Kiir’s office responds to Biar’s testimony before U.S. Senate on Foreign Relations

Full Text: Response to the testimony of Peter Biar Ajak at the recent U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on the State of Democracy.

President Salva Kiir Mayardit presides over the opening of the country’s secondary school leaving exams at Juba Day Secondary School | PPU

Press statement

During the recent US Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on the State of Democracy in the World, Dr. Peter Biar Ajak testified making a series of largely unsubstantiated allegations against President Salva Kiir Mayardit and the Government of South Sudan. Some of these baseless claims merit a response.

The charge incessantly repeated by Dr. Ajak that he narrowly escaped death at the hands of South Sudanese Security agents in Nairobi, Kenya is patently false. All along meanwhile under detention in South Sudan for dangerous subversive activities, he was totally at the mercy of the Government. Yet, not only did he suffer no harm both physically and psychologically, but the very same President Salva Kiir Mayardit whom he continues to vilify, showed clemency and ordered his release after hardly serving any significant jail term following his lawful conviction by a competent court of law.

The narrative that Dr. Ajak was set free and allowed to leave the custody of South Sudan’s penal institutions only to be pursued and hunted down in Kenya with the objective of murdering him is a cock and bull story that deserves to be dismissed with the contempt it deserves.

Having said that perhaps Dr. Ajak is entitled to sorme credit after all for this elaborate ruse, probably crafted with the help of his lawyers, to enable him instantaneously gain political asylum in the US as an applicant whose life was allegedly in immediate danger. In that he has succeeded with flying colors. On the mandate of President Kiir, Dr. Ajak asserts that the President assumed power upon the country’s independence as an appointed rather as an elected leader.

By this he insinuates, that as an unelected leader of independent South Sudan, President Kiir lacks legitimacy. Naturally the new political dispensation ushered in at South Sudan’s independence in July 2011, was an interim arrangement that could not conceivably start in a vacuum. The incumbent Government led by President Kiir had by necessity at the time, to be entrusted with the task of steering the country through transition to elections.

“It is fanciful to think that the SPLM should have dispensed with and proceed to organize elections immediately upon the proclamation of independence. need for an interim period The unfortunate and tragic events of 2013 denied South Sudanese the opportunity of exercising their inalienable right to go the polls and elect their leaders in 2015 as originally envisaged.”

Had elections gone ahead as planned, President Kiir and the SPLM would have undoubtedly sought the renewal of their mandate to run the country. It is regrettable that South Sudan missed the chance of holding elections, but that is not a credible basis upon which to brand the current Administration as a regime that is undemocratic and hence bereft of any legitimacy. Legitimacy does not stem from form but rather from substance or essence. When President Kiir was elected in 2010 as the President of the Government of Southern Sudan, those who cast their ballots for him are the very same South Sudanese who would have done so again had elections been held in 2015.

The fact that eligible South Sudanese voters voted in 2010 in the context of a united Sudan and were expected to vote again in 2015 as citizens of an independent South Sudan, does not affect one bit, the mandate they bestow upon whoever they vote into office.

The constitutional and political context in which they vote is immaterial for as long as the voters remain the same people. Therefore President Kiir’s right to lead South Sudan, at least till the next elections determine the post-transition power architecture, is undiminished.

Furthermore, the claim that democracy in South Sudan is being stifled is totally without merit. Responsibility Sharing (Power Sharing) during the Transitional Period among multiple political entities is the bedrock of the Revitalized Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan (R-ARCSS) of September 2018.

These arrangements that have been embedded in the Agreement, constitute an eloquent manifestation of democracy in action. Therefore the Revitalized Transitional Government of National Unity (R-TGONU), by its very nature, is a recognition and full acceptance of the reality that South Sudan is irreversibly locked into a trajectory towards multi-party democracy.

The call for early elections in 2022, is again without justification. It must be borne in mind that the actual inauguration of the (R-TGONU) following conclusion of the Agreement in September, 2018 took some time. Hence the time lost must be recouped so that there is adequate time to complete all the tasks of the transition before elections are held. Dr. Ajak himself would acknowledge the absolute necessity of first producing a Permanent Constitution and conducting a population census as indispensable pre-requisites to holding any credible elections. And since these two processes, especially adoption of the Permanent Constitution on the basis of which elections shall be held, and others require time, there is no plausible rationale to insist on rushing elections.

