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Can a Democratic Government Extend its own Life?

By: Dr. Lam Akol

February 23, 2015 (SSNA) -- Last Thursday, the government tabled before parliament an amendment bill in order to amend the Constitution for the Government to extend its life for two more years. In a democratic setup, is a government allowed to extend its own term of office?

Before answering this question, let us consider our system and compare it to similar systems and experiences over the world.

Our system is a constitutional presidential democracy. In a Presidential Democracy, the president serves for a specific term and cannot exceed that amount of time. Elections to have fixed date not subject to change. This is in contrast to a parliamentary system in which the Prime Minister may call for elections any time he sees fit but, even here, there is always a set number of years he cannot exceed without calling for a general election.  All these measures are necessary to ensure a basic requirement of democracy; and that is guaranteeing smooth transfer of power. The essence is that the political party that wins a majority does not lengthen its term of office using the same majority to deny the rest their opportunity to be voted to power by the people. Such a move can be termed “Democracy Once” dictatorship; which is no democracy at all. If a need arises to change the terms of office, the matter must be referred to the people in one way or the other. These guarantees may be included in the constitution as explicit provisions or be understood as a given without which democracy is compromised.

We are governed through the Transitional Constitution of the Republic of South Sudan 2011. This constitution provides for a presidential system in which the president was to serve for four years up to 8 July 2015. This is the same period set for the election of a new Parliament. By tabling an amendment to extend the terms of office of the President of the Republic and the National Legislature without returning to the people the government is breaching a fundamental principle of presidential democracy. If we accept its claim that it was elected by the people in 2010 up to 2015, by whose mandate does it want to rule up to 2017? Does the political party that enjoys the majority in parliament have the right to amend the constitution at will to continue in power for a period more than what the electorate gave them? If this is allowed once, what prevents it becoming a precedent to be repeated time and again? Where will such a precedent leave the democratic requirement of the “transfer of power” between political parties through the mandate of the people?

True, our constitution has a provision that allows for amendments to be made to the constitution (Article 199). But does this provision apply to all articles in the constitution without affecting the nature of the state as provided for under Articles 1(4-5) and 2 of the same constitution? For example, is parliament allowed to amend the Bill of Rights (Articles 9-34)? It is the contention of this author that it cannot. By the same token it cannot amend the articles on the cyclical “transfer of power” (Articles 66 and 100) without seeking the consensus of the people from whose will the Constitution is derived (Article 3). These articles cannot be amended because they form the core of the constitutional presidential democracy we have adopted. This is the crux of the matter.

This matter becomes more critical if we look at the Parliament entrusted to amend the constitution on behalf of the people. The current National Legislature is composed of 332 members; 282 members of the National Legislative Assembly and 50 members of the Council of States. Only 170 members of the National Legislative Assembly were elected to the Legislative Assembly of South Sudan in 2010. The entire membership of the Council of States was appointed by the President in 2011, who also appointed the other 112 members of the National Legislative Assembly. Hence, the total number of appointed members in the National Legislature is 162 members. That is, 49%, which is about half the total membership< of the National Legislature is appointed. This is the body expected to make such a serious amendment!

The government was cognizant of this fact when it insisted on holding elections to renew its legitimacy. It was fully aware that it alone cannot amend the Constitution to attain that objective. If it did, that would be a breach of the Constitution on matters that are taken as given by practice and precedents. When President Museveni did amend the Ugandan Constitution to run for a third term, the move was resisted. This was the same reaction in a number of other countries which underwent similar experiences, the most recent of which was what took place in Burkina Faso last October. Beginning on 28 October 2014, the people of Burkina Faso went on the streets in Ouagadougou to protest against moves by President Blaise Compaore to amend the constitution so as to extend his rule by allowing him to stand for re-election in 2015. Indeed, the protesters did on 30 October force the MPs to suspend the vote on changing the constitution, leading to the overthrow of the President. All this goes to underline the point that there are articles in the Constitution that cannot be changed without changing the rules of the game. And the only accepted game changer is the people.

