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Who Are the Ultimate Losers in South Sudan’s Conflict?

By Juma Mabor Marial

May 15, 2014 (SSNA) -- Since south Sudan gained self-ruled from the successive regimes in Khartoum, the ordinary citizens of south Sudan never enjoyed the dividends of peace for having their own government. From the interim period to the elected government in 2010, the expectations of south Sudanese of having an independent country have been mismanaged.crisis after crisis have characterized the living standard of the people of south Sudan.

From George Athor defection in Jonglei state to Olieny rebellion in upper Nile state, Yau Yau slaughtering of innocent civilians in Pibor to corruption scandals and endless rebellion in unity state. The people of south Sudan have no doubt been subjected to enormous hardships and challenges since the CPA was signed in Nairobi in 2005.

In 2013 leading toward 2014, hopes were beginning to show as amnesties given by the president to several rebel groups somehow bore fruits. Economic dreams were in the pipeline of realization with the investment conference having just ended and several international investors pledged to invest their money in south Sudan. It was indeed a promising future for the people of south Sudan but even as these goodies were apparent, people of south Sudan were also oblivious of the fact that, there was a dangerous fight in the SPLM party over the control of the party leadership, the only convincing reason why many people took this lightly was because they had thought, whatever was happening in SPLM was a party politics and therefore, didn’t call for everyone’s attention especially when one is not a member of the SPLM party. However,even with this believe, it was also imperative that, SPLM was not just any political party but a ruling party that is in charge of the larger affairs of the country and this means, its successes and failures have equal impacts on the country’s future.

It is this wrangle within the party that exploded into political crisis and culminates in armed struggle in December 2013, a conflict that has killed over ten thousand people and displaced a million and more civilians. The war has also led to destruction of properties and razed to ashes the little infrastructure that the nascent country had put in place in the last eight years. Three states in south Sudan out of ten have been completely destroyed as they changed hands several times between the rebels and government forces.

Out of these skirmishes, the tribes of south Sudan have been used against each other in pursuit of personal ambitions, although not all the 64 tribes fall into the trap laid by politicians, the Dinka and Nuers who considered themselves as customary enemies got the opportunity to expand their hatred of one another. A lot of women, children, elderly and the youth have been massacred on both sides and the two tribes are caught in unending tribal feuds.

Before the political crisis widen, the country was already undergoing economic crisis where the government employees go for three or four months without their wages. The delays in payment do not have a suitable explanation from either ministry of finance, public service or the central bank. All other public institutions have been starving financially and because there is no tear gas or water canon in south Sudan to break the demonstration once attempted, the government employees and civil servants have become so frighten to stage any protest and demand for their salaries or risk being shot at with life bullets.

It is because of these circumstances that the citizens of south Sudan and particularly the civil servants in the government of south Sudan could go for several months and remain patient because even if they make noise, no one would listen to them and it may even be dangerous for them to engage in such unwanted and most probably unlawful endeavors as per my country’s model. My brother who works in the United States of America once told me that, in the US, some employees earn their salaries in two weeks and some after a month and he says, “when one fails to get their dues in their accounts at the mid-night of the fourteenth day”, they will sue their employer and such employers are ordered to pay the employee plus the cost. I am not saying south Sudan should be like US but I want to say, if one can sue because of delay in some hours after their salaries fall due, why can’t our government sympathized with the citizens who persevered for three to four months without their wages.

I am not bringing this point out of conflict of interest but I am trying to drive home a point on what caused the economic crisis and why the citizens of south Sudan have not been getting the services. The reason why the country finds itself in the economic crisis before the real conflict and armed conflict broke out is attributed to several factors but for meticulousness, the economic crisis in south Sudan were caused first by drastic shut down of oil in 2012, by the widespread corruption in the government and chief among all, the ineptitude by those in charge of the economy of the country like the Ministry of Finance, Central Bank, Public service and labour.

It is because of corruption that, the much expected services by the people of south Sudan after independence didn’t come until the war broke out. Throughout the eight years since the peace came to the country, the leaders tend to be too busy enriching themselves while the need to construct roads infrastructure, provide healthcare facilities, build schools among other things became a secondary agenda that they thought would be implemented after they have established themselves. The country became engulfed with a lot of corruption scandals, including the infamous ones like the Dura scandal, fire safe saga, the looming crisis management committee saga among others all  masterminded by senior government ministers and their accomplishes.

