Where Violence is Exercised Logic Has Failed to Prevail
Al-Jezira TV on Wednesday, September 6th, 2006, confirmed the death of Muhammad Taha Muhammad Ahmad, the Editor-in-Chief of Sudanese Daily Newspaper, Al-Wifaq. The late Taha was reported to have been abducted from his house in Kobar, Khartoum North (Bahri) on Tuesday, September 5th, 2006, by unknown gunmen.
Taha was known for his controversial views, including his opposition to the Naivasha Peace Agreement now known as the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA). The late Taha was not the only one against the CPA? Obviously not; there are many who are opposed to the CPA but hiding under very different guises. Taha, one must be sincere to reiterate here, was the best. He did not hide his personal feelings in a variety of issues, including letting South Sudan secede from the north Sudan if it were hampering the advancement of Islam in the Sudan.
Why would someone have the guts to kill such a straight forward man? Taha used his pen to address issues of his conviction. His abductors should have used pens to respond to his views. Taking his life was the most outrageous and inhuman act.
Sometimes in the year 2004, this author criticized the late Taha for his opposition to the CPA using his pen but not physical action to cause bodily harm. Another intellectual, a prominent columnist in this paper, replied this author saying: “Dear Editor (Sudan Vision); Reference is made to an article by brother Ohiyok Oduho regarding Mohammad Taha of Al-Wifak paper, as published in your issue dated 2/6/2004. Brother Oduho, please be informed that more than 98% of the Sudanese people had a supportive stance towards the outcome of Naivasha peace deal; and the presence of less than 2% oppossers, including Mr. Taha, is a healthy sign of democracy. And as we all know, nothing is 100% agreed upon by all people.” (For more details, visit http://www.sudanvisiondaily.com/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=1512 ).
The latter should have been the spirit in dealing with our colleague, the late Taha, but not abducting and killing him. By abducting and killing him, it means that his views have reigned supreme and have defeated rather than lost. It is known that where violence is exercised, logic has failed to prevail.
Abductions and assassinations are alien to the Sudan and as such, the country’s authorities need to investigate this callous act and bring those responsible for the abduction and the killing of Taha to book. What happened to Taha is a very serious threat to the freedom of speech, which is enshrined in the constitution of the Sudan.
May the God Lord, the creator of heavens and earth, rest the soul of our colleague, Muhammad Taha Muhammad Ahmad, in eternal peace? May He also strengthen the family of the late as they go through one of the most difficult times in their family’s history?
Reshuffles Should Continue to Include Other Corrupt Officials
Some State governments in the South have undergone mini reshuffles. According to press reports early September, the First Vice-President and President of the government of South Sudan (GoSS), Lt-Gen. Salva Kiir Mayardit, issued decrees firing and appointing Governors in Western Equatoria and Warab States. He also reappointed the State Minister in the Ministry of International Cooperation in the government of National Unity (GoNU) to replace Cdr. Deng Nhial Deng who had resigned as Minister of Regional Cooperation in the GoSS. Two Commissioners and a Minister of Finance were fired and replaced in Eastern State.
These reshuffles are indeed a welcome development because those officials replaced are believed to have either indulged in corrupt practices or are incapable of handling the duties assigned to them. This proves that His Excellency Lt-Gen. Mayardit has been very patient and this patience has given him the opportunity to study the corrupt practices of the officials he reshuffled out of cabinets.
In other words, the list of the corrupt senior government officials in the South is long and continued study with a view to identifying more corrupt officials is necessary. The latest reshuffle is relieving indeed as the South has no money to waste on individuals who are bent on enjoying life but rather on development of the South, its human and natural resources.
The reshuffled should also be a firm reminder to those intellectuals who write in newspapers, saying there is no corruption in South Sudan. Writing to support should be different from writing to pass important information that would encourage and effect change. It does not matter whether or not someone fought, because that fighting had an aim: liberation of the people and not self. Thus, those who write to seek for positions in the GoSS or GoNU on SPLM/A ticket should know that there are other ways of making oneself known to the SPLM/A in order to get a position but should not encourage corruption.
The support that is offered to a person because he/she comes from his/her tribe or section; support offered to an organization because it is run by his/her tribe or section is a backward if not uncivilized attitude and would not advance the Southern Sudan cause for democracy. Those who offer their allegiance for tribe or section within a conventional government system should realize that the government is not a chieftainship run by chiefs. It is a government of the people that has to be checked and balanced by the people through objective criticism in the press so that the attention of their representatives in the legislative assemblies could be drawn; and a democratic process of making the corrupt account for mistakes is set in motion.
South Sudanese at large have fought in various ways for the current freedom now prevailing in the country. Sudanese refugees, for example, have told stories about how they had to leave their homes and what kind of mistreatment they received while at home. This information is repeated in the forms for resettlement of refugees in Western Europe and other parts of the world. Thus the governments of those countries that have accepted South Sudanese have the details of the problems facing South Sudanese at home. This is one of the surest means of information gathering that arms the international community and human rights organizations with facts about Sudan. This is how effective is the fighting of a Sudanese refugee or migrant abroad.
Journalists and intellectuals have, through writing and presentation of papers in seminars workshops and public lectures, given information on the nature of the war in the Sudan, especially the plight of the South Sudanese people. The information they have presented has no borders, meaning everybody would get it. There are those who lived at home who faced the previous regimes and contributed to the struggle for the freedom of South Sudanese. In short, every South Sudanese has, in his/her unique way, contributed to the struggle.
It is, thus, unfortunate to hear some circles insisting that they have physically fought in the bush and must reap the fruits of that fighting without necessarily sharing the reaped fruits with their brothers who fought in other many different ways for the same cause. The struggle did not begin in 1983 as some people might want others to believe.
Reshuffles should continue to include those corrupt governors, ministers and commissioners that are hiding, with hopes that they would not be discovered. Lives have been sacrificed for the freedom that is enjoyed today since 1955. Those sacrifices were made for development of the South, its human and natural resources. As such, few individuals who could easily be replaced for the sake of efficiency by other good-intentioned South Sudanese SPLM/A or from other parties should not be allowed to drain funds that are earmarked for the development of the South, its human and natural resources.
Efforts to Beef Up AU Forces in Darfur Wisest Decisions
The hot issue of deploying international forces in Darfur, Western Sudan, has taken yet another different dimension. The UN Security Council (UNSC) issued resolution 1706 early September in which it authorized the deployment of the international forces in Sudan with or without the consent of the Sudan Government. The UNSC resolution was received with mixed reactions in the Sudan.
Minni Minawi Arcoi, the Senior Assistant to the President of the Republic and head of the Darfur Transitional Regional Authority, head of Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM) supports the deployment of the international forces in his region. "We welcome the resolution and support it as a guarantee to the protection of our civilian people in Darfur," (SLM spokesman, Mahjub Hussein: http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article17670).
Meanwhile, The Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM), the National Congress Party (NCP) partner in the Government of the National Unity (GoNU), has differed with the NCP – it supports the deployment of the international forces. It argued that “It won’t make a difference since international forces are found in Sudan: West, South Blue Nile, South Sudan, East and Khartoum”, said Dr Riek Machar, Vice-President of Government of South Sudan (GoSS), in a BBC interview. "We urge the (dominant) National Congress Party and other partners in the government of national unity to consent to the deployment of United Nations troops in Darfur. We want to avoid confrontations between Sudan and the international community, and we want to protect the civilians in Darfur”, (Yasir Arman, head of SPLM’s Parliamentary Block in the Interim National Assembly: http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article17658).
NCP, on the other hand, has categorically rejected the deployment of the international forces, reasoning that if allowed, the deployment would be an invasion and a direct intervention on a UN member-State. President Al-Bashir reacted on the resolution on September 4th, 2006. "The resolution came at a time when the government was exerting efforts to implement the DPA and to provide the necessary support for the African forces in Darfur. He added that the resolution would lead to the flagrant interference in Sudan's internal affairs and the violation of its sovereignty and dignity as well as the re-colonization of the country", (President Omar Al-Bashir: http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2006-09/05/content_5048471.htm).
In a press conference held at the Council of Ministers on Monday, September 18th, 2006, Vice-President, Ali Osman Muhammad Taha, agrees no less. He said, "If the African Union (AU) is to form the core of a UN force, why insist on placing it under UN command instead of providing it with financial and technical assistance?" (Ali Osman Muhammad Taha: http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article17672).
New developments have revealed that there are efforts aimed at not only renewing the AU Mission in Sudan’s mandate to another nine months but there is a possibility that any international forces deployed in Darfur would fall under the AU Mission. Jan Pronk, the U.N. envoy for Sudan, told the Security Council and reporters afterwards that rather than only continue confrontations with Khartoum leaders, who have firmly rejected a U.N. force, the focus should be on the AU’s force of 7,000. “"I think the government of Khartoum is quite willing to accept an AU force, being led by the AU with a lot of support from others. I think that would also imply boots on the ground. Try it. It is possible. But you have to talk. You have to negotiate", (Jan Pronk: http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article17686).
One would hope that the latest efforts of trying to beef up the AU Mission in Sudan to help end the crisis of deploying or not deploying international forces succeed. This would be one of the wisest decisions ever thought of by the international community on the Sudan since the Darfur crisis started. It makes no sense for the international forces to come without the consent of the Sudan. "The deployment of international troops in Sudan without its permission runs counter to the UN Charter approving rights of the countries to maintain their sovereignty," (Ashaal: http://conflict-religion.boker.tv/news/conflicts/gen_intern_geogr/sudan_resolution_1706_divides_sudananalysts).
Perhaps Sudan government’s rejection of the deployment of international forces could be blamed on the mistake made by parties to the Abuja talks while drafting the Darfur Peace Agreement (DPA). The DPA does not include an article or a clause that authorizes the deployment of international forces in Darfur as it were the case with the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA).
The leadership of this country should be seen united in matters of national interest and sovereignty. It is very sad to hear statements and counter statements from members of the same government in regards to the deployment of international forces in Darfur. It is true that the situation in Darfur is bad, and that the suffering people of Darfur must rescued from this suffering. The government of Sudan should not be held accountable in exclusion of the Darfur rebels who refused to endorse the DPA.
Matters pertaining to the sovereignty of a country are non-negotiable. There can be no leader in the world, however small or insignificant his/her country could be – if there is any such thing – who will accept to surrender part of his country to an international force. Unless it is invaded and its government seized like that of Panama, whose President, Manuel Noriega, is languishing in a US jail. Noriega might have been a criminal, involved in drugs, but the US had no right to invade his country.
Those leaders who encourage the deployment of international forces in the Sudan should be made to understand that one of them may become the President of the Sudan in future. If he/she did become the President of the Sudan would he/she authorize a deployment of international forces in the Sudan, especially when he believes that he/she is in controlled of his government? The answer is no, because the Ugandan forces who were allowed into the Sudan through an agreement are now making the Sudanese people as well as the authorities uncomfortable. This is not because they have done anything wrong, no, but as a foreign force, it feels like an occupation force. Could any ordinary person accept his/her house to be seized by any other ordinary person and him/her, together with members of the family, ordered around? It is unacceptable, and this is the feeling, which anyone who would become the President of Sudan in future will have.
SPLM for example, should be feeling uncomfortable with the presence of the Ugandan forces in South Sudan. SPKM might have supported the entry of the Ugandan forces before the CPA but this may not be the case presently; because it is now in charge of the whole South Sudan. SPLM is now working very hard to see in to it that the current peace talks between the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) and the Ugandan government succeed so that the Ugandan troops leave the Sudanese territories. This is not a declared SPLM position on the Ugandan troops in the South. However, seeing the CPA’s seriousness to see Sudan Armed Forces (SAF), a forces SPLM views as an occupation force, move northwards, it is certainly not possible to believe that SPLM wholeheartedly approves the limitless stay of the Ugandan troops in South Sudan and hence the deployment of international forces in Darfur; unless SPLM has forfeited its second powerful role in the affairs of the Sudan as a country.
The parties to GoNU should really review their partnership and sincerely put some guidelines down on how, as a government, they could collectively decide on issues of the country’s sovereignty. In addition to that they should start laying down strategies on how collectively they could address the Darfur crisis, agree to replace the current SAF personnel by another force, possibly comprising of SAF, Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) and Sudan Liberation Army (SLA), Minni Arcoi faction, with a new mandate: to restore security and order in Darfur.
This column had, on March 4th, 2006 – before the DPA was signed – challenged the partnership and their junior partners to find a solution to the crisis in Darfur. “Thus the NCP, SPLM and their junior partners need to meet and agree to form an equal number of forces from SPLA, SAF and (now the Sudan Liberation Army) that are redundant – not part of Joint Integrated Units – to be deployed in Darfur. As a matter of urgency, a committee has to be formed to immediately workout modalities for the formation of such a force”, (Events Column: http://www.sudanvisiondaily.com/modules.php?name=News&file=print&sid=11187).
EES Governor Must Work Hard to Stop Vengeances and Vendettas
The temporary capital of Eastern Equatoria State (EES), Torit, seems to be going through a rough time of insecurity ever witnessed. The Sudan people’s Liberation Army (SPLA) within and without the Joint Integrated Units (JIU) are truly causing insecurity if not mayhem in the town. The insecurity, mostly caused by vengeance, ranges from rapes to torture, even killing.
Early September an SPLA soldier had raped a girl in Torit. He was arrested and held at the police station. He tried to escape but got shot by the police. He was taken to the hospital but had to bleed to death. On hearing this, SPLA from both JIU and non-JIU attacked the police station and gunfire was exchanged the Police and the SPLA. There were deaths and injuries from both sides.
One Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) Officers, Major (Maj.), Dominic Servilio, a member of the JIU based in Torit, organizing the last funeral rites for his daughter, was arrested and very severely tortured. Maj. Servilio was brought to Khartoum on September 19th, 2006. He is said to be in a very critical condition at the Military hospital in Omdurman. Maj. Servilio is victim of vengeance.
Maj. Servilio had fled the government-controlled areas and settled in Ikwoto, which was under the SPLA control. He was a retired Warrant Officer in the SAF. Maj. Servilio entered Torit before the CPA was initialed and decided to pursue his interest in rejoining the SAF, through the ongoing absorption of the armed groups into the SAF. In accordance with the Security Arrangements Protocol, which stipulates that armed groups from both sides are free to choose being in either of the CPA armed forces, SAF and SPLA, Maj. Servilio succeeded when he and a number of other young men were commissioned to various ranks in the SAF and transferred to the JIU in Torit. Maj. Servilio, according to reports from Torit, was arrested by SPLA who included the Governor of EES personal bodyguard. Maj. Dominic was acting commander of the JIU Battalion in Torit when he was arrested and thoroughly beaten up. He became acting commander when both Colonels (SAF & SPLA who deputize the JIU Battalion in Torit) were out of the town and he was the next on the line in seniority.
Could the SPLA regard Maj. Servilio as a defector from SPLA and must be dealt with, a criminal or otherwise that must be punished in some way? Whatever he is regarded as, Maj. Dominic is not only a senior member in the JIU Battalion in Torit but he was also reported to be its acting commander at the time. How does anyone regard what happened to a CPA partner like Maj. Dominic? What happened to Maj. Dominic is a clear violation of the CPA and worse still, that of his human rights.
Nobody has questioned any member of the SPLA in the JIU let alone arresting an acting commander of the JIU. This does not mean that within the SPLA in JIU none includes recruits, recruited from the major towns of Khartoum, Juba, Wau and Malakal. Nevertheless, the decision to deploy any SPLA soldiers to the JIU is absolutely the prerogative of the SPLA Military High Command. The opposite in regards to the SAF is true. It is that simple, because the issue of vengeance and vendetta is supposed to be settled and put to rest by the CPA. Unless some people in South Sudan do not have a right to own the CPA. However, if the CPA is indeed for every body, then let it (the CPA) be the manager of the relationship – that must grow – between the SPLM and NCP or SAF and SPLA.
The Governor of EES should be informed that the people of his State are not going to achieve an automatic unity and prevalence of security. Unity and security are worked for; they do not drop down from heavens. However, for unity and security to be achieved in EES, the Governor must work hard to stop all kinds of vengeances and vendettas, seek for rather than work against reconciliation and then sanction all the communities to hold grassroots people-to-people peace initiatives; fully supported by the government. The government support should include the hiring of conflict experts or facilitators who would be guiding the quest of each community for peace. The CPA brought peace to the country but the people in the country must work for their own peace.
EES Governor Orders Arrest and Torture of JIU Major in Torit
On September 24th, 2006, Events in page three of this paper discussed about insecurity in Torit and gave accounts of rapes, tortures, including killings, calling the entire situation as mayhem caused by the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA). "Torit will soon be like Yei. If people who are lacking respect and moral ethics can attack Police Stations in broad daylight then what will avoid it from becoming like Yei. Raping girls who live in poverty is completely wrong, it is against child rights and it is child molestation", (Lo Rondyang, Lukojo, Khartoum Monitor, September 16th, 2006, p.4).
Major Dominic Servilio as mentioned in Events column on September 24th, 2006, is one of the senior officers in the Joint Integrated Units, a combined force of SPLA and Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) in Torit. Maj. Dominic, an SAF Major, was acting JIU Battalion Commander (Cdr.) when he was arrested in Torit.
According to Maj. Dominic, 18 SPLA soldiers were dispatched by the Governor of Eastern Equatoria State (EES), Brigadier (Brig.) Aloysius Emor Ojetuk, to his house after he had completed the funeral rites of his daughter. They stormed into his house and as he stood up to find out what was happening, he was ordered to sit down, which he did. They bundled him up and thrown him into the Governor's escort siren Land Cruiser vehicle. He was driven to the Governor's house. While being driven to the Governor's house, Maj. Dominic said he was thoroughly beaten and kicked throughout. When the vehicle arrived the Governor's house, the Governor was given a report that they (the soldiers) brought the culprit. The Governor responded by saying, "Good, let his Ma'rasin (Arabic word for cuckolds or pimps) come and take him." Maj. Dominic said the soldiers continued to kick and beat him before the Governor who just watched and did nothing to stop the soldiers.The Governor then ordered Maj. Dominic to be taken to Hiyalla (24 Miles East of Torit). One of the soldiers arresting Maj. Dominic who was so excited said, "Maj. Dominic doesn't need to reach Hiyalla, we can deal with him on the way and return back to Torit."
Maj. Dominic said he was driven to Hiyalla and detained somewhere in an SPLA camp. The soldiers who arrested Maj. Dominic quickly changed their minds and said, "If we keep Maj. Dominic here, he can be traced." Maj. Dominic said he was taken to some compound of an NGO called CHIWESE and locked up in one of the toilets. The NGO is located some Kilometres East of Hiyalla and between Loguruny and Illoli.
Maj. Dominic said he was tied for six hours until when some good Samaritans within the SPLA rescued him by untying him. He said when he was untied, the parts of the body that were tied had burst open and the nylon rope, commonly used for bed making in the Sudan, had penetrated his flesh (see the pictures taken on September 24th, 2006 – seven days after his ordeal).
Maj. Dominic said he was returned to Torit because of decision, which was taken in an emergency security meeting. Maj. Dominic said his house in Torit was ransacked and his private money and personal belongings worth 13 million Sudanese Pounds were seized from the house. The Cdr. of the SAF stationed in Torit called for the emergency security meeting in which the Governor was asked whether or not he was aware that an SAF Maj. from JIU in Torit was arrested by his men. The Governor agreed that he ordered the abduction of Maj. Dominic because he is an EDF (a reference to the Equatoria Defence Force), thus a terrorist who was recently trained in Khartoum, given money to come and assassinate Senior SPLA officers in Torit.
It is worth noting that the Governor, in his maiden speech, which he made immediately after assuming office and during the last fasting month of Ramadan, had said that he knew all South Sudanese different but distinctive marks on their bodies. What about those Muslims who are stamped on their buttocks? He enquired. Those Muslims stamped on their buttocks are more dangerous than those who are not. Afterwards an SPLA soldiers who believed that his Governor must not divide his folks, came to Maj. Dominic and one more Muslim went to the Governor and told him to apologize to the Muslims. He agreed.
However, later on the Muslims in Torit organised a breakfast in which the Governor was invited. After this breakfast, as usual speeches were made. Maj. Dominic delivered a speech on behalf of the Muslims in Torit. In his speech, Maj. Dominic dismissed the Governor's claim that there were Muslims stamped on their buttocks. The Governor, speaking last, said the Muslims have taken back the food they offered him. He called on the Muslims to prepare an apology, which was not prepared at all.
According to Maj. Dominic, no official charges were brought against him. Meaning the Governor of EES has taken the law into his own hands. This is very dangerous indeed, because the Governor is setting a precedence that may be emulated by his SPLA soldiers.
Governors in the States are guardians of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), the law and State’s citizens. It is unfortunate that what happened to Maj. Dominic was not only a violation of the CPA but it is a clear violation of human rights, masterminded by a Governor of all people in the State.
The Governor of EES is accusing the EDF of terrorism because they have refused to listen to him when he said, "EDF should either join the SPLA, SAF or face the consequences. None of the EDF forces has ever been apprehended for any wrongdoing. A disciplined force does not need any lessons from the EES Governor. Terrorism means the "use of force and intimidation to achieve political ends", (Collins Paperback Dictionary, 2000:618). Who in this instance is a terrorist, is it the Governor or EDF? What is clear is that the Governor has arrested two Ministers: Col. Paul Omoya Thomas and Paul Odiong Dominic, John Kenyi, Director-general of Finance who had just returned from a course in South Africa and Chief Okumu, an administrative officer.
The UN observer force in the South should not allow all kinds of intimidations and the use of unnecessary force on innocent people in the South. What happened to Maj. Dominic and certainly those others who are detained under inhuman conditions in Torit, Nimule and Juba under the Governor's orders is a human rights abuse. The Governor should be held accountable for his crimes so that whoever governs EES after him should know that he is not above the law.
EES Assembly Impeaches Governor and Cabinet
The problems of insecurity, poor administration, unnecessary use of force against and abduction of innocent people in Torit, the temporary capital of Eastern Equatoria State (EES), have been taken up by the EES Interim Legislative Assembly (EESILA).
A group of MPs from Torit are in Juba headed by their Speaker, Hon. Adelino Opi, and they have delivered their parliamentary details for impeachment of their Governor and his entire cabinet to the concerned authorities in South Sudan. On September 29th, 2006, Juba television and Radio announced the decision of the EESILA to impeach the Governor and his cabinet. According to the report, Juba television and Radio said copies of the impeachment decision were sent to the office of the President of South Sudan (GoSS) and the South Sudan Interim Legislative Assembly (SSILA).
ESSILA members should really be commended for a job very well done. The action they have taken is what is expected of a parliament that represents its people. The Governor or any senior State government official has no power to take the law into his/her own hands.
The people of EES have suffered the previous war, they are certainly witnessing a large scale of cattle rustling and, God knows, whether or not they will ever benefit from the current talks between the Lord's Resistance Army/Movement (LRA/M) and the Uganda government. The LRA/M has been one of the very many sources of insecurity in EES.
The current Governor or any one to come in future must not think that he/she is above the law. Presidents, let alone Governors, are not above the law. They are guided by a constitution and they try by all means not to violate the very constitution that guides them. Those who think they are above the law are deceiving themselves and as such would always fall victims of their own making.
Thus, GoSS should consider this kind of an exercise, impeachment procedure performed by the legislators in EES against their Governor and cabinet, as an important democratic exercise. It takes guts for appointed legislative assemblies to impeach their leaders - especially now that the State governments are at their infancies and their legislative assemblies are operating without constitutions.