We all know that the main reason why the 2015 elections were not possible is the destructive war that broke out on the 15th of December 2013 and is still raging in the country. Insecurity is also prevalent in some parts of the country that is not related to the civil war, notably in the Lakes state. The insecurity militates against conducting a free and fair election. It was therefore, obvious that attaining peace must be the priority so that the situation returns to normalcy, after which the people will be able to exercise their democratic rights including taking part in the elections. However, both the government and the rebels could not make progress in the peace talks and, in fact, the Cessation of Hostilities agreement they signed in January 2014 was not respected and the fighting continues unabated. Despite this obvious reality, the government closed its mind and insisted on holding partial elections for the sole reason to gain legitimacy. After spending money on a futile exercise it finally realized that it cannot proceed with the elections but did not give up its determination to cling to power by all means. Hence, came the idea of unilaterally amending the constitution.

The consensus of the South Sudanese to amend the terms of elected institutions stipulated in the Constitution may come about in either of two ways. First, if the stakeholders in the peace talks reach a peace agreement, then this agreement will be incorporated into the Constitution by carrying out an amendment that includes the term of office of the transitional government. Second, if the peace talks are not conclusive, then all the political forces in the country shall hold an inclusive national conference that will deliberate on how to bring about peace to the country. The resolutions of the conference shall constitute the programme of the new government of national unity. It is this programme that will determine the length of time it takes to get it implemented by the new government, and in turn, determine the amendments to be made to the constitution on the strength of this consensus.

The amendments tabled by the government on Thursday were unilateral lacking the consensus of the people as shown above. The government should have waited for the outcome of the current round of peace talks (which started on the 19th instant), which, according to the government and the rebels in their first of February agreement, will see the conclusion of a peace agreement. If they conclude a peace agreement, then the first scenario becomes applicable. If they fail to reach a peace agreement then the second scenario becomes the course of action by default. Making a unilateral move to amend the constitution is a breach of the constitution as explained earlier since the proposed amendments are not backed by the consensus of the people of South Sudan.

Dr. Lam Akol Ajawin is a former Sudanese foreign minister from 2007 to 2010. He is the Chairman of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movememnt for Democratic Change (SPLM-DC).

Difficulty in any struggle

By: John Chuol Bol

February 20, 2015 (SSNA) -- My patriot citizens, I am calling all of you to stand firm and never be checked by Cde Brig Gen. Lul Ruai Koang’s defection during our struggle. Cde Lul has earned our respects since the massacre of Nuer in Juba in 2013. He has been the voice of our Nuer Martyrs across the world, and he has the public gratitude for that. Cde Lul has been one of the few young politicians, who have won the popular supports from all the freedom fighters and their supporters. Those in uniform and the rests around the globe invested their trusts on him because is fresh young politician with bright future. I can say Cde Lul had won huge supports and popularity, especially from young educators globally not just the Nuer people.

Cde Lul used to advocate for change on behalf the South Sudanese citizens in order to achieve a just and a fair nation with full democracy after Salva Kiir has instituted his dictatorial model. I believe Cde Koang knew it very well that to transform and to build (institute) a just and a democratic nation/state are always difficult to achieve in any system because ideologies direct individual’s ambitions. In his January 1963 States of the Union speech, Former US President John F. Kennedy once said, “Democracy is a difficult kind of government. It requires the highest qualities of self-discipline, restraint, a willingness to make commitment, and sacrifices for the general interest”. That is, to achieve it, one must sacrifice at all costs.

Now is a one case for him, and I don’t believe Cde Brig Gen. Lul Ruai Kong will preach the freedom and transformation he used to advocate for the last 12 months starting from the day he arrived at the capital genocide of Juba this February 2015. As a comrade, I wish him the best luck in his future’s political career under the terrorist regime of Salva Kiir.

To all the freedom fighters, movement of the people both in diaspora and in South Sudan under Cde Dr. Riek Machar Teny, I wanted to remind you with this; “Learning to handle problems is like lifting weights. The more we do, the stronger we become. None of us wish for problems, of course, but when they come along-and we all must face [the] problems in our lives[time]-we can take solace in knowing that we are gaining coping skills that will help us in the future”. If we don’t stand firm, the future of south Sudan as a nation is in jeopardy. There is no short cut to transform it my friends.

