowed to Place Before the Horses?

By Riang Yer Zuor Nyak


January 25, 2015 (SSNA) -- In my last article, titled ‘Salva Kiir’s Attack on His Own Legitimacy Claim’, I made a point that the Transitional Constitution of the Republic of South Sudan, 2011 provides for four years of transition ”… before a new election could take place under a new and permanent constitution.” The most important part of that statement is the area talking about elections under the permanent constitution.

It signifies that there is no chance for any elections to take place under the current transitional period under the Transitional Constitution. I am only glad that the Opposition Parties have picked up that point and made a move to challenge the government in court for unconstitutionally wanting to conduct elections under the Transitional Constitution.

I want to state that the Opposition Parties have a standing to challenge unconstitutionality of any government’s act, as do any other citizen in the country, so long as the case is justice-able, ripe and not moot. But, they are wrong as far as timing is concerned. Filing their case at this time goes against ripeness doctrine. The current statements are only threats of action. The government has not yet taken any tangible step towards executing this threat. They should have waited for the time when the government actually releases the election money to the Elections Commission. That would trigger a case for an injunctive relief.

The premature action of the parties is only giving the court an opportunity to throw the case out on the ground that the case is not ripe yet. Nevertheless, there is no chance that the parties can win any case (ripe or not ripe, constitutional or unconstitutional) against Salva’s government in Chan Reech Madut’s court.


Before March 2013, the issue of elections in 2015 was never problematic. It suddenly started becoming a controversial one after March, when a number of SPLM leaders started showing their interests in the Party’s Chairmanship. After Salva’s leadership was openly challenged in the party, Salva and Wani started talking about the impossibility of the elections, citing lack of money to fund the exercises, as there were loans, to be repaid, which resulted from the 2012 oil shut down.

This position was taken at the time because Salva and his group did not yet know what to do with those who had shown interest in the Chairmanship of the party. It has to be noted that the party issue had a bearing on the 2015 elections. The SPLM Constitution stipulates that the Chairman of the SPLM shall be the flag bearer in the presidential election. So, something had to be done first to ensure that the Chairmanship of the SPLM remained with Salva before elections could be allowed to take place. The situation remained as such.

The whole thing started changing after the dissolution of the SPLM structures before the 6th of December 2013. This was the time after the group (Salva’s) seemed to have come up with a plan of action. They had decided to leave the opposition out of the party processes of passing the party basic documents and preparing for the National Convention. This was done to ensure that Salva controlled the process so that the Convention could end up electing him.

Before the Convention could take place, Wani started talking about the elections to be carried out on time. Their actions, beginning with the dissolution of the party structures, pre-determined the outcome of the Convention. They were sure that Salva would remain the Chairman of the party.

To make sure that these opponents did not have freedom to speak or take part in the political process, a plan was put in place to eliminate them one way or anthor. It had already begun with the home confinement and gagging of Pagan Amum and the removal and accusation of Deng Alor and Kosti Manibe on the basis that they had committed corruption.

For Dr. Riek Machar, they could not come up with any corruption charges. This led to the false accusation of a coup attempt. This was meant to take him out on charges, which would fetch him death sentence. That way, he could be eliminated for good. Carrying this plan out resulted in the current war breaking out, and the issue of elections became mute on its own.

Unilateral Postponement of the Elections

As the Peace Talks were going on last year in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Salva Kiir while arriving at Juba Airport from an IGAD Summit in May, made a unilateral declaration that he had postponed the elections to 2018 or so. It did not matter to him whether or not he had a reason for such an act. To him, he was exercising some imaginary constitutional power, or he might actually have thought of himself as the constitution, needing no one else to consult. To other ordinary South Sudanese, it was a clear show of dictatorship. It also showed that he had no regard for the Talks in Addis Ababa.

