Sunday December 10, 2017

Duping and Lack of Political Shrewdness Led to Suspension of National Reconciliation

The South Sudanese Vice President Dr. Riek Machar launched the training in Juba. [Credit Gurtong]

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UNT- “We hang the petty thieves and appoint the great ones to public office.” quoted from Aesop

This is what ought to happen in South Sudan but it is unlikely because we are too immature, too tribalized and too irrational to the core. If I may, rationality is being truthful and driven by honest conviction to act and die for what is highly moral as “law is the objectivity” of good instinct. True, but I resent that good never seems to triumph for long before some evil interrupts. Sadly, this is the case in the Republic South Sudan considering the recent suspension of nationwide national reconciliation rescheduled for June 2013.

President Kiir suspended that landmark event despite its overwhelming support from South Sudanese and friends across diversity and various geographical locations around the globe. Inability to think, tribalism and political jealousy to earn credits for what one did not sow, matters in South Sudan so long one is in position of power. This is where things don’t get done in that country because free thinkers are not allowed to thinks freely to enhance innovative ideas.

Everyone is expected to play dumb to resemble the big man at the top. Such trends are the political reality where I was born and where the national reconciliation was suspended on baseless grounds.

After the fact, I felt saddened and disgusted simply because I am aware of the implications on people who needed to heal in order to repair their shattered lives and redevelop a damaged nation were one’s held hostage without national reconciliation in the country. By all accounts, it was a desperate and blinded move ever to say the least.
This is equally painful to many who wanted to heal and desperately disappointing to learn that President Kiir was indeed an obstacle to peace process.

It is one of the gross mistakes ever committed by a sitting president. It is a political blunder, deplorable and unforgivable injustice done by President Kiir to his own people. Above all, it is undoubtedly an endorsement and affirmation of hatred and simmering sentiments among South Sudan’s sixty three odd tribes.

This brings me to the reason why I decided to write this commentary. My aim is to help readers understand that President Kiir was duped into such deplorable eventuality. Also to point out that lack of political shrewdness has complicated the matters and in many respects led to the unsolicited political decision which was poorly presented just like the previous insidious political verdict before it.

In a nutshell, since the untimely death of late Dr. John Garang in 2005, South Sudan has politically been downgraded at a disappointingly rapid pace and more so toward a rogue state.

To start with, it is true that President Kiir was part of the movement who fought on the basis to overhaul the deformed Khartoum regime and then build on common values guided by clear conscience goals to ensure peace and freedom. However, after he (president) ascended to power in 2005, such liberation ideals, values and principles were thrown overboard and became things of the past.

Hoodwinked or not, Mr. President has placed South Sudan and its people before the custodianship of misguided, ill-informed and opportunists cliques. At will, Kiir placed his cronies in sensitive positions in the Republic of South Sudan (RSS) which include the banking and financial systems, judiciary, foreign missions, military and security apparatus.
After ensuring control over these institutions, the president and his clan-mate cliques set out on the next phase of embezzling public funds in billions of dollars in the cover of darkness or in broad daylight.
Four shocking examples of this scheme that caught international headlines were:

  1. The $ 3.millions dollars (allegedly) caught red-handed from Mr. Stephen Madut Baak at the Heathrow International Airport in London in 2008, where Mr. Baak was unhesitant to mention that he was working for president as an adviser;
  2. The $ 4 billion reported missing by none other than President Kiir himself in 2012 and the $ 600 million reported allegedly stolen by the former RSS minister of finance, Arthur Akuien Chol in 2008;
  3. The $ 20 million stolen (allegedly) by Stephen Baak Wuol and $ 293 million reported by Aaron Young stolen (allegedly) by none other than Elijah Salva Mathok Gengdit, the current deputy minister of interior in RSS;
  4. And the $ 6 million dollars and South Sudan pounds reported stolen from the president’s office 2013;

These are not mere allegations but proven facts simply because the RSS as a nation started this journey with the wrong foot. For example, the former Governor of South Sudan bank, Mr. Elijah Malok Aleng, was not hesitant to assert this that “we already know of people who have millions in their accounts, whether in Ivory or Buffalo Banks. Where did you get the money from, it is simply because you got it wrongly.”