Operating without constitutions should not be a reason for abuse of power anywhere in South Sudan. Absence of a constitution does not mean that there is no constitution and as such Governors or otherwise must take the law into their own hands. In the event that a new constitution is lacking, the old constitution should always be used until such a time that the new constitution is introduced.
It is hoped that this impeachment exercise does not have any strings attached to it. In other words, some group of people within the EESILA should not take advantage of the situation and advance their political interests. If there is any such inclination, then the impeachment would not be regarded as a democratic exercise.
The seat of the Governor in EES belongs to Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) and there should be no worries or difficulties for SPLM in EES to identify someone who should replace the current Governor. Even if SPLM feels that the current Governor should be maintained, relationship between the legislature and the executive would not be the same again. To create good relationship between the leaders in EES, the current Governor must go so that whoever comes on board could be respected.
However, there is always a beginning for everything and as such GoSS should take note of this new beginning (the impeachment process) and, if possible, approve it and use the exercise as a practical democratic example that could be encouraged by the GoSS and emulated by the other State governments in South Sudan. If encouraged, exercises such as that of impeachment in EESILA could help reduce the supervisory role of the President of GoSS over the Southern Sudan government and executive institutions.
Inhuman to Leave a Very Large Non-fasting Sudanese Without Food
South Sudanese women living and operating their businesses in Al-Haj Yusuf, about 16 of them, were arrested by the authorities in Al-Haj Yusuf. They were accused of running open-air restaurants without licenses. “A group representing some 16 women engaged in selling ready foods said the authorities raided their shops last Wednesday and forced them to acquire special licenses in order to sell ready food during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan”, (Khartoum Monitor (KM), September 29th, 2006, p.1).
There is obviously no doubt that Khartoum as a national capital has several religious denominations with Islam being the major religion. Although this has been a major practice in the past, the previous agreements and the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) should have cultivated a new spirit. The spirit of religious tolerance and cultural coexistence; where people of one nation live in harmony.
It is true that the Governor of Khartoum State is said to have issued directives to all the localities in Khartoum to allow food services for those who are fasting. But it appears that these orders have been misinterpreted by local authorities and as such the 16 women above had to fall victims. “All 16 of us appeared before a judge today, Thursday, September 28th, and we were summarily fined SD 2,000 each without questioning”, complained one of the 16 women arrested, tried and fined – (KM, September 29th, 2006, p.1).
It would be very inhuman to leave a very large non-fasting Sudanese and their foreign friends in a city like Khartoum without a single restaurant opened to serve them. Religious coexistence goes beyond political boundaries, as it could now be seen, it has affected the most essential elements in human existence, the forbidding of food and drinks in Khartoum during the holy month of Ramadan.
In the past Sudanese fasted and most of the restaurants and big hotels served food and drinks to their customers. Today this is different because every eating place in Khartoum is closed, why? Could it be that some people cheat? If they cheat or they don’t, they are answerable to God, not to a person. Faithful Muslims believe to get more (Ajur – Arabic word for heavenly reward) to see those who do not fast eat, and no temptation whatsoever could manipulate their faith to God and the call by the faith to fast during the holy month of Ramadan.
The Governor of Khartoum should intervene to rescue the women being persecuted for heeding to his gesture of good will to offer food and drinks services to non-Muslims in the capital, Khartoum. This country needs tolerance and a high degree of religious coexistence for it to achieve its cherished goal, unity of the Sudan.
EES Governor Should Heed to GoSS’ Gesture of Goodwill
The Governor of Eastern Equatoria State (EES), Aloysius Emor Ojetuk, is reported to have returned to Torit, the capital of EES. The Governor was in Juba to defend his position, which was under a serious check and balance exercise by EES Interim Legislative Assembly (EESILA). Slightly over 75% of ESSILA members, including their Speaker, had moved a vote of no confidence in their Governor and wanted him out with his cabinet.
The document on the vote of no-confidence was presented to the Government of South Sudan (GoSS) and its Interim Legislative Assembly for action. ESSILA members accused the Governor of inciting tribal conflicts, orchestrating arrests and rampant killings of people in Torit town, insecurity and anarchy in Ikotos, Chukudum and Kapoeta, violation of the CPA and Interim Constitution of South Sudan by depriving the assembly members of their constitutional rights and entitlements. It is reported that the GoSS presidency has instructed the Governor to return to Torit and reconcile with his ESSILA members.
Meanwhile, the First Vice-President and President of GoSS, Lt-Gen. Salva Kiir Mayardit, issued a presidential order on October 11th, 2006, directing the formation of an investigation committee to review the reasons for which the EESILA lost confidence in their Governor. "The committee comprises of southern parliamentarians headed by Bashir Bendi, Arop M. Arop, Committee Secretary, as well as other senior GoSS figures" as members, (Sudan Tribune Newspaper, October 12th, 2006, p.1).
According to reports coming from Torit, the Governor arrived there to a very cold welcome. He sent a message around Torit using a public address system (PA), saying that the Governor would like to address the people of Torit the following day. The PA is the only system used to convey information in most parts of South Sudan due to lack of local radio stations and other information disseminating equipment.
However, those who attended the Governor’s rally said that instead of delivering a reconciliatory speech, the Governor delivered an antagonistic speech. He is reported to have said that, “I am the son of this State. I have come back and will deal with those half-hearted ‘Inside SPLM/A’ members. These ‘Inside SPLM/A’ members are being used by the enemies of SPLM/A to unseat me.” The ‘Inside SPLM/A’ is a reference to those co-opted by the SPLM/A from within the former government-controlled areas.
It is hoped that the GoSS’ decision to send the Governor back to Torit in order to reconcile with the ESSILA members is based on its confidence in both the government of Governor Ojetuk and ESSILA. The GoSS would be very unfair to both the Governor and the ESSILA members if it had just sent the Governor and his ESSILA members back to Torit without forming the Bashir Bendi Committee (herein after referred to as ‘the Bendi Committee) to investigate the reasons that led to the disagreement between the Governor and ESSILA members.
It is impossible for two parties which are caught up in a war of words, based on what each of them believes is true, to reconcile. To send the Governor and his ESSILA members back to the State to iron out their differences should be a gesture of goodwill from the GoSS. Otherwise, the case of Ojetuk is not different from that of Col. Patrick Zamoi, the former Governor of Western Equatoria State (WES), who was arrested and detained pending investigations. There is no insinuation here, whatsoever, that Ojetuk should have been arrested and detained like Col. Zamoi, but the approach to his case, which is similar to that of Zamoi of WES, whose rejection did not come from WES parliament, should have shown some coherence, at least in the legal process that was applied on Col. Zamoi.
The First Vice-President and President of GoSS has taken a normal bureaucratic decision by appointing ‘the Bendi Committee’. This committee may not have the powers to reconcile the executive and the legislature in Torit but their investigation would establish facts. Based on those facts, reconciliation would then be possible. Because the past mistakes, yet to be established by ‘the Bendi Committee’, shall provide future mediators with a problem or a Conflict whose root causes are clearly identified to resolve.
Even if ‘the Bendi Committee’ presents its recommendations and such recommendations happen to incriminate either of the parties to the conflict; Governor relieved of his duties or parliament dissolved; whichever is the case, that case should leave the office while maintaining good relationship with his colleagues in the political scene of EES.
Now that his Governorship has been extended until the investigations are over, the Governor, who is very disappointed with those who sought for his removal, should not continue to take the law into his own hands. This time, one would hope it doesn’t happen, that the Governor ends up mistreating those who have worked for his downfall.
As per his remarks in the rally in Torit, the Governor should be sent to the Barracks if he cannot handle politics. The Governor ought not to make threats because it is illegal in law. If he does not know that already, he ought to know it now. Based on the threats he uttered in the rally, it is possible to guess now that those who worked against him in the EESILA might be preparing to leave Torit for fear of retribution that would come from none other than the irate Governor himself.
Politics as it sounds has its skills mostly acquired through practice. It has no school although one would assume that playing fair politics in practice is the key to success. That success would provide a school that would sensitize the people on various laws that govern the conduct of government, the country and, on that matter, a State like that of Ojetuk. Ojetuk did not practice politics, as he was not given any political assignment during the struggle. He may not be the only one – there are others – who in this case may be prone to learning. He was managing Sudan Relief and Rehabilitation Association and before that, he was an administrator with the Norwegian Church Aid based in Torit. However, if the administrative experiences he acquired from these organisations cannot help, he should be forgiven but on conditions that he must consult before making any future decisions and upholds the laws that govern the conduct of government and the State. He should never take the law again into his own hands as he did in the past. Ojetuk is on record for abducting and severely torturing a JIU Major in Torit. (Read the story and view the pictures on (http://www.southsudan.net/index1.html).
It is a sincere belief that if a Governor works for the interest of his entire State no one would ask him out. However, the fact that the Governor of EES has failed in his performance as Governor because he listens to every rumour; he should have only himself to blame. “Ojetuk is trying to find a scapegoat to cover his failed governance after he operated in a one-man show in a situation which required team work”, (Dr. Theophilous Ochang, Khartoum Monitor, October 11th, 2006, p.1).
The SPLM has always portrayed itself as a ‘democratic' organization that has fought for the rights of the people of Sudan. This is a fact that cannot be ignored by anybody but where does SPLM go wrong? SPLM goes wrong because it is fighting for those rights within the Government of National Unity (GoNU) and north Sudan as a whole but not in South Sudan and within their governments. Some SPLM members usually criticize
articles like this, saying they are directed towards the SPLM and not the National Congress Party (NCP). Articles such as this would always be directed against the SPLM because it claims to be perfect when it is not. NCP is working hard to improve its past records and the CPA is a clear demonstration of that resolve.
It is not possible that a ‘democratic' organization like the SPLM could encourage intimidations, arbitrary arrests, detention without trials of political opponents and operating in a manner that seem to place it above the law. Justice is not one-sided; it has never been one-sided and will never be one-sided.
“The SPLM slogans were and still remain the loudest voice in the north when the issues under debate are freedom, justice and the respect for the laws, in particular the Naivasha laws and the transitional constitution. However, this loud revolutionary voice in the north becomes raucous or more precisely chocked when it heads South. In many cases, the power of the slogans turn into ‘mercilessness detention centres’ as they are today, where political opponents or those with differing ideological and political views succumb to flames and chains”, (Tahir Sati, The Citizen newspaper, October 12th, 2006, p.12).
The First Vice-President and President of GoSS had recently ordered the arrest of SPLM members who orchestrated the arrest of NCP members in Juba. This wise decision, which might be misunderstood by bad-hearted SPLM members, needs to go to all the State governments in the South so that no Governor or any State government official intimidates or abuses the human rights of his/her political opponents.
Thus, the Governor should not misunderstand but heed to the gesture of goodwill from the GoSS, which has trust in him and his members of ESSILA. This gesture of goodwill does not mean – one would like to believe – that the Governor must victimize those who have worked against him. Rather, it is meant that EES has elders in its government and those elders, including traditional leaders of EES, could help the Governor work out a formula for reconciliation. Reconciliation means "to harmonies conflicting beliefs" (Collins, 2000:504) and to forget the past and open a new chapter in which all people of the State, including their ESSILA and cabinet members, work in harmony. That harmony should help EES unite its people irrespective of their political colours. In turn, that unity is a prerequisite to development. However, this perquisite to development cannot be achieved through arrests, tortures and detentions without trials or mere intimidation of innocent people and political opponents not only in EES but anywhere in South Sudan.
Egeland Should Seek ICC Commitment to Drop Indictment of LRA Leaders for Juba Talks to Succeed
The Visit of the UN Humanitarian Coordinator, Jan Egeland, to the Sudan to address the impasse between the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) and the Uganda Government (UG) in the peace talks is a welcome development. It means that the world body, which Egeland represents, has developed interest in putting its weight on the fragile LRA-UG talks in Juba. The current LRA-UG talks in Juba have been going through thick and thin, including very serious violations of the truce signed between the LRA and UG.
Responding to what it sees as violations to the truce and lack of commitment to the peace talks by the UG, the LRA accuses the UG of lacking commitment to the fundamental principles that were laid down by both parties to guide and sustain the fragile peace talks. LRA has specifically accused the UG of not only attacking their forces as they try to gather at assembly points in areas designated to them by the Juba talks, but says Ugandan troops are trying to encircle the assembly points. “LRA has accused Ugandan soldiers of encircling fighters assembled at one of two locations under the agreement, raising doubts over the future of the peace process”, (http://www.mg.co.za/articlePage.aspx?articleid=286666&area=/breaking_news/breaking_news__africa/). The LRA-UG Cessation of Hostilities Agreement states that the assembled LRA will be left to leave peacefully in case the talks fail, but how can you do it when they are already surrounded by the UPDF (Uganda People’s Defense Force)?", LRA legal adviser to the talks in Juba, told IRIN: (http://platform.blogs.com/passionofthepresent/2006/10/rebels_want_res.html).
Meanwhile, the UG accuses the LRA of buying time in order to regroup and resume its onslaught on the people of northern Uganda and South Sudan. President Museveni has more than once commented that the LRA ringleaders must stand trial and thus urging the Juba government to execute his plans to arrest the LRA ringleaders. “Museveni stressed that the UPDF would push for Kony’s prosecution by the International Criminal Court (ICC) if he does not reach a peace agreement with the Government team in Juba, Sudan”, (http://www.newvision.co.ug/PA/8/12/512321).
The UG also says that the rebels are not reporting to their assembly points, thus violating the truce. “Ugandan rebels have violated a truce with the government by leaving an agreed assembly point”, (the head of an independent monitoring team, (http://www.mg.co.za/articlePage.aspx?articleid=286666&area=/breaking_news/breaking_news__africa/).
At the same time, the ICC has insisted that the LRA leaders must stand trial for the atrocities they have committed against humanity. “The Governments of Uganda, Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo are obligated to give effect to the arrest warrants and we’re confident they will honor their joint commitment to do so. The ICC warrants name Joseph Kony, Vincent Otti, Okot Odhiambo, Dominic Ongwen and Raska Lukwiya. Each is charged with crimes against humanity and war crimes committed in Uganda since July 2002 in the context of a 20 year campaign of brutality against civilians”, (http://www.voanews.com/english/archive/2006-05/2006-05-18-voa31.cfm?CFID=24787331&CFTOKEN=14486851).
The ICC is simply responding to UG’s request to try the LRA leaders. “The ICC took action against Joseph Kony following Museveni's referral of the situation in Northern Uganda. For the ICC, the invitation was a blessing: a so-called 'state-party referral' was seen as the best means for the ICC to take action, much preferred to the 'trigger' mechanism by which the prosecutor would move on his own (proprio motu). For the newly established ICC, conscious of its critics (including the US administration), acting at the invitation of a government was far preferable to being seen as intervening in the internal affairs of a sovereign state.” (http://jurist.law.pitt.edu/forumy/2006/07/catch-22-in-uganda-lra-icc-and-peace.php).
In other words, the UG has to be more than serious in engaging the ICC to drop the charges. One or two visits to The Hague by the UG and popular officials are not an end to the ICC-UG-LRA crisis. They were important initial steps that needed following with a serious effort to advice the ICC to drop the charges against the LRA leaders. “The ICC said it was waiting for the outcome of peace talks before deciding on how to proceed with cases against the rebel leaders”, (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/6120646.stm).
The UG-LRA talks were not only initiated in good faith by the Juba Administration’s Vice-President, Dr Riek Machar Teny-Dhurgon, but money that is supposed to support suffering South Sudanese is being used to ensure the success of these talks. These efforts are seriously aimed at bringing peace to both South Sudan and Northern Uganda. The UG has to acknowledge this and must stop uttering statements that do not advance the serious search for peace in Uganda.
Sustenance of negotiations like the UG-LRA talks requires the UG’s patience and total commitment to peace. But lack of focus from the UG on how to sustain the talks could, in actual fact, work against the peace process. It is not enough for the UG to attend the talks and negotiate with the LRA without commitment and focus towards how to reach a positive conclusion of the talks.
Therefore, the interest that has been developed by the UN to talk to the LRA leader, Joseph Kony, to encourage him and the LRA to reach a final agreement with the UG is indeed a positive development. “Egeland said the message he took to the rebels, would be the same message he takes to President Museveni, an affirmation of the UN's support in efforts to end the war”, (The Monitor, Kampala, November 14, 2006).
Egeland, however, needs to know that the Juba talks may not succeed unless the UN presses on the ICC to drop the charges against the LRA leaders. It would be very difficult for Mr. Egeland to proceed with his new mission that now includes the LRA negotiations unless both the UG and the LRA focus on peace rather than arresting LRA leaders or threatening to resume the fighting respectively. "They (ICC warrants of arrests) are a blockade to the talks, the primary agenda is to request Egeland to use his offices to talk to the UN Security Council and the ICC to drop the warrants in the interests of peace in the region," Mr. Ayoo, LRA spokesman, told AFP news agency, (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/6072994.stm).
Egeland needs to seek UG’s serious commitment to ask the ICC to drop the indictment of the LRA leaders to The Hague. This commitment should be delivered by Egeland in person to the ICC Chief Prosecutor with whom Egeland, on behalf of the UN, has to engage in serious talks on the necessity to drop all the ICC charges against the LRA leaders for the Juba talks to succeed.
“The ICC was established by the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, so called because it was adopted in Rome, Italy on July 17th, 1998, by the United Nations Diplomatic Conference of Plenipotentiaries on the Establishment of an International Criminal Court”, (http://www.icc-cpi.int/about/ataglance/establishment.html).
How else could the LRA gain the confidence to negotiate peace with the UG if the UG’s head of State insists that the LRA leaders must be arrested and handed over to the ICC? LRA spokesman, Godfrey Ayoo, told the BBC that when he came to visit the Juba talks, Mr. Museveni "only called us uninformed Ugandans who have been out of the country for 20 years. He also said other things which were all abusive - indicating that he is never interested in peace talks.” (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/6072994.stm).
It is human nature that a person who brings about peace needs to live to see the fruits of peace but not to die off soon after. But usually nature’s call is so strong that it would just call and end the life of a person with no regard to whether or not the person has a programme that needs to be completed. The LRA leaders, like other former or current rebel leaders do not want to die before seeing the peace agreement they negotiated bore fruits.
Thus, Egeland needs to know that for a serious peace to be achieved in Uganda and South Sudan, it is his duty as the UN Humanitarian Coordinator to talk to UG President and the leaders of the LRA to respect the fundamental principles that were laid down by them to sustain the fragile peace talks in Juba. Once he has received the commitment of the parties to the talks, he needs to pursue the indictment of the LRA leaders by negotiating with the ICC Chief Prosecutor to drop their cases against the LRA leaders.
Unless this is done, neither peace nor the indictment of the LRA leaders would succeed. “Will the ICC's threats of arrest disrupt the prospects for peace? Or has the ICC's intervention pushed Kony towards negotiation? If Kony negotiates, can the international community and an ICC still in its infancy tolerate an amnesty that allows him to escape judgment for his many crimes? The problems and solutions are so intertwined that at this juncture, neither prosecution nor a peace deal appears feasible.” (http://jurist.law.pitt.edu/forumy/2006/07/catch-22-in-uganda-lra-icc-and-peace.php).
While it is an acceptable fact that the LRA has committed untold violations of human rights against the people in Northern Uganda and South Sudan, it is also a fact that many rebel organizations before the LRA did commit immeasurable human rights violations against their own people. Yet, they are now not only living happily amongst their people but are ruling them.
If it is a must that the LRA leaders must be tried, then the ICC should not be selective. It should try war criminals now masquerading as genuine leaders in the African continent. But for the sake of peace this is not possible because it would mean the resumption of conflicts all over the continent. Although these former rebel leaders, claiming to have forgiven their opponents, they are in a cold war with their opponents and they are busy arresting and detaining them in secret security cells from where they lynch them through immense tortures.
If the ICC is a legal body recognized by the UN, then the UN through its Humanitarian Coordinator, Jan Egeland, ought to remind it that the opponents in Uganda are engaged in a reconciliation process that is likely to lead to a genuine peace. The ICC in return should listen to the UN and give the LRA a chance so that the talks in Juba are not only resuscitated but given a boost by the world body to succeed. Egeland is likely to succeed in his mission if he protects the LRA indicted leaders from the ICC and the UG, which apparently seem to have two hearts – one wants to negotiate seriously – and the other wants to arrest the LRA leaders and perhaps end the Juba Peace Talks.
LULUSA Marks Its Cultural Day in Style
On Friday, December 8th, 2006, the Lulubo Students Association (LULUSA) – in collaboration with the Lulubo Community – held a cultural day under the theme: “Culture the Symbol of Identity in the Era of Peace.” Although it started very late by almost three hours – the LULUSA gathering was marked in style with colourful traditional dancing. It was very well organized and the use of Arabic and English languages concurrently during the occasion was not only encouraging that the South has cadres for its future, but it is in line with the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), which recognizes the two languages as official.
This colourful event was addressed by a number of dignitaries from the South. Words of encouragement were spoken and one very significant speech was that of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) Youth Secretary for Northern Sector. The most important aspect of his speech – which the students certainly would like to hear – was when he said that his good offices were not only going to be informed to help the LULUSA but that he personally was going to talk to the SPLM leadership to assist the Lulubo students within LULUSA by paying for those who cannot afford school fees.
This was an excellent gesture of ‘goodwill’ from the SPLM Youth Secretary, Northern Sector. However, it is not just enough to help educate if those who have completed their studies in the North are refused employment in the South because they are regarded as Jallabas (a common word used by South Sudanese to distinguish the Northern Sudanese from South Sudanese).
Reports coming from Juba are frustrating indeed. A number of South Sudanese who have finished their studies in the North and went to Juba with the hope of getting employment have returned back to the North after being refused jobs because some individuals within the establishment of the Government of South Sudan (GoSS) refer to them not only as Jallabas but semi-illiterate.
Arabic is certainly the second language in the South as per the CPA and as such those who do not know English should be given the opportunity to work in Arabic and some on-job training in English language should be offered to them. This would not create any vacuum as the knowledge acquired by those who studied in Arabic is not different from that acquired by those who studied in English.
It is, however, unfair to victimize those youths who acquired their knowledge in Arabic language. It is not their mistake but rather the situation in which they found themselves in – the civil war, which forced them out of the South to North Sudan in search of education. They are not inferior in any way to those who acquired their studies in English. Thus, GoSS should be fair to address this problem because it is very damaging psychologically as it instills some kind of guilt consciousness into those who studied in Arabic as less educated.
This hostile attitude towards Arabic language by some GoSS officials – some of whom speak Arabic fluently – should come to an end. Arabic should be allowed to function in the South so that South Sudanese youths – who learnt in Arabic language – could get opportunities to work and serve in the South. The SPLM is appealing to South Sudanese in the North to return to the South and participate in its rebuilding but how is this viable with their unwarranted hostile attitude towards those South Sudanese youths who acquired their skills in Arabic language?
Even if the South chooses independence after the interim period (IP), Arabic language would still be needed in South Sudan so that South Sudanese could run their embassies abroad. Some institutions of higher learning, including universities within the South Shall have language departments. If those who learnt in Arabic are made to feel guilty and their services rejected, who then would teach Arabic in the institutions of higher learning as well as offering services in the South Sudanese embassies abroad? If the option of unity happens to be affirmed, Arabic language would still be needed for communication between the North and the South.