While we may face multiple issues with some of our politicians and leaders for their own political tendencies during our struggle, we should never betray our South Sudanese Nuer Martyrs whose blood cemented in Juba in 2013. There is no any reason to reward a criminal who ordered the massacre in Juba to just join his camp. Our freedom fighters and Gojam have risked their lives to defend our dignity and freedom to live like the rests in South Sudan.  To win this war, we as individuals share the victory as each participate directly and indirectly.  I recall what Howard Schultz once empathized; “Victory is much more meaningful when it comes not just from one person, but from the joint achievements of many. The euphoria is lasting when all participants lead with their hearts, winning not just for themselves but for one another”. My SPLM/A-IO freedom fighters, SPLM-IO Chapter leaders, members, community leaders and members, I want to remind all of us with this; if we fail, we are failing our own nation of South Sudan and Nuer people in particular all together. Leaders come and go. Let’s unite under Cde Dr. Machar and fight to win this war. If one leader stops, other takes the lead. There is no going back to Juba while the same killers still the leader, No! Last but not least, please Do Not Spoil the Nuer Community value this time.  Let our struggle continues!

The author is a former SPLA Soldier (a veteran), former chairperson of SPLM Chapter who led the defection from the genocidal SPLM Juba and formed the SPLM-In Opposition Chapter of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada in 2014. He is now a senior SPLM-IO Member & a Political Analyst in Canada. He is reachable at:  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Do not abhor General Lul for re-joining the butcher, but work on how to stop others from following suit

By Pel K. Chol

February 20, 2015 (SSNA) -- Democratic sympathisers attracted to General Lul Ruai Kong on facebook and other media networks were caught by surprise hearing the defection of the man whom they thought understood the nature of his job very well more than anyone else in the rebel movement.

General Lul has been bringing credible news not only to the members of the opposition group but to everyone in South Sudan as well as some other media outlets such as the insider, Chimreports and the Sudan Tribune.  He never shy away from telling the truth even when his forces had a military setback.

That was what hurts the genocidal government telling the truth about Machar’s rebel movement as well as the atrocities the government commits throughout the country day in and day out.

General Lul had many facebook followers more than any other General one can name in the SPLA –IO resistance not merely toughness but his access to modern technology heightened him. However, his rise has been brought down by what many would argue as entirely a greed factor.

Lul broken the ranks with his colleagues and master and on February 18, 2015, he decided to re-join the monster he once dubbed “the Genocidal and Tribal Government and an enemy of the World Peace and International Security”.

Lul’s fans could not believe he would disappear like a blink of an eye in the opposition movement. His fans were indeed unaware that the General actually shared uncommon principles in the quest for bringing peace and justice in South Sudan. Until recently Lul stood firm with many families whose relatives, friends and fellow citizens were slaughtered by Salva Kiir’s rogue regime.

He once expressed that no stone would be left unturned for the death of thousands of Nuer Civilians in Juba in the hands of East Africa’s most brutal butcher.

I was once attracted to his conviction and once spoken with him asking for some queries about strategies we could employ  to win this war not knowing that I was impetuously speaking to “a soon would be an enemy General”.

General Lul’s departure from the SPLA in Opposition will not make any significant impact in the rebel movement as Lou Nuer where he hails from have completely disowned him including the SPLA-IO Chief of Staff, Mr Gatwech Dual.

His defection to Kiir would instead categorise him in the list of sons and daughters of the Lou Nuer all of whom have been repudiated by their society notably the likes of Nyadak Puol, Riek Gai Kok and Marial Benjamin to mention a few.

Lou Nuer is the heartland of Rebel movement and anyone who knows it would vouch that it would neither be intimidated nor shaken by resource seek Nuers which many freedom fighters refer as Money Lovers.  

A defection of a military General or a medical doctor who prefers food a head of justice for the Nuer killed in Juba would not change the game on the ground. Kiir’s policies in South Sudan particularly on staying in power for life at the expenses of South Sudanese lives could be compared with an ugly rich person who cannot find love but buys sex. With his money he could buy sex but does that symbolise a fulfilment to attain love? This is a question many ugly rich people struggle to comprehend.

