South Sudan News Agency

Friday, Jul 31st, 2015

Last update10:05:51 PM GMT

You are here: Opinion

The celebration of the new Pagak County on Wednesday, May 27, 2015

By Lul Gatkuoth Gatluak

May 30, 2015 (SSNA) -- Three weeks ago, an invitation notice was extended and circulated on media, urging sons and daughters of Pagak to attend the commemoration of Pagak promotion to County level which is said to would have taken place in June. One made a plan to attend the function. Unfortunately, on Monday May 25, 2015, cousin Chan Nyak Kuoth, drop me a line communicating the fact that the day celebration supposed to be held has been changed from June to May 27, that change ruined the plan.  

Although one hasn’t made it to attend the celebration of the new county--Pagak, heart, thoughts and feelings are with the people who are physically celebrating. Insightfully, one thought about his paternal uncle who established the town using his own herds as the primary sources for use during that process. The author is also been mindful of all individuals who help in making the establishment of Pagak a reality over the years. Pagak County is located in the eastern-most of South Sudan along Ethiopian border. The area is the home of variety speakers of Nilo-Saharan languages such as the Nuer and Burun/Majangir as well as their Anyuak brothers/sisters on the side of Ethiopia. The Nuer who lives in Pagak County are eastern Jikany branch, consisting of Gaatjaak, Gaatguang and Gaatjiok. These clans are the majority of the Nuer who live in the Upper Nile region of South Sudan.

When Pagak got established in 1988, Gaatjaak were only habitant. The complexity of the social composition of Pagak increased when the SPLM/A follow the citizen who explored the town and make it a training center for new army recruit in 1989----that when other South Sudanese nationalities entered the area. Like many outer-posts, Pagak has for years----remained a remote unreachable jungle village between Zarzar and Lare. Native dwellers who habited this would be the future business center---survive primarily on livestock, cultivation, fishery as well as hunting and gathering. Below is a succinct background story of Pagak, covering the period of its early establishment up to the moment.

How Pagak came of being? The story of Pagak date back to 1970s when late Vincent Kuany Latjor defected from Sudan in 1975 and slipped into the bushes of then Southern Sudan toward Ethiopia. He and his colleagues made contact with the Dergue regime of Mengistu Haile Mariam looking for military assistance. Out of the retaliation of what Sudanese government was doing by supplying Eritrean rebels, Ethiopian authority began to provide liability support and stationed mutineers in a remote camp called Bilpam.  At first, Ethiopia did not provide their food item, which left the group struggled for their own survival. Initially, Kuany became close friend to this author’s paternal uncle who help them wholeheartedly using his own cattle.

In the fall of 1975, Kuany left Bilpam after the area was devastated with heavy flood and stationed in uncle Puok home in Lare. Approximately, he led a group of one to two thousand soldiers. Every week, uncle Puok has to slaughter an ox for them to eat throughout their stay, with the help of the community members, Kuany and his soldiers managed to stay in the community for a period of two months before they went back to Bilpam after Baro water went down.

When SPLM/A took over and Kuany was detained, uncle Puok got no recognition, given that those who took over did not know about his contribution. By the time Vincent Kuany got released in 1988 after SPLM/A cemented its unification with Anyanya-two, Kuany called uncle Puok to visit him in Itang. One remembers Puok took two rams with him to Itang as a gift to Gat-Latjor. Before the end of the visitation, Kuany told Puok to go along with him to meet William Nyuon Bany. It was in that meeting Kuany declared to William Nyuon that, “during our eight years stay in Bilpam, part of our survival comes from this man. Since we have now had gotten plenty of ration from the United Nations, I want you to recognize this man for what he has done.” Then, William asked Puok what would he like to do? Puok told him “I would like to lead my community and establish a town that will serve as the seat of my authority.” Ultimately, William authorized a letter to be written bearing the seal of the SPLM/A. The tone of the letter directed whoever comes to have contact with uncle Puok to respect and comply with the content and the terms of the letter. Basically, the letter described Puok as the head chief of Lare. After Puok went back to Lare, he called general assembly meeting and the letter was read aloud by Hoth Nyamai Ruei who eventually became his secretary assisted by this author.

