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Policy-Making, Governance and Fanatical Tribonationalism

By Kuir ë Garang

January 6, 2014 (SSNA) -- There are two things that should make us gravely concerned. When this crisis is all over, we’ll still be governed (ruled actually) by the same leaders, who brought us into the heat of this crisis. And the gravest of all worries for South Sudan is that the young generation has taken after the old tribal dirt. (Watch my Video message to young people in Diaspora)

If young and educated people, 15 – 40, rally around their tribal, conceptual supremacy and only talk about atrocities committed against their kinsfolks, then you know South Sudan present state has been destroyed and its future is a destruction waiting to happen.

Something has to seriously change!

Sadly, at the end of this crisis, South Sudan will remain the way it was before the war started. Some optimistic South Sudanese would say that this crisis will change South Sudan forever, for better.

We have to remember that South Sudanese only got what I can call a conceptual independence. The substance of independence and liberation fruits were only restricted to politicians, their relatives, friends and foreigners. Average South Sudanese were left in the cold and even treated like dirt (second class citizens) in their own country. There were reports of Ethiopian, Kenyan, Somali and Indian businesses employing their fellow nationals as South Sudanese youth remained unemployed.

So how can we get out of this crisis? Not an easy question to answer and not an easy process when the crisis is all over.

Ministry of Tribal Affairs or Directorate of Tribal affairs

South Sudan is a country of tribal nationalities. This is a basic and bitter reality we have to deal with. For centuries, this has been the case and will continue to be so. We can’t change tribal realities but we can change tribal mindsets. No South Sudanese leader has ever tried to make sure involuntary inter and intra-tribal exchange of ideas, traditional politics, norms and traditions are given greater emphasis and resources allocation.

Chiefs should be given structured, funded Tribal accountability Models (TAM) within that ministry (see South Sudan Ideologically). The Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports has a superficial role that only helps to foster individual tribal traditions and cultures, however, it doesn’t actually make prominent, the interaction between and among tribes.

This calls for a Ministry of Tribal Affairs to play a greater role in making sure South Sudan understands itself, tribally. The pros and cons of tribal practices could be discussed openly.

TAM should be strengthened and clear modalities put in place to make sure different tribes learn from each other on regular basis. Tribes in South Sudan don’t know that some of them have similar norms, traditions and ethnographic origins.

This would give tribes power over leaders; making it hard for power-hungry leaders to take advantage of tribal differences.

Proper Education and Investment in Nationalistic Attitude of Young People

Properly educating and sensitizing young South Sudanese is the only way of reducing fanatical tribonationalism. Young people who are not well educated about the affairs of the country are easy to mislead. We’ve seen that feeding young ones with tribal nonsense that they’ve been marginalized fuels the growth of hatred. These young people grow up with the general feeling that their education and ideas will be geared towards freeing their tribes from external, dominant, tribonationalists: both conceptual and real!

Many young South Sudan are getting educated, however, fanatical tribonationalism will destroy the future of South Sudan. The current crisis has exposed the danger been nurtured both at home and abroad.

If highly educated young people come out only to be fanatical tribonationalists then something needs to change if a prosperous and peaceful South Sudan is to be realized.

If South Sudan invests in proper education of the youth, it’d be easy to shape young South Sudanese into helpful nationalists rather than fanatical tribonationalists.

A few western educated young people who’d want to maintain seeds of tribal fanaticism will be told off by educated South Sudanese with credible inter and inter-cultural knowledge base.

Institutions, Governance and Policy Making

Dr. Marial Benjamin, South Sudan current minister of Foreign Affairs, is fond of saying that South Sudan has functional institutions. We can understand Marial’s position as he’s ready to protect the president and government at all cost; even at the expense of South Sudan's future.

We all know that South Sudan has organizations and department, but to call them functional institutions is a disservice to South Sudan; a path to its destruction.

The police, the army, the security services are all a mess. They are undisciplined and tend to see their role as the protection of individual bosses rather than allegiance to the nation.