Universal reports on corruption have always put south Sudan on top of the list as one of the countries that is experiencing the worse forms of corruption and comprises very corrupt government officials in the world. Attempts by the government to form an anti-corruption watchdog with the intention to curtail this vice remained just in paper as the commission became toothless with no prosecution powers as well as failing to register cases against senior government officials who are hard to be executed. It then turned out that, the senior government officials are the judges and juries in their own cases and this is the reason why all the necessary attempts to fight corruption in south Sudan have not gotten anywhere far.

South Sudanese and several other analysts in the world have tried to write, talk and condemn the corruption in south Sudan but quiet easily, all these people have been branded as anti-government faultfinders and the concerns they raised are translated to criticisms. From here until the crisis broke out in December, south Sudanese had accepted the destiny of living without good roads, having no healthcare facilities, no good school among other social amenities. The southerners had accepted too to accommodate corruption as part of their life and one of the strong schemes that the government was determined to strengthen.

South Sudanese did all this not because they were not missing something but it is because they still had one last precious thing that protected their identity and this thing was “PEACE”. It is because of peace that south Sudanese had forgotten about what the government is supposed to do for them and sacrificed through their hard work to establish their own families, feed them, take them to private schools and treat them when they gets sick. South Sudanese were until December 2013; very comfortable following up their own lives without being too concern about what the government does or does not do for them.

When on December 15, 2013 the shooting took place in the military barracks in juba, all the south Sudanese thoughts were that, it was a situation that was going to be controlled by the government and the misunderstanding could be brought to normal when and if the people involved were peace lovers. This didn’t happen and what remained was widespread of violence and mass killing of innocent civilians from Juba to Jonglei and Bentiu. Innocent civilians died and those who survived ran to the UN camps where they are living under very disturbing and inhumane conditions. The genesis and cost of this conflict is so stigmatizing and one cannot afford to tell it in long and traumatizing phrases.

I am not interested to talk about what has happened and what is still happening because, I, the citizens of south Sudan and the world has seen enough for anyone to even continue to repeat informing people on the price that has been paid by the innocent people of south Sudan. Thousands of Lives have been lost, an uncounted number of properties have been destroyed, a lot of people have been left homeless, millions have fled and worse of all, the seeds of unity that were beginning to germinate among the south Sudanese have been uprooted and completely scattered. These signs of progress and prosperity have been replaced with tears in the eyes of a woman who have lost her husband and children in Bentiu massacred, a homeless Nuer who has been chased away from his home in Miaya Saba in Juba, an anguish old woman who has been raped in Bor teaching hospital, hungry children who are camping in UN compounds across the country unknowing where their parents are and most of all, compensated with the amount of hatred and mistrust between Dinka and Nuer ethnic groups that no person, government or even miracles will manage to fence.

But what happened at the end of all this, our politicians fly to Ethiopia, talk on televisions and radios and thumb their chests “ our people, our people”, our people that they are all doing nothing to save from further destruction, our people that they don’t know where they sleep in the rainy UN Camps, our people that they don’t know what they feed on, our people that they tend to reaffirm their positions on leadership than looking first at what should end their suffering, our people that they divided into tribes first before they consider them south Sudanese, our people our people. What our people do our leaders and politicians talk about here?

It brings tears to someone eyes as some falls in mine to hear our president confidently and humorously saying that he has been forced to sign peace.  “peace” of all the things, how can he be forced to sign peace, something that comes with a lot of things including the lives of our people, including the return of our people to their homes away from the dehumanizing life at the UN camps, peace is something that can give birth to love and unity, how can someone be forced to sign peace. Peace is something that should come from your heart, peace is more than power, materials and even more expensive than animosity. Why should the president sign peace under duress instead of willingly and voluntarily signing it to save the plight of the suffering citizens of south Sudan?

How about Dr- Riek, and his interview on BBC Hard- talk program, was he a leader, did he give answers as to why he took up arms and killed innocent civilians including the untrained white army, did he give reasons why his forces captured Bentiu and massacred over three hundred innocent civilians from other ethnicities or is it justifiable as he said that, because, some innocent citizens were massacred in Juba and Jonglei, so the innocent ones in Bentiu had to pay the price too, does this mean two wrongs can now make right, did he represent a national leader who took up arms to correct injustices committed against the citizens of south Sudan or was he a bitter man who speaks on behalf of a tribe and would revenge at the slightest given opportunity, was he like Kiir,  forced to sign the peace or he did it because of the suffering that the people of south Sudan are going through. Which was it, how did he answer those questions, how would you answer those questions if you had listened to him, how would you rate them (Kiir and Riek) and their intentions with regard to peace and suffering of the people of South Sudan?

