South Sudan’s veteran politician Joseph Ukel succumbs to COVID-19

Veteran politician Joseph Ukel Abang receives treatment after contracting Covid-19 | Photo: Thessherald

A South Sudanese veteran politician and freedom fighter, Joseph Ukel Abang has succumbed to COVID-19 in the capital, Juba, his family confirmed in a statement on Friday.

“Rest in peace, uncle, you’re a hero and freedom fighter who undoubtedly contributed to the liberation struggle during the country’s years of liberation struggle for independence,” said James Ukel Abang.

Who’s Joseph Ukel Abang?

Joseph Ukel Abango (born 1939), commonly known as Joseph Ukel, is a veteran-politician of what is now South Sudan and an educationalist by profession.

Professional career

Joseph Ukel was born in January 1939 in Achot, a village close to the town bau in Bahr el Ghazal, when the Southern part of the Anglo-Egyptian Sudan was still isolated from the North due to the Closed District Ordinance. Ukel went to the catholic Elementary School between 1950 and 1954 in Mbili, southeast of Wau. When Sudan gained independence from the Condominium colonial rule in 1956, Ukel was attending the government Intermediate School in the Equatorian town of Maridi, where he graduated in 1958.

Staying in Maridi, he qualified as a teacher after completing a training course at the government-run Institute of Education between 1959 and 1962. The same year he started his first teaching-post in the Equatorian town of Kapoeta.

When the Anyanya rebellion escalated in Equatoria, Ukel moved to Northern Sudan, where he first worked as a schoolteacher in the Gezira area and then continued his studies at the University of Khartoum . He received a BA in English in 1972 from there.

When the Addis Ababa Agreement of 1972 ended the Anyanya rebellion and granted Southern Sudan autonomy, Ukel moved back to Bahr el Ghazal, where he taught English at Rumbek Secondary School. In 1975 he took up further studies at the University of Edinburgh , receiving a postgraduate diploma in teaching English as a foreign language a year later. From 1976 to 1977 he returned to his home area to teach at Mbili Girls Secondary School, holding the posts of deputy headmaster and headmaster, respectively.

Political career

In 1978 Ukel joined politics by contesting and winning his home constituency of Wau East in the elections to the Second People’s Regional Assembly in Juba . [1] He was re-elected in 1980 as a political ally of the Southern Front leader Abel Alier and appointed regional Minister of Culture and Information as Alier assumed the President of the High Executive Council. When Alier lost this office in October 1981, Ukel became the secretary for the publicity committee of the “Council for the Unity of the Southern Sudan” (CUSS) which advocated against the redivision of the South.

After the fall of Gaafar Nimeyri ’s regime in April 1985, Ukel was a founding member of the “Southern Sudan Political Association’s” (SSPA) political party and in 1986 became its Parliamentary group leader in the national Constituent Assembly of Omdurman.

In 1988, the SSPA joined other Southern and Nuba parties in a coalition called the United Sudan African Parties (USAP) that took the lead in organising dialogues with the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM). [3] Ukel became a minister of local government in the final coalition government of prime-minister Sadiq al Mahdi (25 April – 30 June 1989).

After the June 1989 coup, USAP was banned like all other parties and went underground. Ukel helped to form the domestic arm of the exiled National Democratic Alliance (NDA), an umbrella of parties and forces opposed to the “National Salvation Revolution” rule of General Omar al-Bashir , and was appointed its secretary general in 1992, while still working as a teacher of English language.

He was USAP chairman

Hilary Logali passed away in 1998, Ukel became his successor. During this period, he was repeatedly detained by al-Bashir’s government, the last time between December 2000 and October 2001 on charges of treason and sedition.

Ukel and Alier participated and mediated in the peace talks between the SPLM and al-Bashir’s government in Naivasha, Kenya, which led to the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) in 2005. Under its power-sharing agreement, USAP was allocated ten seats in the National Assembly and Ukel was appointed Minister of Parliamentary Affairs in the Government of National Unity.

In its campaign for the 2010 general elections, USAP defined as one of its main goals “unity in diversity” as opposed to separation, which it emphasized by the choice of Khartoum as its headquarters.

It failed to win any parliamentary seats, complaining about illicit actions against its campaigning. Nevertheless, Ukel was appointed the Minister for Higher Education in the Government of Southern Sudan (GOSS).

After the independence of South Sudan in July 2011, Ukel was appointed Minister of General Education and served in this office until President Salva Kiir dismissed the whole cabinet in August 2013.

