A South Sudanese award-winning musician, Okut Cease Malish, famously known by his stage name Silver-X, has called on the people of South Sudan to do away with hate speech on social media and embrace the spirit of love, unity and tolerance.
“Spread love not hate”. We need to teach our children to stop fighting and embrace peace. We belong to one tribe,” he said.
Speaking in an interview with Radio Miraya this morning, Silver-X urged young people to shun tribalism and preach messages of peace, love and unity.
Silver-X, who started his music career in 2008, has received a number of international awards and recognitions for his quest to bring peace and love through his music.
In 2014, he was chosen by the U.S. magazine Foreign Policy as one of the 100 Best Global Thinkers, and subsequently won Eye Radio’s Awards in 2015.
South Sudan descended into a deadly conflict in 2013 between two majority tribes, the Nuer and the Dinka, sparking wide-spread violence has so far claimed more than 400,000 lives and displaced millions from their homes.
In 2018, the South Sudanese parties signed a peace agreement that has now restored peace and calm in major parts of the country. However, hate speech and incitement on social media remain a major threat.
Dec 16, 2020 (Thessherald)–The Upper Nile State Conference, scheduled to commence on 16th to 19th December 2020, has been abruptly canceled until further notice, the office of the First Vice President announced on Tuesday.
“The Office of the First Vice President of the Republic of South Sudan hereby informs the people of Upper Nile State and the public in general that, the planned “Upper Nile Conference” scheduled for 16th to 19th December 2020 has been postponed due delays in preparation arangements. A new date shall be set and it shall be communicated to you all,” the Office of the First Vice-President announced in a statement.
On Sunday, the presidency resolved to hold a conference with the aim of reconciling and promoting unity among communities in Upper Nile State.
According to the presidency, the meeting would have touched upon important issues affecting the state, including the long-pending appointment of General Johnson Olony among others.
The objectives of the conference were to:–
• Provide a platform for the people of Upper Nile State to dialogue among themselves and address their grievances;
• Enhance the process of peace. reconciliation, healing and unity among the affected communities;
• Restore the destroyed social fabric and peaceful co-existence; and
• Encourage the return and resettlement of the internally displaced persons, refugees and POCS residents in Malakal and elsewhere into their homes.
Opinion (Thessherald)–December 15th, 2013 marked the darkest day in the Nuer history, a fearless tribe known for its bravery and always revered a warrior as the prophet Isaiah prophesied [Isaiah: 18]. Their ancestors and traditional leaders used to be strong and conquerors except for the time when Riek Machar took the helm with countless bloodshed, loss of many lives and destruction of properties.
Not only did the past seven years bring misfortune to this society, but it ultimately led to intergenerational illiteracy among the Nuer children.
For instance, if an eight-year-old [Nuer boy] had been enrolled in class 8 in 1991, he would have obtained a master’s degree or worked in an office by now.
Since 1991, Machar’s quest for self-determination has not brought good news to the Nuer community, but rather a disgraceful surrender to the very enemy, putting the Nuer at a more disadvantage.
For example, majority of his forces were unconfirmed after merging with the late John Garang in 2002, and had it not been for late Paulino Matip Nihal who at heart fought very hard to see Nuer officers in a military parade. The scenario is now repeating itself – all Machar’s forces are assembled in the bushes at contonment sites with little help to them from the very person; while in Juba the man is enjoying the bloody cake with his children, closest relatives and aides driving V8 vehicles after other luxury cars.
Everyone in Juba prior to the Nuer massacre in 2013 knew that the doomsday was going to befall the country, after the president had brought in notorious militiamen/Mathiang Anyor and Gelweng. If Riek Machar had had strategies or wisdom, he would have challenged the president by preventing him from recruiting paramilitary groups from the Bhar el Ghazal region.
A leader who cares about the welfare of his people could have challenged the president both in Parliament and in cabinet meetings to make his voice heard. Similarly, if Kiir had refused to stop enlisting his paramilitary groups in his hometown, then Machar would have emulated the same policy by recruiting and bringing the White Army from the Lou-Nuer to counter such an ill-intentioned plan.
Allowing militia groups to reach Juba in Machar’s watchful eyes is a curse that will haunt him forever – let’s not shift the blame onto James Hoth Mai, as some writers always scapegoat him in their analysis opinions. Salva Kiir refused to listen to James Hoth Mai’s advice regarding illegal recruitment, so Machar could have used this as a justification for bringing young Nuer men closer to Juba as long as the president was acting out of the constitution.
President Kiir is a coward – who doesn’t know him? –if he knew that the White Army were around Juba, he might think twice before plunging the country into such a meaningless war.
The 2016 peace agreement that resulted in the killing of young men at J1, as well as his recent return to Juba (bare-handed) following the signing of the R-ARCISS are his blunder mistakes. The ongoing attacks on SPLM-IO forces around Moroto and elsewhere in the country are clear evidence that the peace agreement is teetering on the verge of collapse, it is just a matter of a ticking time bomb.
Not far from reality, the Nuer community in the near future may be trapped and massacred once again by the same regime due to the same ignorance and Machar’s unchanging behavior. The time will surely come when a true leader will emerge from this community. Rest in peace Nuer victims!
The writer is a concerned South Sudanese and can be reached via his Email: email@example.com
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The Upper Nile State Conference is expected to be held in the capital, Juba, from December 16 to 19, and will attract about 500 participants across the country as well as neighboring countries.
Dec 14, 2020 (Thessherald)–On December 9, 2020, the Presidency held its forth meeting in which it decided to declare the formation of the nine (9) states and local governments except the government of Upper Nile State and its counties.