I don’t have straight forward answers to all the above questions but what I certainly do have and in fact in abundant is disappointment on these two leaders, they do not in my opinion care about the suffering that we are going through today as citizens of south Sudan. They are both very comfortable in their respective hideouts, places that are out of reach of danger and threat of death, places that are heavily guarded, places that they don’t hear, smell or touch rain water, places that they are eating their best dishes, places that they get reports about which town has been captured and what happened and how many people have been killed after being successfully adored by their loyalists.

It is palpable that, from their negotiators to themselves, Kiir and Riek have never felt any pinch of what has been happening in south Sudan for the last five months, their relatives are far away in foreign and safest countries in the world, none of their relatives has paid a price for the political instability that is on-going in the country. The two men and their negotiators although in charge of their forces have never gone to the fields and see for themselves the atrocities these unprofessional armies of theirs are committing. It is so painful that the leaders who are entrusted with keeping peace and order think that they can solve things through a barrel of a gun. Each one of them thinks that they can’t be defeated by the other as if they were wrestling which if this was the case, the citizens of south Sudan including myself would have been the happiest spectators to see who would be grappled down first.

As they say, peace comes with a price, I will subscribe to the theory and I will ask all the citizens of south Sudan to do so because it is my conviction that the people who will pay this price are the citizens of south Sudan why, because, the war started as some politicians including Riek Machar were removed from the government because the public was complaining about a bloated cabinet and a large government. In no time, the sacked cabinet members generated and established some sugar coated democratic principles which let to rebellion. Now, the signed framework and road-map for peace negotiation that the two men claimed they were forced to sign include a provision on formation of a transitional government which will include the rebel and government, former political detainees which are all former ministers and governors among others.

It is here that you would find that, since the transitional government will be shared, Riek, Kiir, former detainees will all be back in the government and it will be the same as the government from 2005 up to 2012. So, the citizens who had thought their concerns were heeded to in reducing the size of the government are now back to square one, instead, the citizens have paid by losing their lives, properties, peace and other things just because they had advocated for the trimming of the government in 2012. Yes, we have accepted to pay this price and the thousands who died and the million displaced have already paid for this peace and this is the reason why we plead with our leaders to come to their senses and move the country forward after they share their transitional government.

The citizen of south Sudan may not afford to go through another painful eight or so years with you but for the sake of peace, we will persevere, we will not of course stage a revolution to get rid of all of you because, you have all the government apparatus in your disposal and we know too well that you will not hesitate to use life bullets on us when we try to protest if things are not going well, so, we beg that, let the peace returns to south Sudan whether you are forced to sign it or not. It is here that I feel the people who have paid the ultimate price in the on-going conflict are the ordinary citizens of South Sudan.

Finally, I just want to plead with the commentators on the internet and other social networks to slow down on their hate speeches and ethnically oriented ideologies, some of these people thinks they are doing enough in supporting their respective tribes but instead they are heightening ethnic hatred and creating more damage. There can be no south Sudan without Nuer or a south Sudan without Dinka, the same goes for all the other 62 tribes. We must accept that, a lot of mistrust has been created but the fact that we are all south Sudanese must continue to bind us together no matter what. I don’t care what others may read into this advice but Dinka or Nuer, my first identity is             south Sudanese. I am not happy at all with the way people are trying to inflame the already fragile relationship between the two tribes.

The politicians can go ahead and share their political positions for all I care.

Juma Mabor Marial is a disappointed citizen of South Sudan Reachable at: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

South Sudan Peace Expedition

By Beny Gideon Mabor

Quote… “A leader is a person with certain qualities of personality and character, which are appropriate to the general situation and supported by a degree of relevant technical knowledge and experience… to guide a group towards further realization of the purpose, while maintaining and building its unity as a team”. John Adair (2006: 16 – 17)

History of Treason Trial

May 11, 2014 (SSNA) -- The recent call by the national government represented by the Minister of Justice to stay legal proceedings on treason charges against 4 accused persons out of 7 SPLM leaders who were first set free on bail out agreement was a milestone in real search for peace, harmony, national healing and reconciliation. Section 25 (1) of the Code of Criminal Procedure Act, 2008 (CCP Act) grant powers to the Minister of Justice to stay any criminal proceedings against an accused on reasonable grounds. Indeed, the quest for peace and reconciliation is a reasonable ground to warrant such a decision by the State.

On the same note for the benefit of the accused, such prosecution stayed cannot be retrialon the same facts at the same trial court. Section 46 (1) (d) of the CCP Act, 2008 says a criminal case shall lapse, and shall therefore not be subject to prosecution if the Minister of Justice so decided to stay the criminal proceedings. In other words, the 11 SPLM leaders are now free people with dignity and integrity like any person and enjoy constitutional rights and duties required of a very citizen. There is no longer any living case against them. The question of which party that won or lost the case on the street is an invalid argument and this debate should not be encouraged anymore. There is no winning or losing of the case in this matter but the state which is a beneficiary of the case has stopped the prosecution and choose peace and reconciliation.