It was after the declaration that Salva received criticisms both internally and externally. These criticisms came from all directions, including Yoweri Museveni himself—Salva’s most trusted external advisor. As a result, the idea of running elections was dropped altogether. It timing was left to be negotiated at the IGAD-led Peace Talks.


Suddenly, the nagging issue of legitimacy has become one of desperation on the part of the government. It has now brought the 2015 elections to the fore. I suspect that it is not well thought out. It might have come up during some form of an ordinary conversation that the constitutional period of transition was approaching its end. Then someone might have tried to put himself in the position of a problem solver by suggesting elections as an ingenious way of restoring legitimacy. But, would that really solve the problem? Not a chance. The current Transitional Constitution is a big stumbling block.

Whatever Happened to the Transition?

Arguments for and against the 2015 elections have been advanced by many a people, following the first time that the government started declaring its intentions to conduct elections so as to avoid “leadership vacuum”. These arguments for the conduct of elections include the government carrying out a constitutional mandate, avoiding being categorized as illegitimate, and allowing the people to exercise their constitutional democratic right of choosing their leaders. Whatever they are, the arguments have no constitutional basis.

Arguments against the elections include insecurity, lack of a conducive atmosphere for the elections, state of emergency in Greater Upper Nile and the Peace Talks in Addis Ababa. They all suggest the impossibility of conducting a free and fair election. They are very sound and legitimate reasons. However, they are secondary.

The primary focus should be on the fact that the current period in the country is transitional. As such, the current Transitional Constitution’s role is to transition us from the period when South Sudan was an autonomous part of the old Sudan to the period when we could have a permanent constitution. It follows that the period is for the preparation of a new and permanent constitution of our own for the newly independent Republic of South Sudan. It is the government constituted or created by such a new and permanent constitution that officials should be elected to. It is not the current transitional government that officials should be elected to, as advocated by Salva and group.

Putting Pressure on the SPLM/A?

Someone made a suggestion that the government might be trying to put pressure on the SPLM/A by trying to conduct national elections. This is a laughable assertion. There is no way that one can put pressure on another by doing the wrong thing. One would be best served by doing the right thing in the interest of the people so that the opponent, if trying to go the opposite way, can find him/herself against the people.

The government, if that is part of the plan, will find itself under its own pressure by ending up antagonizing the people by trying to conduct unconstitutional elections. The people have a lot of things on their minds. There is war raging on in the country, which would make it impossible to conduct a free and fair election; there is a state of emergency in Greater Upper Nile; there is a threat of war-induced famine looming; there were fellow citizens killed in cold blood and no accountability procedures in place yet; and there are many more. Faking an election for the sake of a manufactured legitimacy would be the last thing to hear.

Insisting on the elections without legal basis would see the government ending up putting pressure on itself, as it will find no support from the ordinary people and the international community as well.

A Cart Before the Horse

The government should, now, be concerned with what to do with the transitional period as the first priority. Or else, whatever Juba does other than that, is meaningless. At this point, it has only two options to choose from before contemplating the conduct of elections. Going for the elections before going for one of the two options is like placing the ‘cart before the horse’.

1. Writing the Permanent Constitution

Paragraph 8 of the Preamble to the Transitional Constitution of the Republic of South Sudan, 2011 talks of the use of that Constitution and the period for which it shall be in use. It is only and strictly to be used for the Transitional Period. It talks about how the Constitution should be referred to upon adoption “…and shall be the supreme law by which the independent and sovereign South Sudan shall be governed during the Transitional Period…” It is at the end of this period that the new constitution should come in to force.

Article 199 (2) of the Transitional Constitution supports the point made above. It states, “This Constitution shall remain in force until the adoption of a permanent constitution.” By “This Constitution”, it refers to the Transitional Constitution.

Therefore, the task that the government should be prioritizing, if it is not concerned about the on-going war, should be to write and promulgate the permanent constitution—instead of wasting time and energy talking about preparing the country for what it calls ‘June 30th elections’. It is after the promulgation of the permanent constitution that elections could be conducted. It should not be the other way around.