Financial institutions, the National Parliament and Judicial Services have no sense of independence as they feel they owe their existence to the president.

The security services, financial institutions like Central Bank of South Sudan, Judiciary and the national parliament need to be set to be independent and free from executive manipulation.

These institutions need to be professionalized and set in a manner that makes them free from executive influence and manipulation; and be free to give checks and balances to the executive.

As things stand now in South Sudan, all these ‘institutions’ (if you could call them so) are conceptual rather than functional. They do what the president says and this is a marked failure of institutional function in South Sudan.

This fact in tend affects policy making as these ‘institutional’ leaders tend to work to appease the president, his close allies and the executive. Governance therefore revolves around the president, frustrating decision making and producing mediocre governance and policy.

National Constitution and Declarative Clarity

Breaking the national constitution is one of those unforgivable things in a country. However, when the person who’s supposed to protect it breaks it and warns people who remind him of that gross danger, then you know that the government is a situation run amok.

Decisions have to be made in South Sudan with clarity of purpose. In South Sudan, the president makes his decisions in form of ‘decrees’ that are read out on National Television in manner reminiscent of 1984 big brother decisions. The decrees are unquestionable and aren’t passed through parliament as always the case in constitution-respecting, democratic nations.

The parliament is a mere, timid formality of ‘yes sir’ men and women!

The president needs to explain the reasons behind his decisions in order to show that his decisions are for the interest of the nation and that he’s actually accountable to the people. Good leaders know that the people are the boss and if people resent certain decisions then the president has to either rescind his decision or kindly and conscientiously convince the citizens about the value of the decision.

Constitutional provisions need to be followed to the letter so as to set leadership examples. Breaking the constitution and expecting respect from the citizens is wishful thinking. The removal of Lakes State governor, Chol Tong Mayay, and Unity State governor, Taban Deng Gai, were all unconstitutional as the reasons behind the constitutional invocation were neither explained nor met.

National Army Integration and Transition to Non-military rule

South Sudan is a military state. The claim that it’s a democratic, civilian government is illusory. From the president, national ministers to state governors, all still go by their military titles. Remembere, they are not regarded as ‘retired.’ The president is not a ‘retired’ general but an active one. We saw that on December 15, 2013, when the president clearly flaunted his military fatigues.

Admittedly, South Sudan needs to move away from military rule and become a nation run by a civilian government.

Besides, the government has no proper way of integrating rebel forces into the national army. Some of these forces are included in the army conceptually but they remain under the command of their former rebel leaders in exactly the same place they used to fight.

These forces therefore still maintain their allegiance to their former rebel leaders instead of the national army leadership. To make it worse, these forces tend to be overwhelmingly or completely uni-tribal.

Way Out of the Current Crisis

It’s certain that peace will come back to South Sudan. It’s a question of when not if. The warring parties shouldn’t cultivate the thought that they are the ones who only have the interest of the nation in heart or that they are not to blame.

Without question, both sides should accept their mistakes and be practical about what they say. Civilians have to be protected and peace-talks have to be taken seriously.

South Sudanese government under President Kiir should start institutional reforms in readiness for peacetime and the way forward. Both President Kiir and Riek Machar need to draft ways in which path to inter-tribal truth and coexistence will be started and strengthened. South Sudan’s stability rests solely on stability of tribal trust.

We should also know that South Sudan’s stability will also be defined by the rethinking of Riek’s and Kiir’s political lives. Riek’s penchant for fall back to exploitation of sensationalized tribal fanaticism is a dirty mark on Riek capacity as a national leader. Without positioning himself clearly as a national leader and a person who hasn’t or can’t exploit tribal fanaticism, then the Addis Ababa talks will only be a respite in South Sudan stability not a long-terms solution to the crisis.

President Kiir should rethink his policy making, his governance policy, his speeches’ sensationalism and his role as the development leader of the new country. Kiir has failed to show humility and leadership in the last two years and this has brought us to the current crisis.  It’d also be good to rethink presidential powers, the national constitution and the clarity of SPLM rules and regulations. Without any change in President Kiir’s attitude and leadership style, then South Sudan would descend into real tribal anarchy. 