Likewise, it implies to evil dictators such as Kiir who is out of touch and out of reality with South Sudanese but uses the country’s resources to buy cheap peace. Kiir has been setting up communities against each other so that people would be terrified of him and then praise him like Adolf Hitler.

He is also busy setting up communities such as Maban, Shiluk and Nuer Money Lovers all with the intention to go after South Sudanese who are trying to see justice serve about the death of innocent civilians in Juba. All this was meant by him to protect his throne as well as keeping South Sudanese busy killing one another rather than seeking development that the country badly needs.

It is apparent that IGADD lost its credibility by Kiir’s bribing technique encouraging them to mediate peace without addressing the root cause. This has led to the dysfunction of IGADD as well as the return to Juba of some Nuers including General Lul.

However, Kiir would be wrong into believing that he can buy a permanent peace because everyone understand that he is a failed leader who bases his policies on terror. With South Sudan resources, Kiir can buy people as an ugly person can buy sex but that won’t articulate into establishing polices which can bring a lasting peace. Instead he would be creating war after war if he were to win this current one.

Many would think Kiir’s strategy in getting General Lul may not entirely mean a pathway to Lou Nuer counties but to shut him down in exposing atrocities and evil acts Kiir’s government commits in a daily basis.   

General Lul was able to tell the true nature of Kiir’s rogue regime and its mass violation of human rights and crimes against humanity. In one occasion, particularly when civilians were lured by Kiir’s forces into giving them food aid in Mathiang, Upper Nile State, General Lul articulated it very well. He was able to inform the world about the subsequent atrocities which followed that civilians were raped and the food aid they thought they were receiving was contaminated with poison which yet again resulted into unnecessary Nuer deaths.

General Lul’s defection caused some discomfort in the rebel movement and many question were raised into why a prominent person like him would re-join a government he denounced so many times as bad as Idi Amin’s regime.

Some speculations were made that he was bribed and others pointed to a disagreement he may have with Mabior Garang, the son of late SPLA founder, Dr John Garang, who like many others has been humiliated and tortured by Kiir and now is at the centre of the rebel camp as the Spoke Person for the SPLA in Opposition. 

While other suggestions indicate that he was not supported in his role as a military spoke person and therefore he was left to fend for himself as well as the financial challenges that involved when he was in Addis Ababa and in Nairobi.

Regardless of whatever one may think behind this event, General Lul’s defection is an indicative of what I have always been saying not just about him but generally about the lack of strategies within our leadership and also the lack of support we South Sudanese in Diaspora could provide to the rebel movement.

According to my notes, on my Master in Counter Terrorism when referring to a former French commander, during Franco –Algerian War, my observation is that Salva Kiir is ticking every box I could see on counter insurgency principles to win this war.

What he does not have is only that the country’s whole population is not behind him and that is the only advantage we could get at the moment which we could hold onto. As rebels, we do not have the luxury of attracting people with money but we need a good structure where everyone feels valued in their role to bring down this terrible dictator.

But it does not seem to be the case and as a result, we aren’t ticking the boxes of winning this war. Despite many obvious sings of attraction where we can turn South Sudan into a killing field for all those who want to burry justice and rob us off our freedom, our leaders seem to live in a different world thinking that the issue will be resolved through dialogue.  

Instead of seeking allies or taking different strategy, our leaders have chosen the opposite and allowed South Sudan to be a killing zone for the Nuer. 

For instance, Uganda has done a lot of damage to us driving General Peter Gatdet out of Jonglei and used ban weapons against our forces. He denied the stability South Sudanese would have enjoyed because Kiir would have been long gone if it was not Uganda’s involvement. But we are not inviting Uganda’s foe to meet in the plains of South Sudan.

This is not the first time Uganda involved in the affair of another sovereign nation. Uganda created what the United Nations called Africa’s world war by overthrowing the former Zairean regime (now DRC) led by Mobutu Seseseko in support of Laurent Kabila.

Two years later, Museveni murdered his old friend, Kabila because Kabila asked him to withdraw his troops. Following the death of Kabila, Museveni launched a full scale war for a regime change to run DRC as like he run south Sudan.