The Presidency also decided to convene a peace and reconciliation conference for all the communities of Upper Nile State in Juba. The conference shall run for three (3) days under the theme:
“Peace, Reconciliation, Healing and Unity among the people of Upper Nile State”.
Upper NileStateis home to five (5) ethnic groups namely the Chollo, the Dinka, the Koma, the Maban and the Nuer. These diverse communities have been living together in harmony since time immemorial. Their social, cultural and linguistic co-existence has been cemented by long history of intermarriages and neighborliness. This social cohesion reflects the unique relationship between them.
For centuries, there has been no history of devastating conflict and enmity among the people of Upper Nile. However, twe isolated incidents, to be recalled, occured in 1973 (The Hippopotamus Incident) between the Chollo and the Nuer, and on the day of the CPA Celebration in January 2009 at the Malakal stadium between Chollo and Dinka, were amicably contained.
The major violence in history breakout on December 23, 2013, following the Juba December 15, 2013 crisis, resulted in the loss of many innocent lives and property among the five communities.
The violence has awfully devastated the state infrastructure, forced many people to seek refuge in the United Nations Protection of Civilian Sites (PoCs), displaced others internally and created an exodus of refugees neighboring countries, and destroyed the social fabric of the communities.
However, the Revitalized Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan (R-ARCSS of 2018) provides an opportunity for the people of Upper Nile to reconcile, heal, unitr, and restore the social fabric of their society as well as rebuild their State.
The objectives of the conference are to:–
• Provide a platform for the people of Upper Nile State to dialogue among themselves and address their grievances;
• Enhance the process of peace. reconciliation, liealing and unity among the affected communities;
• Restore the destroyed social fabric and peacefal co-existence; and
• Encourage the return and resettlement of the internally displaced persons, refugees and POCS residents in Malakal and elsewhere into their homes.
The conference under the sponsorship of the RTGNOU is estimated to bring together around four hundred and ninety-six (496) participants from all political and social spectrum of the communities of Upper Nile State.
The breakdown of invited delegates from different locations inside and outside South Sudan is as follows:
Cognizant of the report of the Tribal Boundaries Commission (TBC) on the tribal boundaries in dispute in South Sudan; and the reverting of the country to ten states recognizing Upper Nile State as the geographical, administrative and political entity as it stood in January 1956, the sons and daughters of Upper Nile State shall engage in an all-inclusive dialogue amongst themselves to address, among other things, the following:
a) Reconciliation and Healing
• b) Cohesion among the communities living in the State;
• c) Civil Administration of the State, especially the redress of the status of the civil servants that were laid off without due procedures of the civil service;
• d) Cooperation among the political leaders in order to develop the State; and
In the light of the above, the Upper Nile Conference shall be held in Juba at Freedom Hall from 16 to 19 December, 2020 under the patronage of HE. Salva Kiir Mayardit, President of the Republic of South Sudan and under chairmanship of the First Vice President, H.E. Dr Riek Machar Teny-Dhurgon.
Nov 6, 2020 (Thessherald)–An influential political figure, Gatluak Buom Pal, who hails from the Gambella region, has been kidnapped by unidentified gunmen in Addis Ababa and his whereabouts remain unknown so far, an immediate family member told The South Sudan Herald this morning.
“Until now, we have not been able to trace his whereabouts or his captors nor have we received any information from the government about whether or not they were aware of the incident,” said a family member on Friday.
According to a number of eyewitnesses interviewed on Thursday, Gatluak was forcibly abducted by suspected security personnel who were wearing civilian clothes and masks.
Attempts to contact government officials for comment on the incident were unsuccessful.
Gatluak is a prominent political figure known by many for being outspoken on Ethiopia’s political issues.
Ethiopia, one of the landlocked countries located on the Horn of Africa, has been embroiled for years in political unrest marked by protests, arbitrary detentions and speech suppression.
Ethiopia on the brink of civil war
Currently, Ethiopia is on the verge of descending into an all-out war as the Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed recently ordered the National Defense Forces to attack TPLF forces in the Tigray region.
“The Ethiopian National Defense forces, under the direction of command post, have been ordered to carry out their mission to save the country and the region from spiraling into stability,” said the prime minister’s office in a statement on Wednesday (Nov. 4).
The international community voiced its concern and urged the warring parties to immediately de-escalate the tensions and seek an amicable solution to address the root causes of the country’s internal issues.
“The stability of Ethiopia is important for the entire Horn of Africa region. I call for an immediate de-escalation of tensions and a peaceful resolution to the dispute,” U.N. Secretary General António Guterres said in a message on Twitter seen on Friday.
Aid agencies have reported that sporadic sounds of shelling could be heard from Aburafi town, near the Tigray-Amhara border this Friday.
Statement of the Co-Chairman, Hon. Angelo Beda |On the Occasion of the Opening Ceremony of the National Dialogue Conference 3rd Nov. 2020
Your Excellency, Salva Kiir Mayardit, President of the Republic of South Sudan
Your Excellency, Cyril Ramaphosa, President of the Republic of South Africa
Your Excellency, Moussa Faki Mahamat, Chairman of the African Union Commission,
Your excellency Molano Abel Alier, Co-Chairman of the National Dialogue Steering Committee,
Your Excellency, Naohiro Tsutsumi, the Japanese Ambassador to the Republic of South Sudan
Your Excellency, David Shearer, Special Representative of the Secretary General to South Sudan,
Members of the diplomatic community accredited to the Republic of South Sudan,
Members of the International organizations,
Distinguished delegates to the National Dialogue National Conference Members of the Steering Committee,
Fellow members of the Steering Committee Leadership,
Members of the Steering Committee Secretariat,
Members of the press core,
Invited guests and observers,
Ladies and Gentlemen: Good morning.