So in simple terms:

  • Formalize cease-fire with international observers to stop the fighting
  • Agree that violent ascendency to power is unacceptable
  • Agree that things shouldn’t be business as usual and that serious concessions will have to be made
  • The two sides have to acknowledge the wrongs done
  • Be serious about holding perpetrators of the crimes to account
  • Draft serious and long-term inter-tribal trust-building
  • Funds for civilians displaced or affected by war
  • Encourage new leaders other than Kiir and Riek as their presence is a psychological reminder of the tragedy

Not only is South Sudan in a crisis as we speak, the future of the country is also a crisis waiting to happen. Tribonationalism is the feel-good sentiment among the youth and this makes a cohesive future South Sudan bleak. A tribally divided youth is a warning of an unthinkable future for South Sudan.

Kuir ë Garang is an author of seven books including “South Sudan Ideologically” and “Is ‘Black’ Really Beautiful?” For contacts see Twitter: @kuirthiy or his blog,

You shall be my witnesses in the world

By Fr. Mark Opere Omol

January 5, 2014 (SSNA) -- The 15th December 2013 will forever bear a memory of a “black day” in our nascent nation. The fighting that erupted in the presidential guards unit in Juba, spread rapidly to other areas and is now plaguing the whole country. The conflict has already claimed numerous human lives, damaged infrastructure, displaced thousands and created humanitarian emergency. The military confrontation between the two forces is still raging and there is a reasonable fear that it may deteriorate, and plunge the nation altogether into a full scale civil war. The cause of all this should be unquestionably imputed to power wrangle that had been blistering for years within the leadership of the ruling party. They failed to address and resolve their internal differences amicably and peacefully, thus resulting into division in the party. This article doesn’t intend to delve into the nitty-gritty of all the factors that contributed to driving the country to where it is now.

An IGAD-led peace initiative, with an international backing, has just started in Addis Ababa. Whether or not this effort will yield fruits is what the days ahead will testify. What is hoped for to happen quickly is that the rivaling parties agree to cease hostilities to prevent more bloodshed and restore security in the country. Having come out of decades of bloody war, with millions of lives lost, South Sudanese want to live in peace and harmony. Unfortunately, this is what the current conflict seems to want to jeopardize and erase. Regional and international bodies must step up efforts to ensure that the talks in Addis Ababa achieve positive outcome.

Since the conflict erupted, concerns have been mounting that killings were being effected on basis of ethnic affiliation. This has brought into being the thesis of a planned “ethnic cleansing” that is being echoed by several media outlets regionally and internationally. This feeling of being targeted on ethnic affiliation has contributed robustly to the rapid expansion as well as the exacerbation of the conflict. It is difficult, presently, to establish the quantity of human lives lost since the conflict is still ongoing. This will and must be done afterward through investigation by independent bodies and systematic collection and filing of testimonies from survivors and relatives of victims. The outcome of all this will serve as cogent basis for confirming or refuting the thesis of ethnic cleansing; and identifying the elements to hold responsible for the whole happenings.

Thousands of people have deserted their houses and sought safety within premises of UN in different areas in the country. The UN’s humanitarian coordinator, Toby Lanzer, has repeatedly expressed concern over looming humanitarian calamity if hostilities don’t cease very soon.  Amid horrifying stories lived by survivors from Nuer and Dinka, there are cases of outstanding and touching testimonies of patriotism and nationalism by some religious men during this time of conflict. They have stood up with courage and determination to protect and save lives of innocent civilians. Their testimonies worth being recounted to the public in order to strongly underline the important role faith-based institutions can play in shaping the future of our society. This is the type of the patriotic and nationalistic spirit we all need to bear witness to in order to build a truly united, reconciled and fraternized society:

Abraham Makuac, an Evangelical Pastor from Dinka saved lives of several Nuer in the aftermath of the fighting in Juba. Despite having lost a brother in the fighting (brutally killed), he opened his house and Church to protect and save innocent civilians. This man of God admirably transcended tribal spirit and acted spurred by love and faith.