That said the suspension of national reconciliation by the president is just another insidious political blunder in human context. With the latest, South Sudan is once again placed at the crossroads, between good and evil. Weirdly, the evils in their distorted terms are appreciative of the direction in which the nation is heading while the good masses are indifferent and confused.

People are numbed to the core and ceased to think. Few who asked honest questions were threatened, kidnapped, killed and accused of wanting to overthrow the broken government. What a shame!
No one can justify beyond reasonable doubt that the suspended national reconciliation was a political enterprise or has been used as one by anyone. The fear is based on political insecurity and lack of political shrewdness from the top spoiled brat.
Another disappointing fact was that President Kiir allowed himself to be driven, misled and grossly manipulated at his disadvantage by well stationed crooks whose aims are to set him up for failure and expose his weaknesses as a head of state. The April 15 presidential decree read on South Sudan Television (SSTV) was one of them and meant to trash the president’s records.

The decree read dissolved national reconciliation committee and suspended national reconciliation process based on misconstrued political insecurity and erroneous speculations to say the least.
However, this was not the first time President Kiir made such erroneous and regrettable decisions based on ill-informed advice which exploited Mr. President’s weak self-confidence, self-esteem and the absence of political shrewdness.

In 2011, President Kiir demanded more powers to avoid unfounded insecurity and was bestowed unnecessary absolute powers in the South Sudan Interim Constitution. The clause granted the president power to remove elected officials including the governors. Four months ago, Kiir acted on this misplaced clause and removed Lakes state elected Governor, Mr. Chol Tong. Mr. Chol’s replacement was a military man.

Subsequently, Kiir emotionally led South Sudan to war with Khartoum regime which in eventuality led to Panthou crisis and the bombing of civilian targets by the Khartoum’s rogue regime. In that incident, more than 1000 SPLA soldiers died and to this day no one in South Sudan talked about this humiliating adventure.

After the fact, President Kiir made an uncivilized political remark toward Ban Ki-moon, the UN Secretary General. Kiir told South Sudan parliament on the televised broadcast that “I told Ban Ki-moon that I am not your commander and not answerable to your directive.”

The most disappointing part in that fiasco was that Kiir caved in and withdrew South Sudan troops from Helige in a cowardly disorganized fashion which resulted into the reportedly thousand death toll. Another poignant event emerged out of the Panthou Crisis was salaries of the deceased SPLA’s soldiers were cut in half in the same month they perished by the same government who sent them into harm’s way.

Out of emotive, Kiir frantically ordered the closure of South Sudan oil production without back up plan. For the last 20 months South Sudan’s civil servants barely got paid due to the fact there was no money in South Sudan reserve opposite to what president Kiir claimed.

Early this year, President Kiir relieved 153 senior army officers at once and replaced most of them with new close associates and tribal men. The move was nothing short of consolidating power and for South Sudan to become a rogue state. The move was seen by many analysts as a dangerous and irrelevant since it sets the new country into the wrong path of dictatorship.

Before President Kiir retired the 153 senior army officers, however, he also personally signed off big chunks of South Sudan’s land to Arabs in the name of the questionable demilitarized zone between two countries. The signed off places have never been in the historical part of the northern Sudan but Kiir signed them off to appease Arab Northern (Sudan) for South Sudan’s oil to flow north.

The sell out did not stop there. The president pledged to compensate North Sudan with $ 3 billion US dollars simply because South Sudan separated from Sudan. If President Kiir was politically smart and thought independently as an able politician, Sudan would have compensated South Sudan for the atrocities and human sufferings the north inflicted on South Sudan and not otherwise.