In the 2014 IGAD -led peace talks with the rebel SPLM-IO , Ukel was part of the government delegation, representing smaller opposition parties. [9] In April 2017, Ukel as USAP chairman was one of nine candidates picked by the government to represent South Sudan at the East African Legislative Assembly.

The same month, he was selected by Kiir as a member of the steering committee for the National Dialogue. [11] However, he was not elected by the Transitional National Legislative Assembly in Juba in August 2017.

In early 2018, a power struggle between Ukel and Elia Lomuro over control of the political parties alliance was reported. On 12 September 2018, the Revitalized Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan (R-ARCSS) was signed in Addis, Ukel was one of the six signatories representing the Umbrella Coalition of Political Parties.

However, when the National Dialogue Steering Committee held a regional conference in Wau at the end of February 2019, Ukel reportedly walked out after not been given the chance to address the gathering and resigned from the National Dialogue.

In August of 2019, Ukel was reportedly arrested in Wau on allegations of supporting the rebel SPLM-IO and put under house arrest in Juba by the National Security Service (NSS). Two months later, in Mid-October, he was released from his confinements and arrived in Khartoum ” to seek medical treatment “.

Original source: Wikipedia 

R-JMEC observes gaps in the pace of implementation

Interim Chairperson of the R-JMEC, Maj Gen Charles Tai Gituai briefs participants at a one-day Seminary conducted in Juba /Photo: JMEC

Speaking at a one-day Seminary in Juba, the Interim Chairperson of the R-JMEC, Maj Gen Charles Tai Gituai, has noted that there has been a significant decline in the pace of implementation of the agreement.

“RJMEC decided to conduct this one-day seminar, following our assessment and evaluation, from the beginning of the Transitional Period and up to now, we have observed that there has been a significant decline in the pace of implementation of the Permanent Ceasefire and Transitional Security Arrangements (PCTSA) as envisaged in Chapter Two of the Agreement.

“This being a critical Chapter in the overall success of the implementation of the Peace process, raises concerns, as its failure would no doubt threat the security situation in the country and undermine the nation’s hope for enduring peace in South Sudan.”

The peace monitoring body confirmed that the training of the United Forces had stopped and reports of soldiers abandoning their cantonment bases in search of food and other necessities.

“RJMEC, as monitors and evaluators of the peace process, we have clearly seen that the training of the National Unified Forces has stalled.

“As we witnessed for ourselves on Saturday 23 January 2021 at both Maridi and Rajaf training centres when RJMEC conducted a joint field visit with the IGAD Special Envoy for South Sudan and the head of the African Union Mission in South Sudan, the IGAD Ambassadors and C5 African Ambassadors, and also including other areas that RJMEC have visited in different occasions like Mapel and others.”

“Next month marks one year of the formation of RTGoNU, other chapters have progressed, however slowly, but chapter two seems to be the slowest yet as military we should have led the way with others to follow as our mantra! This year, in July, marks ten years of independence, it is our hope that a strong push from all of us here and South Sudan’s political leaders will go a long way to ensuring that 11 July 2021, will see a celebration of progress in the implementation of the peace agreement.”

Agwelek Raises “Red Flag” As Machar Intends to Replace Gen. Olony

General Johnson Olony, commander of the Agwelek refused to be replaced |Photo: Courtesy

Shilluk Agwelek, a paramilitary group fighting alongside the SPLM/A-IO, has rejected the planned replacement of its leader, General Johnson Olony, an SPLM-IO nominee for Upper Nile state.

“After consulting with the political and military leadership, and on the background of your phone call regarding my going to Juba or changing me to another candidate, the political and military leadership refused to replace the candidate Johnson Olony with another candidate,” said Johnson Olony in a statement extended to the media.

Speaking to the press on the same development, former minister of the now-defunct Fashoda State, Maurice Orach, explained that they had received a phone call from Machar, asking Olony to go to Juba as a last resort for his appointment, but they rejected the decision due to security concerns.

“We want to set the facts straight for the people of South Sudan that on January 22nd January, Riek Machar called the governor candidate, Johnson Olony, and asked him to go to Juba because the situation in Juba has become difficult and it is necessary for him to go to Juba to be appointed governor, but we reject this idea as the political and military leadership,” Orach added.

In recent days, the Chairman of the opposition Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM-IO), Dr. Machar and members of the Political Bureau held a meeting and discussed how to replace General Johnson, whom the Kiir administration had long refused to appoint.