Micheal Abang, a Presbyterian pastor from Shilluk, also worked strenuously to save human lives during the fighting in Malakal. He generously offered shelter and safety in his house and Church to displaced families from Dinka and Nuer. In the aftermath of the fighting, he was seen participating in the collection of dead bodies and arrangement for their burials. This is such an extraordinary gesture of “charity” that can only stem from strong faith and love.

Paulino Lual, a Catholic priest of Franciscan Order, hailing from Dinka, created a network of volunteers from Dinka to protect the Nuer population in Aweil. This priest is known for his courage and firmness in condemning tribalism, corruption and all sort of social ills in the country. He missed narrowly being murdered by soldiers from his own ethnic group, who were angered by the protection he was according to Nuer civilians.   

Joseph Makuei, a Catholic priest from Nuer, also organized volunteers from his ethnic group to protect and save human lives in Bentiu. He personally, together with the volunteers, participated in accompanying members of Dinka community to the UN premises for safety. He did all this because of his love for the country and respect for human dignity.

The examples set out by these servants of God deserve admiration and must go down in the records for history. They have acted like “heaven-sent angels” to protect and save lives of fellow human beings, amid deadly conflict and fighting ravaging the country. Their gestures originate from patriotic and nationalistic spirit, belief in the sacredness of human life and dignity; and profound love for God and mankind. These are the type of testimonies the country demands of its sons and daughters in the face of a crisis like this.  

The incident of December 15th 2014 has put to a tough trial our leaders’ prowess to manage and resolve crisis through dialogue and political settlement. What is happening now could have been avoided if the wise advice of the religious leaders was heeded to. This conflict, considering its consequences, is destined to produce very negative repercussions on the social and political dynamics. The country will never be the same. The talks between the rivaling parties in Addis Abba are one positive step towards restoring security, tranquility and normalcy. However, there is an urgent necessity of carrying out a nationwide process of peace and reconciliation if our young nation is to lay a strong foundation for peaceful co-existence, social cohesion and national fraternity. The Churches and all faith-based institutions can play an important role in this process. For they still represent a credible “voice” that can reach out to the heart and conscience, instill spirit of love, peace and forgiveness, and educate to rebuild trust and sense of belonging in the citizens. The testimonies of the four religious men recounted above are a good example of how Churches should live to bear witness to Christ’s message and become source of light and hope among people.

The author is a Catholic priest from South Sudan, currently residing in Italy and can be reached at: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

The Fabricated Coup (South Sudan): A Confession from a Party insider

By Jean C.B. [name withheld for security reasons]


December 30, 2013 (SSNA) -- The fate of this young nation is in the hands of two men whose rivalry and distrust goes back to the beginning of SPLM/SPLA. What started out as a political problem is now threatening to take this young nation to the brink of a civil war. Dr. Machar having lost his vice presidential seat realized that his only mean of ascending to power is through the democratization of SPLM. Pres. Kiir, on the other hand, understood that democratization of the party is a threat to his regime. The demands put forward by Dr. Machar and Pagan Amum at the most recent party meeting were aimed at weakening the powers of the presidency. The long term goal was multi-partism and democracy in South Sudan. But Machar, Pagan and their other ten colleagues understood that; forming their own party would be deemed as betrayal by South Sudanese. And they are reluctant to leave a party which they have been participants in building and nurturing. Pres. Kiir demands the same level of reverence and respect that was accorded to the late Dr. John Garang. However, Kiir unlike Garang is not a consensus builder. He tends to be very frustrated by political process while Dr. Garang did not personalized politics, Kiir keeps political grudges and demand complete loyalty. His failure to enforce the appointment of Telar Riing as justice minister made him very skeptical of a democratic SPLM. Afterall, Kiir is a military General who abides by the Military code of conduct.