All the critical transition tasks on which genuinely free and fair elections would be predicated must be accomplished before the polls, even if that means adjusting the electoral time-table to accommodate these tasks. Premature elections cannot reflect the true will of the electorate and would consequently amount to an act of practical disenfranchisement, a travesty of political justice and a recipe for disaster.

The Government’s commitment to the further consolidation of peace and rendering the current dispensation more broad based and inclusive is underlined by ongoing peace talks with hold-out opposition Groups. The three separate rounds of negotiations held under the auspices of St. Egidio Community with the two factions of the South Sudan Opposition Movements Alliance (SSOMA) thus far, have yielded promising results.

This engagement will relentlessly continue till (SSOMA) joins the peace fold. Conflict-induced political instability continues to seriously aggravate the already daunting economic challenges facing the nascent Republic of South Sudan. The Covid-19 pandemic has only made matters worse. However this grim scenario is not without a silver lining. Thanks to the (R-ARCSS), which is being successfully implemented, albeit at a somewhat slow pace, the factor of conflict and its impact on the economic situation is fast receding.

The Government has been pro-active in the search for solutions to economic difficulties. The Ministry of Finance & Planning has undertaken in collaboration with and the active participation of South Sudan’s Development Partners, a Public Financial Management Reform Process that will enhance accountability and transparency. And in tandem with this process the Ministry of Finance and the Bank of South Sudan (Central Bank) have engaged the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in an economic policy review exercise aimed at liberalizing the exchange rate and improving overall economic performance.

We are optimistic that the cumulative effect of these measures will among other things, assist the Government meet its financial obligations, notably the payment of salaries, fully and on time. The humanitarian situation currently obtaining in South Sudan is difficult and continues to demand robust intervention. Acting in concert with the international community the Government has managed to ameliorate the level of suffering engendered by the humanitarian crisis.

The Government constantly strives to remove bottlenecks constraining the timely delivery of humanitarian assistance to needy communities. Inter-communal conflicts over access to pastures and water among pastoralist and agro-pastoral communities have been largely exacerbated by the proliferation of small arms among the civil population.

Ultimately it becomes imperative that these illegal arms are collected and disposed of in a manner that ensures they never find their way back again into the hands of those from whom they were taken in the first place. The ongoing disarmament process that is regulated by law is essentially a peaceful exercise whereby Chiefs and Traditional leaders solicit the voluntary surrender of weapons from their people.

It is hoped that this endeavor will succeed and the Government will not be compelled to have recourse to coercive measures to strip the civil population of these weapons. However, in the event that the use of force becomes unavoidable the Government will not hesitate to use it to save lives and preserve law and order.

And such action if at all needed, will be carried out meanwhile strictly observing fundamental human rights. The Government of South Sudan cannot reflect on the humanitarian situation without pausing to express its profound gratitude to the international community for all that it has done thus far to mitigate the crisis.

We thank the United Nations, its Agencies and the international NGO community for the action they have taken to date, to ease the plight of the thousands that have been uprooted from their homes in Jonglei State and Pibor Administrative area by a combination of violent conflict and devastating floods. Given the recurrent nature of the phenomenon of flooding in those areas, we urge continued support in helping devise more durable solutions so that flooding and its attendant woes in flood-prone areas of South Sudan becomes a thing of the past.

Rights group urges R-TGoNU to disseminate R-ARCSS countrywide

        Press Release

The Center for Peace and Advocacy (CPA) has today expressed concern over the silence of the Revitalised Transitional Government of National Unity (TGoNU) in the country. CPA is calls on the R-TGoNU to disseminate the Revitalized Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan (R-ARCSS) to the countrywide.

Thus, there is a need for wide spread dissemination of the R-ARCSS to make sure that the people of South Sudan including the refugees understand and support it. Importantly, in the process of dissemination, more emphasis should be put on Chapter five of the Agreement that deals with Transitional Justice, Accountability, Reconciliation, reparation, Compensation and Healing. When the citizens of South Sudan especially the victims have understood this Chapter, they will support and campaign for its implementation.