It is a great honor to welcome all of you to this opening ceremony of the National Dialogue National Conference. Your presence here attests to the significance of this occasion and it is a demonstration of your love and care for the people of South Sudan and for that, I must thank you very much. Welcome to Juba! Welcome to the National Conference!
I am greatly humbled to convene and chair this conference with His Excellency Molana Abel Alier, a man who has served this country for his entire life and continue to do so despite his physical condition. It is a great honor to serve in this capacity side-by-side with him and Hon. Bona Malwal Madut Ring and Francis Mading Deng and all these great men and women of the Steering Committee leadership.
I want to thank the eminent members of the Steering Committee who have been incredibly committed and dedicated to the service of their country and to this process without whom, this process would not have succeeded. They had to go to the most impossible places to get to access our people for consultations. Their actions were heroic.
I also want to thank wholeheartedly, the Secretariat of the Steering Committee made up of young men and women of South Sudan who are dedicated and who have demonstrated exceptional skills and expertise and have been the engine driving this process. We are indebted to them and we thank them for organizing this beautiful occasion.
Most importantly, we want to welcome and thank the delegates of the National Conference who have struggled in the floods and difficult roads from all corners of our country to come and attend this conference. We want to thank them for participating in this process from the grassroots consultations, the regional conferences, and now the National Conference. These men and women of South Sudan proved to the whole world the bravery, candor, and the commitment to speak the truth no matter what the circumstances. We thank them very much; they are the owners of South Sudan and this process. We are simply their servants.
To our President and the whole government, we must thank and honor you for this process, conceived and underwritten by your government. We want to thank you because you have kept your words. When you launched this process on the 14th of December 2016, you said and I quote, “I am throwing the full weight of the government behind it, but the government will not lead or control this process.” You have kept your words Mr. President and that is a demonstration of leadership.
This process has been so critical of your government, your security forces, your ruling party and your person as a leader of this country. But you have kept your composure, and you kept faith in this process. The people at the grassroots have even call for your resignation and for Riek Machar and Lam Akol to step aside, you still kept faith in the process and this process will go down in history as one of your wisest decisions and it is a legacy that no one can take away from you. Up to this point, no one has ever been arrested or harassed for speaking in a National Dialogue event. We hope this remains the case until the end of this process. You have provided the resources needed to sustain this process and we thank you and your ministers of finance for their cooperation.
We also want to thank the Government Japan, the only international partner, that has kept faith in this process and provided resources to the UNDP to support the Steering Committee. Despite pressure not to support us, they kept their promise and for this, we thank the people of Japan represented by the Ambassador here.
We must also thank our technical partners UNMISS in the person of the Special Representative of the Secretary General (SRSG) for his support, especially during the grassroots consultations, and most importantly, UNDP in the person of Dr. Kamil Kamalluddeen and his dedicated staff for standing with us throughout this process.
We want to extend a special thank and gratitude to the South African government, especially His Excellency Cyril Ramaphosa and Roef Myers for sharing their experiences with the National Dialogue Steering Committee and its leadership at the inception of this process and thereafter. We are truly indebted to them for inspiring us and for helping us understand the essence of our assignment.
Last, but not the least, we want to thank the people and government of the Arab Republic of Egypt for their support in providing our secretariat with equipment and tools to carry out their duties.
The Launch of the National Dialogue and the formation of the Steering Committee
Fellow Delegates, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,
We are gathered today to open the National Dialogue National Conference, the last stage, in what has been a three-staged process starting with the grassroots consultations, the regional conferences, and now the National Conference. The South Sudan National Dialogue process was launched by His Excellency President Salva Kiir Mayardit in the National Parliament on the 14th of December 2016, that is nearly four years ago. After announcing his intention to take the nation through the Dialogue, he formed a Steering Committee of eminent persons and a small unit of the secretariat. The process ran into some challenges, so the President decided to restructure the Steering Committee, and this is how I got my poor self to be the Co-chairman alongside H.E. Molana Abel Alier and the able Rapporteur Bona Malwal Madut Ring steering this process. I got the news of my appointment in Tumbura where I was a farmer, as I had retired from politics.
When the President launched the National Dialogue, this country was in an extremely dangerous situation. In July that year, a day before the celebration of our fifth independence anniversary, there was a dog fight at the State House, the bloodiest act of violence ever experienced in this country and the lives of the President and his two deputies were online that day. Hundreds of their bodyguards were killed. This incident revibrated across the country, especially in the Equatoria and violence was spreading and consuming this country like a wildfire. The UN Special Representative on the Prevention of Genocide came for a visit here and later released a report to the Security Council, saying that there was a real threat of genocide in South Sudan. Millions of people had fled the country and tempers were extremely high and ethnic targeting of civilians was rampant. There was a real fear that this country was heading for collapse and disintegration. There was no political process at the time and Dr. Riek Machar was stuck in South Africa.
This is the context in which the National Dialogue was launched and our assignment as the Steering Committee was to reverse this spiraling trend. To a greater degree, the National Dialogue did help in cooling the tempers and in restoring a sense of hope. The Steering Committee was sworn-in here at Freedom Hall on the 22nd of May 2017 and we started our work right away. For the purposes of transparency, at the time of the launch of the National Dialogue Steering Committee, the President was going to be the patron of the process, but he came under severe criticism, so he relinquished being the patron and gave us the full mandate of an independent body to make decisions and to steer this process without asking for his blessing and this is what we have done.
Second, there was a great deal of skepticism about the intention of the President and this process and many people rushed to the conclusion that this process is simply a smokescreen to whitewash the President’s actions and to extend his stay in power. Some people as far as saying that this process was simply a monologue as the oppositions were not part of it. To the contrary, the people of South Sudan did dialogue, though it was not a dialogue about power sharing.
