“Don’t believe any thing you read from unreliable Fake News sources,” Gatdet

July 17, 2020 (Thessherald)–The Office of the First Vice-President advises members of the public not to rely on unverified news published by unregistered and fake news outlets.

“Fake News has become a relentless force to reckon with these days! Individuals create and operate pages or blogs or unreliable websites in order to confuse the public with Fake News! These individuals fabricate stories or exercise rumor-mongering for whatever reasons.”

James Gatdet Dak, the Press Secretary in the FVP President’s office observes that individuals “may be doing this as they seek promotions in form of responses to their fabrications.”

He explained that “others want to deceive and confuse minds of some vulnerable people with ill motives.”

This comes as a number of news outlets alleged that Chairman the SPLM-IO Committee for Information, Mabior Garang de Mabior had resigned from the opposition group.

Gatdat pointed out that it has become a norm for unregistered news outlets to publish unreliable news as they do not mind journalistic ethics and credibility.

“They don’t follow or respect journalistic ethics. They don’t care about their credibility. They are out of control and getting loose on Social Media.”

“I like the energy and determination ingrained in these Fake News authors. I wish they use that energy on productive efforts to promote peace and unity among our people in South Sudan. Please, don’t trust any Fake News coming from unreliable sources. I believe they are not registered by a government or by a known organization. They have no physical office buildings or official addresses.”

The Stalemate between Ethiopia and Egypt over the GERD is being exaggerated by rumors

The Stalemate between Ethiopia and Egypt over the GERD is being exaggerated by rumors of Egyptian Army Base establishment at the town of Pagak in Maiwut county South Sudan.

Opinion | By Lul Gatkuoth Gatluak

June 19, 2020 (Thessherald)–The stalemate between Egypt and Ethiopia over the project of the Ethiopia’s Grand Renaissance Dam is now being exaggerated on Social Media. In the past three weeks; last week of May and the first two weeks of June, one of the pressing newscast has been the establishment of the Egyptian Army Base in South Sudan’s Ethiopia border at the town of Pagak in Maiwut County South Sudan. The issue has gone viral day after day.

Whenever one retired from daily engagements and fined himself scanning and skimming the news media, it is easy to come across exchange messages between individuals whose tone is always torn apart. Some people describe the establishment of the Egyptian Army base as a mere propaganda and fabrication, others describe and deem it as a rumors which might develop into reality.

Yet the rest seem to be authentic that, Egyptian Army bases are already been established and currently operational inside South Sudan in places such as Paloch and Mabaan, and the establishment of the new Egyptian base in Pagak is the way to get closer for an actual war confrontation with Ethiopia. Nevertheless, all above school of thoughts are taken into account as far as the subject matter is concern.

Speculators still emphasizes the truthfulness of Egyptian army base establishment as an irresversible move. Thus, one’s aim in writing this article is to enlighten general public about historical relation between South Sudan and both Egypt and Ethiopia, focusing on which country between the two has mutual beneficiary relation with South Sudan and which one has a bitter relation.

Initially, it is impossible to distinct South Sudan history out of the broader Sudan history without generalization. The relation between Sudan/South Sudan and both Egypt and Ethiopia goes back to ancient times. During that times, invaders that always intruded to Sudan team up with Egypt aiming to control Sudan/South Sudan. For example, Right within the generation of Muhammad’s death in 632, Arab army immediately began the mission of carrying Islam into North Africa.

This Muslim army inaugurated the idea of imposing political control over conquered territories in the name of Islam. Their first victory in North Africa was in Tripoli, present day capital of Libya.

The coming of Islam to Sudan changed the nature of Sudanese society forever. This by far engendered the division that engulfs the country into north and south, with the conflict that existed even today. Among many reasons, Arabs came with the notion of Arabizing and Islamizing Local African communities. Before doing so, they wandered into the region in search of fresh pasturage, merchants, and a designed intermarriage way of assimilation.