LULUSA and other students from the South who are studying in the North and in Arabic language should not despair. Perhaps what LULUSA and other South Sudanese students’ organizations based in the North should do is that they should initiate some evening classes for English language for the graduate and undergraduate students in their communities so that they could have an opportunity of learning the English language.
LRA-UG Talks: Mediation is Mutual, Part of Conflict Resolution Process
The Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) has made clear its reservations on the mediation of the Government of South Sudan (GoSS). In fact it has decided that the South African government should take over the mediation role of the GoSS. The LRA accuses the GoSS of colluding with the Uganda People’s Defense Force (UPDF) to surround the areas of their concentration with the intention of arresting their leaders and to hand them over to the International Criminal Court (ICC).
Given the statements made by most Ugandan Government (UG) leaders, including President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, it would actually be very unfair to blame the LRA for their decision to relocate the peace talks. Because it is one thing to encourage anti-peace rhetoric and face the consequences that would follow; and another to issue presidential orders to stop all anti-peace rhetoric, especially from UG officials and enjoy the benefits of non-confrontational dialogue.
In conflict resolution and management, it is very important for the negotiating parties to agree on the mediator. If one side loses confidence in the mediator(s) and chooses to relocate or change the mediator, it should not be blamed. It is part of the conflict resolution process.
Otherwise, the interest of GoSS in trying to bring about peace in Northern Uganda is genuine. Genuine in the sense that the people of Northern Uganda and those of South Sudan have been victimized by the LRA more than anybody else in the region. This being the case, the GoSS truly needs to watch the double standards of the Ugandan leadership in trying to address the issues of war and peace in Uganda. The leadership of GoSS needs to engage in dialogue with President Museveni in order to do the following for the reactivation of the stalled, and success of the LRA-UG talks: 1). Initiate the need for his political and military officials to abide by the ceasefire that must have monitors from national, regional or international forces; 2). The need to freeze all antagonistic statements from his political and military officials that are likely to anger the LRA negotiators; and 3). To stress the need for respect from his negotiators to the LRA negotiators – respecting the values of LRA negotiators (an important element in conflict resolution and management process).
The LRA, on the other hand, should be mature enough not to react to every statement and action made against them. LRA should know that there are people in Uganda who are actually benefiting from the war and they would do just about anything not only to stall the talks but actually see the peace process destroyed. These kinds of people are there in many countries that had gone through wars and hence the peace negotiations. What should be important to LRA is the will of the current UG government to negotiate peace with them.
The UG, especially the current leadership, should make a reflection to Uganda’s past, which is not only known to Ugandans alone but event to neighbours like the Sudan. Ugandan people are not ready to go through that experience again; indeed any reasonable person would not, if it is within his/her powers, allow such a thing to happen to the Ugandans again. Thus, the current Ugandan leadership should work hard to see peace in Uganda and preserve the good name it has developed through hard work in very many spheres.
Since it is impossible to address the issues of war and peace concurrently, one would sincerely wish the Ugandan leadership the wisdom to choose peace that has to be pursued to a successful conclusion.
CPA’s Co-existence Mechanism Makes Unity Attractive
The recent Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM’s) recent Northern Sector conference had given hope to the Sudanese who are interested in the unity of the country. The speech of H.E. Lt-Gen. Salva Kiir Mayardit, Chairman of SPLM and First Vice-President of the Republic and President of South Sudan, was reassuring and obviously puts the SPLM on its original track: that of liberating the people of the Sudan from subjugation, oppression, domination and suppression from the regimes that mismanaged the affairs of the country for decades.
Many had doubted the SPLM’s commitment to the unity of the country when it was under the leadership of the late Dr John Garang de Mabior. The late Dr Garang had always focused on the unity of the country from Halfa to Nimule and from Gallabat to Jineina. He had a strong belief that he, through the ticket of the country’s unionists, would one day become the president of the Sudan. The late Dr Garang usually said in most of his popular speeches with the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) soldiers in the late 1980s that the ‘furthest a separatist could go in the long march to liberation would be Kosti’ which he sometimes called, “Nukta Balash” (a point in which the separatists would say ‘Balash’ (or to hell with the liberation of the Sudan) and they would remain; while the unionists, led by him, would continue the liberation march.
This philosophy was aimed at encouraging the separatists to first join the struggle and then later convince them to go for an extra mile after Kosti. Lt-Gen Mayardit is part of this philosophy, although he had given a chance to the separatists within the SPLM/A to develop hatred between SPLM and its partner, the National Congress Party (NCP). Lt-Gen. Mayardit has come out very clearly and for the first to reaffirmed SPLM’s commitment to the unity of the country. "Our belief is in the unity of Sudan which is voluntary unity and not compulsory, and we see that the general interest is more in unity than splitting up", (http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article20106).
However, South Sudanese have always called for the separation of the South from the North not because they sincerely want to separate but they usually found themselves forced by the rigidity of the successive regimes in the North that had fought hard to deny them their rightful place and their share in power and the wealth of the South. There has never been a mechanism like the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) which spelt out clearly the basis for which the North and the South could co-exist.
With the CPA and its laid down mechanism for co-existence between the North and South in place, unity of the country is not only made attractive but there should really be no reason to shy off this country’s unity. A unity based on a confederal arrangement (current status of the South) would be an accepted unity. Sudan belongs to the Sudanese and no Sudanese has the right to assume that s/he is above the rest of the Sudanese and thus would like to leave alone to selfishly safeguard his religious, racial or cultural values.
Dr Garang dreamt of becoming the president of the Sudan – in the same philosophy – Lt-Gen. Mayardit could as well become the president of the Sudan not in dreams but in reality; because “Nukta Balash” has been skipped.
But to become the president of this country one must be sensitive not to drawn himself or herself in hatred driven by religious, racial and cultural difference. Sudan certainly needs a leader who does not entertain tribalism, racism, religious bigotry, you name it. Tribalism, racism and religious bigotry are not qualities within which nationalism thrives. The Sudan could not develop into a nation whose people enjoy and entertain love and unity due to entertainment of the qualities above. These qualities are diametrically opposed to nationalism, which entertains love, unity and democracy, even political opponents.
Juba Talks Threatened by UPDF, GoSS, DRC and UN Military Agreement
Uganda and the government of South Sudan (GoSS) have signed a military cooperation agreement. This agreement offers the Uganda People’s Defense Force (UPDF) an opportunity to train Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) Soldiers. The agreement also provides for security information sharing as well as the combination of efforts to fight international terrorism. “The two armies shall engage in military cooperation through joint operations, combating of proliferation of illegal small arms and fighting international terrorism,” (http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article20222).
This is agreement is welcome indeed because the SPLA forces need capacity building in general and specialized training in military, intelligence and general military administration. Joint military exercise helps the soldiers from both sides of the maneuvers to gain experiences. This is very useful because the SPLA are, as stipulated in the security arrangements protocol, considered as a national army. Their training would supplement the efforts of the joint integrated units (JIUs) in monitoring the security situation in South Sudan, including the western, south-west, south, east and north-east borders of the country from any foreign aggressions.
This agreement, however, may be misunderstood by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) as an agreement aimed at preparing joint military operations against them. In early February, Sudanese English Press – quoting Ugandan government-owned New Vision Newspaper (Sunday Vision) – reported a military cooperation between the Uganda, Sudan and DRC to fight the LRA. According to the reports, this agreement brings together SPLA, UDPF, DRC Army and the UN Peace-keeping force in Congo. “Uganda, DRC and South Sudan have resolved to jointly fight rebels operating along their common borders. They have agreed to exchange information, have joint military teams to verify the location of rebels and set up joint verification mission in the respective countries. UPDF side was led by second division commander, Brig. Hudson Mukasa; Brig. Bahuma Ambamba for DRC delegation; Col. Ador Deng for the SPLA and Brig. Duma Mdutyana for the UN Peace-keeping force in the DRC”, (Sudan Vision, February 12th, 2007, p. 3).
With all the available information, it’s not difficult to guess that this joint military cooperation is a very serious venture and indeed disturbing if not worrying to the LRA. However, the GoSS and the Ugandan governments have got to convince the LRA that they are not up to something that might hurt them. This is not a support or sympathy to the LRA, but when there are serious efforts aimed at addressing peace, such as those shouldered by the GoSS as it mediates to end the 21-year civil war in Uganda, there should be no threats of any kind to help advance the efforts for peace.
It is obviously not ethical in as far as conflict resolution and management is concerned for the UPDF and SPLA governments to pursue peace with the LRA on one hand and on the other concluding military cooperation agreements aimed at fighting them. This military cooperation agreement may be aimed at exerting pressure on the LRA to resume talks in Juba. But it is known in conflict resolution and management that once a conflict that needs to be resolved is identified; the parties to the talks are supposed to engage in negotiations and confidence-building without making any kinds of threats to each other. If the SPLM/A and the Sudan government did not cease hostilities during the Naivasha talks, IGAD would not have succeeded in resolving the conflict. An example in point is that when the Sudan government forces recaptured Qaysan from the SPLA in 2002, SPLA withdraw from the peace talks. In retaliation, SPLA recaptured Kapoeta and Torit and Machakos talks had to collapse, because the Sudan government had to withdraw from the Machakos talks. But when the two parties agreed to end hostilities, the peace talks naturally had to succeed.
May the UPDF and SPLA carry on with their necessary military cooperation agreements but should respect the terms in which the Juba talks were centred. The GoSS and the Uganda government have to be very clear in both deeds and actions that they are not pursuing war with the LRA. Otherwise, the Juba talks may not be revived at all as the LRA would completely lose faith in the mediator (as it already did) and abandon the talks all together. Crushing the LRA may be possible but its consequences on the innocent civilians in Uganda, Congo and the Sudan would be grave. If all the efforts exerted by these signatories to the military cooperation deal are directed towards relieving the people within their countries who suffered and continue to suffer from the LRA’s immeasurable atrocities, then humility in going for an extra mile is important.
SPLM Transformation May be a Dream That Would Not be Realized
The Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) concluded its four day leadership council meeting in Yei town on February 12th, 2007. Amongst the issues discussed are the relocation of the SPLM headquarters from Yei to Khartoum and the transformation of SPLM into a national party that would welcome into its rank and file Sudanese irrespective of their race and religion.
It is not possible to doubt SPLM’s commitment to a free, just, democratic, secular and decentralized Sudan. However, given SPLM’s reaction to Northern Sudanese in the South and the calling of South Sudanese who had lived and worked in the government-controlled areas before the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), gives it a 50-50 chance to truly transform into a formidable national political party.
National political parties look for people but they do not send people away from their parties. In South Sudan, tribalism and nepotism practiced by some elements within the government of South Sudan (GoSS) and the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) are so rampant that the rest of South Sudan has felt it so strongly. What this rest of the South is thinking about is anybody’s guess. In the same manner, what the Northern Sudanese and Muslims who have felt SPLM/A attitude towards them may be thinking about the SPLM is anybody’s guess again.
The other aspect is the occupation of lands in Southern Bari, Central Equatoria, Mogali, Nimule area, and New Cush or Natinga, Budy County, in Eastern Equatroria State, By the Dinka tribe. It appears that the top GoSS leadership, mainly made up of Dinka tribe, entertains this occupation and as such it declines from repatriating these people to their homes for reasons best known to it. Sometimes one wonders if this is not a policy to expand and extend the Dinka to Equatoria! It is known that the Dinka tribe is found in Seven States of the South and they now want to impose their presence in the three States of Equatoria, the only region in which they are not found.
The SPLM/A’s hatred towards “Jallaba” and Muslims, supporting the occupation of people’s lands in Equatoria and reference to South Sudanese who worked in the country before the CPA as “Jallaba” are very serious national issues that the SPLM/A needs to address. Otherwise, its transformation into a national political party may be a dream that would not be realized. For SPLM to transform itself into a national political party that would be accepted by all the people of the Sudan a number of things ought to be done:
1). Come off the complex of hatred towards the Arabs and Muslims (Jallaba);
2). Stop tribalism and nepotism;
3). Stop referring to South Sudanese who have worked with “Jallaba” as Jallaba because they are not;
4). Put an end to the occupation of areas in Equatoria region; and
5). Honesty and sincerity in trying to rally the Sudanese people behind it.
However, the tireless efforts that were exerted to produce the CPA were sincere and genuinely meant for the people of the entire Sudan to forget their differences, reconcile and open a new page. This is not seen from the way SPLM/A is acting. SPLM/A is acting as if it is a political party that is running an independent country called the ‘New Sudan.’ This is a dangerously divisive politics that may not necessarily rally North Sudanese and other alienated South Sudanese behind the SPLM and must be changed if the SPLM sincerely has the interest of the entire country at heart.
“Hoist the National Flag”, Lt-Gen. Kiir Tells EES Governor
The Governor of Eastern Equatoria State (EES), Aloysius Emor Ojetuk, said in the Sdan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) Leadership Council meetings concluded in Yei on February 12th, 2007 that, “SPLM must seek for the bigger leg in the forthcoming elections of 2008. By bigger leg, I mean an SPLM member to rule the Sudan”, (Sudan Tribune newspaper, February 11th, 2007, p.2).
H.E. Lt-Gen. Salva Kiir Mayardit, Chairman of SPLM, President of government of South Sudan (GoSS) and C-in-C of Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA), visited Torit, the temporary capital of EES recently. Reports from Torit say H.E. Lt-Gen. Kiir noticed that the Sudanese flag was missing in the entire State. He told the Governor to hoist the Sudanese flag, saying “look at my vehicle and see a Sudanese flag on the other side of the vehicle.”
The Governor himself had ordered the removal and the replacement of the national flag by that of the SPLM (not South Sudanese, which has no flag). It’s noteworthy to state here that the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) affirms the unity of the country and its national flag throughout the Interim Period (IP).
The Governor calls members of the previous governments in the State as Ma’rasin (Arabic word for ‘pimps’, Modern Written Arabic Dictionary, (1974:602). The Governor is so allergic to Muslims, Arabs and indeed those who worked with the government before the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA).
The Governor had arrested and severely tortured a Joint Integrated Units (JIUs) Major from the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) command in Torit. JIUs is composed of 12,000 officers and men, and similar number from SPLA, to constitute a sovereign army during the IP.
The Governor and his likes had continuously accused the Equatoria Defense Force (EDF) of being responsible for the attacks along Juba-Torit and Juba-Nimule roads as well as the suburbs of Torit town. The remaining 400 EDF officers and men who could not be absorbed into the SAF had reconciled with the Governor and other top SPLA officers but attacks remain upto this very moment. The only relieving thing from all these, is the Governor’s reference to the recent Juba-Torit and Juba-Nimule roads violent attacks perpetrators as the ‘Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA).’ One sincerely hopes that it’s the LRA doing this and not some disgruntled elements elsewhere within the South.
It is, thus, interesting to hear the Governor suggesting in the SPLM Leadership Council meetings that an SPLM should stand for the presidency of the Sudan. This is a non-starter situation because in partnerships (as is the case between SPLM and the National Congress Party (NCP)) agreements based on sincere partnerships decide on who should stand for presidency. Even if there is no agreement you cannot hate your main partner and publicly break the bridges that connect you, the partner and your supporters, because both of you have shares, no matter how varied are the percentages.
What seems to be the case is that the Governor forgot that he and his likes within the SPLM/A have broken the bridges linking the SPLM to the rest of the Sudan, particularly the South, by employing the politics of disunity, racism and hate.
It’s difficult to comprehend how the Governor would want SPLM to win the 2008 elections when the electorates both Northern and South Sudanese (referred to above as shares) have been made to understand and see how much they are disliked by the SPLM as a party and SPLA as its army. They heard in the past how the SPLM/A was run. Nowadays they seem to be confirming what they disregarded once as hearsay. Confirmed or not there has never been a smoke without fire.
Perhaps the Governor has to start from home by embarking on a reconciliation programme between his SPLM/A and the members of the National Congress Party (NCP) in his State. The Governor once had an opportunity because sometimes last year he held a meeting with some of the faction leaders in EES and process to follow was laid down. It did not happen, even though the meeting was attended by the Vice-President of GoSS. It’s not too late; the Governor ought to seriously embark on a reconciliation process within his own State as a first step; and then move on to the second step, which is the respect for Sudan’s unity and sovereignty during the IP. The Governor should know that as a Governor, he represents Sudan’s sovereignty and as such must respect the use of the national symbol, the Sudanese flag.
Dr Akol is Accused but Not Charged with Wrongdoing
Dr Lam Akol, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, is accused of backing Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) Maj-Gen. Gabriel Tanginya and the newly formed party, Modern Southern Party (MSP). Some Sudan People’s Liberation Movement and Army (SPLM/A) members and press reports have even proposed for his removal from the office of the Foreign Minister, SPLM’s INC or Interim National Council and as a Member of Parliament in the in the Government of National Unity (GoNU). Others have even argued that the removal of accused public figures from their positions of responsibility is the practice in some countries. In response to Dr Akol's allegations, the SPLM/A has formed a committee headed by the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Kosti Manibe, to investigate Dr Akol.
Well, it so appears that Dr Akol was not a favourite candidate in his current ministry. Otherwise, it is difficult to gauge the SPLM/A’s furry and that of its supporters towards Dr Akol. However, a question is essential, who nominated Dr Akol; was it SPLM/A or the NCP? It’s obvious that Dr Akol was nominated by the SPLM/A and the President of the Republic, who happens to be the Chairman of the NCP, appointed Dr Akol and the other SPLM/A members to their offices in GoNU.
If the SPLM/A has lost confidence in Dr Akol, it should recommend his removal and replacement by whoever they really want. Although the SPLM/A ought to know that whoever they will file to replace Dr Akol would not do any better than Dr Akol. This is not to say that there are no cadres in the SPLM/A who are as capable as Dr Akol. They are there, but if the fury against Dr Akol is for the what the SPLM/A and its supporters call 'promotion of the GoNU's Arab foreign policies, then he/she who will be appointed to replace Dr Akol will not be able to perform any better, as he/she will face the same fate. It would be very difficult, for whoever the SPLM/A nominates in Dr Akol’s position to pursue any work within his ministry since whatever he would embark on in the ministry would be nothing but the promotion of the GoNU's Arab foreign policies, something most SPLM/A senior officials and members believe SPLM/A should have nothing to do with them.
Dr Akol is accused but definitely not charged with wrongdoing, as such trying to force him to resign; citing how foreigners deal with their problems, would not help the South and the country as a whole. We should deal with our situations as Sudanese and with less foreign pressures. Foreign pressures, mostly based on the values of those countries exerting the pressures, may not necessarily make any sense to the Sudanese people.
However, let the Manibe committee investigate Dr Akol, and based on all the evidences the committee would find incriminating Dr Akol, a decision should then be taken. Nevertheless, if Dr Akol is forced to resign now as some people are insinuating it, then one is tempted to say that such a pressure would be against Dr Akol’s human rights, a value cherished by the cited foreign powers.
Nonetheless, it’s important to investigate any allegations against any South Sudanese, be he in GoSS, GoNU, the States governments or an ordinary South Sudanese, but trying to give alternatives like “X” and “Y” must be removed for investigations to take place fairly is unfair by itself. This truly is so because allegations, accusations and counter accusations are not hard facts and to act without hard facts amounts to promoting lack of respect for the rule of law. Respect for the rule of law, another value cherished by cited foreign powers, has changed societies from very aggressive to humble people. "Research suggests that societies governed by the rule of law are less likely to be international aggressors and more likely to contribute to international peace", (http://www.usip.org/ruleoflaw/index.html).
Current Tribalism, Nepotism, Sectionalism Epidemic in South Needs a Therapy
Tribalism, Nepotism and sectionalism are three very serious elements haunting our people in South Sudan. A lot of information has come from Juba and other States in the South saying that someone has to be a relative, a friend or belong to a particular section of the vast South Sudanese community to get employed by the Government of South Sudan (GoSS) and the State governments. This column will not mention any names here but it will discuss in general terms the elements raised above.
There are some senior government officials in both GoSS and State governments who are accusing some of their colleagues in the Government of National Unity (GoNU) of employing relatives in their ministries at the level of GoNU. While such accusations would not go without some truth, it is also important for those who are doing the accusations to remember that they too are doing the same.
Reports from Juba and the States say that South Sudanese in both GoSS and the State governments suffer from either mistreatment or getting sacked from their places of work as a result of not belonging to a particular tribe, section or family of those in charge. Perhaps those accusing others in GoNU from the South should not behave like a Monkey which is believed in an old adage that it ‘laughs at the reddish chair-like hind of its kind in front while forgetting its own.’
It’s usually a sincere conviction inside a person to practice tribalism and it appears that every society of people that emanates from tribes has some elements of tribal leaning. But this is usually fought by a strong ‘will.’ It’s this strong ‘will’ that redirects tribally-motivated leaders to realize that they could not survive within their tribes, if they are to seek support from the other tribes in the community.
Tribalism, nepotism and sectionalism epidemic now afflicting GoSS and State governments could be seriously fought if there is a ‘will’ to do so. This ‘will’ cannot be developed because those intending to dominate others have a series of inter-linked secret plans aimed at harming others.
The GoSS and the State governments could try their level bests to introduce anti-tribal, sectionalism and nepotism task force, whose aim would be to seriously watch against individuals within governments, governmental and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) as well as those in the security force, who would tend to promote such tendencies. This task force could be formed at the level of GoSS but must be composed of specially trained personnel from all the communities and tribes in South Sudan. A special court should also be established to specially deal with cases of tribalism, nepotism and sectionalism in South Sudan.
South Sudan will not succeed in its development and recovery programmes unless the current tribalism, nepotism and sectional epidemic is properly and willingly diagnosed by government authorities and a proper therapy like the one suggested above and others that would emerge are applied. There will always be a tribe, a relationship, friendship and a section and as such the epidemic would continue unabated unless there is a serious ‘will’ to intervene from the government authorities to put an end to this menace.
Proper CPA Implementation Squarely Depends on Understanding of CPA
The Government of South Sudan (GoSS) Chief Justice, Ambrose Ring Thiik, has appointed four judges, two first class in Torit and Kapoeta Counties. This report, by Isaac Vuni from Torit (Sudan Tribune, March 1st, 2007, p.1), says two other second class judges were appointed for Nimule-Magwi County. The report said that the Chief Justice urged the government of Eastern Equatoria (GEES) to provide security for his judges.
Torit of all places in EES needs judges. The town has, of recent, been referred to by some friends as “Wild East”, as in the West, some 60 or so years ago. The Governor and some of his Ministers ordered the detention and even chaining of citizens who are supposed to be ‘innocent till proven guilty by a court of law.’
The Governor had ordered the arrest, chaining and detention in maximum prison of his former Finance Minister, while the current Minister of Finance ordered the arrest and detention in a maximum prison of his Ministry’s Director-General. In addition to these, Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) soldiers, on several occasions, took the law into their own hands. More serious human rights violations such rape, child-molesting and killing had been documented in Torit.
“Speaking in the (Swearing-in) ceremony, Thiik asked State Governor to accord full security protection to the judges, while advising the judges to cooperate with the State government while discharging their duties”, (Sudan Tribune newspaper, March 1st, 2007, p.1). The recently appointed judges may only need protection from the State government only if they are tough in enforcing the law. But if they are going to shy off from criminal elements that may be powerfully placed either in the SPLA or the government, then they have no reasons to fear. This does not in anyway insinuate that the recently appointed judges may not strictly apply the law on all those who have committed crimes in the State. Tough application of the law on everybody by following the laid down procedures, will certainly need protection. Thus security protection for the judges from whom the law requires honesty and sincerity is a must.