Third, in the first session of the Steering Committee, not many of us, including me, the Chairman, had any idea what the National Dialogue actually was. We had to try and reflect on this ourselves and so we decided to open a debate among the members of the Steering Committee asking a simple question, “what went wrong”. The members of Steering Committee spoke for nearly a month in a debate where no one was timed. People spoke until they ran out of words and they could sit down, and someone would take the mike. Through this process, a very rough sketch of what was wrong begun to emerge, and this generated a lot of thoughts about what this process was.
After completing internal debates, we asked for help from people who have had this experience here on the continent and around the world. The UNMISS and UNDP came to our support and we organized seminars and workshops were experts from Tunisia, Rwanda, South Africa, Liberia and Yemen, came to share their stories. Institutions such as the United States Institute of Peace, UN Mediation Unit, Berghof Foundation, and CMI also came with more expertise. These exchanges were extremely useful in preparing us for the task of taking our nation through the dialogue process.
We decided then to organize the Steering Committee into subcommittees. We first defined for our purpose what the grassroots were going to be and what the regions were going to be. We also decided to define inclusivity for our purpose to be both geographically based on 80 counties of South Sudan including Abyei and 11 categories of stakeholders were identified in each county as the key participants in the process. These stakeholders include women, youth, political parties, traders, farmers, religious leaders, organized forces, community-based organizations, people with special needs, teachers, and traditional leaders.
We defined regions as the 10 states of South Sudan and Abyei and Pibor Administrative Areas. So, the Steering Committee set up 12 subcommittees representing these regions. We also created three additional subcommittees, one representing the organized and security forces, one committee for the national capital, and one to reach out to refugees and diaspora. The Steering had a total of 15 subcommittees. The purpose of this subcommittees was to carryout grassroots consultations and facilitate the selection of delegates to the regional and national conferences.
At the grassroots consultations, we went to the counties and simply asked our people, what went wrong? Our job was not to respond to what they said, we simply documented what they said in video, voice and written minutes. After completing their consultations, each subcommittee submitted a report of what people said and the report was presented to the Steering Committee for adoption. Now, we have the 15 reports of the subcommittees, containing evidence of what people said in each of the 80 locations. We also have this recording in video for future reference.
The able Secretariat of the National Dialogue Steering Committee, then analyzed these reports and compiled a document of the key issues coming from the 15 reports of the subcommittees and produced a document called “The People Have Spoken”. The Secretariat went further to group the emerging issues into four broad clusters. There were issues under governance, security, economy, and social cohesion. After the grassroots consultations, we had a very good idea of what is happening in the country and what truly went wrong.
What went wrong
Your Excellencies, delegates, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,
Allow me to highlight a few points of what we found went wrong in our country, according to the people at the grassroots and our own analysis as the Steering Committee. I do this not to point fingers at individuals, but in the honesty and transparency required as one of five principles of the National Dialogue and to prove to the delegates who have gathered here that what they said is relayed as it was. We are not doing this to name and shame our leaders, we do this as a way to seek the truth and to restore normalcy in our people’s lives.
Prominent among the issues we found went wrong, is that the people at the grassroots blamed the crises in the country on the ‘failure of leadership, particularly under the ruling party, the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM).’ When we reference SPLM, are talking about the SPLM before it broke into the numerous factions as we know today. The SPLM took helm of power in South Sudan following the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) in January 2005. The failure of leadership and of the SPLM is manifested in a number of ways.
First, the SPLM and its leadership, per the provisions of the CPA, was charged with a responsibility to build a new political system in Southern Sudan that was to contrast the then existing system in the Sudan—a system that was perceived to be undemocratic, unjust, oppressive and based on parochial distorted Arab and Islamic identity. The CPA provided for two systems of government in one country. The SPLM demonstrably failed to build a new political system in South Sudan, so by the end of the six years Interim Period, the reverse was true, there was one system, two separate countries. The SPLM simply took the poorer version of the Sudanese state and ran with it. Notably, the SPLM built an authoritarian system in the country, which is becoming more and more tyrannical, although without the substance and authority of a functioning state.
‘One of the defining features of the authoritarian system instituted here in South Sudan is the centralization of power in Juba.’ During the Interim Period, states had functioned largely without the interference from the central government. After independence, the central government took over state power and governors were being dismissed and appointed at will. This obviously choked and paralyzed the states and this contributed to the collapse of the system in the regions, which exacerbated instability across the country.
As we speak, citizens’ civil liberties are violated daily. Freedom of speech, of assembly, freedom of press, and even freedom to associate politically have largely been curtailed by the state.
“People were arrested arbitrarily and detained, forced disappearance as well as intimidation of journalists and political opposition leaders are common occurrences in South Sudan.”
These actions are a far cry from what the SPLM fought for and what it envisioned to build through its New Sudan vision where all are equal, where justice reign, and where prosperity is shared across. The government of South Sudan derailed from its democratic commitments long time ago, it is a system that is a complete opposite of what was envisioned that is now in place.
The 2013 political conflict is explained in large part by the fact that the governing instruments of the SPLM were undemocratic and political competition was not tolerated and a strict political hierarchy established during the war was dogmatically followed. Hence, those who had political aspirations had no chance, they must wait for their turn in what was clearly a long line. This also meant that debates about the future of the country could not happen in the party, as such was considered indiscipline. This is why the party raptured and the resultant chaos is what the Steering Committee is assigned to remedy.
“Second, the SPLM government failed to contain widespread ethnic conflicts in the country and so insecurity became the hallmark of autonomous region of Southern Sudan and this situation extended to an independent South Sudan and as we speak, this situation is persistent.”