Shortly, within the fall of 1988, Puok and the group of sympathizers moved to Pilual Donnie, an area previously used as a refugee resettlement center during Anyanya-one era. Three months later, then governor of Gambella region Mr. Thowath Pal Chai, ordered the removal of the town from Pilual Donnie; saying, “Pilual is on the side of Ethiopia territory.” Then Puok relocated the town to Larping currently known as Pagak. The name Pagak is originated to a nearby village which previously occupied by Burun/Majanger before they vacated it in early 1980s and the use of the name Pagak was promoted by Dr. Riek Machar over the name Lerping. I bet he was in a mood of avoiding confusion between Lerping and his home town Leer.  First, the establishment of the town was Vincent Kuany Latjor influence. Kuany was the one who encouraged uncle Puok to explore a town. In 1989-90, then Itang refugee camp coordinator comrade Taban Deng Gai promoted the residency of the town by ordering soldiers to build John Garang house. From that time onward, different personalities contributed one way or another to upgrade the town.

In late 1990s and early 2000, Dr. Riek Machar encouraged citizens anywhere in South Sudan to open airstrips so that commercial airplanes may drop food aid to needy local residents.  Pagak became one of the chosen centers where NGOs has stationed permanently to distribute urgently needed necessity. In 1995, an importance political development took place in Pagak; Dr. Riek came back to town from Addis Ababa after he had traveled to Addis Ababa seeking alliances with NDA after NDA form alliances with SPLM/A John Garang’s faction. When Riek’s quest for joining NDA was rejected and got ordered out of the country by the Ethiopian government, he cross the border and stationed in Pagak one of his headquarters and decided to form alliances with the NIF regime which later on resulted into the signing of a political charter with the government of the Sudan . Hence, the charter that culminated to Khartoum Peace Agreement and inked or signed on 21 April 1997 originated from Pagak deliberation. Currently, story repeat itself, the deliberation of adopting federal system as the form of the governance in South Sudan has again taken place in Pagak. These are historical facts children of Pagak should indubitably be proud of.

When CPA was signed in 2005, Southern Sudan interim government structured the system of governance by establishing five levels of the government i.e.; the country, State, County, Payam and Boma/Buma; Pagak ascended from being just a village to Payam. While the end of the interim period was approaching, many people in various places in South Sudan submitted proposals and grievances to power holders whether from State or National levels demanding more counties. Like others, Pagak citizens demanded that the town should be upgraded from Payam to county but all complaints did not work out. Such demands of creating more counties was put on hold until when the country was plunged to war and find itself in this current disorderly manner.

When Dr. Riek came to Addis Ababa from South Sudan in the first week of May 2014 following the European Union, United Nations and the United States’ pressure to involve high profile leaders in the stagnant peace talks in Addis Ababa Ethiopia, Riek brought with him the idea of adopting the federal system of the governance as the basis of ruling South Sudan once peace has prevailed and attained. Under that proposal, Dr. Riek has recommended that, “former southern Sudan districts under British-Egyptian rule, must be upgraded to State level” the idea had equally invited restructuring and promotion of more Payams to the county level. By the time peace talk broke down in October 2014, IGAD mediators demanded South Sudan warring parties must convene conferences in order to communicate IGAD proposal to their respected constituencies. Out of the SPLM/A-IO convention on December 6, 2015 Pagak and many other Payams were made counties after the function had endorsed Dr. Riek’s proposal of federation.

This past Wednesday on May 27, 2015, sons and daughters of Pagak had converged in the town to celebrate the birth of the new county. It was a well-attended function where joyous participants euphorically sang and ululated. Profoundly, the transformation that is taking place in the political structure of South Sudan under the leadership of Dr. Riek Machar is pioneering given that it has introduced the principle of decentralization under federated units opposing Juba tendency of ruling the country under unitary State where power is vested on the hands of the few people. This well thought restructuring, has to be carried on if we are really aiming of fulfilling our forbearers’ popular demand of federalism since 1947.