In short, out of fear of democratic process and Dr. Machar’s presidential ambitions, Pres. Kiir has resorted to his last option: amilitary rule. This was why the presidential Guards – a majority of whom are from Kiir’s very own subclan-was formed in the first place. The Guards main job was complete loyalty to Pres. Kiir, not to the South Sudan’s president or to the Rep. of South Sudan but to Kiir himself. The only reason there were some Nuers and a small numbers from other tribes within the group was due to fear of disintegration within the SPLA. In order to nationalize the army, it was necessary to integrate the military. This was supposed to weaken likely potential rebels. In particular, the late Gen. Matip Nhial, Gen.George Athor, Gatdet Yaak and Tanginye. And also to entice YauYau, who is still rebelling against South Sudan. The overall objective in forming the presidential Guards, was to ensure Pres. Kiir remains in power by any means necessary. The aim was to ruthlessly silent the democratic voices within the party led by Dr. Machar. It must be noted that Machar was only a de facto leader of the group due to his seniority within the party.

(b) The Plan: a fabricated Military Coup And why a Coup?

A fabricated coup was the only mean of ensuring Pres. Kiir remains in power as a "failed coup" in african context is almost always justified with an establishment of a brutal military regime. The plan was to either arrest/prosecute or assassinate some the 12 politicians. An emphasis of "dead or alive" was placed in Dr. Machar's case. During this upheaval a strict curfew was to be established in juba, malakal and Bor. An immediate order was to be given to govt. Montytuil and govt. Kun pouch in unity and Upper Nile to protect the oil fields while re-inforcement arrived.

So what went wrong? For once the dreaded presidential guards being mostly young recruits and given their limited military experience in SPLA were extremely indiscipline in their execution of the presidential orders. A number of them having long held personal grievances against Machar and the Nuers in general for the Bor massacre of 1991, decided to carry out revenge attacks on the Nuer civilians in juba. This gave Machar time to escape. The guards also completely destroyed Dr. Machar's home in juba and there was a speculation in the presidential circles that he might have been killed in the rubbles. This meant a couple of hours were wasted trying to find out machar's whereabouts. And before long Gen. Gatdet in Bor had received intelligence about the massacre of Nuers in juba. Gatdet is well known for being a nationalist but a pro-nuer at heart. His objective was always to fight for Nuer first. His support for Machar is a consequence of his loyalty to Nuer and not on shared principles. As a result, Pres. Kiir and his confidants hope that Gatdet- given his new found faith in South Sudan Unity and his elevated status within the party- would take a couple of days before he get a wind of what was actually going on in Juba and make a decision to defect. During this time he would either have been persuaded to stay within the rank and let the judicial process take place or implicated in the “Coup”. Perhaps, Gatdet’s military experience and distrust of Koul Manyang and Kiir told him otherwise. Another major blow was the defection of Gen. Koang in Unity State- This was never anticipated by the high command. Kiir’s inner circle were generally inept in their execution of this plan. The major mistake was the luck of understanding of Nuer’s sentiments in the SPLA and in the populace. And the desire to deny the Nuers any elevated status within the movement by some of the staunch supporters of Pres. Kiir. There was a fear that the Nuer would coalesce around Machar upon his arrest but that ultimately Gen. Hoth Mai might be in a position to re-establish order if needed.

(c) IGAD/Geopolitics: Kenyatta & Museveni

Once, the high command received the information that Machar had escaped and that Gatdet had defected. Two objectives were put in place:

1. To immediately put down any potential mutiny within Juba. This means the execution and imprisonment of some of the senior members of SPLA who were deemed loyal to Dr. Machar. Particularly, those from Lou Nuer and Bentiu.

2. A call was made to Pres. Museveni and to Pres. Kenyatta for support. Museveni and Machar have a long history of distrust given that Museveni believed Machar “financed” the LRA. A rebel group that created havoc in northern Uganda. And Machar is not very fond of Museveni’s dictatorial tendencies and interference in South Sudan’s politics.