Following the French withdrawal from Egypt in 1805, Muhammad Ali who was send by Ottomans Empire to influence Egyptian Mamluks soon filled the political vacuum. After assuming the power, Ali transform Egypt into the most powerful military state and modernizes it economically and educationally. Thereafter, in1821 Muhammad plans the conquest of the Sudan adding it to his domains for the sake of valuable natural resources including human. The invasion brought huge or greater transitional change to Sudan started by northern Sudan. This policy had later on expanded and intensified by his son Ismail. When Mahdi had risen, combined Turk-Egyptian army were in danger and that brought forth British colonization especially the death of Charles Gordon.

After the death of Mahdi, his successor Khalifa began to organize workshops in order to renew the military. This organization resulted into an invasion of Ethiopia. That invasion was a response to one of a raid Negus Tekle Hymanot of Ethiopia has led to Sudan a year earlier. The campaign resulted in capturing towns including Metmma. Six month later, Ansar penetrated deep inside Ethiopia as far as in the town of Gondar.

The war continued until when Ethiopian king Yohannes was wounded in battle and died the next day; this caused Ethiopians withdrawal from war field. When British had full control of Sudan, the new master decided to explore the country especially the areas of Nile Basin tributaries.

British’s primary goal was to secure the waters of the Nile, for the major tributaries to the Sobat River, Blue Nile and Atbara. When British left the country, the state of affairs and the pattern of political landscape changed when the Government of the Sudan started to support Eritrean secession movement on ideological ground (Pan Arabism). The Ethiopian government has reciprocated by supporting the rebel movements in South Sudan started in 1960s-70s. That support increased in 1983 when Derge regime threw its support behind John Garang to establish a movement that should fight for the creation of a socialist oriented united secular Sudan.

That support contributed to numerous military achievements in South Sudan liberation. The modern history of hydro politics in the Nile basin is very complex and had had wide ramification for the region. One of the very good example is the unfinished Jonglei Canal project in southern Sudan which appears to stretch for endless miles. The Jonglei Canal was jointly financed by Egypt and Sudan and built with French assistance.

The canal’s excavation began in earnest in 1978. A huge earth-moving machine dubbed the “Bucket wheel” then the largest excavator ever built a carved out ditch which is 75 meters wide, progressing 2 km a week. At the time, the Jonglei Canal was Africa’s boldest and most daring water works scheme, envisioned as a novel way to divert the White Nile’s waters to bypass swamps and reduce evaporation losses. In a region with an unquenchable thirst, the result would have made an additional 4.5 billion cubic meters of Nile water available annually, to be equally split between Sudan and Egypt.

Today, the fabled excavator lies abandoned and rusted in the wetlands of southern Sudan. In 1984, civil war froze the ambitious canal project in its tracks. By then, 250 km of the navigable canal was dug, with another 110 km to go. The artificial waterway would have spanned more than twice the length of the Suez Canal.

In southern Sudan, the White Nile flows into the vast wetlands of the Sudd, a network of channels, lakes and swamps flooding an area the size of England. Cutting through southern Sudanese provinces, from Bor to Malakal, the Jonglei Canal was designed to circumvent the Sudd, where as much as half of the inflowing water evaporates.

The Blue Nile originates from the Ethiopian highlands and carries roughly 85 percent of the water that reaches Egypt. The White Nile, which streams from the equatorial lakes of Central Africa and snakes through southern Sudan, carries the remaining 20 percent. The river’s two branches meet in Sudan’s capital, Khartoum. Under a 1959 water-sharing agreement between Egypt and Sudan, 18.5 billion cubic meters of Nile water is allocated annually to Sudan, and 55.5 billion cubic meters to its downstream neighbor.

The Jonglei Canal would shorten river travel between Khartoum and Juba, southern Sudan’s main urban center, expand farmland and constrict the breeding grounds of mosquitoes. Yet environmentalists have warned of the canal’s ecological consequences. Reducing evaporation in the Sudd swamps would likely lessen rainfall in West Africa. Draining the marshes would alter fisheries and grasslands, a delicate ecosystem the indigenous Anyuak, Dinka, Shilluk and Nuer tribes of southern Sudan have come to depend on.