Rumor had it that President Kiir suspended the national reconciliation because of an internal strife in the SPLM between him and his VP, Riek Machar. Mading Ngor wrote, “the Vice President Riek appears to overplay his hands at times and some of his moves border on insubordination, expressed consciously or not.”
In this quote, Mading failed on specifying which area the VP may have overplayed his powers over his boss, which in my view amounts to mere speculation of a thought and insignificantly factual. If President Kiir has based his decision in suspending the national reconciliation citing above mentioned point as a reference, therefore, it’s fair to conclude that lack of confidence and political shrewdness are the driving factors.
As I was about to publish this commentary, I realized that President Kiir has on Monday appointed Archbishop of Episcopal Church of Sudan, Daniel Deng Bul Yak, to chair the national reconciliation and Archbishop of Catholic Church, Paride Taban as his deputy. This is indeed a good gesture as far as peace process is concerned in South Sudan, considering the fact those appointed are clergies of the House of God.
Who is Archbishop Daniel Deng Bul Yak?

Who is Archbishop Daniel Deng Bul Yak? Is he the right clergyman to lead this so much politicized national reconciliation?
Archbishop Daniel Deng Bul was born in 1950 in Twic East County, Jonglei State, South Sudan. Archbishop Bul has studied theology in Sudan and United State of American. His work with church since 1970s undoubtedly suggested a good clergy man but his work with people traumatized by war suggested otherwise.

Archbishop Bul spent most of his clergy work in the northern Sudan during the Sudan civil war, particularly in Port Sudan and Renk. Archbishop Bul did not live through the horrors during war time. During Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) it seemed, Archbishop Bul moved to Juba where he became the archbishop of the Episcopal Church of South Sudan.
After Sudan elections in 2010, Archbishop Bul was appointed to lead a peace delegation to make peace between rebels led by George Athor and the Republic of South Sudan. That peace initiative failed because Archbishop Bul was accused of conspiring with the RSS to capture George Athor instead.
During the Jonglei crisis, Archbishop Bul was also appointed to head the reconciliation process between the warring tribes in the Jonglei. In the process Archbishop Bul “was {also} accused by the Murle community of allegedly siding with the Dinka Bor, his tribe, prompting the Murle to withdraw from the reconciliation process and demanding for appointment of a neutral person to chair it.”
Given what we know, Archbishop Bul appeared problematic and might not be the right person to chair national reconciliation in South Sudan for the following reasons:

  1. Archbishop Bul has never been in the bush and never experienced bush life and therefore he has no personal experience to relate to during the process of healing.
  2. Archbishop Bul is already accused twice: one for siding with his native tribe during Jonglei peace process and for conspiring with RSS to capture George Athor. Therefore, his neutrality is in serious question;
  3. Archbishop Bul’s appointment will be viewed as politically motivated and considered as the Dinka led political hegemony in the country;
  4. Because the national reconciliation is already politicized on tribal basis and that President Kiir has intentionally avoided Archbishop Paride Taban to chair the process is another serious phenomenon and hurdle;
  5. The two tribes that need serious focus in South Sudan in the course of this national reconciliation are the Dinka and The Nuer. They (Dinka & Nuer) must be led through this peaceful healing process by a neutral personality like Archbishop Paride Taban to avoid tribal siding.

Though I personally applauded and supported the formation of the new national reconciliation committee by the president, I honestly feel that President Kiir has again made another political blunder by not appointing Archbishop Paride Taban to lead the process. Archbishop Taban will be a right choice and considered neutral by all parties involved in the healing process. Because this issue was grossly ignored, there is no doubt that neutrality and fairness is in serious question.

NOTE: The Opinions expressed herein are entirely for the author of the article. The Upper Nile Times has no authority on the contents published here.

The Upper Nile Times

J. Nguen Nyol

James Nguen Nyol is one of the Lost Boys of Sudan who is living in Calgary and attending the University of Calgary. He is the founder of the Biluany Literacy and Water Project, co-founder of the “Lost Boys and Girls of Sudan Association of Calgary” and a subject of the Award Winning documentary “The Long Journey Home of James Nguen.” He can be reach @ nyolgaar@yahoo.com


Filed in

How Can South Sudan Reconcile It’s Bitter Past When the Present Is Even More Worse than Ever Before?

What Methodology is Desirable to Kick Away Primitive Politics in South Sudan?

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