2. Extending the Transitional Period

In the alternative, Salva could use the provision of the current Constitution to amend the same so as to have an extended period of transition. Article 197 of the Transitional Constitution, in regards to amending, states that, “This Constitution shall not be amended unless the proposed amendment is approved by two-thirds of all members of each House of the National Legislature sitting separately and only after introduction of the draft amendment at least one month prior to the deliberations.”

Knowing the nature of the current National Legislature, I believe Salva would not have difficulties getting the Constitution amended. Getting two-thirds of members in each house to support his amendment would be an instant event.

However, the extension of the transition would not allow elections. The extended period would only be used for the writing of the permanent constitution. It is after this that the elections would result.

Either way, Salva has no legal way of avoiding writing the permanent constitution before he can actually go for any elections.

Concluding Remarks

Whether the government acts alone or in agreement with the SPLM/A, elections—under the current constitutional dispensation in the country—can never be legally conducted to give legitimacy to the current government. There is just no constitutional mandate for elections into the current constitutional regime. It is under the permanent constitution that national elections can be conducted.

Instead of elections, the government should only start thinking on how to embark on writing and promulgating the permanent constitution, if it has the legitimacy to do that alone given the current war situation. It is after this that an election can be talked about. Otherwise, the government would be putting carts before horses.

The current transitional period is not for elections. It is for our transition to the next period to be ushered in by a new constitution. It is the next government that leaders will be elected to. This and other reasons, such as insecurity, peace talks that are on-going, etc will never allow this much-talked about elections to happen.

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

Critique of SPLM Reunification Agreement in Arusha

By James Okuk, PhD

January 22, 2015 (SSNA) -- The Agreement on the Reunification of the SPLM that was signed in January 21, 2015 in Arusha, Tanzania, suggests three problematic tends despite the fact that it is in the name of peace and reconciliation but invitation of more pressure on the principals.

First, the East African leaders are desperate to see peace being restored to the Republic of South Sudan even if this involves farce, contradictions and renewed conflict when implementation stage arrives down from utopia.

Secondly, the generic content of the agreement leaves a lot to be desired in the level of political thinking and maturity from the SPLM’s factional cadres who negotiated it; you don’t see any amusing sense of rigorous intellectual work in that agreement. The negotiators might have been pre-occupied with the psyche of ‘what will each of them tell Dr. John Garang in the land of death if SPLM disintegrates’. They seem not to care for the Republic of South Sudan, its people, other political parties, resources and future.

Thirdly, the fate of that agreement is linked to the long-awaited the success of Addis Ababa IGAD-led peace talks. That is, if Addis Ababa peace talks collapse, the Arusha reunification agreement will be declared null and void with regret of wasted resources and time. Many available indications are not in favor of successful conclusion of Addis Ababa peace talks, particularly the issues of two standing armed forces in one country, management of oil money and government top positions. Thus, there is nothing yet to celebrate about Arusha agreement because it is not a break-through deal. Oppositely, it is Addis Ababa awaited break-through that would make Arusha a celebrity. The caro is still placed infront of the horse to block it from moving. Hence, pessimism should reign via realism before optimism gets in!


Articles 23 and 39 of the agreement made it hard for my throat to swallow and my stomach to digest the text. Nothing should be allowed to remain vague in-between if the SPLM leaders who converged in Arusha are sincere in establishing the SPLM-Reunited. Why should a reunified body still want to operate as different separate groups? A party is never united until it has a unified leadership. The current destructible war was a result of the disunited SPLM leadership. We already had the benefits of doubts, especially from the case of SPLM-United of 1991 which was abandoned by Dr. Riek Machar in order for him to form SSIM. Why repeat experimenting something whose results are known in advance and you expect a different result. Einstein will call this scientific insanity. The two articles damage the core soul of the Arusha’s SPLM-Reunited beyond repair of CCM Secretary-General even if he builds a permanent home in Juba to follow-up the implementation. The three SPLM factions shall remain as groups in the Political Bureau and in the Government since they shall be represented there equitably and proportionally respectively. But perhaps, this is what the SPLM's Arusha agreement calls 'genuine pluralism' (article 5). This will mean that no unity is yet around the corner for the entire leadership of the SPLM-Reunited, apart from tactics of coming to power and staying thereto intact using Machiavellian utilitarianism!