GEES ought to head to this – the security protection for its judges. Because in so doing, the State, the Governor, the government, its officials and people of EES, shall thrive like never before in peace, harmony and the rule of law.
Toughness or no toughness, this is to remind the judges that war aftermath situations are not so easy to handle due to the proliferation of small arms in the State and the complexity of dealing with those who believe they would do just about anything, using the barrels of guns, to get what they want.
While the appointment of these judges is a step in the right direction of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) implementation, it is also a step towards enlightening the general public within State on knowing their rights within the law. EES has stayed without proper judiciary for too long and most of its rural and even urban people need to know what the law requires of them and what they require of the law.
Thus, the newly appointed judges need to enlighten the general public on important legal issues. They also need to know that the CPA implementation may be difficult in the State if what it has provided in the Interim Constitution of the Sudan, the South and EES is not interpreted. In other words, the proper implementation of the CPA would squarely depend on the understanding of the CPA and what it has provided in the constitutions all over the country.
Is Martin Malual Arop Alone in the Scandal?
The Anti-Corruption Commission of the South Sudan Government (GoSS) has arrested Maj-Gen. (Rtd) Martin Malual Arop, former State Minister in the Federal Ministry of Cabinet Affairs. The arrest of Arop was reported on Saturday, March 10th, 2007, in the South Sudanese capital, Juba. The report said that Maj-Gen. Arop has been named with a second person (co-accused) but his warrant of arrest was not issued yet.
The Anti-corruption Commission was formed by the GoSS and Dr Pauline Cuir Riak was appointed to head this Commission. Her choice must have been based on the knowledge of her honesty.
Maj-Gen. Arop is accused of misappropriating millions of US dollars from the GoSS. He is believed to have been given a contract to buy vehicles for the GoSS Interim Legislative Assembly, Lakes State and medical equipment that were not delivered. “A source within the Commission has revealed that the Commission is in possession of relevant documents, including checks”, (Sudan Tribune Newspaper, March 11th, 2007, p.1).
Maj-Gen Arop was a member of the former ruling National Salvation Revolutionary Council (NSRC), the NSRC overthrew the civilian government of the former Prime Minister, Al-Sadiq Al-Mahdi. He was fired from the government in mid 90s due to financial irregularities?
How did such a contract get into the hands of someone who is not only an original SPLM/A member but an NSRC member? SPLM/A refers to members of the non-Dinka tribes who worked with the NCP party before the CPA as “Jallaba” and/or collaborators with “Jallaba.” A deal like this, involving millions of dollars, must have been a major GoSS deal (involving an individual) ever witnessed in two years. Even if he joined the SPLM/A after the CPA, he is not the only one, many did cross to the SPLM/A from NCP. Is it because he is a Dinka that is why the word “Jallaba” was not labeled on him but rewarded with a huge contract instead?
Such a contract cannot be given to any non-Dinka, however original SPLM/A he may be. This is not an incitement to tribalism but rather stating facts. Had it been someone outside the Dinka community, perhaps and without bias, he could have had the opportunity to deliver the goods with minimal damages or with none at all.
SPLM/A members from Dinka believe and maintain up this very moment that non-Dinka tribes who worked with the NCP government are collaborators with the NCP government, and they are usually referred to as “Jallaba.” This statement is now supported by the contract won by Maj-Gen. Arop, who, as a former member of the NSRC, was awarded the contract. Arop definitely made deliveries but with very serious damages.
There is no opposition whatsoever on Arop’s winning of the contract but chances like these should also be given to other South Sudanese. Thus, the reference to non-Dinka South Sudanese as “Jallaba” must stop because it is taking a tribal rather than a ‘nationalistic’ line and it smells bad.
Maj-Gen. Arop is not alone in this kind of scandal. There must be some top people involved in this, especially those who awarded him the contract. Thus, the Anti-corruption Commission, led by Dr Pauline Cuir Riak, should intensify their search for other culprits, who may be hiding behind their senior positions in GoSS.
US Should Preach Democracy, Organise Courses on Democratic Principles
The US Government’s Envoy to the Sudan, Andrew Natsios, has concluded his visit to the Sudan for the second time since his appointment by President George W. Bush less than a year ago. Natsios came to do a number of things. He was to discuss the progress of the Darfur Peace Agreement (DPA), The Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) and the International Criminal Court (ICC’s) indictment case against former Interior State Minister and currently Minister of State for Humanitarian Affairs, Muhammad Harun, and a militia (Janjaweed) leader, Ali Kushayb. He discussed with Foreign Minister, Dr Lam Akol, bilateral relations between the US and the Sudan.
Envoy Natsios has also discussed the issue of the militia forces in South Sudan. He said these militias must integrate either in the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) or the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF). He also said these militia forces have become a source of insecurity in South Sudan. “The lack of commitment on the part of the militias and their failure to make a final decision to join either SAF or the SPLM has created an atmosphere of chaos and instability in southern Sudan”, (Natsios, Sudan Tribune Newspaper, March 7th, 2007, p.1).
On the issue of Muhammad Harun, it’s good to notice that the US Government – at least as per Natsios approval of the ICC charges against the indicted Sudan individuals – shows the US Government’s consent to the charges brought against the indicted individuals by the ICC.
Ironically, the US Government is not a signatory to the ICC’s Rome declaration. The US Government maintains its strong position against the basic principles of the ICC: trying everybody from everywhere in its courts in the absence of justice around the world. The US has maintained that it would not allow its citizens to be tried outside the US because such courts may be used for political reasons. This is nothing less than a position, a strong one given the US’ strength. In other words, the US believes it’s its right as a country, a powerful one, to guarantee total freedom to its people and ensure justice for all in its legal system.
However, seen from the US position against the creation and the establishment of the ICC, one would conclude that the US can do without the ICC. This is the feeling with any other country. But when it comes to war criminals for which ICC was formed, the prisoners of war (POWs) in Guantanamo Bay are supposed to be the responsibility of the ICC. ICC is bound to be neutral when trying cases like this. But not the US, not any other country, would provide justice for its POWs for reasons best known to mankind. But why does the US look like it’s between accepting and rejecting the principles of the ICC?
This case is related to the United Kingdom (UK) vs. European Union (EU) and English Pound vs. the Euro (EU monetary unit). This may somehow seem complicated to those who do not follow international politics. Nonetheless, it means that the UK does not see its country’s interest in the European Union in all aspects. The UK is in between accepting and rejecting the principles of the union; and it reassures itself that the English Pound must not integrate into the Euro because it has a strong value and there is absolutely no worry for its collapse so why integrate?
No one could blame the US and the UK for maintaining their strong moral principles. This US-UK stand or principles are indeed basic: no interference in other country’s internal affairs. This is a principle for which the United Nations (UN) was formed. The Sudan as a country believes in the principle of non-interference in other countries’ internal affairs. It loves its citizens; just like the US love theirs and the UK their English Pound?
The justice system in the Sudan is intact – it might be overcoming some of its shortcomings like any other in the third world but there is law and order in the Sudan except in the Darfur region. The system in the Sudan has not and cannot collapse despite the exceptionally difficult case of resolving the Darfur crisis.
Why is Darfur exceptional? It’s exceptional because it has two major enhancement processes to the conflict in Darfur. The first one is how the US Government looks at it. The US in the first place looks at the Sudan as a country harbouring international terrorists. The US has not lifted the sanctions it imposed against the Sudan despite promises made by the US to do so after the signing of the CPA two years ago. The US wants regime change in the Sudan. This regime change means to remove the president and his cabinet and simply install one as it is the case in Iraq and Afghanistan. The US Government calls the crisis in Darfur the “worst” genocide in the world”, (BBC Arabic Service, March 6th, 2005). Could this be a disagreement between the findings of Collin Powell, the former US Secretary of State, who earlier said there was no genocide in Darfur and those that helped President Bush to pronounce the word genocide?
All the above resulted into the US Government’s inability to trust the Sudan Government and thus acquired and continues to acquire and rely on its information from opponents of the Sudan Government, some of which the ICC could be using, calling them investigations to indict two Sudanese citizens. Because most of this information is gathered from areas and individuals basically opposed to the Sudanese government, the Sudanese government has got every right to reject the indictment for three good reasons: one, that the information was biased against the Sudan Government; two, the Sudan, like the US and the UK, does like interference in its internal affairs; and three, it loves its citizens and cannot easily hand them over to The Hague. This is a mutual understanding between the US-UK and the Sudanese government of self-reliance – no need for interference. The worst part of this kind of trend is that it’s sending wrong signals to the Darfur rebels who rejected the DPA.
Logically one would conclude that the crisis in Darfur would continue for a while so long as the rebels who refused to sign the DPA in Darfur morally feel backed by the US-UK as superpowers – by deduction – even though they don’t receive any assistance from the superpowers. This means that even their suppliers will see hope and will continue to supply them.
This is a pure political game aimed at regime change and the Sudan Government officials are no fools not to realize this and if possible play the same game to win some of the superpowers in order to balance the equation. The results of this have been the stalemate in trying to resolve the Darfur crisis. Sometimes one wonders how as international as it’s assumed, ICC could allow itself to get entangled in a pure political issue like this one?
As an international legal body, could the ICC have in its charter/constitution or whatever document that guides its moral conduct a clause that insists on conventional investigation of suspects; and that the ICC has no jurisdiction over any country unless it has ratified the ICC document?. If it does, then one would guess that it cannot use second hand information as facts gathered from people and organizations opposed to the Sudan Government; and certainly it cannot force cooperation with non-member-States. The ICC has failed to convince the US, let alone the Sudan, on the principles of the ICC.
The ICC is still in its infancy but it has done a wonderful job in trying former Yugoslav tyrants and those involved in the Rwanda massacre for which the ICC has established a special court in Arusha, Tanzania. The ICC should use this success story to lobby more countries if not all to accept its basic principles with a view to joining.
On the issue of the militia in the South, again this is double-faced case. The first face is that the US Government backed the Naivasha negotiators to completely ignore a formidable force, mostly former SPLA now called militia. This is called South Sudan Defense Force (SSDF). The SSDF was formed by the Khartoum Peace Agreement in 1997. The second face is that the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) Chairman, the late Dr John Garang de Mabior, and some of the current leaders in SPLM/A did not then and do not now encourage the survival of SSDF (seen as a rival) within the SPLA for a number of reasons.
Whatever the reasons, SPLA has its strategies and it has every right to defend its organization from infiltration by what it regards as enemy. The SAF would, on the other hand, say it has absorbed enough and cannot take any more SDF into its rank and file. What better solution could the US provide as a solution to the militia problem? Is it going to continue encouraging some sections within the SPLM/A to regard SSDF as enemy?
If given a critical look, the issues of DPA and CPA have some similarities and both had the blessing of the US. Non-exclusiveness of the two agreements is the source of the problems between the brothers and sisters in Darfur and South Sudan. Power that is supposed to belong to the people is given to a group of people from within the communities of South Sudan and Darfur. If some of the reasons for the fighting are power and wealth-sharing, then giving power as well as wealth to a group is nothing but a recipe for war. Unless of course the people of the regions mentioned enter into their own agreements for power and wealth-sharing, the problems may not come to an end.
In the case of Darfur, however, the US should try its best to convince the Darfur rebels or non-DPA signatories to come to terms with themselves as well as with their brothers who have already initialed the DPA and submit whatever it is their demand. With this done, no one sees any reason for the Sudan Government not to reach an agreement with them.
On SSDF, the SPLM leadership should really accept the principles of South-South Dialogue (SSD). In SSD, brothers and sisters who once fought and shed blood would speak and release angers but at the end there must be a true reconciliation, reconciliation that is genuine, one anybody can rely on. It’s that reliance that would bind the people of the South together because in the normal African culture, this is the tradition. The results of this dialogue must be a document that would guide future co-existence between the reconciled and from which a law to deal with those who would try to violate the traditional reconciliation could be formulated. Together they would participate in the rebuilding and defense of South Sudan. If SPLM/A has negotiated and agreed with its arch enemy, now partner in government, why can’t it agree with its own brothers with whom he could share power in the South?
On the US-Sudan bilateral relations, the Sudan truly needs sincere diplomatic and popular relationship with the US. This is a very important step that the US government has to take. There is need to develop trust between the leaders of the Sudan and the US because they have common interests represented in the CPA, DPA and oil business. The US cannot afford its current isolationist policy because it would lose in the end.
Being the only superpower now, the US should adopt a policy where it can really play a role of a superpower but with neutrality and a total commitment to resolving conflicts rather than refueling them.
There is obviously a lot of hurry from almost every corner to see into it that the problem in Darfur is resolved. This country has perhaps one-and-a-half years to go to have general elections. Most of these problems are likely to be resolved by the general elections, as the elected leaders would use parliament to address Darfur and other problems in the country. This should be the concern of the US and the UK considered the best democracies in the globe. The US-UK should encourage the Sudanese people through their envoys like Natsios to preach democracy and help in organising some basic courses on democratic principles in the Sudan. Otherwise, misinterpretation of democracy looms and the US-UK need to come before the real exercise of electioneering begins.
Corrupt Individuals in South Sudan: Are they Very-Heavy-To-Lift?
It has been reported that some big shots in the Government of South Sudan (GoSS) are so very-heavy-to-lift. In other words they come from constituencies which, if tempered with, would affect the general political performance of SPLM leadership. Meaning some of these big shots or very-heavy-to-lift members of Parliament (MPs) would continue to embezzle government money and they will never be apprehended by the GoSS’ Anti-corruption Commission as they are very-heavy-to-lift.
Could this truly be the way the SPLM leadership looks at some of its politicians? If true, then the SPLM should not allow this kind of attitude from some of its own MPs or politicians. Every representative in an elected parliament is just as important as his or her other colleagues. But if some are identified as special and indeed very-heavy-to-lift, it becomes worrying because these very-heavy-to-lift persons within the SPLM are out to misinterpret democracy and its basic principles.
Misinterpretation of democracy is the most dangerous venture SPLM as a political party would go into. SPLM as a ruling party has on its grip the control of the constituencies in South Sudan. Thus, it has the right to nominate someone supported by the people to replace, in a normal democratic manner, the so-called very-heavy-to-lift individuals.
It’s really a duty of GoSS to deal with those individuals who have assumed chieftaincies within a modern government system like the GoSS. These kinds of people are there to harm the people of the South and by implication, the SPLM as a party. They don’t care whether or not their actions are harmful to the SPLM because they are more or less concerned with improving their families or clans wellbeing.
The South desperately needs development. This development would not succeed however the GoSS puts efforts in that direction. Because the money that is supposed to be used for the development of the South ends up in the pockets of individuals.
It’s the hope of every South Sudanese that the SPLM moves faster than necessary not only to deal with the so-called heavy-to-lift individuals but also to help improve the security situation in the South so that IDPs and refugees return home to prepare for both elections and census.
The GoSS President Has a Duty to Perform
Arthur Akuen, the Government of South Sudan (GoSS) former Minister of Finance, is reported to have been fired from his position. The Khartoum Monitor and The Citizens newspapers carried the story of Akuen’s sacking on March 19th, 2007, in their front pages.
The decision to sack the Finance Minister by Lt-Gen. Salva Kiir Mayardit, First Vice-President and President of GoSS, is welcome. The President of the GoSS should be more decisive and the more decisive the President of the GoSS becomes, stubborn ministers – those who think they are very-heavy-weights-to-lift – would behave. It would also send very clear signals to those who have the intention to practice corruption in their ministries and other governmental organisations.
There is nothing like very-heavy-to-lift because even the president himself can be impeached by any elected parliament. Thus, what the President of GoSS has done is what is required of a leader of a suffering people like South Sudanese. Because the South needs development and protection of its wealth and public funds would guarantee that development on equal basis all over the South.
Nothing is worrying for firing Akuen, as there are many capable people in Aweil who could replace him as a minister and MP. This applies to the whole South Sudan, by the way. South Sudanese cannot be deceived again by any leader however powerful (money-wise) he has become.
In fact there is a younger blood in Aweil that does not only have energy to perform better than Mr. Akuen, but has nothing to worry about in terms of looting public funds. Because this younger blood still has time and never worried like old people who tend to loot because they know that they are living on borrowed time.
The leadership in the South should really know that what happened to Mr. Akuen could also happen to them. They should not be under any illusion that they are protected by the GoSS president or any other big shot in the GoSS. The president has a duty to perform. He had made it clear in the past that he would fight corruption and the sacking of Akuen is nothing less than a demonstration to this noble duty.
“New Sudan” Misrepresents Dr Garang’s Vision
Angelina Teny-Dhurgon, the State Minister in the Ministry of Energy, has come under fire for stating that the SPLM is pursuing the unity of the country. This statement was supported by the decision made in Yei not only to move the SPLM headquarters to Khartoum but also to affirm that SPLM will be transformed into a formidable national political party.
A body calling itself Bor Group has seriously attacked the SPLM decision to pursue unity of the Sudan and its intention to relocate SPLM headquarters to Khartoum. “As SPLM/A, we have resolved that working for a united Sudan is the only way to stability. The voices thinking of an independent Southern Sudan will have to wait or if some things change drastically”, Angelina Teny-Dhurgon, told investors attending the second annual international investment conference for southern Sudan in Nairobi, (http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article20863).
What Madam Angelina said is nothing new. It’s sad to realize that she is being held accountable for what is supposed to be an SPLM policy that she, like any other SPLM member, could articulate in support of party policies and objectives.
SPLM is a unionist movement and those who believe that the SPLM would separate South Sudan and make it independent for them are actually wasting time. SPLM’s interest in unity did not start from the time of Lt-Gen. Salva Kiir but from its founder, Dr John Garang de Mabior.
Whether or not Madam Angelina or any other SPLM senior official reveals the true SPLM sentiments on the issues of unity and separation in this country, those who found themselves uncomfortable must know that they are to decide the fate of the South during the plebiscite in 2011. No SPLM senior or junior official would impose on the people what they do not want.
However, this country is called ‘The Sudan’ an Arabic terminology for “The Black.” Like other parts of Africa, the Sudan had visitors from the Arab Peninsula who settled and intermarried with ‘The Blacks’ and became its citizens. Should the original Sudanese people, “The Black” who were systematically pushed south, abandon the unity of the country?
South Africa and Namibia have whites who, like Arabs, came as visitors but decided to occupy and ruled both Namibia and South Africa for more than 300 years. Today the black South Africans and Namibians have accepted these people and have no intention, whatsoever, to divide the countries for fear of the Whites. South Sudanese have no reason to fear from the Arabs because the CPA has set up a mechanism for co-existence.
It will be more than naïve for anyone in the Sudan to think that he or she is free to divide the country into many parts. This author may not have agreed with the late Dr Garang on a number of issues but he is united with him in the vision of building a new Sudan based on equality, respect for human dignity and its multi-racial diversity.
When Dr Garang coined the term “New Sudan” he did not mean independent South Sudan. He rather meant that Sudan must be transformed into a new Sudan that in which its blacks, Arabs, Muslims and Christians people live together with respect for the country and each other’s beliefs, cultures and norms. Reference to the South as “New Sudan” is indeed a misrepresentation of Dr Garang’s vision.
All Entries into the South Must Be Secured From LRA
The Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) recently attacked a village nine miles south of Torit town. It is reported to have killed one person and displaced 1,756 people. The report said that the LRA have looted food and personal belongings of the displaced 1,756 people who include children and women.
“Ugandan rebels, LRA have, yesterday evening, killed one man, displaced 1,756 people then looted their food from southwest Torit County, in Eastern Equatoria State (EES), nine miles from Torit town”, (somalinet, March 22nd, 2007).
Sometimes it’s so difficult to believe that whoever is carrying out these attacks in and around EES are LRA. At first it was believed that Equatoria Defence Force (EDF) was disgruntled and thus behind the attacks. EDF was accused several times by the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army. The Government of EES led by EES Governor also accused the EDF of being behind the attacks on innocent civilians in EES.
Nowadays, however, the SPLM/A, including the EES Governor are directing their accusations towards LRA proper. But is it LRA proper which is carrying out all these attacks? Isn’t it possible that there are some people who could be masquerading as LRA when they could actually be SPLA or some Sudanese who have organized themselves to loot and terrorise the EES? This was hinted by both the EES Governor and Dr Machar that there is “Sudanese LRA” causing insecurity in Equatoria as a whole.
The Government of South Sudan (GoSS) should really try its best to investigate these so-called “Sudanese LRA”, arrest some of them and expose their identities. Once this is done, those who would still be at large would disappear in thin air – because the government forces would be on their tails until they are gotten rid of once and for all.
EES is an important gateway to GoSS. It has three borders with Uganda, Kenya and Ethiopia. If neglected and “Sudanese LRA” are encouraged to continue with their heinous attacks along the roads to these neighbouring countries, these roads would become impassable.
Since the GoSS believes that it would develop the South, it should look at the disturbances along these roads and consider them as obstacles towards development. All entries into the South must be secured so that investors, who are major partners in development of any country, could have access to the South without fear of being killed, looted or harassed along the entry points.
SLM-Police Incident Shouldn’t Have Reached Shooting Levels
Omdurman Police clashed with Sudan Liberation Movement/Army (SLM/A (Minni Minawi faction)) in Al-Muhandisin residential area. The former rebel forces are accused of molesting and harassing citizens who pass by their residence in Omdurman, and that they use drugs and encourage prostitution in the area. Three Policemen were shot dead by these former rebels.
“The shooting started when the police arrived at the residence where the SLM/A militants reside in response to complaints from residents of the area that they were molesting them. As the police approached the residence to apprehend those accused, the SLM/A men opened fire, killing the three men in uniform”, (The Citizen newspaper, March 25th, 2007, p.1).
This is the second time the police are clashing with the SLM/A faction forces in Omdurman. Last year, a fight between SLM/A created an unnecessary tension in Khartoum. It’s not possible to know the method used by the ministry of Interior to resolve the crisis then.
One year before that, Khartoum faced one of the worst crisis – perhaps next to that of 1964 when the first South Sudanese Interior Minister, the late Clement Kutiya Mboro, was reportedly killed by North Sudanese. The July 31st incident took the shape of the 1964 incident because there was a belief that Northern Sudanese, especially the National Congress Party (NCP) were behind Dr Garang’s Chopper crush.
The Police reaction to each and every of these incidents has been ugly. This author was three years old when the Clement Mboro incident took place in Khartoum. Even though he was in Khartoum at the time, he was too young to remember what happened. But what he heard is that many South Sudanese were slaughtered by the Police and not the ordinary residents of Khartoum.
He, however, witnessed the July 31st, 2005, incident and he had received several calls from friends and relatives who saw Police taking part in the crisis. Police were seen opening fire on innocent civilians and arresting those they could not have the opportunity to kill.
It’s important to revisit history in order to correct a number of things. The SLM/A are reported to have misbehaved and their misbehaviour should have been reported to their boss, Minawi. The Police should know that direct dealings with former rebels are difficult and thus only possible through their leaders. This is not because they are lawless, no – it’s because they are soldiers – some of whom may be far senior to the Police officer ordered to arrest them. The Police would obviously try to undermine their ranks because they are not recognized by the government and would thus be the first to aggress as he tries to arrest them. This cannot be tolerated by anybody – including the Police officer himself – if put in the shoes of the rebels.