The rural areas of South Sudan are at war communally and inter-communally besides the political conflict. Hence, the government demonstrated inability to penetrate the society and exert control. Since the SPLM was in charge, hardly could we, and the people we consulted, find anyone else in the country to blame, but the SPLM.
Third, while the SPLM-led government succeeded in mobilizing the people of South Sudan for a referendum, and thanks to the SPLM, we now have a country we called our own, but the government failed to prepare the people of South Sudan for the independence. This is why after independence, it was not so clear what was the political, economic, and socio developmental program of the government and where we were heading next. In essence, there is a blurred vision and up to now, it is not so clear what is the grand vision of the state for the society.
Fourth, from 2005 to July 2011, South Sudan was earning lucratively from its 50% share of oil revenues, earning more than half a billion in a month. These financial resources were wasted and squandered and there is nothing significant to show for this amount. Estimates show that South Sudan collected more than 20 billion in oil share during the Interim Period, yet there are no permanent roads, Juba still lacks clean drinking water and electricity, not to speak of the rest of the country. Where did the money go?
“Fifth, corruption became the hallmark of the SPLM-led government and South Sudan, if it is not the most corrupt country in Africa, it is the second according to the corruption perception index.”
The President in 2013 issued 75 letters to his ministers and members of his government, to return allegedly 4 billion dollars they have stolen. Only two members came out clearly saying they did not take any money and are willing to be investigated. The rampant corruption is thriving on the sense of entitlement among the liberators, that since they fought, all power, money, and even the law were their personal trophies.
Six, the decision of the government to shutdown oil production in 2012 and its decision to attack Sudan forces in Panthou, clearly bankrupted the country, a situation that arguably precipitated the events of 2013 and the country has not recovered from the negative impact of that decision to this day.
Seventh, the ethnicization of politics was fomented by the SPLM leaders, for example, political appointments are based on ethnicity and not necessarily on competence. Besides, the military was also ethnicized with the President having allegedly recruited exclusively an ethnic militia from Warrap and Dr. Riek Machar recruited the White Army exclusively from the Lou Nuer area. By the time the fighting broke out in December 2013, the formal military, the SPLA also split along ethnic lines. This suggests that the leaders of South Sudan had no plan to build a nonpolitical national army that is able to stand independently from the political leaders.
This situation got worse after the events of 2013 when ethnic Nuer were targeted here in Juba and ethnic Dinka were targeted in Upper Nile. The Equatoria got its share of this following the dog fight in the State House 2016. The core of our country was shaken, and it cracked deeply, but our job is to mend these cracks and to piece together the broken pieces.
The most serious challenge is that the contenders over the power of South Sudan each believe that they must have an army of their own, by which they can overcome the current national army of the young South Sudanese state. It is now a practice in South Sudan that every ambitious political aspirant to power does not want to accept and respect peace in South Sudan unless and until his forces are also integrated as part of the national army, the SPLA. This situation has created a feeling that the National Army is now dominated by two ethnic groups, the Nuer and the Dinka. If the SPLA did not split and target civilians ethnically, it wouldn’t matter whether army is dominated by one family. One of the most difficult and intricate matters to resolve by the South Sudan National Dialogue is the tribal animosity that the failure of the political system has engendered in South Sudan today.
Eighth, South Sudan, though endowed with fertile arable land, is permanently a humanitarian hub. Our people are being fed by the international community since 1983 and the government failed to create a conducive environment for investment in agriculture, and so our people, almost 10 years into their independence, are still fed with handouts from the international community. This is an extremely shameful situation and we must really feel sorry for ourselves having been unable to wean ourselves off this dependency. Our sense of collective worth and pride is insulted everyday our people receive food from the World Food Program.
Ninth, South Sudan squandered a huge international goodwill. This happened because our allies then, the United States, Norway, and the UK plus the European Union are democratic states that cherish human rights and democratic governance. They supported the people of South Sudan because the vision that was put forth by the SPLM was appealing as it had democratic aspirations in it and elements of justice and development. Upon close scrutiny, they found that neither did the SPLM leaders believe in these values nor do they practice these values, so they withdrew.
Overnight, these friends became the fiercest critics of South Sudan to the extent that some of them regretted their support for our independence. In the nutshell, the SPLM government’s foreign policy failed spectacularly and South Sudan now is under the UN arms embargo and targeted sanctions are placed on individual leaders of the government. How did we get ourselves to this, from the darling to now being the laughingstock?
Tenth, gross human rights violations have characterized the conflict that broke out 2013. The level of ethnic hatred was exacerbated by the brutality that the government and rebel forces exacted on the citizens. Young girls and women were raped, and no one is held to account. Pregnant women were killed, and their fetuses removed and mutilated. Members of Dinka community were targeted on the Equatorian roads, especially Nimule and Yei roads and removed from buses and killed. There was that incident where nearly 200 people were killed on Yei road including women and young children. These abuses and human rights violations characterize a state and rebel groups that have no shred of respect for democratic values and human dignity. These actions divided the country further. This is partly what pulled our friends away from us and our image around the globe and in Africa is tarnished irreparably and it will take a lot of efforts and a lot of reforms to restore it.
Lastly, just to name a few, impunity. Public officials commit so many mistakes and crimes, but no one is held to account. South Sudan is the only country in the world where government officials are free to do whatever they want and even some ordinary citizens do as they wish. They can kill people through rebellion and the next day they are rewarded with lucrative financial packages and prominent positions in the government. There are many who have committed horrendous crimes, who are now prominent in the current government. One pays absolutely nothing for public offenses, if anything, the public pays you for your misconduct and corruption. No system built as such can stand.
I don’t want to belabor too much on what went wrong, but I wanted to give you a sense of what it is that we are dealing with and what the meaning of the National Dialogue has been. At the National Conference stage, we are going to tackle the question of what we can do in light of everything that has gone wrong. If you come for the closing ceremony, perhaps you will have a glimpse of what our resolutions will be.