As far as there is term limits for holding offices of the SPLM’s National and States Chairpersons (article 30), nothing was said about the offices of the Secretary-General and other Secretariats. No term limits for them. Why? Perhaps, Pagan Amum, Anne Itto, Suzanne Jambo and other secretaries are going to remain the SPLM-SG and Secretaries for life. Lucky are they!


The SPLM showed no interest in promoting multi-party liberal democracy in the whole document though militarism and sectarianism was deplored. The document talked of pluralism only (article 5). That could be the reason why Hon. Awet Akot, Hon. Lual Deng and few other SPLM-Diehards would like to see the SPLM-DC abandoning its opposition role and merging with the SPLM-Reunited. At the end, the result will be a one-party state with pluralism of its wider membership. Is this the Republic of South Sudan we fought for?


There shall not be government elections on 30th June 2015. Article 19 puts peace before elections by deferring SPLM convention and other arrangements that necessitate participation in government elections. The law suit against holding elections that was announced by NEC, is now gaining momentum of more evidence in favor of the National Alliance of political parties and civil society organizations that are outside the current government.


We shall no longer see Gen. Paul Malong Awan chairing SPLM affairs of Northern Bahr El Ghazal State. Article 12 tells him so, though it did not as well prohibit Ambassadors from being SPLM card holders. As we speak now, many Ambassadors of South Sudan in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation beat their chests of being loyal SPLM members, and they are deployed abroad and to strategic offices based on this manifest loyalty. For example, at the moment there is no any single head of diplomatic mission of South Sudan abroad who is not a declared SPLM loyalist. The SPLM's Arusha document had ignored totally this diplomatic anomalie while it tackled the case of armed forces. Diplomats are the unarmed army generals of a country in the forefront of the defense of foreign policy. South Sudan should not tolerate partisanship and sectional politicization in its diplomacy.


For the SPLM to apologize (article 2 ) for the unforgivable mess it created in South Sudan and for it to account the criminal convicts in its membership (article11), is a notable acknowledgement of the critique some of us laid on the first signed framework in Arusha last year. What about the commanders and the criminals of corruption? Are they going to be accounted and unwelcome to the SPLM?


Articles 8 and 13 want the SPLM not to be separated from the government. The government is called SPLM’s Government rather than the Government of the Republic of South Sudan. Why should we have a party government unless we are confirming to be a one-party state? The government should belong to all while the political party to its members only. The Westphalian nation-state dictates so. The two should not be mixed and exchanged at will. It shall look like forcing bull’s horns on a hornless donkey.


All in all, the SPLM didn't hint to any move of changing its name within the declared reform agenda so that the reunited party becomes re-brandedly relevant to the Republic of South Sudan. So where is the SPLM-Reunited transitioning to, if it is not willing to separate from the Sudan in order for it to adapt to South Sudan? “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change." Charles Darwin.

Bye bye to Arusha even without bringing home its real spirit of 1967. All eyes should now be starred towards Addis Ababa, because that is where the salvation of South Sudan is going to come from, if at all, it is to remain a lucky country in the world.

Dr. James Okuk is a lecturer and public analyst in the area of politics. He lives in Juba and can be reached at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Salva Kiir’s Attack on His Own Legitimacy Claim

By Riang Yer Zuor Nyak

January 20, 2015 (SSNA) -- When the war started in December 2013, Salva Kiir, Barnaba Marial Benjamin, Michael Makuei, Ateny Wek Ateny, and many others could be seen on televisions, local or international, talking about Salva as a legitimately elected president, or the government as a legitimately elected one. Beginning from August of last year, IGAD joined the singing and started referring to Salva as the “elected, incumbent president”.