Construction of the Jonglei Canal began under Sudan’s ruler, Jaafar Mohamed Nimeiri, who understood that development could only move forward if the civil war was brought to an end. With this in mind, Nimeiri signed the 1972 Addis Ababa Accord, granting the south a measure of regional autonomy, and effectively ending 17 years of civil strife between north and south Sudan for a short period. Nimeiri had ambitious plans. He sought to build oil and sugar refineries and increase cultivated land by 3.5 million acres. Yet grand development expectations soon gave way to corruption and a ballooning foreign trade deficit.

In 1983, Nimeiri imposed his brand of Islamic law (Sharia) across the entire country and revoked southern autonomy. Southern Sudanese factions took up arms in yet another civil war. Early attacks by the newly formed Sudan People’s Liberation Army, led by John Garang de Mabior, were against the Jonglei Canal and oil exploration projects. By drying out the swamps, the canal would not only open up the entire Sudd area for mechanized farming, making Sudan what Nemeiri termed the “breadbasket of the Middle East and Africa,” it would allow government troops from the north to quickly move military equipment and troops into the south Sudan.

Similarly, the same dejavu is repeating itself, Egypt want to avoid taking necessary majors that would help deescalate the stalemate. The stalemate between Ethiopia and Egypt increase when Ethiopia had decided to construct a Dam in 2011 on the Blue Nile tributary in the northern Ethiopia highlands from where 85% of the Nile Waters flow. The mega Dam has caused disagreements between Ethiopia and Egypt, with Sudan and South Sudan caught in between. The issue is worrying the region, but as Africans are concerned, Egypt, Sudan and all regional countries that are attached to Nile basin might engage in a constructive dialogue to discuss a potential environmental issues associated with the Grand Renaissance Dame. It is not bad idea for Ethiopia to build a Dam but it is bad for Egypt to aim for confrontation.

As sisterly country in the region, South Sudan could avoid allowing Egypt to establish an army base in its territory for the sake of maintaining peace in the region. On the other hand, South Sudan could look at both countries relation to them both ancient and modern historical relations. Inform individuals would understand that South Sudan relation with Egypt is more negative than South Sudan relation with Ethiopia. Ethiopia contributed effectively in the freedom of South Sudan while Egypt was supporting South Sudan foes fully. On that reason, one would see South Sudan to be the last nation that could accept Egypt to establish a base on its soil.

In summing, all countries that enjoy the gift of the Nile need to sit in solidarity to find the way to share the Nile water. The Nile water treaties were agreements between the British on behalf of its colonies, Sudan, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda in addition to Egypt. Although the main purpose of the treaty was to determine the boundary between Ethiopia and Sudan, Ethiopia have never undertook any constructive majors regarding water flow from Blue Nile, Lake Tana or Sobat, which would arrest the flow of their water. Today is the right time to revisit the 1902 agreement and South Sudan need to remorse to allow Egyptian government to establish army base. Social media news outlets, should cease assimilating or beating war drums between Egypt and Ethiopia. Let learn how to calm, reason and discuss prominent issues constructively rather than exaggerating issues unconstructively.

The author is a political commentator. He could be reach at lulgatluak09@gmail.com or lgatluak01@hamline.edu

Note: The views expressed in the ‘Opinion’ section are sole responsibility of individual authors and will take full responsibility, liability and blame for any libel or litigation that results from something written in or as a direct result of something written in a comment. The South Sudan Herald is not liable for any comment submitted by individuals authors and reserve the right to delete any opinion piece for any reason whatsoever.

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Kiir gives press briefing, dispels fake news on Facebook

South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir Mayardit delivering a press briefing at the State House on Monday, 25 May, 2020/ Photo: File

May 25, 2020 (Thessherald)–South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir Mayardit, issued this afternoon a press briefing, to put to rest persistent rumors about his sickness.

Full Text: statement as delivered

Fellow citizens,

I have just called for this press briefing to come and update you on status of COVID-19 and the operational challenges that have been posed by the pandemic. There is a serious need to remain cautious and observe health guidelines set out by the Ministry of Health in order to control the spread of the pandemic.