In conclusion, one is so grateful to the leadership of the SPLM/A-IO for making much needed transformation of the country. Without doubt, majority of South Sudanese people are yearning for federalism to be adopted as the system of the governance. Federal system unlike the mere centralization Juba dragging its feet of promoting, is a constitutional arrangement in which the sovereignty of the nation is divided between the national, State, county and all local governments. Such arrangement provides stronger degree of autonomy to various levels of the government to fulfill citizens’ need. As the celebration has been concluded, one would lastly appeal to Pagak sons and daughters, to promote spirit of mutual understanding as they are running new county activities. It is now up to us to develop the town. Development does not only mean building bricks, cement or zinc houses. It involves everything including combination of mud, grass and tree houses. In that extend, one would like to urge the commissioner and all his council members to build  (federal republic square, a large center for conferences and public guess house) with wood, grasses and mud; using our women league, youth as well as civil society of Pagak men group. Modern infrastructure institutions will follow once peace has been achieved. Moreover, one would equally urge compatriots in Pagak to avoid being rigid over the land issue. Give land to all NGOS that wish to establish their stay and all SPLM/A-IO various institutions particularly department of education and health, their work will one day remain Pagak future benefit. .Long live the leadership of the SPLM/A-IO, long live the dream of our fore fathers.

May God bless Pagak!!

The author is a political commentator: he should be reach by This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Vetting and Verification (V &V) Should Always be Upheld with Pious Passion

By Kuir ë Garang

May 20, 2015 (SSNA) -- When President Kiir fired his entire cabinet and appointed a new one in July of 2013, many of us thought it was the advent of a new era of accountability. Sadly, as the subsequent series of events would prove, it was actually the advent of a gloomy era of serious flood of errors. Even for some of us who knew that Mr. Kiir was already an incapable leader as early as 2005, we didn’t know his incompetence would be this destructive and eternally damning. As he metaphorically and fatefully said when he assumed power after the demise of late Garang, the country is running with no ‘reverse gear.’ So it is easy to see why there is no stop to killings, meaningless decrees, economic deterioration, and political intimidation.

But when the cabinet was initially named, a semblance of a democratic process was exercised with a nominal ‘vetting’ of the ministers. There was even a rejection of one of the president’s nominees. South Sudanese therefore thought the dawn of democracy was in the air. However, the acrimonious vetting process of Telar Ring Deng for Justice Minister soon revealed something sinister. Mr. Telar was the only one actually vetted as the rest of the cabinet wasn’t seriously vetted. Telar’s rejection was later understood to be ‘revenge’ as he was seen to be the power behind the president’s decisions.

Our democratic utopia was therefore dashed. The process was even aggravated when the president warned the parliament after they expressed desire to subject the president’s nominees for the speaker of legislative assembly and Vice Presidency, to scrutiny. The president warned parliament that there’d be consequences if they reject his nominees. It was the classic African preference of personality cult as opposed to democratic or parliamentary principles.

While the president found it easy, or even necessary to do away with the vetting process to bolster his hold on the presidency and power, he can now see that the chicken are coming home to roost.

The constant defection of the likes of Peter Gatdet and Johnson Oliny is a result of not following due process in the institution of any given policy proposals. The incorporation of militia into the national army needs to be done in a manner that reduces any chance of such rebellion-prone folks to rebel. A government, or even the army, can’t just make decisions because they feel they are necessary at the time. Long-term effects have to be put into consideration before any decision is made.

We all know South Sudan has become a totalitarian regime that has copied Khartoum’s theocratic totalitarianism letter by letter and word by word. The political atmosphere is stifling in Juba and any political opposition is treated with pious brutality. There are people who are in government’s controlled areas but they disapprovd of the government. They just don’t see rebellion as a solution to the problems in South Sudan. However, the government doesn’t take it seriously that the more they stifle the political breathing space in South Sudan, the more they drive the disgruntled minds toward rebellion. The SPLA and National Security Agents arrest people anyhow and detain them without any due process of the law. Ateny Wek, the presidential spokesperson, argues that the president doesn’t order such arrests. If the president doesn’t order such arrests then who has the authority to do so? Without doubt, we know such arrests are unconstitutional, so why doesn’t the president stop such arrests given the facts that he’s the guardian of the constitution, ideally speaking?

The government brags about having been elected; that it is a democratically elected leadership. However, the president doesn’t explain to the people—who gave him the mandate to rule—the logic behind some of the decisions he makes. He breaks constitutional provisions and finds it unnecessary to explain to the people the reason why. In what nation on earth, even dictatorial ones, does a president select the leadership and board members of the supposedly independent bodies such as media authority? Media authority is supposed to be an independent body that employs people of merit by subjecting them to credential assessment in their hiring process.