The SPLM/A’s response to this claim has been consistently that Salva and his government are not elected ones. Rather, they are constitutional. Any claim of legitimacy should spring from the Transitional Constitution of the Republic of South Sudan, 2011. Using the 2010 election as the source of his legitimacy would be futile attempt to twist an obvious reality.

The 2010 Elections

In April 2010, the Republic of the Sudan conducted national elections for all positions, except for those of the County Commissioners. This was because the Interim Constitution of the Republic of the Sudan and the National Election law did not recognize such positions. The positions to which the law authorized election included the position of the President of the Government of Southern Sudan. Salva Kiir was elected to this position as head of the autonomous regional government. This was in line with the provisions of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA).

The national election law gave the holders of the elected positions five years to serve before the next elections. The anticipated time for the next elections was April 2015, and this is still the case for the Republic of the Sudan.

The Independence in 2011

In fulfillment of the provisions of the CPA, South Sudan conducted a referendum in January 2011 on whether it should remain part of the Republic of the Sudan, or it should secede from the union to form an independent state of its own. The people of South Sudan overwhelmingly chose secession over the unity of the old Sudan.

On July 9, 2011, the Republic of South Sudan was born as the newest or youngest state in Africa in particular and the world in general. On that day, a new and independent transitional constitution was promulgated to establish the new state. It is this constitution that gave Salva Kiir his new four-year mandate as the President of the Republic of South Sudan. As such, his term began counting from that day to the 9th of July 2015.

The Legitimacy Question

Any one elected or appointed under a constitutional provision can claim legitimacy. However, such legitimacy is usually bestowed up on certain conditions and behavioral requirements. Once the person ceases to meet those requirements, or once those conditions disappear, legitimacy can be lost. This is not different with Salva Kiir.

Under the Interim Constitution of the Republic of the Sudan, 2005 and the Interim Constitution of the Government of Southern Sudan, 2005, Salva Kiir was elected to administer the region for five years. His mandate was to last up to April 2015. Within that period his legitimacy would run uninterrupted if he did not commit any behavioral mistake, or if he did not cease to function due to other conditions.

However, Salva’s time was interrupted on July 9, 2011 when South Sudan broke away from the rest of the Sudan. As a result, condition (remaining as part of the old Sudan) disappeared. Allegiance to remains as the current Republic of the Sudan ended, and a new allegiance to the new state with a new constitution began. This condition ended the April 2010 mandate, as it ended the former autonomous status of what was then one of the regions of the Sudan. That mandate went together with the electoral legitimacy, for you could not have one without the other.

Under the Transitional Constitution of the Republic of South Sudan, Salva was given a new mandate as the President of a new sovereign state. The new constitution gave the president four years before a new election could take place under a new and permanent constitution. The new term and mandate gave a legitimacy that would run through July 9, 2015.

The End of the Constitutional Legitimacy

Salva Kiir started the process of ending his constitutional legitimacy, leading to the current situation, a long time ago. He intentionally violated the constitution here and there, and a step-by-step process. The last step was the eruption of violence on December 15, 2013. Some of these violations are discussed below.

1. Appointments of Ministers

What I believe to be the first violation of the new Constitution came after the proclamation of Independence. Salva appointed ministers to his cabinet and sent their names to the newly reconstituted legislative assembly in a sealed envelope. He only needed the assembly to approve what was in the envelope without seeing exactly whose names were on the paper for approval. This went against Article 113 which gives the National Legislative Assembly the power to approve presidential nominations of ministers.

Article 113 (2) states that “Appointment of the Ministers of the National Government shall be approved by a resolution of the National Legislative Assembly adopted by a simple majority vote of all members.” This gives the Assembly the power to scrutinize the nominee to see if they meet certain constitutional criteria as provided in sub-Article 3.