In order to maintain law and order in Khartoum and other major towns in this country, Police have to undergo some very serious training in a number of fields. Training in psychology, Sociology (Psychoanalysis and the Resocialisation Process), conflict resolution, and management, how to contain racial tendencies and any other training that would help the Police maintain law and order but not to break it.
If this country is to be united, there is also a need for a Police force, which should be composed from all the States of Sudan in the capital. This would tend to fight racialist elements, including separatists who are hiding within the uniforms of the Police force. Otherwise, police brutality witnessed in 1964 and 2005 does not unite the country.
The Police are not fair whenever they are to respond to problems caused by different races, races that are not Arab. This should not be misunderstood as a racial incitement. But those who pretend not to see that there is very serious racial crisis looming in this country, should be made to know that Khartoumers, people of all races, know that the racial tension in this country has increased as compared to the period before the Comprehensive Peace Agreement.
However, those who think that they are above the law whether they are from SLM/A, SPLM/A, Militias and obviously the Policemen who become part of the problem instead of the solution, must be dealt with according to the law. What happened in Omdurman on March 24th, 2007, was absolutely wrong and it should not have reached shooting levels. But the hatred that is developed by mishandling of such cases could always be the reason behind this and future incidents.
Congo Crisis: Conceding Defeat Key to Gaining Support from Citizens
Serious fighting is reported in the Congolese capital, Kinshasa. The Thursday, March 21st, 2007, clashes that have claimed more than 150 lives, is between Jean-Pierre Bemba, a Congolese presidential hopeful who lost to President Laurent Kabilo in last year’s elections.
Jean-Pierre Bemba was Kabila’s Vice-President in the Congolese transitional government. But as a political party leader, he decided to stand against Kabila in what experts and monitors say was Congo’s first “free and fair” elections. Jean-Pierre Bemba got 42% in an election run-off last October while Kabila maintained the lead with 58%. “After two days of heavy fighting, Congolese aid workers have told the BBC that more than 150 bodies have been brought to the city's hospitals and mortuaries”, (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/6492283.stm).
What is happening in the Congolese capital is a common practice in Africa and most of the third world countries – it is the refusal to concede defeat. Jean-Pierre Bemba believes that the elections in his country were rigged in favour of Kabila at a time when many observers at the time called the elections “free and fair.”
But if the elections were indeed free and fair, why has Jean-Pierre Bemba decided to pursue a battle he cannot win? What has Jean-Pierre Bemba gained from the death of more than 150 Congolese who died either in his defense or Kabila? Was he not in a position to accept the results, tell his followers to do likewise and prepare for the next elections?
Some of these questions can only be answered by Jean-Pierre Bemba and those who advise him to engage in conflict after signing a peace agreement with Kabila and agreeing on elections date. Jean-Pierre Bemba should know that 48% makes him and his party a formidable leader and party respectively in the Congo.
Jean-Pierre Bemba should have conceded defeat and arranged for a meeting with Kabila in which the two could have discussed issues that would help the Congo progress rather than retrogress. Proper utilisation of the 48% elections results could have offered him a comfortable position in Congo; since Congo and indeed any other country in the world can only have one president and never two.
However, these clashes in Congo should be an eye opener to many leaders within the African continent. The stubbornness to reject results of elections, giving reasons of fraud or rigging, is naïve and very often puts a person in a dangerous security situation in his own home. This happened to Col/Dr. Kiiza Besigye, Uganda’s Opposition leader, when he was defeated by President Museveni in the latest Ugandan elections. After challenging the elections results, Dr. Besigye found himself insecure in his own home in Kampala and had to banish himself to exile.
Today, Jean-Pierre Bemba – together with his militiamen – are reported to have surrendered to the UN in Kinshasa. “Government troops have recaptured most of the capital after Jean-Pierre Bemba's guards reportedly fled the business district and surrendered to UN peacekeepers”, (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/6492283.stm).
Why all these humiliation? Jean-Pierre Bemba is also reported to have asked for protection, saying he was not secure in the country and called for negotiations with the government. "I feel they want to kill me", said Bemba in a statement to BBC, adding that he has called for negotiations with the government about his security arrangements. African leaders should know that they sometimes put themselves into unnecessarily awkward positions.
Conceding defeat is not only democratic but it is key to liberating one’s mind from political tension and certainly helps in gaining more support from the citizens. Conceding defeat helps in avoiding clashes like the latest Congolese clashes in which over 150 people had to die for absolutely no reasons?
President Kabila should reconsider his position to meet Jean-Pierre Bemba and resolve the crisis between them for the interest of the Congolese people. He and Jean-Pierre Bemba are top leaders in Congo who control 100% of voters. As president, he should not listen to those who might think or plan to extend the humiliation of Jean-Pierre Bemba further or kill him. Because killing a political opponent would help make him/her (the diseased) a hero/heroine and as such would bring about unpopularity. This was the case in the Philippines when Marcos killed Acquino and the late’s wife, Corazon Acquino, had to win the elections. Acquino hardly campaigned for the elections but the killing of her husband secured her sympathy from the citizens, including the army, led by Gen. Fidel Ramos.
Donors See High Level of Institutionalised Corruption in South Sudan
It has come to the attention of many, including this author that Government of South Sudan (GoSS) Ministers could spend as much as eight (8) million Sudanese old Pounds or 8,000 new Sudanese Pounds per day while in Khartoum. This amount is said to be for full board hotel accommodation. Could this be true? If it is true could it be what used to be called Khartoum allowance in the governments before the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA)? If it is, how much more money does a GoSS Minister need to hire a vehicle and entertaining his/her both official and unofficial guests, including her/him?
There are many more questions that could be asked. Although it is not wise to ask questions that have no answers, because the GoSS, which knows the exact (answers) calculations for allowance, may not be willing to reveal such information. It is not obliged to do so unless such information leaks out as it is now.
There is no insinuation here whatsoever that the Ministers should not enjoy the benefits of being Ministers. No, but the amount in question is so huge that it raises eyebrows. Assuming that the amount goes up to ten million with the Minister’s pocket money that would be 70 million in one week and 140 million in two weeks, a maximum period for an official visit for a minister.
In Juba and this is not something new to anyone, Ministers who stay in tent hotels are spending more than 300 US dollars each per night. This amount is calculated at the end of each month and GoSS pays the bills. Taking 300 US dollars as a flat rate, a GoSS Minister staying in a tent hotel spends 90,000 US dollars per month. This amount could obviously be more.
Prior to the CPA, some States’ Council of Ministers, including the defunct Coordinating Council for South Sudan (CCSS) approved upto five million Sudanese pounds for a State Minister and a little more for a CCSS Minister as Khartoum allowances for two weeks. This usually is non-renewable so that it does not become a source of another income from within the same government. It is upto the Minister to stay in a hotel or with a relative. But the amount includes accommodation, feeding and car hire.
There should be developed by GoSS a mechanism through which allowances calculations should be based. A GoSS Minister is not different from any other Minister in the world. But if at all s/he should be different, it is because s/he should be more worried about the misuse of money. Because that is what a freedom fighter must do in order to develop his/her war-torn country.
The GoSS should not complain about not receiving responses from the donors that pledged to support the CPA implementation. They are living amongst us and they see what we do on daily basis. They don’t need to be told that there is a high level of institutionalised corruption. They see corruption from very many angles taking place in the GoSS. It is not difficult for donors to imagine what 140 million Sudanese Pounds and 90,000 US dollars could do in terms of developing the South.
The South should adopt the system used by the previous governments in the South so as to save money for the development of South Sudan. The money spent in tent hotels in Juba, for example, including the Khartoum allowances could build houses for the Ministers in Juba. The GoSS could give these Ministers loans deductible from their future pensions to build houses for themselves. This would give the Ministers the opportunity to participate fully in the development of South Sudan. Those who would ignore this and put the money to other uses should be fired from their positions. Because it means that they are not serious, and by so doing, they encourage corruption.
No One is Above the Law in the Sudan
The UN Human Rights Council has at last put an end to the allegations of human rights violations in Sudan’s Darfur. The Council passed its resolution on Sudan on Tuesday, March 26th, 2007, without condemning it for what the International Criminal Court (ICC), UN, United States and western countries call “worst humanitarian disaster in the world.”
“By a 22-20 vote, the Council turned down a resolution from the European Union and Canada telling the Sudanese government to prosecute those responsible for killing, raping and injuring civilians in the western region of the country”, (http://www.iht.com/articles/ap/2006/11/28/news/UN_GEN_UN_Rights.php).
There is no one, including the government circles who would not accept that there is a problem in Darfur. There is a problem, including violations of some individual human rights. These violations are likely to continue unless the armed movements that have refused to sign the Darfur Peace Agreement (DPA) agree to join the DPA. The rebels have been told by the government to come with their annexes if it would help in bringing the problem in Darfur to an end.
But continuous condemnation of the government of Sudan while letting loose the rebels who have refused the DPA, to commit atrocities and yet unchallenged, makes the rebels themselves to believe that they are doing the right thing. The government has had the share of its pressures and it is time that the rebels are pressurized in order to accept the DPA and stop buying time for reasons best known to them.
The Human Rights Council’s failure to condemn the Sudan in its resolution is a sign that the so-called “worst humanitarian disaster in the world” is dismissed by the Council. This is more or less a humiliation to those who really think that there is genocide in Darfur. The Council acknowledges the fact that there is a problem, serious problem of violations of individual but not collective rights that would amount to genocide in Darfur. It is asking the government to deal with those problems to end the crisis.
Therefore, the government of the Sudan should take the decision of the Council as a step in the right direction and should not wait for investigators to come from abroad to investigate the alleged violations. The government should use this opportunity to immediately form a panel of non-partisan legal experts tasked with the duty of investigating the allegations, including the cases of Muhammad Harun and Ali Kushayb both of whom were indicted by the ICC in February 2007.
Those that the investigation of the experts would find guilty of committing those violations must be brought to face the long arm of the law. But to entertain anybody in this country who has committed atrocities against the people in any part of the Sudan, would amount to complicity. There is no one in this country that is above the law of this land, not even the president. This is the foundation of every sovereign country in the world.
Now that the government is cleared of “worst humanitarian disaster in the world”, it should be seen as cooperating in almost all fields. This cooperation of course does not mean that the country must be let loose for everybody in the world to visit and investigate. The cooperation must be based on mutual understanding and official approval of visas and or work permits to those who genuinely intend to come to the Sudan in order to see by themselves the situation on the ground and work to alleviate the suffering of the Darfur people. “The African resolution praised the government for cooperating with a UN-appointed expert on the human rights situation in Sudan and calls upon the government to continue and intensify its cooperation with the Human Rights Council and its mechanisms", (http://www.iht.com/articles/ap/2006/11/28/news/UN_GEN_UN_Rights.php). This gesture of goodwill from the Council must be properly utilized by the government to better the situation in Darfur.
Leaders Who React To Public Criticisms Are Weak
Events have revealed that a lot of written material has been posted in internet websites and or published in newspapers on public leaders in South Sudan’s GoSS, States and the Central Government’s GoNU. Some of the information could have been used maliciously, not based on facts, while other information has been based on facts.
Facts or no facts, there is a tendency in the leadership of this country, especially in the South that insists as public leaders nothing should be said about them. This claim has been confirmed by a number of apologies on newspapers. In most of these apologies, the leaders claim that the individual authors have grudges against them.
Well, all the interim constitutions of the country, from GoNU to the GoSS and all the States in the country do encourage the freedom of speech and indeed that of the press. SPLM and NCP are committed to the freedom of speech and that of the press.
This being the case, it becomes difficult to understand those leaders who feel that they should not be challenged in public fora like newspapers and internet websites. By reacting to public criticisms in terms of materials written against them, these leaders should know that it is a weakness. Otherwise, the leaders who strongly feel that the opinion articles written against them touch their integrities; they should take the authors of those malicious opinion articles to court or simply respond to them in the same fora in writing.
When asked whether or not they support democracy? These leaders would quickly respond in the affirmative, forgetting that the freedom to express an opinion by itself is the essence of democracy.
Leaders should, if they do not already, know that public criticisms of their performance are good for them. These criticisms help those public leaders who have the interest of the people at heart by bringing before them facts that they could not have known if not written. However, it is good to reiterate that leaders who view public criticisms as necessary pre-requisites for correcting oneself in order to perform better, are silent and do encourage (not publicly) the critics with a view to benefiting from their criticisms.
Leaders, especially those who have accepted to take public offices, should know that they are there to represent their constituencies. Since they are not given these public offices as ordinary individuals but leaders selected by their constituencies, they should know that they can commit mistakes, just like other human beings. The opinions against individual leaders in any society do help them correct their mistakes and set them to continue on a course that aims at serving their people in the most humble way.
Journalists who know the ethics of journalism cannot be very malicious because malice does not help them but could lead to revoking their certificates of practice instead. Thus, those leaders who threaten editor-in-chiefs of newspapers to publicly apologies for publishing articles, not necessarily written by the newspaper editors, criticizing them are being unfair.
South Sudan Likely to Overcome Its Ugly Malady of Tribalism
Recent events have revealed that Lt-Gen. Salva Kiir Mayardit, the First Vice-President of the Republic and President of the Government of South Sudan (GoSS), appealed to the people of the South to “discard divisions” to help GoSS’ efforts in achieving development, stability and CPA implementation in South Sudan. Khartoum Monitor Newspaper carried this story as its lead on April 10th, 2007. His Excellency the GoSS President, known for his patience in dealing with complex political matters, must have observed that the gap of unity between the people of South Sudan is widening rather than narrowing.
The South Sudanese people are not united as a matter of fact. In fact the CPA has brought more divisions within the South Sudanese than ever before. The CPA has given the SPLM/A 70% of government and parliamentary control over the rest of the Southern political parties. Even though this fact is accepted by all South Sudanese, especially non-SPLM/A, there are members of the SPLM/A who are literally waging war against the South Sudanese who lived and worked in the government-controlled areas before the CPA. These SPLM/A people would do anything just to prevent other South Sudanese from participating in the GoSS and SPLA organs. This is done with impunity and many non-SPLM/A South Sudanese who thought they could fit amongst their SPLM/A brothers and went to South Sudan are under lock and key, some for more than a year now.
There is the issue of general indiscipline of the SPLA soldiers, including their security personnel who are terrorizing people, especially those who are not members of SPLM/A. One such resent harassment of the civilians in Juba was reported by Juba Post weekly newspaper, April 13th-30th issue, in Munuliki/Kuweit residential areas. An SPLA soldier was reported to have gone to a donkey (water pump) where both men and women cued for water. The SPLA soldier decided to take the next position in the cue. He was attacked by the patiently-waiting residents. The soldier reported the incident to the SPLA. SPLA came to the area and at randomly started beating and arresting the people of Munuki/Kuweit residential areas.
Unity of purpose made a lot of sense before the CPA because the people of the South thought they had a common enemy. “Today and after the CPA, emerged another enemy who appears to be more organized to cause maximum damage on its own people”, remarked one Munuki resident who chose anonymity for fear of getting arrested and beaten by SPLA soldiers.
But it is not difficult to achieve the unity of the people of South Sudan if a little seriousness is exercised. This unity, however, cannot be achieved on party lines. Joining the SPLM/A is not an answer to the unity of South Sudanese. Lt-Gen. Mayardit knows very well that SPLA needs restructuring, re-composition and possibly re-naming in order for it to have a South Sudan outlook. Currently, SPLA senior positions are dominated by people who do not think unity is essential and it is a source of strength. They believe that strength comes first and then unity could be forced by the barrel of a gun.
Museveni’s National Resistance Army (NRA) had had its name changed to Uganda People’s Defense Force (UPDF). This was necessary because NRA was associated with rebels and not a national army. The other aspect was that it had to accommodate all the Ugandans, including those who had disagreed with the NRA for alienating them during the war period.
Thus, SPLA under the leadership of Lt-Gen. Salva Kiir should know that the SPLM/A under the leadership of Lt-Gen. Garang de Mabior had, during the war period, alienated many people in South Sudan. The people alienated by the SPLA before the CPA ( some of whom were senior cadres in SPLM/A) lived in Europe, North America and other countries like Australia, New Zealand, Norway, Kenya, Uganda and so on. These very people are now very senior members in the SPLM/A working in GoSS and GoNU.
The reason why they are in the SPLM/A now is because of the death of Lt-Gen. John Garang de Mabior. Meaning, these people had differed with Lt-Gen Garang but not with Lt-Gen. Salva Kiir. In other words, the so-called SPLM/A proper believe that GoSS’ President has imposed on them those who differed with them. This is what has caused the tension within the SPLM/A and hence the categorization of SPLM/A members currently under “Lt-Gen. Kiir as “Garang and Salva boys.”
South Sudan belongs to all South Sudanese without exceptions. This must be the notion in the mind of GoSS’ President. This excellent notion could only be supported by bold decisions aimed at restructuring, re-composition of SPLM/A, including early retirement of the most notorious SPLA senior officers who believe in inflicting harm through revenge on those who did not participate in the liberation struggle. Otherwise, malice and sabotage of GoSS’ President’s genuine efforts for unity would continue to be the order of the day within the SPLM/A.
Through Lt-Gen. Salva Kiir’s wisdom that is calling for South Sudanese to “discard divisions” amongst themselves, South Sudan is likely to overcome its ugly malady of tribalism, hatred and the born-to-rule attitude. There is nobody who is going to neither drop from heavens nor a political entity in Sudan to help the South Sudanese deal with their problems. The current leadership in South Sudan needs redirection with strict observance from the president in order for it to focus at resolving the minor problems that are forming serious hurdles on the road to the unity of the people of South Sudan.
Detention of Citizens without Trial Amounts to Denying Them Justice
Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A) needs to review the cases of those has been detaining for more than a year now. Somebody like Col. Paul Omoya Thomas, EES former Minister of Agriculture, was arrested on the grounds that he attempted to assassinate Lt-Gen. James Wani Iga, the Speaker of the South Sudan Interim Legislative Assembly (SSILA), when he visited Torit, the capital of EES, last year.
If Col. Paul Omoya Thomas has committed the crime the EES Governor alleges, one would expect two things to have happened: that the SSILA Speaker presses charges against Col. Omoya for attempting to assassinate him; or the EES as a government takes the case up as its own but must insist on bringing the accused before a criminal court so that he is tried.
Continued detention of citizens without trial is a violation of human right. Col. Omoya is not the only person detained. There are many other South Sudanese detained by the SPLM/A in areas like Nimule, Yei and Rumbek.
The majority of the Sudanese people, especially the marginalized, believed that SPLM/A went to the bush to liberate them from marginalization, oppression, suppression, subjugation, human rights violations, underdevelopment and so on. But today, these very people are beginning to wonder as to what could have gone wrong that the SPLM/A has made a u-turn and landed on the very people it is supposed to have fought for!
None of the marginalized believes in anarchy in order to commit a mistake in the eyes of the SPLM/A. Even if they did commit crimes, they know that the law is supposed to take its course.
Although there are people who really believe that law and order is far from being established in South Sudan because SPLM/A lacks facilities and cadres, one keeps wondering constantly as to why do the SPLM/A undermined the system it found intact in South Sudan! If it is true that it will take a while before law and order takes shape in South Sudan, one would then be forced to conclude that SPLM/A encourages lawlessness. How could a running system be destroyed only to be replaced by a no-system? In any normal circumstances, humans build on what is available. They improve on what is available or completely overhaul the entire system but must be ready to establish a better system.
Some of these South Sudanese detained by the SPLM/A are innocent. There are people within the SPLM/A who seem to have scores to settle with some of these people. In the case of Col. Omoya, the EDF which rejoined the SPLM/A months before the CPA are the ones against Col. Omoya and behind his continued detention.
South Sudan cannot be built on the lines of vengeance or retributions. Those who think they must deal with some people in South Sudan for not joining the SPLM/A are being unreasonable. Those who think that only those who fought in the liberation struggle or those they use must enjoy the fruits of peace are unreasonable. Those who think that they must obtain the lion share in the cake because they fought for more than anybody else are unreasonable and do not know the essence of liberation struggle.
If anyone is to enjoy the fruits of his/her struggle, how many of the heroes of South Sudan are enjoying the fruits of their struggle today? The late Oliver Tambo led ANC throughout the 27 years of Mandela’s detention by the Pretoria regime, but yet he did not become president but Mandela did. This too applies to Abel Alier who did not struggle in the liberation struggle then but was honoured and given the leadership of the South after the Addis Ababa Agreement.
Otherwise no one had asked anyone to go and fight on behalf of the people of South Sudan. It was a voluntary decision which must not be confused with a right. But now that the South is free, it is the right of every South Sudanese to benefit from that very freedom. This must be encouraged so that the people of the South could rebuild the confidence they have lost in two years to achieve greater unity.
GoSS has to intervene in the judiciary of South Sudan. There seems to be a problem with the management of justice in South Sudan. This intervention should also create a committee whose task would be a very serious review of the legal system in the South. GoSS cannot assume to have lawyers, judges and a chief justice with a functionless judicial system. It is time that the judicial system in South Sudan is reactivated and all outstanding cases reviewed. Detention of citizens without trial amounts to denying justice to the very citizens who deserve it.
The Mistreatment of Kenyans in South Sudan is Uncalled For
The Embassy of the Republic of Kenya in Sudan has officially commented on the harassment of Kenyans in South Sudan. The Kenyan Embassy issued its official response, a press release, on the harassment of its citizens in South Sudan on April 8th, 2007.
The press release, which was published in Khartoum Monitor Newspaper on April 10th, 2007, said that, “the Kenya Embassy in Khartoum has strongly protested against persistent harassment, intimidation, beating and arbitrary detention meted out to Kenyan truck drivers and businessmen and women.” It also revealed that a “Kenyan lady was given 60 lashes of the cane for the crime of reporting a mobile phone theft at Juba police station.”
The official spokesman of the SPLA had reacted on these allegations in March 2007, calling them malicious and aimed at marring the reputation of the SPLA soldiers. The SPLA spokesman went on to say that the good relations existing between the people of Kenya and South Sudan would continue and will not be affected by such accusations.
Now that the allegations have been conformed and in fact revealed by the Kenyan Embassy in Khartoum, which called “for fair application of the law as appropriate”, GoSS has to seriously look into the cases of the Kenyans detained in South Sudan. If they are arrested for committing crimes they must be brought before a civil court for trial. But continued detention of Kenyans and indeed any foreigner in South Sudan would cause a crack in the relationship between the South and the governments of those detained foreigners and hence it would affect GoSS’ efforts to invite investors into the South.
Canning people, especially women as a form of punishment by SPLA soldiers is primitive, a thing of the past and it is a human right abuse. GoSS should cross check the behaviour of its troops deployed along the borders with the neighbouring countries and bring those misbehaving to book. South Sudanese too are complaining of similar very serious violations of their individual rights by SPLA soldiers deployed along the borders with the neighbouring countries such as Uganda and Kenya.
Otherwise, it is not possible to invite foreign investors into South Sudan when they are threatened by the very government that had invited them to invest in South Sudan. It becomes very illogical if not inhuman to invite and then harass a person who has left all the luxuries in his own country to join South Sudanese in the reconstruction process.
The mistreatment of the Kenyans in South Sudan is indeed uncalled for, because the Kenyans had accommodated the South Sudanese in Kenya without causing them any problems. But lawless South Sudanese, now fully integrated into the SPLA security organs, suffered in Kenya for being lawless because they always feel that they are very special and above the law.