Mr. Kenyatta , on the other hand, wants Pipeline through Kenya and Pres. Kiir promised to deliver. Major investment plans have already been put in place to this effect. Kenya would immensey benefit from the pipeline. Machar was reluctant about the cost of building such a pipeline and believed that Kenya will hold South Sudan hostage once the pipeline has been built. Kiir would rather see a pipeline through Kenya as he didn’t trust Bashir regime. Ethiopia was not cantacted until guarantees had been made by Mr. Kenyatta and Mr. Museveni. Once support was established Mr. Kenyatta was used to woe Ethiopia’s prime minister. Note that Ethiopia is generally seen as sympathetic to Machar as there is a large population of Nuers in Ethiopia. In fact, a whole sub-clan of Nuer (Gaajak) live in Ethiopia. Furthermore, Kenyatta having been a beneficiary of tribal politics and a victim of Mr. Odinga’s political maneuvers, understood Pres. Kiir’s sentiments on Dr. Machar’s presidential ambitions. Note that Kenyatta was very supportive of Moi’s anti-multipartism in the early 1990s. He was a product of KANU- a party very much like South Sudan’s SPLM- and a beneficiary of one party rule and tribal politics. The results of the two recent elections in Kenya provide a strong evidence of tribal politics and Uhuru’s desire to transcend such politics. A goal he ultimately failed. He has been accused of instigating tribal violence that killed upto 1500 people and displaced more than 25,000 civilians. Kenyatta’s case was recently dropped due to “insufficient” evidence. However, Kenyatta’s reputation is still tarnished and the West does not trust him. Any positive efforts in helping solve South Sudan’s crisis would be welcomed by the West. There is also Chinese economic interest in East Africa and there is fear that Kenyatta’s effort might not be genuine. He is likely to be on the side of the Chinese/Khartoum.

Once this two objectives had been achieved. The next goal was to convince the international community and in particular the US government that indeed Dr. Machar carried out a coup. The problem however, was persuading Susan Rice and John Kerry to this fact. Dr. Rice having interacted with both Pres. Kiir and Dr. Machar was very skeptical. She does not believe it was in the best interest of Machar to carry out a coup. How was he going to do so without an army at his disposal? Why would he carry out a coup given that he was winning the political battle within the party? And why would Machar wants to use his tribe to face the army of South Sudan given the painful memories of 1991 and his current support from some Dinka leaders? And who would finance him given China and Sudan had made a deal with GOSS? There were too many unanswered questions. The US government did not buy into the coup allegations. The explanation given by Dr. Adwok, that there was aninfighting in the presidential Guards, was deemed more plausible.


The next step was to re-take Bor from Gen. Gatdet. Pres. Kiir then gave UPDF- Uganda’s military- the permission to bomb Gatdet’s strategic position in Bor. Machar did not want a repeat of 1991 and asked Gatdet to pull out. The truth is there was no “re-take of Bor” by the GOSS troops. Gatdet had already pulled out some hours before the government troops arrived in Bor. The skirmishes in Bor were from a small group left behind by Gatdet as a decoy. This allowed him to escape. But not before he made a major mistake in mistaking US aircraft for UPDF Planes. This was both unfortunate and very costly to Machar’s effort in persuading the US of his non-participant in the alleged coup.

(e) The Strategic Stalement: is Machar Cornered?

Right now, the objective is to re-take the oilfields and to counter any move Machar is likely to make. Pres. Kiir has succeeded so far in winning IGAD to his side. Machar is left with Khartoum and some oil fields. Machar’s demands on the surface seem basic and reasonable but in the bigger scheme of politics; they constitute a great threat to Kiir’s objective of a military rule. Machar wants the detainees to be released. He wants Pagan Amum – a nationalist and a shrewd negotiator- on his side. Pres. Kiir would be foolish in releasing Mr. Amum. And he has used Pagan’s past alleged corruption charges to keep him under arrest. Machar also wants a “credible ceasefire” to be negotiated. This would give him enough time to re-established his contacts and re-group with his detained colleagues giving them an equal status on the negotiating table and taking Kiir’s a long step-on.