Doesn’t the president have something to do, something presidential? It has come to the point in which the president is going to pass decrees employing janitors for his office and the parliament. This president has either been reduced to this level by those who’d want to see him destroyed; or he’s reduced himself to his level through incompetence. Either way, the president needs to wake up and salvage what’s left of his legacy. The failed Nigerian former president, Goodluck E. Jonathan, salvaged his legacy in the last minute. He’s going to be remembered for having conceded election loss and for having peacefully handed over power to President Muhammadu Buhari, rather than through his failures.

It’s time for President Kiir and Riek Machar to realize that time is up for them and that the leadership needs to go to a different, younger class of South Sudanese leadership.

It’s high for the leadership in South Sudan to subject policies to verification and stern vetting mechanics. We know with certainty that cabinet ministers contradict each other day in day out because of lack of systematized verification process. Ministers have to consult one another before they go public in order not to reflect the government as confused and incompetent. The minister of foreign information says one thing but he’s soon contradicted by either the minister of foreign affairs or presidential spokesperson.

Transparency, information verification, respect for human rights and respect for democratic ideals have never harmed any civilians or leadership.

Kuir ë Garang is the author of “South Sudan Ideologically.” For contact, visit

The most misconstrued and misunderstood concept by Jiengs Council of Elders

By Dr. Peter Kopling

May 18, 2015 (SSNA) -- In response to the well-received article by Simon Kur published in, as well as A reader on, Mr. Dengchol Machar Atem, a self purported Jieng faithful, Reacted in the comment sections, and addressing Mr. Kur, stated “In your own article Simon Kur, one wonders whether inciting hatred between communities is a way forward. As intellect, why not preach for peace, Love, togetherness, humbleness etc. rather than just inciting hatred.”

It should be pointed out that, this is a very common Jieng Position in response to a dissatisfied and a grumbling nation. What made this unique is, this was a Jieng responding to another Jieng! It seems, while all Jiengs may consider themselves to be one people, the elite in power consider themselves superior to other Jiengs and that not all Jiengs are created Equal.

Take Simon Kur for example, His article brought hope in my heart, telling me, when Jiengs consider South Sudan first, then there is hope for us to be under one nations.

However, Mr.Atems reaction tells me those who do not sing the popular songs coming out of Juba, controlled by the infamous Jieng Council of Elders are consider to be not true Jiengs, worst traitors, Alas how about Madam Garang and her Children? If they are not Jieng for opposing the current genocidal Tyranny in Juba, then who is?

I discover when Southerners complain about the bondages they suffer under the Jieng government, The Jieng people consider it as incitement of tribal violence and when their fellow Jieng complain, they are consider Traitors! Why is this?

Mr Atem, Have you ever asked the question, why we, Southerners, in the first place fought the Jalabas? Was it because they are brown in colors and we are black or was it because they have “Amarats” and we live in grass-roofed houses? Yes I will say it, was it because they have dresses and you Jieng then mostly ran naked in your villages?

From the behaviors of the Jieng government, it seems, your fight contrary to the rest of South Sudanese against the Jalaba was mainly due to material things and the desire for powers. This is very evident, given as soon as the CPA was signed, like children rushing to take the front seat in classes, you the Jiengs ran and grabbed all that is meaningful to South Sudanese, to include even other peoples ancestral lands totally numb to justice and equality for and with others southern brethren.

Look no further than in Juba, every Vehicle with GOSS on it, likely has a Jieng driving it. Government money buys most V8 Vehicles and a Jieng driving it. Jieng owns most “Amarat” and the one walking around looking important and carrying an air of invincibility and authority while dressed suits is likely a Jieng! The street moneychangers in all cities in South Sudan are mostly Illiterate Jiengs, relatives of those in high places.

Mr.Atem, Have you realized what you are saying? What the Jiengs like you are doing is this! You have all taken the advantageous positions in South Sudan, from government positions to wealth, from Military forces to the lands itself! You are comfortable with the way things are and you have no quarrels with the status quo because it benefits you, or at minimum this government is not harmful to you as the rest of us.

Things can remain like this forever and you see nothing wrong with neither it nor any need to change them!

You do not want to rock the boat because doing so will threaten all these Jiengs Holdings, thus when those who are at disadvantage because of your privileges are crying out loud (These writings of mine included) you take it as inciting of violence, because in this violence you stand to loose the most, why because the rest of us have already lost all to you except for our lives but in itself is at risk! Where as for you the Jiengs, you stand much to loose if true equality were to kick in, thus you do not want any writings to expose this evil deeds.