Sub-Article 3 provides that “Ministers of the National Government shall be selected with due regard to the need for inclusiveness based on integrity, competence, ethnic and regional diversity and gender.” The act of forcing the Assembly to approve a list without scrutinizing individual nominees before they could become ministers did not give the Assembly the chance to meet such a constitutional obligation. It follows that the process was unconstitutional.

2. Recruiting and Training of Tribal Militia

The other significant violation came with the recruitment of a personal tribal militia, which has become known as the ‘Gel Weng’. Article 151 (3) of the Constitution does not provide him with the option of organizing his own private army without a provision of a law. It states, “No person or persons shall raise any armed or paramilitary force in South Sudan except in accordance with this Constitution and the law.” If he saw an urgent need for his personal militia, then Salva should have gone to the National Legislature to get some sort of approval or some legislative act of authorization, as this type of undertaking needed a law and money, and the National Legislature supposedly holds the national purse as stated in Article 55 (3) (d), read together with Articles 87 and 88.

Article 55 (3) (d) says that the National Legislature has the competence to, among other things, “…authorize annual allocation of resources and revenue, in accordance with Article 87 of this Constitution…”

While Article 87 talks about allocation of resources and revenues, Article 88 talks about general budget proposals and estimates to be presented by the President to the National Legislature for approval and enactment of an appropriation bill.

Therefore, the whole undertaking of recruiting, training and deploying the Gel-Weng was very unconstitutional.

3. Removal of Governors

In 2013, Salva started revoing state Governors allegedly exercising a constitutional provision. Article 101 (r) of the Transitional Constitution of the Republic of South Sudan allows removal of a Governor only when there is a crisis in the state. It states that the President may “…remove a state Governor and/or dissolve a state legislative assembly in the event of a crisis in the state that threatens national security and territorial integrity…”

In Lakes State, there was a crisis—an insecurity that remains to exist as of current. Salva removed Chol Tong on the pretext that there was insecurity in his state. In Unity State, there was no insecurity of any sort. Yet, he removed Gen. Taban Deng Gai without explanation. Those who were aware of the political differences between Salva and the two gentlemen knew that the removals were politically motivated. The Constitution does not provide for politically motivated removals.

After removal, the Constitution provides for temporary replacement, which Salva did by appointing care-taker Governors. After that, an election has to take place within sixty days. Article 101 (s) states that the President shall “…appoint a state care-taker Governor who shall prepare for elections within sixty days in the state where the Governor has been removed or the state legislative assembly so dissolved in accordance with the provisions of this Constitution, the relevant state constitution and the law…” This provision of the Constitution has not been fully honored by Salva Kiir. He appointed care-taker Governors who have served beyond sixty-day Constitutional requirement. Elections have not been organized ever since the care-taker Governors were appointed.

In addition to the two initial care-taker Governors, he has appointed two more care-taker ones, replacing Kuol Manyang and Paul Malong Awan, respectively. Therefore, as of now, there are four Governors who are serving unconstitutionally. Their mandates do not stem from the Constitution. They owe their legitimacy to Salva Kiir, not to the Transitional Constitution of the Republic of South Sudan, 2011.

4. Taking and Retaining Political Power

At the beginning of the violence, Salva and his group were constantly talking about a coup plot that they had discovered and foiled. They kept talking about their murderous acts as protecting the Constitution, or against unconstitutional act of trying to take power by force. Article 4 (1) states that “No person or group of persons shall take or retain control of State power except in accordance with this Constitution.” Two words: ‘take’ and ‘retain’ are very important elements of this provision.

As their statements reveal, they are doing what they are doing, pretending to be preventing unconstitutional takeover of the political power. But, all evidence point to the lack of violent takeover on the part of Salva’s political opponents. Instead, Salva and his group are the ones trying to retain power through violence, which is unconstitutional.