Since last year, Olony has been asked to report himself in Juba by the SPLM-IO leadership, citing his reluctance to comply with the decision impedes efforts to appoint him as governor of Upper Nile state.

In August 2020, President Kiir rejected Olony’s nomination, arguing that he was still an active militia commander who patently operates outside the SPLM-IO leadership.

Telar Ring Deng’s full bio

The late Telar Ring Deng |Photo: Courtesy

Telar Ring Deng is a South Sudanese politician who served as an Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of South Sudan to the Russian Federation. He has also equally presented credentials to several other mission; states key among them the Republic of Turkmenistan, the Democratic Republic of Georgia, the Republic of Azerbaijan amongst others.

Telar Ring Deng was born in Yirol, in the Greater Lakes State in 1956. In his early days, his intelligence and potential were evident and his father elected not to waste this potential and enrolled him into school and led to a blistering professional life during the civil strife within South Sudan.

He graduated from Panekar Secondary School in 1978 before enrolling for a Bachelor’s Degree, Political Science and Anthropology at the prestigious Stony Brook University where he graduated from with top honours in 1981. He further gained admission at Buckingham University in 1982 to undertake a Bachelor’s Degree in Law.

His journey at the university was however cut short in 1984 as he had to join the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A) in the struggle for the liberation of the then Southern Sudan. However, in 1993, he returned back to the University, completed his Bachelor’s Degree in Law and further enrolled for a Master’s Degree in Law, LL.M and graduated in 1995. He is currently pursuing a further Master’s Degree in Law, LL.M.

Upon joining the SPLM/A in 1984, Telar Ring Deng was appointed a 1st Lieutenant from where he began his active participation to emancipate his citizenry from the brazen dictatorial regime they had borne the brunt of. As a result of his diligence, a year since his joining the struggle movement he was promoted to the rank of Captain from where he studiously served the movement for 6 years. In 1991, he was then promoted to an alternate Commander for 7 years before promoted to Commander in 1998.

In 2005 upon signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, the ranking system changed and Telar Ring Deng was subsequently promoted to the rank of Brigadier General. In August 2010, he was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant General and backdated to 2009. To this day, he is still a member of both the movement and army.

In 1999, Telar Ring Deng worked under the then New Sudan Council of Churches as a People-to-People (PtP) peace facilitator. He played a critical role in what is now referred to as the Wunlit Peace Process spearheaded by the church regarding the role of the churches in bringing about peace. He successful held this position 4 years from whereupon he was appointed to head the legal department at Pact Kenya in 2004.

Upon signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in 2005 and formation of the Government of National Unity, Telar Ring Deng was subsequently appointed as State Minister at the Presidency of the Republic of Sudan; a position he held till 2007 when he was replaced.

In 2010, he was appointed Governor of Lakes State. In the 3 months he was governor, Telar Ring Deng was credited to have made such a substantial impact that reverberated across the state and his actions incidentally are still felt today. His grace, candour and diligence as the caretaker governor are often referred to whenever holders of the said office perform contrary to expectation.

After the 2010 elections, Telar Ring Deng was appointed as Legal Advisor to the President of the then Southern Sudan and Vice President of Sudan; a position he continued to serve in after the secession and creation of the new Republic, the Republic of South Sudan.

Due to his diligence, in 2013, the President of the Republic of South Sudan saw it fit to appoint him as the Minister of Justice in order for him to spearhead the much needed Constitutional reforms. However, due to his well-documented hard stance on corruption, those considered as the benefactors who pilfered the public purse dry coalesced around individuals behind very unfortunate allegations that Telar Ring Deng did not possess the relevant academic qualification.

Despite getting written confirmation from the various universities he attended, the National Legislative Assembly declined to approve his name as a Minister however he continued in his service as an advisor to the President.

In October 2015, he was subsequently appointed an Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of South Sudan to the Russian Federation with the status of a Deputy Minister; a position he resigned from on 25th January 2018.

Telar Ring Deng resigned from the SPLM in February 2020 and Joined the SPLM-IO under the leadership of Dr. Riek Machar. He was nominated as a member of the Revitalized Transitional National Legislative assembly. He was a staunch believer in the SPLM-IO ideologies’ and believed in this country so much.

Telar Ring Deng has fervently been engrossed in the growth and development of South Sudan. He has played critical roles at different junctures of its young history and his indelible mark is firmly established in the annuls of South Sudan’s history.

The Lion has Roared and will continue to Roar


Biography extended to Thessherald by Telar Ring Deng’s family.

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.