This stems from the fact that proper understanding of R-ARCSS by the people of South Sudan is a precondition for its success. It is our hope that once the people of South Sudan have properly understood the R-ARCSS, they will “support and own it.”

The Ministry of Peacebuilding, National Pre- Transitional Committee should be the lead and its partners in the dissemination of the R-ARCSS to make sure that the people of South Sudan including the refugees understand and support it. The peace agreement should create avenues like civic space in the human rights for the civil society organizations and human rights defenders to operate without restrictions from the government.

In article 1.2.2 the implement the Agreement and restore, permanent, sustainable peace, security are stability in the country. In article 1.2.3 expedite of relief, protection, voluntary and dignified repatriation, rehabilitation, resettlement, and reintegration of IDPs and returnees, working closely with the United Nations and other international agencies. 1.2.4 Facilitate and oversee a people- driven process of national reconciliation and healing through an independent mechanism in accordance with the agreement.

It’s our hopes that the dissemination of Peace Agreement will provide advocacy platform to generate discussions, share information and take action on the challenges and recommendations on how to effectively implement this Agreement to achieve everlasting peace in South Sudan.

But more importantly, the R-ARCSS must be implemented in letter and spirit because it is the only hope for the IDPs refugees and the whole of South Sudan; otherwise we are sitting on a ticking time-bomb.

Rights group urges justice for victims raped by national army

Press Release

South Sudan’s soldiers stand at attention during the official independence day ceremony. Photo © J.B. Russell
South Sudan’s soldiers stand at attention during the official independence day ceremony. Photo © J.B. Russell

Press Release | The Center for Peace and Advocacy (CPA) has recently noted with great concern gross human rights violations perpetrated against women in the country.

On Wednesday, CPA learned that innocent women were gang-raped between March and April of this year in South Sudan and such an unbearable incident was confirmed by a law maker representing Yei River County in the Transitional Legislature Assembly and perpetrators happened to be “men in uniform”. CPA urges the government to hold perpetrators accountable and brought them to book.

“The failure of the government to protect and support victims of sexual violence undermines the quest for justice,” said the group’s national Director Ter Manyang Gatwech.

Since the signing of Revitalized Peace Agreement on Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan (R-ARCSS) on the 12 September 2018 in Addis Ababa in Ethiopia by parties to the agreement and therefore, human rights situations remain a challenge for the last two years in South Sudan.

Late last year to early this year, rape and gang rapes occurred in northern Unity state has been reportedly continuing this year, with perpetrators apparently thinking they could get away unpunished a statement by U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet (Source Reuters news). Last November there were report of 125 women and girls who were allegedly raped or gang raped over a 10-day period reported.

Reference Reuters:

Violence against women and girls in South Sudan remains a challenge. Two thirds of women who have experienced domestic violence say it was perpetrated by an intimate partner, while one in four women report that their first sexual experience was forced. It is important to note that in cases of sexual violence, many women do not report due to fear, stigma and the trauma that is associated with the offences.

“These police brutalities are just a tip of the ice bag of the magnitude of violence committed against women on a daily basis in this country.”

We at CPA condemn these acts of injustice committed by individuals and other criminal groups in the country. As a Human rights organization, we urge the government to bring these criminals to justice and also to speed up the formation of states governments and hybrid court for South Sudan to avoid such violations.

Rights body condemns recent clashes between SSPDF and SPLA-IO

Forces of the SPLM/A-IO taking rest after being dislodged from Moroto Training Center |Photo: File

CPA |Press statement

Dec 2nd , 2020 (Thessherald)- The Center for Peace and Advocacy (CPA) strongly condemns the reported clashes between the South Sudan People’s Defense Forces (SSPDF) against the forces of Sudan People’s Liberation Army in Opposition (SPLA-IO) around areas of Kerwa, Andejo, Kendiri, Mangalatore, Morota junction, and Morota unified training centre.