In summary of this brief legal interpretation, those who benefited stay of criminal proceeding are all 11 SPLM leaders including four previously accused of masterminding the alleged military coup namely Pag’an Amuom, Gen. Oyai Deng Ajak, Dr. Majak Agot and Amb. Ezekiel Lol Gatkouth and the previous 7 SPLM leaders that were released on bail and currently outside the country for peace expeditions. The special court announced that Dr. Riek Machar, Gen Taban Deng Gai and Gen. Alfred Lado Gore are still pending treason charges in absentia. This is due to the fact the latter group are now waging armed conflict with the government.

Despite gesture of goodwill in search for peace and reconciliation, President Salva Kiir in his news conference dated 26 April, 2014 said “the court can still call the coup suspects at any time for trial if he so desires”. In fact, this is quite unfortunate and contradicting statement from the President, but with due respect, I know he was told by his legal circle that stay of prosecution can be revived at any time deemed necessary. If this simple provision of the law with respect to stay of legal proceeding is misunderstood or deliberately denied by presidential legal circle, then I intent to agree with observations of Mr. Daniel van Oudenarenwho said thatSouth Sudan is witnessing a period of intellectual exhaustion, in which many key actors – politicians, commanders, mediators, diplomats and bureaucrats – don not know. I pray the presidential circle of all specializations be very honest and correctly advise the president on critical matters in particular the presidential legal advisor and the Minister of Justice who are the chief legal advisors of the government.

Call for Peace and Reconciliation

The release of the 11 alleged coup suspects truly manifests spirit of forgiveness, love and confidence to return back the country to normality. Speaking to journalists outside court room upon released two weeks ago in Juba, former Secretary General of SPLM Paga’an Amum, said he welcomed the government’s decision, expressing hope peace could be restored in the fractured country”. He went further and committed that “we will now work with all parties and stakeholders to bring peace to this country, including making necessary contacts with the government and those in the opposition to end this senseless war that is killing our people”.

Similarly, this statement is now corresponding with the agreement to resolve the crisis in South Sudan signed between President Salva Kiir and rebel leader Dr. Riek Machar on 9 May, 2014 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia that ensure inclusion of all South Sudanese people stakeholders in the peace process…including SPLM leaders (former detainees), political parties, civil society and faith based leaders.

In contrast of the inclusive peace process as agreed, the released of the 11 alleged coup suspects received mix reactions of both jubilation and critics so far. The latter voices decry the unfortunate death of more than 10,000 people and displaced million more that is apparently seen to be going without justice and accountability. The general public is seriously demanding to know who is responsible for these mass killings following grand signing of the agreement to resolve the crisis in South Sudan that is said to allow formation of the transnational government with SPLM/A in Opposition amongst other commitment.

Another biggest concern is how are the 11 politicians going to participate in either forum to contribute to peace and stability? Will they accept if the Government appoints them into these forums on behalf of the Government? Are they free to choose either camp? Will they create their own camp and what is the implication of a third block in negotiations? What are real burning issues that must be figure out in both negotiations to bring about peace? The government and opposition must engage this groups very closely as the armed conflict is connected to disagreement within governing SPLM party for political ambitions amongst other cause of the conflict.

Strategic Recommendations

The civic and political engagement of all relevant stakeholders to bring about peace and restored the destroyed social fabric must now begin with their immediate involvement in the current two negotiations namely the peace process and the SPLM intra party dialogue. The international community is also gaining hope for would be return of peace and stability to nascent State. In practice, the following need to be taken into serious considerations.

The Government and the SPLM/A in opposition must stick to implement the agreement on the resolution of crisis in South Sudan signed on 9 May, 2014 particularly stoppage of military operations against one another; opening of humanitarian corridors for delivery of basic services to the affected communities and full participation of all stakeholders in the peace process. However, the international community is worried of how much weight will President Kiir and rebel leader Dr. Riek Machar have over their fighting forces to respect this agreement? Example of this lack of full control over the fighting forces by both parties is the ongoing fighting in Unity State just before the end of one day after signing of the ceasefire agreement in the highest personality of the President and the rebel leader. They two leaders must come out and proved the contrary to call upon the fighting forces and the general public to implement the ceasefire agreement. In fact, the meeting of the two leaders in Addis Ababa will shape the rest of the peace process and will be determining factor whether to continue wasting time without peace or real peace will come.