The Regional Conferences
Your Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,
After we completed the grassroots consultations, we organized the regional conferences and we decided, instead of organizing 12 regional conferences, we went for three greater regions of Bahr el Ghazal, Equatoria, and Upper Nile. This decision was influence by time and resources. The objective of the regional conferences was to validate the findings of the grassroots consultations and to screen and prioritize the issues that really matter in our current situation and to simply ask the delegates what to do about what we have found. Each region discussed and made recommendations to the National Conference.
The Steering Committee, through its Secretariat, sat and analyzed the recommendations of the regional conferences along the four thematic areas, and found that though each region met separately, the agenda was structured the same and so there are issues on which consensus has already been reached and there are issues were the regions have diverged. The National Dialogue National Conference will therefore tackle those outstanding issues and make final resolutions, including a proposal on the implementation and follow up mechanism.
The political parties joined the South Sudan National Dialogue after the completion of the Bahr el Ghazal Regional Conference. Following the signing of the R-ARCSS on the 12th of December 2018, the organized peace celebration in Juba in October that year and during the occasion, the President invited all the parties to join the National Dialogue. By February 2019, we met with all the political parties and discussed the modalities on how they will be joined. We then when to South Africa to develop a shared vision for the National Dialogue and signed the Pretoria Declaration. It was agreed that the political parties would participate in all structures of the Steering Committee, so four were accepted to the leadership, 35 to the Steering Committee and 10 to the secretariat. For reasons unknown to us, the SPLM-IO pulled its members out of the National Dialogue later, but all the other political parties have remained. We actually organized a special conference for all the 52 parties of South Sudan from the 20TH—25the May 2019. The South Sudan National Dialogue is and has been an inclusive process supported by most political parties.
The National Conference
Your Excellencies, delegates,
Today we are opening the formal session of the National Conference. The National Conference has the mandate to deliberate on the recommendations of the regional conferences and any other emerging issues, make final resolutions, and issue a final communique of the National Dialogue. This will formally end the National Dialogue process, although the Steering Committee through its leadership and the Secretariat will write the final report, which will be handed over to the Presidency together with the final resolutions, and the President will then take this report and the resolutions to the parliament for endorsement and thereafter the implementation will follow.
The link between the National Dialogue and the Peace Agreement
We get asked regularly what the link between the National Dialogue and the Peace Agreement is. It is our considered view that the political Agreement signed in September 2018 is a top down process dominated by the political elites whose primary motivation had been power; be it military, political, or financial. The National Dialogue process, on the other hand, is a bottom up process where ordinary people discussed issues, which they believe affect them in terms of their relations with the state and among themselves. Hence, their decisions should be considered sovereign and of course can only be implemented by the government. We therefore believe that the two process are each one-half of the other and when put together make a complete whole. The difference though is that the ordinary people, coming from the rural villages of South Sudan, discussed these issues in an environment free of political pressure and it is our belief that their resolutions will be objective and will aim at laying a strong foundation for a more peaceful and stable South Sudan.
Conclusion Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
I want to conclude by reiterating my gratitude to all of you for coming and to thank each one of you for your support. You are all invited to the closing ceremony of the National Conference, which is now scheduled for Sunday the 15th of November 2020. By that time, hopefully the final resolutions would have been ready and could be read out. If anyone of the dignitaries wishes to attend our working sessions any of the days, we should be notified in advance to ensure proper sitting arrangements are made for them. Fellow delegates, our real business shall begin tomorrow when we will present to you the draft agenda of the National Dialogue and the Rules and Procedures. I wish all of you a pleasant day today and,
October 30, 2020 (Thessherald)–The main opposition group, the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-In-Opposition (SPLM-IO) is predominantly dominated by the Nuer tribe, a senior member of the SPLM-IO, Mabor Garang de Mabior, alludes.
“When the dark clouds of 2013 gathered and the bloody storm of December hit, we all ran for shelter in the “unfinished luak” called (IO),” said Mabior Garang de Mabior in a comment dated October 13, 2020.
“The storm has now subsided and the people who own the luak [ referring to the SPLM-IO] have become known and they will remain with their luak. We who sought shelter there must not be confused and think the luak belongs to us. It was a place for all of us to shelter from a deadly storm.”
“The owners of the luak have said the storm is over and everyone must go to where they came from.”
Mabior is the eldest son of the late Garang de Mabior, the founding father of the current ruling party – the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM).
He’s also held different political positions in the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-IO (SPLM-IO).
Sept 20, 2020 (Thessherald)–The Liech Community Association in Kenya is a forum of gallant and ‘growing south Sudanese’ who hail from Unity State. It is one of the oldest and largest South Sudanese Community Organizations in Kenya; it was established ahead of the Southern Sudan Referendum that brought our country’s independence to fruition on 9th July, 2011.
Its members composed of Nuer’s original clans namely Bul, Dok, Haak, Jagei, Jikany, Leek and Nyuong. It exists as a social welfare organization whose objectives include among others; fostering closed and peaceful interaction among its members, promoting cultural values and mother tongue, encouraging unity and Cohesion so as for us to be current and future agents and ambassadors of peace in our community and beyond.
Legally, the Liech community is a non-profit and non political organization. Its activities are restricted to the above mentioned objectives. Sometimes we engage in the politics of peace and unity of our community and south Sudan as a whole. In the last few years, the Liech community had involved in the struggle for the release of prisoners by issuing press releases and condemnation of certain actions that we think contravene the Peace Agreement, Human Rights and fundamental freedoms.