If what is happening to Kenyans in South Sudan is in retaliation for what some of these South Sudanese believe Kenyans did to them in the past, they are wrong. Peaceful South Sudanese, especially those who had legal migration statuses, did not face any problems posed by the Kenyan Police. In fact Kenyan security personnel are hardly seen arresting and mistreating South Sudanese.
However, if the GoSS believes that those responsible for the mistreatment of foreigners in South Sudan are wrong, they should investigate the Kenyans and any other foreigner in South Sudan and, depending on the outcome of the investigations, deal with those found guilty of committing human rights violations against the Kenyans. In the same manner, the Kenyans found guilty of breaching South Sudanese laws should be dealt with in accordance with the laws of South Sudan.
Ambitious Electricity Project in Juba: Newly-Purchased Transformers Blown
Events have revealed that the Government of South Sudan (GoSS) has been working round the clock and exerting genuine efforts to improve the electricity supply in Juba town. Dr Riek Machar, the Vice-President of GoSS, had declared in February that the new electricity network in Juba was not only nearing completion but would be ready by March 2007.
Electricity should have indeed been the responsibility of GoSS, which should view its importance as a pre-requisite to development in South Sudan. Without electricity no welding machines could operate. The use of welding machines is known in the development, especially in the field of construction and heavy industries. Without electricity telecommunications network cannot function and the importance of telecommunications in development is known. Without electricity airports cannot operate satisfactorily and the usefulness of airports in development is known. Without electricity insecurity heightens because wrong elements use the darkness to rob peoples’ properties, rape girls and women, and generally destabilize the government of the day.
In early March 2007, the Director of Juba power station was reported to have been interviewed in Juba by one of the radio stations to explain why the project failed. In his interview, he revealed that the generators that were purchased by GoSS to improve the electricity supply in Juba blew up all the transformers that were already fitted during the first testing of the power supply lines. When asked how such new transformers could blow? He said that the transformers were not meant to resist the power supply generated by the new generators. In other words, the long-awaited power supply in Juba is likely to take more time than expected.
The residence of Juba must be disappointed with this latest development. Some of them like Magdi Abbas, the Manager of Sudan’s Air West commercial airline in Juba, were so enthusiastic about the progress in the GoSS electricity project and had this to say in January 2007: "I expect (that) in a few months we will have electricity everywhere", (http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?page=imprimable&id_article=20033). Electricity is not everywhere in Juba and peoeple are filling the blanks about what has really befallen the ambitious project?
The story of the Engineer, who was simply narrating it for the public interest, sends very bad signals to those who have interest in assisting the South in its development efforts. It is a clear display of corruption in public media.
How on earth could generators be purchased with transformers unable to sustain their capacities? Even if one assumes that the old transformers were used to test the new power lines without expertise surety that the transformers would sustain the new power output, is a promotion of ignorance. In our contemporary time with the necessary education acquired by South Sudanese over the years, this is a very primitive thing to hear, because a feasibility study is usually done before purchase. In this feasibility study, the type, capacity and output of each of these generators should have been ascertained and so would the transformers. Based on the feasibility study, the step-up and step-down transformers should then have been purchased.
However, it appears that something did go wrong and that should be investigated by the GoSS. Failure to investigate and understand the reasons for the failure of the project would promote corruption in GoSS. The power engineers in Juba have their share in the failure of the project because they were supposed to provide expert advice to the GoSS immediately on realizing that there were problems.
Meanwhile, the GoSS officials who either through agents or in persons purchased the equipment should also be investigated. If the truth about the failure of this project is not revealed, the same mistake is likely to be repeated.
GoSS needs electricity very badly in Juba in order for it to embark on its developmental projects and activities in various fields. Thus, the project should be revived and serious attention should be given to it and those assigned to deal with it supervised for the project to succeed.
Hurting or Killing Dr Tombe Would Not Silence the People of South Sudan
Events have revealed that the family of the author of “Critical Analysis" of the FVP and President of GoSS’ January 9th Speech, Dr Wani Tombe Laku, has been harassed and intimidated by some terrorist elements in Khartoum. Dr Tombe was informed by his family that some lady called them by telephone and asked whether or not she was the wife of Dr Tombe? Her reply was positive since it is not a secret. The caller then said the following as was related by Dr Tombe’s wife: “Your husband is writing a lot against us and you tell him to stop because if he doesn’t, we will deal with you first and then with him later.”
This is quite an absurd thing to hear. From the statement of the caller, it is very easy to deduce that if this is not the SPLM/A doing this then SPLM/A has hired some people to carry this kind of harassment and intimidation. With my respect to the SPLM/A, I would like to say that there is no one in this country who feels more hurt by the writings of Dr Tombe than the SPLM/A.
What would be the motive behind this kind of harassment and intimidation? Is it aimed at trying to silence Dr Tombe from future writings? Whichever the answer would be, SPLM/A is believed to be the champion of freedom and democracy. This is not a speculation because the CPA proves this particular claim. This being the case, why then would the SPLM/A try to silence positive criticism, something sanctioned by the CPA?
Freedom of speech is fundamental in the development of democratic ideals. There is no way anybody could talk of supporting the principles of democracy without reconciliation with freedom of speech, expression and association.
Thus, any political party that thinks it can silence its opponents by intimidation, harassment or killing is neither democratic nor believes in the concept, let alone the principles, of democracy. Democrats are not selective. In other words, they don’t choose which of the very many basic principles of democracy to apply while discarding the others. It is either that a political party is democratic and accepts democracy with its basics or it is simply an autocratic political party and must not mix the two.
The people of this country have pinned their hopes for democratic transformation on SPLM/A, which they believe would, together with its partner, the NCP, introduce true democracy in the Sudan. But if the SPLM/A lets loose some of its members and security organs to intimidate, harass and attack the very basis of democracy, then these hopes would be shuttered forever.
If SPLM/A as a party under the leadership of Lt-Gen Salva Kiir Mayardit believes that it has a mission to develop further the legacy of the late Dr John Garang de Mabior, it must stop the militia-like behaviour of some of its security personnel. These very security personnel must be made to know that days of intimidating and harassing people at ease are long gone; and that it is time to consolidate SPLM/A’s power by accommodating the other views. The other views would always help to improve the SPLM/A as a party. It is never true that every criticism against the SPLM/A or any other political party is aimed at destroying it. This is how those with shallow and naïve minds within the SPLM/A security apparatus think. Criticism is made to make the SPLM/A rediscover itself and see where it has gone wrong in order to correct itself.
Hurting or killing Dr Tombe would not silence the people of South Sudan. Like in his “Critical Analysis” on the speech of H.E. Lt-Gen. Salva Kiir on January 9th, 2007, Dr Tombe was attacking the speech makers. Like any president in the world, speeches are normally prepared. Those who prepared the speech for Lt-Gen. Salva did it with the intention of displaying what they have long told the world that Lt-Gen. Kiir is limited and may not properly fit into the shoes of the late Dr Garang de Mabior. Otherwise, why should any speech writer try to make his boss appear stupid in a gathering that includes foreigners? What was new in the speech that the foreigners did not know?
Another SAF Senior Officer Arrested in Torit
The Government of Eastern Equatoria State (EES) has arrested and locked away another Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) officer in Torit. Lt-Col. Sabino Oker, a former EDF Commander, was integrated into the SAF in 2004.
According to the UNMIS reports, Lt-Col. Oker was sent to Torit in order to help the CPA partners in the Demobilization, Disarmament and Reintegration (DDR) of the former Equatoria Defence Force (EDF) members who have not been integrated in either the SPLA or the SAF.
“On 3rd May, in Torit town, armed men, allegedly from the SPLA soldiers entered the residence of a senior officer of Other Armed Group Consultative Committee and attacked him and his three wives, the UNMIS bulletin reported”, (Sudan Vision, May 8th, 2007, p.7).
The UNMIS personnel who are directly working with the SPLA and SAF to implement the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) Protocol on Security Arrangements are not doing their jobs as expected. It is just not possible to believe that UNMIS cannot see the difference between a militia and a member of the SAF, especially one sent on a mission such as that of the DDR. It is equally difficult to understand how UNMIS could refer to Lt-Col. Oker as militia unless they investigated and found that the officer was indeed a militia. But if they did carry an investigation, they would know that Lt-Col. Oker is SAF, unless UNMIS is biased and uses second hand information. There is something wrong with UNMIS – it appears that it is part of the problem rather than the solution.
Going back to the arrest of Lt-Col. Oker, honestly it is not possible to comprehend. It was the SPLA which said they do not need any other force in the South except the JIUs and the SPLA as per the CPA. They have even complained bitterly about the presences of EDF in EES, sometimes accusing them of causing insecurity in EES. Although the government in EES was in a hurry to send away all the militia from Torit, it was not yet time. Now it is the time to DDR not only the remnants of EDF in EES but all militia, especially those who have decided to hide their weapons in the villages.
How could someone like Lt-Col. Oker, going to help SPLA by helping to demobilise the militia, who seem to be making SPLA very uncomfortable because SPLA wants to be alone in the South, be arrested? Are the SPLA so allergic to the so-called militia to the extent that they even don’t want to see any of them going to his home town, even when on holidays? Could this attitude be what the SPLA want to employ in order to rally the South Sudanese behind them?
It is time to accommodate every southerner whether or not he is in the SAF or a DDRed militia. It appears that some SPLA personnel do not follow the latest partnership developments. If they do, they should know that NCP Southern Sector is moving South and is possibly going to be based in Juba. But, one must be sincere and honest to say that if it were left in the hands of some individuals within the SPLA to decide on whether or not the NCP moves south, it would actually say no a million times. This is the attitude some of the SPLA officers and men have against their fellow southerners who did not participate in the liberations struggle.
As for UNMIS, this author worked as State Minister for Health in EES. He was responsible for UNMIS file and had made a number of meetings with some UNMIS personnel. UNMIS exercises some bias against people SPLA categorises as wrong elements, militia or allied to “Jalaba.” In fact some of these UNMIS personnel had told this author that they were not supposed to work with the then pre-interim State governments in South Sudan until the SPLA takes over the South.
“The UN Security Council established the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) with its unanimous adoption of Security Council Resolution 1590 on 24 March 2005. UNMIS was initially established for a period of six months. According to its mandate, UNMIS is tasked with supporting the implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement. UNMIS is also tasked with facilitating the voluntary return of refugees and displaced persons; providing de-mining assistance; and contributing towards international efforts to protect and promote human rights in Sudan”, (http://www.unmis.org/english/mandate.htm).
Practically UNMIS has failed to secure the release of SAF Col. Paul Omoya Thomas, former Minister of Agriculture in EES. Now Lt-Col. Oker has been arrested while on a mission which UNMIS is aware of. These two did not commit any crimes but if they did, they should be tried. More so, their human rights are violated in the very nose of UNMIS. How does UNMIS intend to “protect and promote human rights in Sudan” when South Sudanese who did not participate on the SPLA side are witnessing immeasurable retributions?
The arrest of Lt-Col. Oker, like that of Col. Omoya is illegal and they were made in bad taste, which is extreme hatred. Continued detention of these two without trial is a human rights abuse. If the SPLA does not want the former leaders of the so-called militia to go and assist in the DDR programmes, not even allowing them to visit their own homes within the South just because SPLA says so, what is it that SPLA wants?
Why Grab Peoples' Lands When There is Enough Land for All?
The issue of land grabbing in Juba has resurfaced again. According to reports coming from Juba, there are more than 50 cases of land grabbing or disputes in Tong Piny and Juba Nabari residential areas. Most of these cases could not be addressed because plaintiffs are afraid. The fear is based on possible retributions as those behind land grabbing are said to be very senior SPLM/A members.
One of the latest stories of the land grabbing issue in Juba is that between a certain millionaire known as Benjamin and Dr. Ronald Voga. Dr. Voga is diseased and millionaire Benjamin did not only grab his land but developed it by erecting a building known as "Home and Away" in the late Voga's plot number 52 in Buluk residential area.
Why on earth must responsible people grab lands that do not belong to them? Did some of these senior members of SPLM/A take up arms to fight the successive regimes in the Sudan in order to grab peoples' lands at the end of the day? These questions cannot be answered by ordinary citizens of Juba and other parts of the South but could be by the very senior members of the SPLM/A behind the scenes of land grabbing.
The innocent people whose lands have been grabbed do sincerely believe that the reasons for taking up arms against the successive governments in the Sudan were to correct the system. The government systems before the National Salvation Revolution (NSR) came to power were bad and did encourage marginalization of the Sudanese people. Today, we all know that the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) came as a result of recognition by the NSR that the country indeed had problems and that only the Sudanese, represented in the SPLM and the NCP parties, had the will to settle the grievances that had lasted for 50 years.
It is known that some SPLM/A senior leaders are truly working for the downfall of H.E. Lt-Gen. Salva Kiir Mayardit, First Vice-President and the President of the Government of South Sudan (GoSS) as well as the SPLM as a party. This statement should not be misconstrued as an incitement. Any leadership that has the interest of its party at heart should not do things that are likely to render their party and hence the entire leadership of the party unpopular. SPLM as a party is increasingly becoming unpopular in the South because there are so many things that are done by some senior SPLM/A members – even though at individual levels – they are counted on the SPLM as a party. Any action taken by any senior leadership anywhere in the world could be perceived as an exercise of the party and/or government policy.
However, since the welfare of the citizens in the South rests on the shoulders of the GoSS Presidency, it is advisable that the Presidency orders the Land Commission in South Sudan to look into these problems of land grabbing. The citizens whose lands are grabbed cannot wage a fight against the powerful SPLM/A officials who are behind the scenes of land grabbing. They virtually have no one to turn to except the GoSS Presidency in South Sudan which has the powers to put an end to the menace of land grabbing in Juba and other areas in South Sudan. The interference of the Presidency in the land grabbing cases is not only honourable but would equally give the SPLM party a boost in resuscitating the lost support and a feeling that the land grabbing issue is not sanctioned by the SPLM/A as a policy.
The entire SPLM/A leadership are fully aware of the reception accorded to them when their Advanced Mission visited Khartoum. They are also aware of the reception accorded to their late Chairman and C-in-C, Dr Garang de Mabior, when he came to Khartoum first time in 22 years. But what seem to be puzzling many Sudanese today is SPLM/A's failure to develop further the popularity it received! Why work contrary to party principles to earn it unpopularity? Why mistreat the civil population for whom SPLM/A had taken up arms (knowing that such could bring about loss of confidence)? Why grab peoples' lands when there is enough land for all in the South?
Minister's Threats against The Citizen Could be Serious if True
The Press in the Sudan seems to be facing difficulties as it tries its utmost best to uncover issues, especially those connected to corruption. On July 5th, 2007, The Citizen Newspaper published a news item entitled: "Ministers Summoned Over Corruption Scandal." The article referred to the Government of South Sudan GoSS Interior Minister and the Government of National Unity (GoNU) State Minister for Interior as those summoned for investigation "over the corruption scandal." On July 6th, 2007, The Citizen newspaper carried another news story claiming that the GoNU State Minister for Interior had threatened to kill the author of the news story.
The GoNU State Minister for Interior is a fellow SPLM member. Apart from the fact that SPLM fought for – amongst other things – the freedom of speech and that of the press, the State Minister is the second man in the ministry that protects the laws of this land. The alleged threats (not heard from the State Minister himself) could be serious if they happen to be true, especially for a custodian of the law like H.E. the State Minister for Interior.
However, the State Minister needs to make clear whether or not he did threaten the author of the scandal news story. If he did, then in the interest of freedom of speech and that of the press, the minister ought to apologies. But if the minister strongly believes that he is innocent and that he did not threaten the author of the story in The Citizen newspaper, he has the right to take a legal action against The Citizen newspaper for defamation.
Otherwise, it is not possible to put the blame of the news story's leakage entirely on The Citizen newspaper. The leakage should, however, be blamed on those handling the case in the GoSS or some officials within the GoSS Ministry of Interior. Nonetheless, The Citizen newspaper, like any other newspaper in the country, has the pride to publish the story exclusively. It is in line with the directives given by H.E. the First Vice-President of the Republic and President of GoSS, Lt-Gen. Salva Kiir Mayardit, to the press that they have to join in the fight against corruption in South Sudan.
AU Smells a Rat in the Paris Conference
The Darfur question has again come to international limelight. This time, the newly elected president of France, Nicholas Sarkozy, is organising a conference in Paris. The conference is being attended by amongst other countries, the US, Europe represented by the EU, China and the Arab League.
Mr. Sarkozy is drawing the attention of the world to the crisis in Darfur by calling on the world to be "firm" with the Sudan should it refuse to cooperate with what he calls "efforts to end the conflict in Darfur." (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/6235798.stm).
How does the French leader expect the Sudan as a country to cooperate in the efforts to end the conflict in Darfur when it has bowed to the pressure to accept a hybrid force? Mr. Sarkozy and those participating in the Darfur conference have declined from inviting the Sudanese government and the rebel fighters who have vowed to continue fighting until GoNU yields to their demands.
Could the solution to the crisis in Darfur mean putting pressure on one side of the conflict while leaving the other? This seems to be the theme of the conference in France. Otherwise, the world powers meeting in France should have taken the conference as an opportunity to invite the parties to the Darfur conflict with a view to bringing pressure to bear on them so that they accept – at least – to sit down and seriously address the crisis in Darfur.
It is the hope of almost all the Sudanese that the crisis in Darfur comes to a speedy conclusion to relieve the thousands of suffering people trapped by the war in various refugees' settlements within Darfur and neighbouring Chad. But since the responsibility of the Darfur file rests in the AU and this is known by all, including the conferees in France, the AU smells a rat in the Paris conference and its boycott of the conference raises eyebrows.
It is easy to understand the reasons for not inviting the parties to the conflict, but how could someone understand the reasons for AU's boycott of the conference? "The Sudanese government was not invited, while the AU is boycotting the conference because it regards the French initiative as a distraction from its own mediation efforts", (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/6235798.stm).
Confidence Building between SPLM and NCP is the Thing to Develop
On Wednesday, July 11th, 2007, most of the Sudanese daily newspapers carried the story in which the SPLM Secretary-General, Pagan Amum, said if the NCP cannot handle the issue of Abyei it should hand it over to the American Administration which, he said, should open an account to save the Abyei oil money.
In a press conference held last Tuesday, July 9th, 2007, in SPLM premises in Khartoum, Amum stated that NCP does not want to solve the Abyei issue for reasons which are not related to peace issues, but he did not name these reasons. Amum revealed that SPLM intended to hand over the full control of the Abyei region to the United States of America and to enable it to open an account for the oil revenues under the condition that they will not be used until the arrival at a final solution for the issue. He also attributed the failure to solve all issues presented by the two partners in their joint meeting in May 2006 to the NCP.
SPLM and NCP had told the Sudanese people when they had their first joint meeting in March 2007 that they had laid down a mechanism to resolve most of the outstanding issues, including the conflict that exists between them. The partners said they had two committees, one headed by both Dr Nafie Ali Nafie and Amum himself, and the other by Dr Riek Machar and Ali Osman Muhammad Taha. Truly, this was relieving news to all peace-loving Sudanese. Relieving because the peace-loving Sudanese were at a loss whenever the two partners clash in the press on issues that they could easily handle in confidence, the same confidence that made them to sign the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA).
Today the same peace-loving Sudanese are yet at another loss. The very partners who had reassured them that they had mechanisms to confidently resolve their problems remain at loggerheads. Could it be true that the confidence developed in Naivasha during the negotiations was only between the late Dr Garang de Mabior and Ali Osman Muhammad Taha and not their followers? How could someone digest the continued lack of trust between these two partners – sometimes on issues for which they claimed to have laid down mechanisms for solution in March 2007? The only solution someone could draw from this continued mistrust could be that the late Garang and Taha addressed most of the issues in the CPA through maturity and political wisdom.
Thus, Pagan Amum's comments on Tuesday, July 9th, 2007, in which he said Abyei and its oil revenues should be handed over to the control of the Americans could be considered as political immaturity and lacking the political wisdom which the late Garang and Taha used to resolve the complex North-South problems.
"On the relations between the North and the South after the referendum on self determination of 2011, Pagan said, if Southerners choose unity, still they will rule themselves by themselves but if they choose secession, south and north will remain good neighbours and the tie between them will remain ever stronger", (http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article22793). Isn't this yet another political immaturity displayed by the SPLM Secretary-General? If at all the South Sudanese voted to maintain the unity of the country during the referendum and continue to rule the South by themselves, why then beat up the drums of separation? On the other hand if the South voted for separation during the referendum, could the South and North really remain as good neighbours and that the tie between them "will remain ever stronger", as claimed by Amum? The answer is no because there are no basis for such relationship now and they will not there in future.
For the ties between the North and South to "remain ever stronger", both the NCP and the SPLM have to work on strengthening those ties now so that they "remain ever stronger" should the South separate from the North. Otherwise, politics has no miracles, especially given the current relationship between the NCP and the SPLM. But if SPLM and NCP work hard to overcome the current differences, by borrowing the political maturity and wisdom of the late Garang and Taha, then the Sudanese people will not worry at all. Even if the results of the referendum are in favour of unity or separation, there would be no cause for any alarm between the two political partners.
Finally, the continuous referral of addressing difficult issues such those of Abyei and the border demarcation to the outside powers is politically unhealthy. Assuming that the South secedes and becomes an independent country, would people like Amum and his other immature colleagues continue to refer the problems that would arise in future in the South to outside powers like the United States of America? May be not, but it was once remarked in early 1990s that SPLM/A-controlled areas were virtually run by the local and international NGOs. It was not possible to agree to this kind of claim then but with the current comments made by Mr. Amum on Abyei and its oil revenues, one would indeed be tempted to agree with the notion that SPLM/A cannot manage the South without handing it over to the outside powers. How sad it would become!
Confidence building between the SPLM and NCP should be the thing to develop so that they as partners could in turn develop "ever stronger" relationship. The good relationships that are to be developed through confidence building would actually be the same relationships that would maintain the ties between the SPLM and NCP as political partners come unity o the Sudan or separation of the South from the rest of the Sudan.
Another Style of Begging
Begging in most of the streets in capitals around the world is known to have become an art to those who are either lazy to engage in work or those who truly are handicapped. In Sudanese capital, Khartoum, begging has become almost a nuisance in the sense that very capable young men and women are engaged in this art. Most of these capable and energetic young men and women could do jobs that befit their limitations. Many a times people who are able to help are discouraged to do so because what they see is a young man or woman who is so fit that he or she could do some job to make ends meet.
The author of this column has, several times, met some of these young men and women and did engage with them in dialogue. He has asked questions such as: "why should capable man or woman like you beg when you could actually engage, like so many others of your types, in work to make ends meet?" The answer that is usually given is that "there are no jobs and that is why I am engaged in Begging."
Well, this author has come across another style of begging and he was actually shocked. The shock was extended by proxy to those with him in his car. He stopped at Bashair Gas Station along the Medical Supplies Road near university girls' hostels at the beginning of Sijana residential area – south of Sijana – to be more precise. As he paid the bill for the gas he received from Bashair Gas Station, some man, neatly dressed, approached him. "Good afternoon Sir?" He greeted. "Marhab", surprisingly replied this author. This author realised that the smart man was holding a one litre plastic bottle otherwise known as 'crystal' in Khartoum. "I have run out of fuel and I need SDD 100 or 1.0 SDG", he stated. Knowing that no human being uses fuel in order to move, this author asked: "what are you driving, my friend?" "A motorcycle", he replied. This author reached his pocket and pulled a 1.0 SDG which he offered the man as he requested.