Despite the outcry of many Congolese from the United Nations to get Uganda out of DRC, Museveni was not asked by the UN general assembly or the Security Council to leave Congo. He left only when Joseph Kabila used his IQ inviting the Zimbabwean, Angolan and Namibian troops who kicked Museveni and Kigame asses out of the DRC soil.

These are credible scenarios our leaders should take notice of and try to invite others who can help us with the challenges ahead of us. But they seem to be parsimony with finding a peaceful solution through peace talks which only work to serve the interest of the government and its allies. Our soldiers, commanders and generals will be tired of endless struggle in the bushes and ultimately will eventually give up such as what we have seen with general Lul’s defection.

On the other hand, when one looks the structure of our rebel movement, the best category he or she could give is that it is a Loosely type of Coupled Movement where there is no one person who can make decisions that are binding and agreed upon by its members.

Such movements are characterised by the absence of control and influence and often are called Leaderless Resistances.

In a war that we did not start, our leaders have been sitting in Addis Ababa trying to achieve a political settlement while those who initiated it are there in Juba connected with their army on the ground and deployed massive number of troops, weapons and ammunitions in our defensive positions trying to end the war militarily.

Personally, I do not believe our leaders are working toward any specific goal because no peace could be achieved by ignoring the root cause of the conflict. This is where they have missed and from day one when IGADD tried to find a political settlement, we could have avoided continuing further negotiations because IGADD has become tainted with the blood of innocent people.

We could have been frank to them objecting further negotiations as the issue is not about leadership in South Sudan but about why innocent people with no political affiliation whatsoever were killed with ethnicity being a driving factor.

Now that we have seen how IGADD behaved, Dr Riek is unable to see that what they are doing is a delaying technique until every general he has re-joined the genocidal government. If Lul has joined, then the next target would be Peter Gadet if not the SPLA-IO chief of staff Gatwech Dual.

I understand that there would be some people who would disagree with my article. But I am writing from experience as a graduate of Master Degree in the field of Policing, Intelligence and Counter Terrorism. Some of the things that we are seeing today have long been foreseen especially on my posts on social media a way before they emerge. My observation forces me to admit that General Lul’s defection won’t be the last if we do not take a different strategy. 

I believe Addis Ababa is not a place for our leaders to live and this IGADD led peace talk is not viable either. South Sudan solution will be solved militarily. There are elements of Kiir who would never agree to our political demands such as holding those who started the war to account as well as the creation of a federalist republic where people have the ability to choose their representative.

While our leaders continue to look IGADD in the eye to bring some sort of divine intervention into bringing a breakthrough, our leaders are passionately constraining every avenue for victory by going through an impossible route to navigate.

According to my essays on violence in Uganda, particularly the LRA, Museveni is not stupid if you may think he is. Since taking power in 1986 from Milton Obote and Tito Okello, there were 13 different rebel movements who fought against him with LRA being the dominant.

He managed to crush them all although some were as strong as our one. How he crushed them was through the technique IGADD is now doing as bribery, cheap peace deals and isolation methods all of which Kiir is now trying to use. If this cycle continues, what you will see is a dissatisfaction of our support base as well as our fighters and the end result would be Kiir’s Victory.

I personally think that such a strategy is a betrayal to our young men who joined the resistance based on what happened to Nuer in Juba but we left them to fight with their heart with no adequate support or morale from their leader.

It is also a betrayal to our commanders who have abandoned the care of their families for the care of the entire Nuer as they are left with no support while their wives are suffering in UNMISS compounds and in the refugee camps.

Although Nuer in Diaspora have been contributing some money to help with the situation at home, I don’t think that we have been doing enough. Lul Might not have thought to re-join the government but the condition of his family might have been a factor. 

We should be specifying some goals into how we think we are going to win the hearts and minds of our young men as well as of our commanders. Our leaders should be prioritising what our plan B is apart from IGADD led peace process which is paralysed by Uganda and which will never bring peace to South Sudan as long as they remain determinant not to address what caused the conflict.

Pel K Chol is waiting graduation with a master degree in Macquarie University’s Centre for Policing, Intelligence and Counter Terrorism. He could be reached at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

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