On 5th September 2020, we saw and read a 2-page letter addressed to President Salva Kiir by 12 senior Jikany-Nuer Leaders from diaspora. The title of the letter is ‘‘Gen. Taban Deng’s conspiracies against your leadership’’. It was widely circulated on various social media platforms, and it is still trending up to now. These Jikany-Nuer leaders who signed the letter are drawn from different parts of the USA, Canada and Australia.
They called on President Kiir to remove and replace Vice President, Taban Deng Gai with either former defunct Latjor State governor, Gen. Gathoth Gatkuoth, former Upper Nile Governor, Dak Duop Bichok and Former Health Minister Dr. Riek Gai Kok on ground that Taban is a conspirator, perennial rebel, evil worshiper, power-thirsty and butcher. The name of those who signed are as follows; Gach Chock chock, USA, Koang Malual Khor, Canada, Mok Riek Badeng, EPIC, Simon Ngut Kuon, EPIC, David Koang Patuom, EPIC, Dak Wal Miyong, USA, Lew Lual Deng, Australia, Tar Bol Mach, Australia, Rebecca Nyakuich, Australia, Tesloach Bang Diew, Queensland, Peter Pal Koang, WA and Dang Gatwech, Canada.
Later, on 11th September, one of the first signatories, Samuel Gach Chock Choch, President, Nuer Community Development Services (NCDS-USA) whose name appeared on top spoke on live video, saying the letter is fake; that he saw the letter in Facebook; and that even his name was misspelled in the letter. In his lengthy and widely shared video, Gach Chock chock spoke for himself candidly.
For two good weeks now, we thought other leaders would come and dismiss the letter if it was written by a ghost writer. And because they didn’t do that, we believe their silence is tacit agreement with the views expressed in the letter. Many keen readers would agree that the letter is very malicious. It was written not just to hurt Taban as an individual but others close to him. It is not the first time for Taban to be accused and described as such. But it is unusual for many Nuer community leaders to accuse him jointly and falsely in such a number.
English writer, Evelyn Beatrice Hall once wrote ‘‘I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.’’ The authors are entitled to their opinions and we respect their views. However, the main reason for this response is not to defend Taban Deng Gai Perse.
Remember Liech Community does not speak for Taban Gai considering that Liech community does not belong to Taban Deng Gai. But he is a member of the Liech and Nuer community at large. We are simply responding to hidden motives and inaccuracies that characterized their letter. Their letter is political. And in politics they say ‘‘lies spread faster than the truth.’’
Individually and as a Liech community, we have great respect for the larger Jikany community and its people. With exception of these ones, Jikany Nuer has a reputation for always speaking the truth. We had expected those Jikany leaders to be highly informed about the political history of south Sudan due to their exposure. We were surprised by their ignorance on things that even underage Nuer children know.
For their information, Taban was not among the three leaders of Nasir faction of 1991. So it is not true for them to say he was the 1991 coup plotter. The lead plotters of the Nasir faction were Dr. Riek Machar, Dr. Lam Akol and Gen. Gordon Koang Chuol. As a matter of fact, Taban was among the first peace negotiators on Nasir Faction’s side.
These jikany Nuer leaders are in violation of one key principle of the agreement, which is tolerance. As Gach Chock Chock reiterated in his video, those who wrote the letter are a bunch of warmongers with the motive to create a wedge between Eastern, Central and western Nuer for no good reason. In fact, they just fall short of saying western Nuer of Bentiu should not occupy positions of two vice Presidents for reasons they know. The three sisterly and brotherly Nuers of western, central and Eastern are the same people who have suffered together.
Politically, these leaders’ intention was to hit two birds with one stone. The two birds that I am referring to are First Vice President, Dr Riek Machar and vice President Taban Deng Gai.
They actually mean Dr. Riek Machar when they stated that, ‘’our community has suffered immensely since 1991 due to evil conspiratorial plots of Taban Deng Gai, a man who is a member of South Sudan criminal Hall of fame when it comes to politics of destruction and backstabbing.’’ The suffering of Nuer and south Sudanese was there before 1991, and it is still there up to now.
They equally accused Taban of having a persistent mission to seize power by force when we know he has no army of his own. They also accused Taban of planning to kill the President by all means, adding that he ferried to Juba a witchdoctor from Northern Sudan with intention to eliminate the President. This is untrue because since Taban became vice President in 2016, he has shown great loyalty to the President.
Moreover, they pointed fingers at Taban as having a hand in the disappearance and subsequent killing of our renowned Human Rights Lawyer, Samuel Dong Luak and Nationalist, Idris Agrrey. It is undisputable that Taban has been sanctioned by US government in connection to Dong and Aggrey murder, but he has not yet been charge in the competence court of law.
As a Liech community, we are still mourning the death of Dong Luak, and we believe his killers will one day face the full wrath of the law. As of now, Taban is an accused person with all rights that should be respected. It is unfair to call him Dong’s Killer without further explanation. When time comes, he will defend himself and when he is found guilty then people can call him any name they want.
We must say Gen. Taban is a revolutionary Nuer son born in Unity State; he got married to many Nuer women with whom they have many children; and he was elected as first governor in unity state. He is connected to us in many aspects. Hence, any vicious attack on him is an attack on his children, family and the Nuer community as a whole.
We are calling on these Jikany Nuer leaders to go slowly and avoid provoking the situation. The Jikany Nuer of Mighty Latjor community is known in history as people who always fight a just war. Thus these Jikany leaders should refrain from engaging in cheap politics to advance self-aggrandizement.
As much as they want to enjoy their rights to political opinion, they should as well respect the right of others to have a good name and reputation. Their letter gravely violates Taban’s rights as an accused person. Right now we need peace, and peace will be restored through tolerance. We call on them to tolerate Taban if they can’t accept him.