Sources indicated that, the clash took on the November 26th, 2020 Morota -Central Equatoria. This is a violation of the cessation of hostilities signed by the government of South Sudan and SPLA-IO on 21st December, 2017. CPA calls on CTSAMVM and JUB to investigate thoroughly and hold whoever is responsible accountable in order for South Sudan to have everlasting peace.

The Centre for Peace and Advocacy (CPA) condemns and denounces the use of military- oriented solutions and urges the conflicting parties to promote peace through negotiated solutions rather than guns. It is therefore incumbent upon the conflicting parties to uphold the highest moral standards in regards to the respect and promotion of human rights and rule of law. These clashes will only worsen the already dire situation of the civilians in South Sudan.

The Center for Peace and Advocacy (CPA) would therefore like the conflicting parties to show and exercise maximum restraint and cease hostilities. Let the focus be on fighting the global pandemic in the item of COVID-19 that has caused thousands of lives and infected millions globally.

On an equal footing, the Center for Peace and Advocacy (CPA) would like to encourage the IGAD, AU and International Community and peace monitors not take their eyes off these violations. These clashes must be investigated thoroughly and hold whoever is responsible accountable.

CPA voices concern over delayed formation of states’ governments

Ter Manyang Gatwech, head of The Center for Peace and Advocacy |Photo: File

CPA | Press Release

Nov 30th, 2020 (Thessherald)–The Center for Peace and Advocacy (CPA) is highly concerned over the delayed formation of the states’ governments by the parties to the agreement. This is a worrying and disturbing sign that all is not well, raising an eyebrow about the parties seriousness of returning the country back to sustainable peace, security, justice, development and the rule of law.

For a fully functioning Revitalized Transitional Government of National Unity (R-TGoNU) to be realized, the peace agreement stipulates the appointment of Governor of the Upper Nile State, Speakers of State Legislatures, State Councils of Ministers and County Commissioners, something that has not happened until now.

The unnecessary delay in the formation of the states’ governments is creating an atmosphere of uncertainty and a power vacuum. The Center for Peace and Advocacy (CPA) regrets this delay and urges the parties to show some seriousness and commitment in resolving the states issue. The formation of the states’ governments is a pre-requisite to a stable R-TGoNU and a peaceful and secure South Sudan.

The Center for Peace and Advocacy (CPA) is sounding the alarm bell and urges the parties to expedite the formation of the state government and call on the peace guarantors to help bridge the gap where they have been deadlocked. The South Sudanese cannot wait any longer; delaying the formation is giving them a very bleak picture of the direction the parties to the agreement are taking them.

The Center for Peace and Advocacy (CPA) is therefore calling the international community to help pressurize the parties because the deadlock on the states issue is a sign of worse things yet to come.

‘Repent of your wicked ways,’ religious leader tells Kiir and Machar

South Sudan's President Salva Kiir Mayardit and his Deputy Dr. Riek Machar Teny | Photo: File
South Sudan's President Salva Kiir Mayardit and his Deputy Dr. Riek Machar Teny | Photo: File
South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir Mayardit and his Deputy Dr. Riek Machar Teny | Photo: File

Nov 10, 2020 (Thessherald)–A South Sudanese religious leader, Rev Karlo Okoy, has urged South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir Mayardit, and his Deputy, Dr. Riek Machar to repent of their wicked ways and turn to God for a lasting peace to prevail in the country.

“Dear South Sudanese blind leaders and citizens- you still have a long way to suffer. You will never have peace and good economy in these lands of Biblical God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, prophets and the present disciples of Jesus Christ until you destroy all the false gods which are tearing the nations and the economies,” the religious leader lamented.

Rev Karlo Okoy

He appeals to the citizens not to make room for evil deeds and become gateways of the devil.

“Usually when God becomes angry because of our bad deeds, Satan implements God’s anger or wrath into action. He is like a vulture that awaits for the dead to lie down and eat.”

“It is Satan that brings famine, diseases, Sudanese have been ignoring this Biblical God and continued to kill themselves for the last 65 years since British left the country 1956.”

“If God gave Moses power to take his people from Egyptian slavery back to their promised lands around 1100 BC, what about me?”