The man was lucky indeed to have stated clearly that he was riding a motorcycle and not driving a taxi. Because if he were to say he was driving a taxi, the story could have been different somehow. Because one litre in some of the 19th century taxi cars in Khartoum could not help the man much, meaning he would just be another beggar.
However, giving a critical analysis on this kind of an approach, one would simply conclude that this is nothing but another beautifully designed way to beg. First, it is difficult for anyone who owns a motorbike to move without gas in his motorcycle or at least a pound in his pocket. Secondly, if the motorbike belongs to a company, an NGO or even a governmental institution, the man would be provided with gas and more so, he would be working and cannot move at least without a pound in his pocket. Thirdly and finally, a very serious person could easily drag his motorbike to the nearest gas station in order to convince those he intends to beg from.
Thus, this kind of begging is not far from any other type of begging – it could be a newly devised way of begging. Should this and any other type of begging be encouraged in this country? The answer should really be no and yes. It is a no for the newly devised begging. If encouraged, the laziness and getting easy money would not offer a challenge in terms of getting the feel of responsibility to such beggars. In the end, more and more of this country's youths would engage in beggary instead of offering this country a service for which they would get rewards. Yes because there are truly those who are handicapped and truly need help through begging to make ends meet.
Civil society organisations need to look into this kind of situation. No one is suggesting here that these organisations must collect all those unemployed persons to give them assistance. But they could liaise with the government authorities concerned to gather these youthful people, provide them with some vocational training, including accommodation and in the end, they could be hired from them to do some specific jobs, depending on their qualifications. Some of these beggars are actually qualified, but they lack counseling that could make them realise that they too, could become responsible people, just like those they used to beg from, if they stop being lazy.
Dinka Domination of BOSS
Nhial Bol's "Straight Talk" column had a guest columnist, invited by Nhial Bol himself, on July 14th, 2007, to give his views on the domination of the Bank of South Sudan (BOSS) by the Dinka tribe. The views or rather the article, entitled: Dinka Domination of BOSS" addressed a number of important issues. Amongst these important issues raised are, "the revision of the BOSS structures; division of South Sudanese on tribal lines is number one enemy by definition; South Sudan is not Dinka nor will it exist because of Dinka alone; everybody (southerner) is important, needed onboard and has a role to play in building the nation; if that is how it is in the BOSS, then there is an immediate need for Elijah Malok to seriously consider Nhial Bol's concern and act on it immediately, and now not even tomorrow; we have to fight tribalism by all means and at all costs."
First, this author would like to extend his sincere thanks to Nhial Bol for acting as a watch dog. Nhial Bol had entered into loggerheads with this author on a number of occasions. But that is not a thing that could spoil a friendship Nhial and this author had.
Secondly, this author also extends his personal appreciations to Dr. Thuou Loi Cingoth for sharing with Nhial Bol and certainly with other South Sudanese concerned with the complexities of tribalism in South Sudan like this author. The points raised above, thought excerpted from a long and very interesting article, are mature and, if adhered to by the champion tribalists in the government of South Sudan (GoSS), would go a long way to resolving the very complex tribal issues afflicting the people of South Sudan.
Indeed, South Sudan does not belong to a tribe, a section or otherwise. It belongs to all the people of South Sudan irrespective of where they come from in terms of geo-political set up of the South. Tribalism is the next enemy which the people of the South, led by GoSS, must fight tooth and nail.
The only hope will be that the message of Brother Nhial Bol and Dr. Thuou Cingoth is heard by Elijah Malok. Otherwise, Elijah Malok is very much known for his tribal leanings, ever since the days of the SPLM/A struggle, if not the regional government of South Sudan in the 1970s. One would wonder how old men like Elijah Malok, who has lived to nurture tribalism throughout his life, could be taught new tricks of detribalization!
South Sudan has so many enemies not just from within the Sudan but even from other foreigners masquerading as good friends of the South. These foreigners claim to advise some of the leaders in South Sudan by pitying them against their own fellow brothers and sisters. That is why today some of the leaders in the South are more determined to fight their fellow South Sudanese termed as other armed groups. But the truth behind such sinister advises is to keep the South fight amongst itself while they "provide expertise" whose real interest would be to loot, in the very eyes of South Sudanese, the resources of South Sudan.
The South cannot be united when tribalism is making the leaders of the South to look at foreigners as better people than their own fellow South Sudanese. The South cannot be united when a certain group, section or even tribe believes that they have fought and as such they must control all the resources of the South, including sensitive institutions like the BOSS, the Ministries, Commissions, Security Agencies, border entries, you name it. How could anyone, including the current leadership in the South, enjoy a sound sleep at night without fearing that another tribe might just go wacko? The fear for some tribes going wacko is the very reason why every leader in the South has many bodyguards. But should the issues of tribalism be addressed as clarified by Nhial Bol and his very good friend, Dr. Cingoth, in that the South becomes a tribe, there will be no worries and indeed everybody, including the leaders, shall enjoy sound sleeps without any fear for any tribe going wacko.
Abd Al Wahid Intends to Dominate Darfur Opposition Forces
The leader of Sudan Liberation Movement and Army opposed to the Darfur Peace Agreement (DPA) Abd Al-Wahid Muhammad Nur, said that the Tripoli conference, which was concluded on Sunday, July 15th, 2007, is a tool of the National Congress Party (NCP).
In a telephone conversation with The Citizen newspaper which was published yesterday, July 16th, 2007, as its lead story, Abd Al-Wahid said "he would not go to Tripoli, despite his respect for the Libyan leader, Mu'ammar Al-Qadhafi, because he does not see the meeting bringing anything new. He said from what he can see, it is a conference involving elements who are partial to the interest of the Sudanese government."
How sad a statement this is from a leader who claims to have the people of Darfur at heart! The presence of the National Unity Government (GoNU) in the conference is as important as that of Abd Al-Wahid himself. Because whether or not Abd Al-Wahid intends to dominate the Darfur opposition forces, as this seems to be the case, in the end he would talk to none other than the GoNU. Otherwise, it is quite easy to draw a conclusion from statements such as this and say that, Abd Al-Wahid has plans bigger than the Tripoli conference that aim at resolving the Darfur crisis without GoNU. This, of course, would be nothing other than playing illusionary politics.
Further analysis of Abd Al-Wahid's statement also indicates clearly that he and his movement have no trust in the African Union (AU), United Nations (UN) and certainly some of the observer countries, including some which Abd Al-Wahid would claim are his allies. What could be wrong for the AU, the UN and other observers to work towards the unification of the splinter groups or rebel factions in Darfur, including that of Abd Al-Wahid?
Perhaps, Abd Al-Wahid needs to bear in mind that the AU, UN and other observers agree with GoNU in the efforts to reunify the factions that broke away from Abd Al-Wahid. The reason behind this move is to make people like Abd Al-Wahid know that however his SLM fought the government; and however other factions fought the government, the end result is one: a just and permanent solution to the problems in Darfur that has witnessed the displacement, maiming and indeed killing of thousands of the innocent people in Darfur.
Leaders who are greedy in that they thing they are the only ones who know what their people want have always failed. This has been the trend in this country since independence. It is the trend that has always been followed by the sectarian parties in this country in past and the result has always been underdevelopment. Thus, underdevelopment has been the main cause for civil wars in this country, including the one currently being waged by Abd Al-Wahid in the region of Darfur.
Darfur is a huge region and has one of the largest populations in this country. This being the case, it is wise to acknowledge that within this region, there are others who could equally contribute to its stability. This must be a challenge that imposes itself to Abd Al-Wahid and many others as future leaders in Darfur and the Sudan as whole.
Unity is strength and Abd Al-Wahid does not need to be told about this. The efforts that are being made by the AU, UN and other observers are aimed at realizing this unity in order to strengthen the people of Darfur in their resolve for peace. Anyone, thus, from amongst the people of Darfur who intends to work against the unity of the people in their resolve for peace may isolate himself forever and may not get another opportunity to unilaterally represent the people of Darfur. This is more so because the people of Darfur shall have to decide, in the end, who should lead them in free and fair elections in future. In other words, a leader who unites his people is a leader who is likely to receive the mandate of the people and is likely to be maintained by his people come elections or no elections.
Advertising Agencies Charge Newspapers for Adverts
Journalists are not businessmen by nature. But as my colleague, Alfred Taban, once said, as he welcomed the birth of The Advocate newspaper, "they too could make good businessmen." This could have been said wholeheartedly, but the truth is that a journalist, especially Editor-In-Chiefs of newspapers and other media outlets have virtually no time to engage in business. Some of them physically edit, proofread, write editorials and columns.
Given this massive task of writing, these Editor-In-Chiefs have their public relations officers who most of the times try their best to round up adverts from the various real business organisations and companies. But these days, there are also public relations institutions, companies or agencies that act as go betweens between the newspapers and other media outlets and the companies and or business institutions. In that they develop relationships with these newspapers and the other media outlets to negotiate the amounts for each and every advert published with varying prices on different pages or airtimes.
These public relations agencies are very shrewd in their work. They actually do deliver the adverts but some of them charge as much as 60 percent of the total amount of one advert from its original source. The reference to these advertisers as shrewd is real in that they hardly negotiate with the media outlets. They always insist on a flat rate of 60 percent.
The questions one would like to ask are that, who is supposed to benefit from the adverts? Is it the advertising agency or the newspaper? These questions are valid and they need very honest answers. If these questions could not find the correct answers in this column, then this column is asking its esteemed readers to contribute and their contributions to this debate would be published in this column.
However, to attempt to answer these questions, this column would say both the advertising agency and the media outlet are supposed to benefit. But one of them must benefit more than the other a little. The media outlet is supposed to benefit a little more than the advertising agency because the advertising agency does not publish the adverts, which is the real intention of the advertiser. The advertiser does not care who amongst the two, that is to say the advertising agency and the media outlet, benefits. What the advertisers care about is that their adverts are published at the end of the day and the published adverts must be clean. If they come out dirty, it is the media outlet that is responsible and must republish at an extra cost.
Some of these advertising agencies do bring ready made work that only needs to be downloaded from their sources and either prepared on plates or transparent A3 papers and taken straight to the printing company. In the end, the media outlet publishes the adverts and fairly distributes them throughout the country. Thus, the media outlets deserve to get a little more benefit than the advertising agency, because they, and not the advertising agencies, spread the adverts allover the country.
The advertising agencies must really know that unless they are the publishers, there is no way they could even have the slightest idea that they must benefit more. As for those who are greedy and think that they must, nonetheless, benefit, they need to be told that this kind of attitude would bring about disagreement between them and the media outlets. Some media outlets nowadays are trying their bests, through their hardworking public relations officers, to solicit for adverts on their own.
Otherwise, the advertising agencies need to be reminded that earning upto 40 percent of the total advert cost is certainly not a loss but not the other way round. It is true that anybody involved in money making business would always like to 'maximize the profit and minimize the loss' as is known in basic economics. Therefore, it would wise to tell the advertising agencies that, maximizing the profit you may but be also prepared to lose customers. Although the author of this column is not a businessman and he certainly may not become one, for reasons best known to him, it is not difficult to understand that it is better to lose 20 percent in one advert than losing a long list of potential customers.
Abductions of Mr. Akuen May Encourage 'Terrorist Elements'
Arthur Akuen, The former Minister of Finance, in the Government of South Sudan (GoSS) is reported to have been abducted from Juba's main Prison otherwise known as Kobar. Mr. Akuen was accused sometimes this year of his alleged corruption practices. The former Minister was linked to a case involving Al-Cardinal Company in which a big amount of US Dollars was given to Martin Malwal who was said to have failed to deliver vehicles to GoSS and medical equipment to another state in greater Bahr Al-Ghazal.
What could be the reasons for the abduction of Mr. Akuen? Is the abduction meant to free Mr. Akuen from Prison to evade trial? Or is his abduction a raising of his current status of security level to a higher level and hence relocation by the SPLA Military Intelligence, ('The GIS' or General Intelligence Service) to another place?
Assuming that Mr. Akuen was freed by his loyalists in the SPLA to make him evade the trial that awaits him, one would say this is a dangerous thing to do. Because it means that those who have arranged for his forceful release are condoning corruption in the GoSS and are indeed encouraging terrorism. One can imagine the situation of the Prison Wardens during the operation! This action, nonetheless, suggests that someone very senior within the SPLA has ordered the soldiers to forcefully release Mr. Akuen whether or not it is in the negative or positive sense.
But if the abduction is in the negative sense, in that it is a measure to heighten Mr. Akuen's security to a certain level, this too is wrong and certainly not the way to deal with cases that are already in the hands of police and the law. SPLA is the military wing of the SPLM and as such it is never difficult to coordinate such a move, peacefully, with the Prisons authorities in Juba.
Both approaches, however, that is to say, the forceful release and relocation are wrong as explained above. Thus, the GoSS leadership needs to carry out a thorough investigation in order to get to the bottom of this abduction saga. This act denotes terrorism and any terrorism case has no colour and it certainly has no tribe. If this is allowed, the GoSS must be rest assured that such a thing would repeat itself. Today is Mr. Akuen and tomorrow might be another leader from within the GoSS leadership. Should such a trend be allowed to flourish, then GoSS' image may be tarnished and potential investor scared away. Could this be what the GoSS would want, especially after informing potential investors that the South is safe and that they are welcome to do business?
Abductions such is this of Mr. Akuen may encourage the 'terrorist elements' that H.E. Lt-Gen. Salva Kiir Mayardit, the First Vice-President and President of GoSS, said were in Juba to get involved in the practice. H.E. Lt-Gen. Mayardit had pointed out in his speech when he addressed the Sudanese Women National Conference in Juba. One only hopes that they did not have any influence over those who carried out this operation. Terrorist elements use a lot of money to hire hit-men and as such one would sincerely hope that the terrorists don't capitalize on the non-payment of salaries to the SPLA and recruit some of them with lots of money.
To avoid the development of such a situation, the GoSS needs to address the problem of the SPLA soldier. This problem is represented in the unnecessary delay of salaries and other needs for an SPLA soldier. This problem by itself could create an unnecessary discontent within the army and since everybody is working to make ends meet, SPLA soldier too is working, especially in this era of peace, to make ends meet. Any failure, therefore, in resolving the problem of SPLA's basic needs, including salaries could be detrimental to GoSS, society and more importantly, the investor.
The intention here is not to say that the SPLA soldiers are terrorists. No, but it is meant to draw the attention of GoSS to the fact that discontents within any army, especially lack of salary payments, has made a number of countries in the African continent to physically terrorise and rob citizens of their money and property. This was the case during the era of Mobutu Sese Seko in the then Zaire, now Cong. Mobutu had some paramilitary force known as Kamonyola.
These forces, especially those located at the Sudanese-Congolese borders, terrorised and robbed cash and property from any foreigner entering or exiting from the Congo, including this author in 1980. Even Zairians were not in anyway spared by these so-called Kamanyola paramilitary forces. The Kamanyola forces were very well known in that they could just do about anything so long as they were to be paid for the services. The misbehaviour by these Kamanyola forces earned the Zairian government then bad name and kept away for quite a long time, investors who had interest to invest in the Congo. Could this be what GoSS wants to happen in the South by encouraging insecurity within the GoSS circles in the form of terrorising and abducting citizens, including those who are already under police custody?
Appointment of Moi as Kenya's Envoy on Peace is Welcome But……
President Daniel Toroitich arap-Moi, former President of Kenya and Kenya's envoy to the Sudan, is in Khartoum to begin his mission. He has held talks with President Al Bashir and Foreign Minister, Dr Lam Akol. Moi was recently appointed by his successor who also was his former Vice-President, now President, Mwai Kibaki, to coordinate the follow up of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) implementation with the CPA partners: National Congress Party (NCP) and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A).
The appointment of Moi as Kenya's envoy on peace in the Sudan is welcome. It was during Moi's rule and his chairmanship of the Inter-governmental Authority on Drought and Desertification (IGADD) that the question of the Sudanese civil war became internationally recognised. Moi's articulation of the case to the IGADD member States in early 1990s prompted IGADD to organise its first mediation efforts in 1994. It was in 1994 that the National Salvation Revolution (NSR) government and the SPLM/A started serious and systematic peace negotiations. It was also in 1994 that the parties to the Sudan peace talks, through the help of the then Kenyan Foreign Minister, Kalonzo Musioka, signed the first agreement popularly known as the Declaration of Principles (DoPs), the basis of the current CPA. Thus, President Moi is, more than anybody else in the African continent, very well versed with the Sudanese problems.
It is on this background that this author would like to draw the attention of H.E. President Moi to the fact the CPA is facing numerous problems. These problems include the issues of armed groups, the Abyei and the north-south boundary demarcation, violations of the CPA by the partners and the problems of mismanagement of the scarce resources in South Sudan by those responsible in the Government of South Sudan (GoSS), which is an obstacle towards the implementation of the CPA.
Other Armed Groups
On the issue of the armed groups, the South-South Dialogue (SSD) which the Moi Foundation had been mediating its resolution, is not resolved in the way the people of the South Sudan would have wanted. Instead of maintaining the path that was already determined by the Moi Foundation to pursue the SSD, the SPLM/A made a short cut to SSD. The SPLM/A claimed to have been organising a SSD conference in Juba while making secret deals with the then Commander-In-Chief of the South Sudan Defence Force (SSDF), Lt-Gen. Paulino Matip Nhial. The SSD conference in Juba did not resolve any problem and as such the whole SSD conference was turned into SSDF, led by Lt-Gen. Paulino Matip, declaring its merger with the SPLM/A. The SSD conference in Juba, like most conferences, was not attended by everybody from the SSDF and the SPLM/A.
Therefore, those who had merged with the SPLM/A led by Lt-Gen. Matip did not make up half of the SSDF. Some of the SSDF officers and men had been absorbed by the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF), while those under Lt-Gen. Matip had been absorbed into the SPLM/A. There are thousands more who have neither been merged with the SPLM/A nor got absorbed into the SAF. The SSDF officers and men who have not been absorbed into either the SPLM/A or the SAF are supposed to be demobilized, disarmed and reintegration (DDR) into the society. This poses one problem that might be a serious obstacle in the implementation of the CPA, a concern to the President Moi as Kenya's envoy to the CPA implementation in the Sudan: these SSDF officers and men feel betrayed by the SPLM/A because it refused to pursue a SSD, which everyone of these SSDF officers and men thought was an important process, sincerely meant to reconciling brothers who once fought each other tooth and nail. How could the SPLM/A forgive and reconcile with these former SSDF officers and men without reconciling with them? How could SPLM/A even think of effecting the DDR at a time when some of these SSDF officers and men feel betrayed by SPLM/A brothers and sisters who pay no real attention to their plight? What will please these SSDF officers and men to hand over their weapons to the SPLM/A when they believe that SPLM/A is only interested in their guns but not their well being? There is more into this case of SSDF in as far as the SPLM/A intrigue is concerned than meets the eye.
The Abyei issue has a genuine dispute and this dispute is not complicated as the partners would like the Sudanese people and the entire world to know. Abyei was annexed to the north in 1905 by an agreement reached between its chiefs and the Khartoum authorities. The CPA is generally based on the January 1st, 1956, borders between the north and south. This being the case, Abyei, during the negotiations, was not part of South Sudan – it was given a special status – because trying to base discussions on Abyei on 1905 does not arise, as it would be a violation of the CPA.
However, what was agreed upon in the Naivasha must be implemented to the letter and spirit and the people of Abyei must hold a plebiscite as agreed upon by the partners to decide their fate, just like they did in 1905. They were not under any kind of duress when they signed the 1905 agreement which annexed them to the north. Likewise, they should be under no duress when the time comes for them to hold a plebiscite in order to decide their fate. If they think that their forefathers went wrong, then they must speak and decide but in a process that would be acceptable to all the partners in the CPA.
Even though there is a lot of fuss about the issue Abyei and border demarcation, SPLM/A and NCP had appointed experts who are now working to resolve the issue of the border demarcation based on January 1st, 1956, north-south boundaries. "The Technical ad hoc Border Committee has completed its preliminary review of maps and has begun a series of trips to the States bordering the 1956 line, to notify local officials and communities of its work and collect further data. The Committee will then conduct trips to the UK and Egypt to review maps held there, before producing its final recommendations to the Presidency by October 2007. It has also appealed to the international community for funds to hold further expert workshops on border demarcation", http://www.unmis.org/common/documents/cpa-monitor/cpaMonitor_jun07.pdf).
Violations of the CPA by partners
The CPA partners have been accusing each other of violating the CPA. The SPLM/A accuses the NCP of delaying the CPA implementation. They base these accusations on the delay in border demarcation which is directly linked to the issue of Abyei; the withdrawal of the SAF forces from the South, especially oil-producing states, including Abeyi; Other Armed Groups which the SPLM/A believes are still being backed up by the SAF; and oil revenues, whose calculations SPLM/A believes are based on imaginary figures and not based on transparency.
On the other hand, the NCP, although not publicly, equally accuses the SPLM/A of refusing to withdraw their forces from Southern Blue Nile, the Nuba Mountains; taking over Abyei; undermining the government of national unity; leaving areas designated by the CPA for concentration of forces in South Sudan; encouraging tribalism and nepotism, major recipes for a possible collapse of the CPA in South Sudan; and working with foreign powers to bring about regime change in the Sudan.
Frankly speaking all these are true violations of the CPA and need very serious redress before they set aback the Sudanese to renew fighting. Partners are supposed to be people who sincerely address their serious problems indoors and very secretly so that they do not scare their stakeholders. None of them has the right to violate the CPA. Instead both of them are obliged by the CPA not only to abide by the CPA but respect it as well.
Mismanagement of scarce resources in South Sudan
The GoSS led by the SPLM/A, have from day one, seriously embarked on the general mismanagement of the scarce resources in South Sudan. The GoSS has so far received nearly two (2) billion US Dollars in oil revenue. This money by all standards is too large to disappear without any significant development in South Sudan. As Kenya's former President, Moi is in a position to know what two billion dollars mean when it comes to putting such an amount into development. Most of this money has not been equitably used; it has been used mostly by the SPLM/A Dinka tribe elements within the GoSS. This is a violation of the CPA because it is likely to anger the other tribes and is obviously a serious recipe for a sure renewed South-South conflict if nothing is done to arrest the situation. The First Vice-President and president of GoSS is doing his best to arrest the situation but he certainly cannot arrest everybody otherwise he would be left with virtually no ally to stand by his side.
The CPA implementation may succeed in northern Sudan, including the areas of Abyei, Nuba Mountains and Southern Blue Nile but not in the South. There is a brewing conflict in the South, which is caused by mismanagement of money generated from oil revenue, open practice of tribalism and nepotism in allocating jobs to individuals in South Sudan; a good example being the recent deployment of legal officers in the Ministry of Legal Affairs in South, 90 percent of which come from one tribe, the Dinka tribe. The issue of trying to apply DDR on certain members of other communities while leaving others is yet another threat to the stability in South Sudan.
There is a way out of this sure mess in South Sudan: the GoSS has to accept the principle of SSD. SSD was initiated by the Churches in South Sudan and it should be allowed to continue this noble work of trying to unite the people of South Sudan without any political pressures from the SPLM/A. SSD is the way forward in South Sudan because it will bring about genuine reconciliation, one which would obviously be based on forgetting about the past and opening new pages for the present to enjoy peace and tranquility. More so, it would be the only way to improve the security of the South, a prerequisite to CPA implementation.
Why Grab Peoples' Lands when there is Enough Land for All?