The government and SPLM/A in opposition must allow the 11 SPLM leaders to freely decide how do they want to contribute to the peace process including SPLM intra party dialogue. Peace process is a soul searching work and should not be given strict guidelines. Peace is broken because of hating each other. Let all the people of South Sudan listen to what South African former President and Nobel peace prize winner late Nelson Mandela said that “No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite." We must take this message by forgiving those who offended us and vice versa and teach ourselves love and unity

The third recommendation is what to do with the biggest challenge of peace and stability. Peace is not just ending the violence, but it must strategically spell out problem to solve and how it will be sustained. Chief amongst this strategic proposal is an overhaul of the institutions of the state particularly the security architecture toward demilitarization of the society by restructuring the army to reflect the national defense force with central command and order.  These reforms should include a new name to the army, setting the basic requirements for joining the armed forces and other related matters. The same reforms must be extended to civil service to ensure right persons employed in right places with commitment to deliver services with transparency, accountability and sufficient check and balance. If these are not done, the mediators will only create interim stability and violence will erupt not too long.

The last but not least recommendation is for the international community to exert more efforts to ensure full enforcement mechanism of the cessation of hostilities by urgently deploying IGAD monitoring and verification mechanism as well as African Union protection forces agreed so far but not materialized. Undeniably, the US government helps create South Sudan and therefore has moral obligation to intervene at any cost. The Obama administration must not watch the people of South Sudan butchered by power thirsty individuals. The US government must urgently send special troop to join hand with African Union protection for implementation of the ceasefire agreement.

Beny Gideon Mabor is Executive Director, African Centre for Peace and Humanitarian Dialogue and a member of Civil Society Delegation to the South Sudan peace process in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. His research interests include governance, human rights and social accountability. He can be reached at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Social Ills Are Destroyed by Building Alliances not by Making More Enemies

By Kuir ë Garang

May 9, 2014 (SSNA) -- Not all Jieeng people like what is happening in Juba and not all of them are benefiting from the corrupt political system in Juba. Informed unity across tribal lines is the key.

Non-Jieeng and conscientious Jieeng people would want to end that political system too. However, the method through which an inclusive, fair and development-friendly method can be brought about in South Sudan needs the unity of clean consciences: both Jieeng and non-Jieeng alike.

If you're a smart person fighting an oppressive political system informed by a given parochial ethno-political exclusionary framework, the best way to do it is to create formidable allies who belong but don't ascribe to that exclusionary framework. Without unity of the like-minded, the intellectual, political fight against oppressive systems gets bigger and harder.

Destructive socio-political systems are not destroyed violently from outside but peacefully from within. And this requires unity of purpose by good citizens; not ones interested in more hate, division and violence. #nogunsplease!

The best way to fight conceptual Jieeng's destructive dominance (by the mindless, elitist few Jieeng people) isn't by isolating moderate Jiieeng through mindless generalization such as 'Dinka dominance."

Create allies to remove the rotten system; to enlighten the uninformed through conscientious unity of purposeful, solution-focused campaigns.

The corrupt system in Juba was built by people who happen to be Jieeng but don't have the interest of Jieeng at heart. And this corrupt system is being assisted by non-Jieeng who suck up to the president for the power-less ministerial positions. These non-Jieeng politicians have a phony understanding of unity.

How on earth can a grown man, who's also a senior leader call another man subserviently as 'Baba?'

Until all conscientious South Sudanese (Jieeng and non-Jieeng) cooperate, merely antagonizing Jieeng as a tribe, rather than isolating the problem-generators, wouldn’t work. We'd not have a peaceful South Sudan through over generalization.

Crying about ‘Dink dominance’ without careful clarity of the message makes the advocates feel good about themselves but does it help solve the problem? You can’t solve the problem by creating more hatred!

Slavery, Colonialism, Racial Segregation and other forms of social ills were not gotten rid of by the oppressed by themselves. They were got rid of by both the oppressed and people of good conscience within the majority power-holders. Not a fitting analogy but you get the point!

Guns are not the solution. Peaceful cooperation and enlightenment of our people will go a long way. The more enemies you make the bigger your job becomes. The more you reduce the antagonizing minds the less your job becomes. This sounds ideal but that’s the only way!

Calling for more uprising is a call for generation of more hatred! Would the defeated group cease to hate when defeated? Would a militarily defeated Naath fold her arms and ceases to hate? Would a defeated Jieeng sit back after a defeat and ceases to hate?

Make peace possible, Stupid!

Kuir ë Garang is the author of ‘South Sudan Ideologically’ and ‘Is ‘Black’ Really Beautiful?’ For contact visit his blog: www.kuirthiy.info or follow him on twitter @kuirthiy.

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