5. The Deaths of the More than 20,000 Ethnic Nuer in Juba

The deaths of the more than 20,000 civilians began on the 15th of December and it continued until all the remaining ones had to take refuge in the UNMISS compounds. They were specifically targeted on the basis of their ethnic backgrounds. Every indication points to such an act as premeditated. This act of unjustly killing people went against the very Constitution that they claim to protect.

Under the Bill of Rights, Article 11 of the Constitution talks about life and human dignity. It states, “Every person has the inherent right to life, dignity and the integrity of his or her person which shall be protected by law; no one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his or her life.” The way these people were murdered was such that they had no right to life, no human dignity and the integrity of their persons was never respected. The law simply failed to protect them as their lives were taken arbitrarily on the streets, in their homes and in their cars.

It was an ultimate act against the Constitution.

Now, Is Salva A Legitimate President?

I shall begin by saying that Salva is not an elected president, and any claim of legitimacy should not come from the 2010 election. It follows that he is, instead, a constitutional president. Any claim of legitimacy should come from the Transitional Constitution of the Republic of South Sudan, 2011.

However, by his behavior in office, he has eroded away all the constitutional legitimacy that was bestowed on him by the Constitution. Right now, he only stays in power because he can. His attempt to organize an election to legitimize his rule so as to meet the constitutional deadline is a sign that all along, he has been talking of himself as an elected president, just to fool the people and win their support—internally and externally. He really knows that he is not an elected president.

After all, he admitted his lack of electoral legitimacy by stating, quoted on the 13th of January 2015,  that “Those of Riek [Machar] and their friends are trying to hold the country back from going for elections so that they keep the government in hang, so that when the term of this government comes to an end in July, they come out and say you have no legitimacy, which I don’t think our people will accept”. He further stated, “The simple reason for going for elections is to avoid power vacuum and losing legitimacy.” That is one big brutal attack on his own electoral legitimacy claim, as it is clear from his two statements that he is after the constitutional mandate when he talks of the loss of legitimacy in July.

Another problem that Salva is facing is lacking of things to say. The only thing that he can always come up with is some intelligible attack on Dr. Riek Machar. In his statement, he talks of “Those of Riek Machar and their friends…” as “…trying to hold the country back from going for elections so that they keep the government in hang…” Before Salva’s statement, Riek Machar had not made any statement since the talk of the election began this month.

It was only after his (Salva’s) statement that James Gatdet Dak, the Press Secretary of Dr. Riek Machar, was quoted on the 17th of January 2015 as having made a statement to this effect. He was quoted to have said that “’Our leadership rejects this and asks the South Sudanese and the international community to reject it.’” So, where does Riek Machar come in, in Salva’s statement? He just attacked Riek Machar before Riek Machar said anything. Was he trying to pre-empt so that he could later say, see, I told you that Riek Machar was against the election? It was just a sign that he was not even comfortable with what he was saying, and was trying to blame someone for something.

Anyway, it also shows that he knows that he has completely struck down his constitutional legitimacy by ruling the country in contravention with the Constitution. That is why electoral legitimacy has always taken precedent over constitutional one.

So, if not a legitimate president by election, and not a legitimate president by constitution, can Salva really still go around and talk of himself as legitimate? Legitimacy comes and goes. When it is there, then it is there. But once it goes, it no longer exists. Just because it was for Salva, that doesn’t mean that it will always exist for him. He can try as many as he wants to run an election to restore it. But, he will not regain it by running the elections that he and his group are talking about.

I personally believe that the elections that they are talking about in Juba will never take place. Talking about them only betrays Salva’s usual claim of legitimacy on the basis of the April 2010 election, a thing that places his supporters in a tongue-tied position at a time when their only point of support is electoral legitimacy.

There are many reasons for me to take the position that the elections will never happen. I will talk about these reasons in my next article. In the meantime, let us all keep listening to Juba on this issue.

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

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