Machar backs down on General Olony’s appointment

Opposition leader Dr. Riek Machar |Photo: File

Nov 29, 2020 (Thessherald)–The leadership of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-IO (SPLM-IO) has backed away from the long-awaited appointment of Gen. Johnson Olony, noting that it will press ahead with the formation of other states governments, except for Upper Nile.

“The SPLM/SPLA (IO) Leadership meeting in Juba has resolved and agreed that nine states governments should be formed, including counties administrations across the country,” said the Office of the Vice-President.

Adding that, “Its lists shall be submitted for the appointments, except for Upper Nile state. Upper Nile state will wait until its governor is appointed.”

The opposition group resolved that the Reconstituted Transitional National Legislative Assembly should be formed as a matter of urgency in accordance with the provisions of the peace agreement.

“The national legislature should be reconstituted.”

The SPLM-IO agreed to be part of the ongoing peace talks currently underway between the government and the South Sudan Movements Alliance (SSOMA) brokered by the Community of Sant’Egidio in Rome.

“The SPLM-IO recommits to the Rome Initiative and will have its team in the R-TGONU delegation traveling to Rome for talks with SSOMA.”

Newsflash: Kiir finally approves to appoint General Johnson Olony

Nov 16, 2020 (Thessherald)–The South Sudanese President, Salva Kiir Mayardit has agreed to appoint the SPLM-in-opposition nominee, General Johnson Olony Thambo, as governor of Upper Nile state, a senior opposition official told Eye Radio.

The appointment of General Olony – a top military commander of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM-IO), has long overdue, pouring cold water on the two Parties’ efforts to work together in the unity government.

According to the Peace Agreement, three states, including Upper Nile state, were allocated to the main opposition group, SPLM-IO. However, President Kiir has been skeptical about appointing the opposition nominee, citing that Olony is not committed to being part of the agreement and might drag the country into another war.

The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) – a regional bloc brokering South Sudanese peace talks – has been blamed for taking a back seat as the parties struggle to break the impasse over pending issues.

Analysts have warned that if the parties do not speed up implementation of the peace agreement, there will be frustration and that the forces being trained may abandon their training centers.

South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir Mayardit and main opposition leader Dr. Riek Machar signed a peace agreement in 2018, ending years of violence that has killed hundreds of people and displaced millions from their homes.

‘SPLM, the most corrupt party in Africa, if not in the world,’ Beda

November 5, 2020 (Thessherald)–Speaking during the opening ceremony of the National Dialogue Conference held on Nov 3rd, 2020, Hon. Angelo Beda, head of the National Dialogue Steering Committee, admitted that the ruling SPLM is one of the most corrupt political parties in Africa, if not in the world.

“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,” said Angelo Beda, Co-Chairman of the National Dialogue.

Beda confessed that the ruling SPLM has failed to live up to its promise and political manifestoes.

Below are the few remarks made by Hon. Angelo Beda, Co-Chairman of the National Dialogue Steering.

• 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.”

• 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.”

• 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.

Mabior says SPLM-IO is predominantly Nuer-owned

Mabior Garang de Mabior, a senior member of the SPLM-IO |Photo: Via Facebook

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).

Over 40 people pledge allegiance to Hon. Dak Duop in Nairobi

August 25, 2020 (Thessherald)–At least 40 new members led by Lt. Colonel Paul Ruot Ruei – have declared their allegiance to former Petroleum Minister, Hon. Dak Duop Bichiok under the SPLM-IG.

Speaking to the media on Monday, the group expressed profound enthusiasm and praised Hon. Dak for choosing peace over violence and destruction.

“It is with great pleasure and enthusiasm that we inform the people of South Sudan of our strong support for a unified nation by rendering our support to honorable Dak Duop Bichiok under the banner of the SPLM.”

“We agreed to join and support Hon. Dak Duop Bichiok who defected from the SPLM-IO on the 16th day of April 2020.”

Duop was among the last group of high-profile figures to quit the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement in Opposition, accusing Machar and his wife Angelina of turning the movement into a family business.

Since his defection in April, he has been massively joined by members of the SPLM-IO in Khartoum, Juba, Egypt and Kenya, respectively.

South Sudan’s government and armed opposition groups signed a peace agreement in September 2018, ending years-long civil war that has claimed thousands of lives and displaced millions from the country.

The peace agreement brokered by the East African regional bloc (IGAD) has paved the way for a permanent ceasefire, followed by the recent formation of a coalition government in the capital, Juba.

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