From the perspective of those of us suffering under the Jiengs colonization and oppressions, we see our writings as consequence of your evil and un-brotherly ACTIONS! It is these oppressive and colonial ACTIONs of the Jiengs inciting Violence and breeding divisions not the words written in responds to them!


The actions gives birth to the writings! If you are truly for one nations, then you will preach to your fellow Jieng to stop ACTIONS that incite violence, if we talk about it or not. 

You should ask us as to what is it that we really want? What is it that we consider brotherhood or one nation! Indeed if nationhood and peace matters to you, do not preach about it as you suggested, show it to us, live by example, live and behave like a brother not like an enemy. What you do to me, brothers do not do! Don’t knock me in the head and when I cry, you then turn around say, STOP crying, by doing so you are provoking disunity and inciting violence!

What is nationhood in the world of the Jiengs?  What is brotherhood for a Jieng? Emerging from Nomadic lives to becoming settlers; those who traditionally have no sentimental values to fixed place and cry for a cow rather than a brother’s death are now the one in the drivers seat chatting the path for our national brotherhood, is it any wonder it is disastrous?

Is brotherhood in the Jieng world not simply an alliance to protect the cows at all costs even death to oneself, thus what seems bravery is indeed human sacrifices for the lives of cows, isn’t this actually primitivism at its highest order?

I will tell you for the rest of us what brotherhood is not. It is not letting you sit on my great grandfather and fathers land, it is not letting your cow graze freely in my farm, it is not your cows being safer in the country than my children! It is not letting you take my sister by force.

The greatest ills the Jiengs have engineered in South Sudan are ethnic displacing and land grabbing. Unless any peace brings an end to this evil we shall be locked in perpetual war. Was this not at the core of our 50 years of struggles against the Arabs? It surprises me that the shadowy Jieng Council of elders have not learned this lessons the great Satan in the North themselves came to bitterly shallow.

Brotherhood to us is not letting you Jieng occupy all the critical posts in the country: The presidency, Defense minister, Chief of staff, Minister of interior, Chief Justice etc.

So Mr. Atem, as you can see this is neither my government nor that of the nation, this is not a national government but rather JIENG NATION!  What makes it mine?

Why do I want it to stay peaceful, why do I want it to last forever? What makes you different and better than the Jalaba occupiers that came before you?

Therefore, being it is a malignant Government, robing my Children of their tomorrow and giving it to your Children alone in exclusivity, I want it to fall!  Simply, because your Children will do worse to mine!

I want nothing to do with Jieng nation but all to do with a national government!

I said it in the past and someone said it recently, Nationhood is family-hood. In a family you have your brother. He has his house and you have yours, He has his wife and you have yours. To have peace you must respect his house and his wife. You cannot cry fault when you impose yourself in his home and he denounce you and kick you out. Unity does not mean you squats in your brothers’ house and sleep with his wife and reduce his personal space. You have your house and your wife. What makes you family is Mutual respect!

I know I am right because the golden rule says “DO UNTO OTHERS AS THOU WOULD HAVE THEM DO UNTO YOU.” Mr. Atem just imagine if for whatever reason a given tribe convinced themselves that they have rights to everything in South Sudan in exclusions of others and literally occupy South Sudan as you the Jieng have down, Will your (Jiengs) reactions be any different from ours? If the table where to be turned, will you still hold the same position you articulated above?

If Riek Machar was the President of South Sudan and turn around and killed Dinka and Clear Juba of Dinkas as Kiir did in black December 2013 against the Nuer, will you (Jiengs) not have done worse than what the Nuer did to you in revenge attacks?

Therefore, choose this day between brotherhoods by actions vs. continuing in the path of enmity, which shall continue to bleed the nation. If those of us who expose this evil actions are silenced like Isaiah Abraham or not! As you can see, he does not talk anymore, are we any better?

(He who maintains silence in the face of a massacre is a murderer himself)

Dr Peter Kopling Josep, MD, 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 .

More Articles...

Page 8 of 660

Our Mission Statement

To bring the latest, most relevant news and opinions on issues relating to the South Sudan and surrounding regions.

To provide key information to those interested in the South Sudan and its people.