The whole world is struggling to contain the pandemic and South Sudan should be extra cautious in ensuring that we do not reach the levels we have seen in other countries. Our Health system may not be able to withstand overwhelming emergencies we have witnessed in other countries if things get worse.

The Ministry of Health together with the National Task Force on COVID-19 has been tirelessly working around the clock to continue testing despite their limited operational capacity.

We now have over 600 active cases of COVID-19 and if we are not careful enough, then such numbers will shoot up and we will be in very deplorable state as country to contain it. Your government has been reaching out to friendly countries, though struggling with their own, to assist in any way possible with protective health equipment as we combat this pandemic.

I am once again urging all the citizens specially those residing in densely populated areas like cities and towns to keenly observe the rules of social distancing, wearing of face masks and regular hand washing.

Please stay at home instead of congregating at tea stalls throughout the day. This is where the virus spread and by staying home, you would have assisted in controlling the spread of the virus. Your leadership of the country is observing this seriously.

You have heard that some of our colleagues in the government have been tested positive of COVID-19 and they have adherently quarantined themselves. We also want you to do the same even if you are not infected.

Lastly, I want to urge all of you to refocus your energies to the fight against Coronavirus pandemic and leave futile politicking and helpless propaganda for now. The disease we are fighting does not differentiate whether this is a Muslim or Christian, Dinka or Acholi, SPLM or SPLM-IO and therefore this is the unforgiving monster in the room. There has never been any reassignment of duties of the President. The Public should not delve into propaganda.
May God bless you all.

Salva Kiir Mayardit
Republic of South Sudan

Former PMPC trashes ‘turmoil’ alleged by SSNN, warns against ‘unethical reporting’

Members of the Provisional Military and Political Council (Photo Courtesy: File/Thessherald)

April 19, 2020 (Thessherald)– The leadership of the defunct Provisional Military and Political Council, (PMPC) has dismissed and trashed the turmoil alleged by a local news website, South Sudan News Now, claiming that there’s an ongoing political ‘turmoil’ and wrangling between PMPC’s senior officials over leadership and financial issues.

“On behalf of the leadership of the former PMPC, I would like to denounce and dismiss the unfounded and baseless information published by SSNN, claiming that there has been a persistent political turmoil within the defunct PMPC leadership,” said Buom Gatdet Gach, a member of the former splinter faction, PMPC.

“The report published by this site [SSNN] is completely unfounded and does not carry any concrete evidence that should indicate or support their investigations and also if they were to be professional journalists, they should have contacted the other side to confirm whether it’s true or not,” he added.

“Our leadership under Major General James Ocean Puot is strong enough and capable of resolving any internal political disputes that arise,” the statement said.

Speaking to The South Sudan Herald this afternoon, a senior official of then PMPC dismissed the allegations making rounds on social media about the political wrangling and urged the local media to desist from ‘Unethical Media Reporting.’

“This is absolutely unethical reporting, in Journalism there’s something called “Balance and Fairness” that means a professional journalist must thrive for accuracy and neutrality and provide concrete evidence when investigating uncovered issues. We urge them to desist from publishing sensational news stories,” said one of the senior officials of the defunct PMPC who preferred not to be mentioned.

The official pointed out that there may be a few individuals eyeing political positions within the leadership or elsewhere, and if they fail to get what they were expecting, they can resort to holding grudges against the leadership.

“There might be some individual running position based on their personal interest and gain, but those should not [be]recognized by the leadership as well as the community at large.”

Finally, the leadership of the former Provisional Military and Political Council welcomes the decision made by the former Minister of Petroleum, Hon. Dak Duop Bichiok for abandoning the SPLM-IO that has turned into what they described a ‘family dynasty.’

“The leadership has also welcomed the right decision made by Hon. Dak Duop Bichiok , and hopefully his decision will bring an end to the ongoing violence in and around Gajaak areas.”

The statement urges members of the general public not to rely on fake news stories aimed at drawing attention and discrediting the government.