Any form of power sharing would mean Machar would achieve his objective of democratizing the SPLM. In short, Machar- being the strategist -is thinking three steps ahead. But for Machar’s plan to work, he needs some leverage. Currently he has three options: The oilfields in Unity/UpperNile, The White army and Bashir/Chinese. Given Machar’s overall goal – complete independence of South Sudan from the North- the third option would be his desperate and last move. The use of White army would lead to unnecessary bloodshed in Bor and Akobo. There are some Lou Nuer in Akobo segments who are skeptical of Machar but given John Luk Jok- Akobo’s son- is in detention, Machar can persuade the Lou Nuer. And Machar needs both the Bor/twic and Lou Nuer on his side. Creating a war between the two sub-clans would leads to a result very similar to 1991. This would ultimately undermine Dr. Machar’s presidential ambition and little support from the international community. Most of his colleagues in detention are mostly Dinkas. He needs to convince the world and the Dinka community that he is not weighing a tribal warfare. While he might not be entirely convincing, he would create some doubts within the Dinka community. He needs to be seen as a non-tribalist.

The best option and the most credible move Machar is likely to make is holding Pres. Kiir’s government hostage. Machar will in effect attempt to control the oilfields in Upper Nile and Unity. But for him to get financing he needs to be able to re-direct the oil revenues to a bank account he can control. This would mean he must either make a deal with Bashir/Chinese or simply use both the oilfields and a negotiated ceasefire as a “credible threat”.

In order for Machar to retain his current control of Unity oil fields; he must control Mayom county and make a direct threat to overtaking Warrap state. He must tempt Pres. Kiir to direct all effort to Warrap state and maintain a hold of Kuajok. This would leave Jonglei vulnerable as the SPLA with its limited resources will be overstretched. Machar will then solidify his control of Akobo and use Bor as a ploy to keep hold of Mayom while being in a good position to negotiate. It should be noted that Machar is a product of the civil war and can be very resourceful. It would be a mistake for Kiir to undermine any proposals he make. Even if these demands seem rather odd. Machar is a shrewd strategist. He will not admit to defeat. The tribal politics of south sudan dictates that both the Dinka and the Nuer be participants, if there is to be any national building. Otherwise, civil war is likely to occur.

(f) What is the best outcome for South Sudan?

The best outcome for the country is for Pres. Kiir to negotiate right away with Dr. machar. Eventually, the SPLA will democratize and Pres. Kiir can still win election under a democratic South Sudan. He is likely to garner atleast the majority (51%) in any given election. Perhaps, he won’t negotiate due to influence from his close confidants (Telar Aring, Hoth Mai, Mr. Makeui Lueth, Mr. Juuk) who have more to lose in a democratic SPLM.

An immediate release of all political detainees (particularly, Mr. Amum and Mr. Alor) is a very unlikely outcome in the short run. The truth is the stalemate is likely to continue until Dr. Machar is in a strong negotiation position. A scenario I don’t foresee anytime soon. In so far, as Machar is not in a position to procure external financing, he is unlikely to achieve his short term objectives: a negotiated ceasefire settlement and the release of ALL detainees. If indeed Dr. Machar manages to somehow negotiate for himself a favorable result, it will only speak volume of his strategic capabilities and the loyalty he commands from the Nuer people. As the situation stands, Pres. Kiir is in a winnable position, but a position that could ultimately lead to the very dreaded civil war if he overplay his hand and tempt fate. Makuei and Kol Manyang are currently persuading him in that direction. This would be an ill-advised move, as it would simply prolong the stalemate and led to civil war.

After many decades of warfare, 2014 should be a year of re-unification for South Sudanese. It’s upon the two leaders to put aside their differences for the sake of national interest. Politics must stop at the water’s edge.

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