We know the capacities of Gen. Gathoth Gatkuoth, Dr. Riek Gai and Dak Duop for they have served us in both civic and military leaderships before. But one thing is however clear that Taban is senior to the trio in all SPLM hierarchies. And that is not to say Taban is better than three of them. They could be better than Taban but they won’t replace him by using false and fake letters.
Written and Signed by; Dak Buoth, Chairman, Liech community Association in Kenya 19th September, 2020 Email: email@example.com
June 9, 2020 (Thessherald)–Our people in the UN PoCs got lost and have forgotten who and what brought them into these camps in the first place and to be refugees and second class citizens in their own country. They should know that even the leaders whose power wrangling within their decayed SPLM and the ones who forced them to rot in the UN PoCs for the last 7 years have now reconciled, are in peace, giggling in joy and feasting in their luxurious and extravaganza mansions while you are submerged under water of the flooded UN PoCs and at the mercy of mosquitoes, venomous snakes and all the possible diseases.
Such a true hell needs no additional complications by your infighting, staged by the same power drunk and greedy so-called leaders. More fear, insecurity and extra trauma are the only horrible outcomes of such awful divisions and feuds. I know incidents happen for a reason or another, but letting such gruels be manipulated by the same masters of your suffering is a complete mistake if not a fatal ignorance. We heard that the fight started with wrangling over a memory card but now we are hearing it is between Western Nuer and Eastern Nuer. Before the R-TGoNU peace agreement, it used to be either within the Western Nuer themselves, Bul and Dok or within Eastern Nuer various clans. It seems the nature of fight also have changed with the nature of politics and this can’t happen without some organized devilish claws behind the scene.
How a disagreement on a memory card which apparently was between two individuals developed that quickly to a clannish and sectional fight devastating the already embattled mother community, the Nuer at large? That is the question in itself.
While the recent defections have further divided the embattled Nuer community into divided clans supporting their defected Generals and politicians from here and there, it is also clear that the same agents of divisions are the one fanning the infighting of their various communities.
What would be the gains in putting people’s lives at clear risk such as that? How does our politicians feel comfortably on their seats and positions upon the dead bodies of their own people? This is a sad example of how one’s horrible life case can be lost with time and circumstances is how the case of our people in UN PoCs got lost and developed with time and various circumstances until it transformed the very victims and to be the agents of their own destruction.
It happened throughout the years of building frustration, hopelessness amidst hardships of all sorts. We thought that, the priority of R-TGoNU was to workout an effective plan to bring the country back to normalcy at all social, economic and political ends. This should have started with IDPS and the refugees who are the real victims that have beard the burns of the war for the last 7 years. They have lost everything, dignity, properties and their kids future is also in question. Thanks to the UN and the NGOs, it could have been worse.
I remember that it was only Mabior Garang, the recently resigned deputy interior minister to be the first and the only leader that has started his short tenure with the visit to trauma hit populace of PoCs.
To these forgotten citizens, the effects and loses of 7 years long stay in those camps are enormous and disastrous. But who care? Three months have passed already and the states governors aren’t appointed and political wrangling over irrelevant issues continues to be the norm. Citizens’ lives should be of high concern and without a clear agenda; the R-TGoNU is ending up in limbo where the accommodated leaders of the former oppositions have gone into silence and complicity since they have secured their seats and salaries.
They have gone in their separate ways with the very people and reforms they have used as the slogans and the ladders to climb to those seats. But remember, Kiir’s seats and positions are permanent and some should have learned from the lessons of the past. At least if you can’t improve the lives of our suffering people in PoCs and help change the bitter frustration they are in, can you please stop manipulating these vulnerable people and your attempts to use them again to attain their power ambitions through their own destruction.
Until the rivalry and lobbying for governors seats is over, my poor people will continue to be the target of our greedy politicians, dividing them and using them for cheap political gains. But one thing those who are devastating their communities for the sake of winning those governors’ seat is that Kiir and Machar may also surprise you as usual, choosing the governors from their own nepotistic nests and there you will be a loser twice, losing the seats and your dead people in such risky gambling.
The author is a South Sudanese national, columnist and lives in the United States. He has authored a book “In a Nutshell. He can be reached through his email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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May 30, 2020 (Thessherald)–The main armed opposition group, SPLM/A-IO dismisses accusations that it forces had involved in cattle raids in Pariang and Warrap, according to a press statement issued Thursday by Deputy Military Spokesperson, Lam Paul Gabriel.
“It has come to the knowledge of the SPLA-IO command that its forces in Unity State has been accused of carrying out cattle raids in Pariang and Warrap yesterday 27/05/2020 by some anti peace elements from the defunct Norther Liech and Ruweng State. This defamatory lies towards the SPLA-IO will not solve the real problem on the ground.The SPLA-IO does not raid cattle.”
Lam stated that the SPLA-IO forces do not raid cattle and will never get involved in cattle rustling that has long existed between the Dinka and the Nuer communities.
“It should be noted that violence between cattle keeping communities in South Sudan existed long before the SPLA-IO; and therefore, pointing fingers at the SPLA-IO at this peace time, shows how blind we have become in this country. Community violence is the responsibility of every South Sudanese. Solving this unneccessary violence requires a national approach with sincere hearts but not politics.”
The SPLM/A-IO accused an unnamed group of politicians of encouraging and inciting issues that could reignite another conflict in the country.
“It is both shameful and disappointing that at this time when peace is being implemented, some politicians are still beating the drum of war in the country. The SPLA-IO remains committed to the peaceful implementation of the R-ARCSS, and no amount of negative propaganda can change that.”
Last week, the Secretary-General of the defunct Ruweng State, Victoriano Ngor Chuang, alleged that the raiders were led by a group of military commanders.