This article was published by The Advocate on July 9th, 2007, in the "Events" Column, p.6. A number of people had referred to the article then as a piece of propaganda work. The Advocate does not blame these people, for they saw no substantial evidence in the article. This then became a challenge to The Advocate and as such it had carried the necessary investigations. However, The Advocate is rerunning this article so that its esteemed readers, especially those who doubted the article then, are convinced beyond any reasonable doubt that whatever piece(s) of information it publishes are not aimed at any kind of propaganda. It is not in the interest of The Advocate and certainly not in the interest of the Sudanese people to lie or support any kind of lie or political propaganda that may be detrimental to their very existence. Documents supporting this story are exclusively published in pages 5 and 12, including the picture of the "Home & Away" building built on the late Dr. Ronald Voga's, plot 52, in Juba.
The issue of land grabbing in Juba has resurfaced again. According to reports coming from Juba, there are more than 50 cases of land grabbing or disputes in Tong Piny and Juba Nabari residential areas. Most of these cases could not be addressed because plaintiffs are afraid. The fear is based on possible retributions as those behind land grabbing are said to be very senior SPLM/A members.
One of the latest stories of the land grabbing issue in Juba is that between a certain millionaire known as Benjamin and Dr. Ronald Voga. Dr. Voga is diseased and millionaire Benjamin did not only grab his land but developed it by erecting a building known as "Home and Away" in the late Voga's plot number 52 in Buluk residential area.
Why on earth must responsible people grab lands that do not belong to them? Did some of these senior members of SPLM/A take up arms to fight the successive regimes in the Sudan in order to grab peoples' lands at the end of the day? These questions cannot be answered by ordinary citizens of Juba and other parts of the South but could be by the very senior members of the SPLM/A behind the scenes of land grabbing.
The innocent people whose lands have been grabbed do sincerely believe that the reasons for taking up arms against the successive governments in the Sudan were to correct the system. The government systems before the National Salvation Revolution (NSR) came to power were bad and did encourage marginalization of the Sudanese people. Today, we all know that the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) came as a result of recognition by the NSR that the country indeed had problems and that only the Sudanese, represented in the SPLM and the NCP parties, had the will to settle the grievances that had lasted for more than 50 years.
It is known that some SPLM/A senior leaders are truly working for the downfall of H.E. Lt-Gen. Salva Kiir Mayardit, First Vice-President and the President of the Government of South Sudan (GoSS) as well as the SPLM as a party. This statement should not be misconstrued as an incitement. Any leadership that has the interest of its party at heart should not do things that are likely to render their party and hence the entire leadership of the party unpopular. SPLM as a party is increasingly becoming unpopular in the South because there are so many things that are done by some senior SPLM/A members – even though at individual levels – they are counted on the SPLM as a party. Any action taken by any senior leadership anywhere in the world could be perceived as an exercise of the party and/or government policy.
However, since the welfare of the citizens in the South rests on the shoulders of the GoSS Presidency, it is advisable that the Presidency orders the Land Commission in South Sudan to look into these cases of land grabbing. The citizens whose lands are grabbed cannot wage a fight against the powerful SPLM/A officials who are behind the scenes of land grabbing. They virtually have no one to turn to except the GoSS Presidency in South Sudan which has the powers to put an end to the menace of land grabbing in Juba and other areas in South Sudan. The interference of the Presidency in the land grabbing cases is not only honourable but would equally give the SPLM party a boost in resuscitating the lost support and a feeling that the land grabbing issue is not sanctioned by the SPLM/A as a policy.
The entire SPLM/A leadership are fully aware of the reception accorded to them when their Advanced Mission visited Khartoum. They are also aware of the reception accorded to their late Chairman and C-in-C, Dr Garang de Mabior, when he came to Khartoum first time in 22 years. But what seem to be puzzling many Sudanese today is SPLM/A's failure to develop further the popularity it received! Why work contrary to party principles to earn it unpopularity? Why mistreat the civil population for whom SPLM/A had taken up arms (knowing that such could bring about loss of confidence)? Why grab peoples' lands when there is enough land for all in the South? Why deprive the dead for a property he had left for his own children to benefit from after his demise?
Kapoeta by All Standards Cannot Make a State's Capital
Reports coming from Torit, the Seat of Eastern Equatoria State (EES) government, say the EES Interim Legislative Assembly (EESILA) has unanimously passed a motion to reinstate Torit, the temporary capital of EES as the new capital for EES. According to the reports, a seriously heated debate under the EESILA newly elected Speaker, Sabina Dario, discussed amongst other items, a motion raised by one of the members to reinstate Torit as the capital for EES.
The reports further said that another ESSILA member who was eager to see the matter settled, called for a point of order and requested the Speaker to allow the ESSILA members to put the issue of the State capital to vote. When the Speaker agreed to that point of order, ESSILA members from Kapoeta, the capital of EES, who were mainly opposed to the motion, registered their disappointment in the Speaker and walked out of ESSILA.
The voting, according to the report, took place and the yes as opposed to nay won the battle of the day. There were absentees but no abstainers, and that the motion to reinstate Torit as the State's capital was unanimously adopted by ESSILA.
It should be recalled that Kapoeta was decreed as the capital of EES by the President of the Republic, Field Marshall Omar Al Bashir, during the creation of EES in 1994. The decision to make Kapoeta as a capital came as a result of lobby exercised by the sons and daughters of Kapoeta within the National Salvation Revolution (NSR) Government. Even though there was opposition to Kapoeta being the capital of EES for genuine reasons represented in the lack of physical infrastructure, those who lobbied for Kapoeta to become the State did not do their homework properly.
After succeeding to make Kapoeta the capital of EES, these lobbyists should have gone an extra mile: request the Head of State to approve funds to construct Kapoeta so that it could accommodate its government, the legislature, the judiciary, other government departments, as well as houses for the State's top officials. This was not done and one sincerely could attribute it to the war conditions at the time. But this did not mean that the lobbyists did not bear in mind that their lobby as one single tribe could receive opposition from the majority of the EES people in future.
It is sad to state here that the members of ESSILA from Kapoeta who walked out of ESSILA protesting against the voting, lacked democratic principles. The NSR government did its best to make Kapoeta the capital of the State but the citizens of Kapoeta themselves betrayed the trust of the NSR in them by failing to lobby - within ESSILA - to win the support of its majority to maintain the status-quo.
However, Kapoeta by all standards cannot make a State's capital for a number of reasons. Kapoeta is less than 75 miles to an international border, Kenya. The British chose Torit as the capital of EES long ago, but did bearing in their minds the fact that Torit would be more central in that any foreign incursion could easily be contained before it gets to it. For example: Torit is over 150 miles to the Kenyan borders; it is over 100 miles to the Ugandan border through Ikwoto; about 90 miles to the Ugandan border through Magwi; and Nimule, another Ugandan border. Each of these border entries has single entries into Torit as the town is surrounded by mountains. Thus, those Sudanese nationals who participated with the British to make Torit the capital of EES were military strategists who were concerned with foreign incursions rather than the love for a District capital at the time.
This issue of the State capital, therefore, should not be allowed to divide the people of the State. The sons and daughters of Kapoeta should be a little more realistic and understand that Kapoeta cannot make a State capital, and that there is no crisis in terms of searching for a capital. They should instead embark on engaging both the government of South Sudan and that of EES to pay more attention to the underdevelopment of Kapoeta before they paint an imaginary picture of Kapoeta as a capital.
A capital of any State needs physical infrastructure to accommodate the three arms of the government, other governmental departments; as well as housing for the State's top government officials. More so, it needs the available of social services. Kapoeta as a District is rich in minerals and oil deposits and it could become EES' commercial capital in future. But even this needs hard work from the sons and daughters of Kapoeta as there are other centres Acholi and Madi lands that would join in the competition for a commercial capital in EES.
Reshuffle in EES Pre-empts Any Future Impeachment of Governor
The government of Eastern Equatoria State (EES) has been reshuffled. This was announced on August 9th, 2007. The reshuffle affected all the ministers in EES except for one: Ben Loki, the Minister for Information and Social Welfare. This latest reshuffle includes three women in the ministries of health, agriculture and advisor on gender issues respectively.
Meanwhile, Dr. Theophilous Ochang, the former Government of South Sudan (GoSS) Minister of Health, is reported to have moved a motion in the South Sudan Legislative Assembly (SSLA) aimed at impeaching the Governor of EES, Aloysius Emor Ojetuk from governorship. Dr. Ochang is reported to have accused the Governor of ignoring the 25 percent of women representation in EES cabinet and legislative assembly, biased ethnic representation and insecurity, a matter which Dr. Ochang emphasized to his SSLA colleagues, had brought about the loss of more than 100 lives in EES.
According to the reports from Juba on the reaction of the citizens of EES and other neighbours such as Central Equatoria and Western Equatoria, the reshuffle was believed to be fair. Others asked about the reshuffle had nothing more to say except saying that, "we are just happy for the reshuffle."
As the esteemed reader would realise, there are two topics here which could be dealt with each separately. That is the issue of the reshuffle and that of the governor's impeachment motion moved by Dr. Ochang in the SSLA. However, this author believes that both could be tackled in this article as there are many other topics awaiting his attention.
About the reshuffle in EES, it is reassuring in that the government of EES was referred to by many people in South Sudan as dormant and incapable of running a government system. Most of the issues raised by Dr. Ochang did happen but one would sincerely not blame the governor entirely. The early cases of torture, detentions and mistreatment of some individuals within EES were – upto a certain extent – backed by most of the people who are now saying the governor is entirely responsible. One such case to cite is that of Col. Paul Omoya Thomas, EES former Minister of Agriculture, whose arrest was insinuated by the former Equatoria Defence Force (EDF) members who joined the SPLM/A less than year before the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) was signed in 2005.
Most of these EDF-SPLM/A senior members did not want anyone from the majority of EDF who had refused to venture with them into joining the SPLM/A to participate in EES government. But when Col. Omoya came through Lt-Gen. Paulino Matip's ticket, they worked hard to get rid of him. His Excellency Lt-Gen. James Wani Igga, SSLA Speaker, who, after he was briefed by the EES Security Committee led by the governor that Col. Omoya was planning to kill him, was reported to have told the governor while in Torit that, this is a family matter, asking the governor to solve it in a brotherly manner. This was rejected by none other than the EDF-SPLM/A who went ahead and pressured the governor to treat the case as a security threat to the State. Col. Omoya was arrested and is under lock and key in whereabouts that are not known by anybody except the EDF-SPLM/A since 2006.
A reshuffle that would see the entire cabinet go except two clearly entails that either the governor's choices were bad or the governor himself is bad. It cannot be both of course because the governor cannot accept in his cabinet a person he knows is bad; and at the same time, no person in his/her normal mind would accept to be appointed by a governor s/he cannot agree with or simply thinks is bad.
For the governor of EES to maintain his position, assuming that it is his former cabinet and not him that is bad, he must learn to do business within the State's Council of Ministers. In other words, he must learn to work in a team work rather than making some wild decisions which are always based on hatred, tribal or sectional dislikes. A governor that works outside his cabinet is a dictator and as such would always fail, no matter how intelligent he might be. If the system of government could be run by one single individual there will be no need to appoint his/her assistants: members of the cabinet and the bureaucrats that assist the cabinet.
While it has been the tradition of parliamentarians in the South to be appointed in cabinets, one sincerely feels that the representation of EES in SSLA would seriously be affected by the appointment of its MPs to the cabinet of EES. One is happy for their appointment in EES as ministers but none of them would be in a position to attend and contribute in the SSLA sessions systematically. Unless one of them or all are in Juba on official duty, they cannot be in a position to attend the SSLA sessions and EES, in terms of participation and advancement of its interest in SSLA would lose a lot. The other aspect is that, there are many qualified people in the South who are looking for employment but do not have. Instead of making an MP double two jobs, why not separate the two so that another unemployed person could be given an opportunity in order to contribute towards the general development of the South.
On the issue of impeachment of the EES Governor, however, it appears that the governor and those advising him outside the EES governor has preempted any future impeachment. The governor has resolved the issues of ethnic bias and women's 25 percent representation in EES government. The issue of insecurity is the problem of the whole of South Sudan and that needs the GoSS, not the EES government, to address the issue. This means that those who would want to impeach the governor would really have to wait until the governor goes wrong again (God forbid). Every reasonable person who feels that the governor must go would – after knowing that the governor has been given a new cabinet – give the governor time to see whether there will be any substantial changes in his government's performance, before thinking that he must go. This is called fairness and fairness certainly does not entertain sinister motives that are saturated with tribalism and aimed at destruction.
Otherwise, this author extends his sincere congratulations to all those appointed in EES as ministers and advisors. He hopes that those newly appointed ministers and advisors live upto the challenge of working for the interest of the people of EES and should not betray the confidence bestowed upon them by the President of GoSS and the governor of EES. As for those who have been relieved of their duties, they have to sit down and evaluate themselves in order to know where they went wrong. They should accept being removed as this is the continuous exercise of governments. They should know that their coming into the EES power base was the departure of others who were there before them and this is a continuous exercise.
Rubkona Youth Should Not Judge Others on Hearsays
The Secretary-General (SG) of Youth Association in Rubkona County, Unity State, called The Advocate newspaper on August 2nd, 2007, to protest against its lead news story entitled "18 Killed in Tribal Clashes, and Torrents Encircle Bentiu" (in Unity State) published on August 1st, 2007. Speaking to The Advocate reporter who received the information from the government headquarters in Bentiu, the SG of Rubkona Youth expressed his anger, saying that the news story was incorrect; and that The Advocate was advancing the "Jallaba" interests – those of Isalamicisation and encouraging insecurity in Unity and other states in the South.
What a reasonable leader could have done in this case of the Rubkona youth is that s/he should – on reading that the news story reported by The Advocate was incorrect – have prepared a statement to The Advocate newspaper refuting the news story. May be it is not too late after all. The youth leadership in Rubkona could still prepare a press statement which The Advocate newspaper sincerely hopes would have nothing to do with political propaganda but rather facts as they are on the ground in Rubkona and it will be published.
Others, including government officials from Unity State contacted by The Advocate to verify the information, said it was true that there are tribal clashes in Rubkona, Unity State, Bentiu. But, they stressed, that there was no need to report about the tribal clashes. They said that The Advocate should have reported about the torrents but not the tribal clashes.
It appears that there is a total misunderstanding of the media in as far as the youths in Rubkona, Unity State, are concerned. The media cannot wait for the Youth Secretary-General or the Governor for that matter to decide on which information should be given to, and published by, the media when Unity State has mobile phones networks, including Thuraya Satellite phones through which information can find its way through to the media in the national capital or elsewhere in the Sudan. To say the information should have been split, one reported and the other withheld or completely ignored so that the "Jallaba" don't hear it, is an immature statement, especially when it comes from the Secretary-General of the Youth Association, a sector the South relies on now and in future.
Perhaps it is important to inform the youth in Rubkona and the South at large that the Government of South Sudan (GoSS) came into being as a result of the massive media campaign carried out by Radio SPLA and hence its political leadership, especially the late Dr John Garang de Mabior. The media sends clear information to both the enemy (if there is any) and well wishers all over the world that there is a problem. On getting the information, the well wishers in form of foreign governments, governmental and non-governmental organisations study the information and accordingly devise ways and means of trying to resolve it. These well wishers then would express interest in trying to provide mediation to the conflicting parties. Once accepted, a conflict resolution exercise takes place. That is how the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) as a regional body that includes Sudan had to receive messages from other equally interested well wishers to mediate the conflict in the Sudan. These other well wishers provided funding for the previous and the latest IGAD talks which succeeded and brought about the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), GoNU and its arms, the GoSS and its arms; and the State governments and their arms in the Sudan.
The Advocate, thus, does not work for "Jallaba" and has never received any funding before and after the establishment of The Advocate newspaper. But The Advocate, however, has been established by Sudanese who are truly concerned with the general well being of the Sudan and not only the South as such. The founders of The Advocate use the meagre resources generated by The Advocate to maintain the running costs of the paper on daily basis and The Advocate's working staff. The founders of The Advocate have not been paid to the time of writing this piece of article, irrespective of the difficulties that are facing them on individual basis. They hope that some Sudanese or other well wishers who are equally thinking with them on the same wave length would come to their assistance. Otherwise, the songs being sung by some sections within the South Sudanese community, saying that there are some South Sudanese and daily newspapers like The Advocate and others who/which are working for the so-called "Jallaba" are outdated songs.
The very "Jallaba" we seem to be talking about all the time have given the South what it deserves as per the CPA: 50 percent of oil wealth, 70 percent of power in the South and 20 percent of power sharing in the North; and 100 percent of security control over the South. If these so-called "Jallaba" used to give money before the CPA, it is because they were in full control of the 100 percent of oil revenues from both the South and the North as well as 100 percent control over senior and junior posts in the whole country. Today, these so-called "Jallaba" cannot pay any amount of money to a South Sudanese, however powerful s/he is, in trying to destroy the South because there is no money. What is left of the 100 percent is supposed to be equally distributed to the rest of the country, including the South, in terms of chapters one, which is salaries; two, which is Services; and three, which is development.
It should be about time that the South Sudanese live upto their own responsibilities and stop apportioning blames on others. The so-called "Jallaba" are not running the South currently, are they? The South is run by its own sons and daughters who seriously engage in misappropriating money for the very development of the South, but yet it has never been heard that the "Jallaba" have encouraged those top GoSS officials who are engaged such malpractices as corruption, which is literally the order of the day nowadays in South Sudan.
but rather on facts they must acquire. For example, there is nothing that stops all the youth in Rubkona or the entire generation of youth in South Sudan from carrying out fact-finding missions to see with their own eyes whether or not some South Sudanese are being used by "Jallaba" with the aim of trying to destroy Unity State or the South. It is equally not difficult for the SPLM/A, as a junior partner in the GoNU, to carry out open investigations to know whether or not there are some South Sudanese who are being used by the so-called "Jallaba" in this era of peace. If the youth in Rubkona and indeed the whole South need to know more, they should rest assured that this era is one in which every ugly practice could so easily be exposed. So, who amongst the partners would like to be seen working against the other partner; is it the SPLM/A or the National Congress Party?
We Must Not Allow Foreigners to Bring Their Wars to Our Country
A heavy explosion rocked Salama residential area south of Khartoum the day before yesterday. According to Sudani daily newspaper of August 13th, 2007, the house in which the explosion took place belongs to a number of foreign Muslim extremists. According to the paper, ammunition and weapons were found in the very house of the foreigners. Three of the alleged foreigners were arrested and are being detained by the security authorities.
This is a very interesting occurrence in the sense that the Sudan as a country, even though it has its own Muslim extremists, has never been documented to be a city within which such practices are rampant. This thus means that the Sudanese of all multitudes: religions, cultures and races have been recorded by history as peace-loving people.
It is on this background that The Advocate newspaper is posing a few questions so that the authorities and its esteemed readers in this city contemplate their answers. Since those responsible for the explosion and arrested by the authorities are not only foreigners but Muslim extremists, how did they find their ways into this country? Are they being sponsored by some powerful people elsewhere in this conflict-ridden world of ours? Could it be that some of the world's renowned terrorists have entered into this country with the aim of hitting soft targets that they find hard to hit elsewhere in the Middle East and Afghanistan? Why Khartoum? Could it also be that they have exploited the hospitality of the Sudanese people and as such they have found sanctuary that they cannot find elsewhere?
The people of this country have just come out of one of the world's longest civil wars: the south-north conflict. It is currently doing its best to find a solution to the Darfur problem. Could the coming of these Muslim extremists into the Sudan mean that this country is likely to revert back into yet another different kind of war? Should this contemplation be true, then the Sudanese people are in serious troubles.
However, the Sudanese people have trust in their government and one truly believes that the authorities would try their best to trace back the culprits. By tracing back we mean that the government has to know from where these foreigners came and to investigate a possible link to the world's top terrorists. Once it is established, the government has to deal with the situation appropriately, because actions such as that of Salama explosion do seriously undermine the government credibility and the effectiveness of its security system.
Our government, therefore, should not, under all circumstances, allow these kinds of people to have a sanctuary in the Sudan. It will be the innocent Sudanese people who will pay the price for the plans that they may be trying to execute in this beautiful city of ours. We all know that from the experiences of everybody in this world, terrorism explosions usually take a life or two as real targets but hundreds of innocent civilians would also perish with those targets.
We must not allow foreigners to bring their wars into our country because we have had enough wars of our own. They must fight their wars within their territories since they do not care for the lives that are lost everyday in their own countries as they continue unabated with terror acts.
Without Proper Security Census and General Elections Are Not Important
It has come to the attention of "Events" column that the Government of South Sudan (GoSS) through its Liaison Office in a number of neighbouring African countries is instigating the authorities of these countries not only to allow entry of South Sudanese into their countries but to intimidate and harass those that are already there. According to reports "Events" is getting from these countries, Police as well as Immigration Officials from the said countries are seriously harassing South Sudanese in their countries with a view to frustrate them so that they return home. The report clearly indicates that the GoSS liaison Offices in these neighbouring countries are paying these the Police and Immigration Officers in these neighbouring countries to harass and intimidate South Sudanese to the point of frustration.
Well, this is a very sad information to hear. This author was once a refugee in one of the neighbouring countries and he had witnessed a number of harassments and intimidations. The harassments and intimidations at the time were attributed to both the SPLM/A. The Sudan government hoped to frustrate the Sudanese so that they return back home while the SPLM/A hoped to see many Sudanese join the struggle. The people who suffered the frustrations and intimidations most were South Sudanese because they had no where to go.
The latest reports, however, say that the reasons for the latest harassments and intimidations in these neighbouring countries are that SPLM/A want South Sudanese to go home so that they participate in the forthcoming population census and the general elections in 2008/9. The GoSS wants all South Sudanese in the South before the times for the census and the general elections.
"Events" would like to address this particular issue from the human rights perspectives. While it is a responsibility of every citizen to get home and participate in the population census and general elections, it is also a responsibility for the government concerned to improve the conditions of living for these very citizens. Otherwise, how could any citizen, for example, go home only to be confronted by problems such as those of insecurity and other human rights violations? These citizens left their homes because there was, not only a civil war, but general insecurity created by the many armed forces that existed in towns controlled by both SPLM/A and the Sudan government during the war, which included human rights violations. Now, is it enough to say that the forces that created insecurity are disarmed and removed from these towns and that the people must go in order to settle; regardless of whether or not they would be secure? No, it is not possible, because there are landmines that are not yet removed, harassment by the SPLA soldiers and the displacement of indigenous peoples from their own lands by some SPLM/A senior government officials.
However, the governments of the neighbouring countries need to know that ones they have accepted South Sudanese or indeed any other group of nationalities as refugees in their own countries, their return home becomes voluntary rather than compulsory repatriation. Because there is no way, in human rights terms that anyone would just accept to go "home" when the reasons for which he or she had to flee home in the first place are still there. Most people left their home countries because of insecurity and human rights violations. SPLM/A had told Sudanese refugees in many refugee camps in the neighbouring countries before the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) that they should not go home because they will be mistreated by the regime in power; and that the country lacked not only infrastructure but services that are to be offered to them when they return home.
"Events" would like to inform the governments of these neighbouring countries that the South is not secure; and that some of the people from the South currently in refuge in their countries have had their plots seized by powerful forces within the GoSS. Both the GoNU and the GoSS have not made any serious arrangements to receive these refugees. This, thus, would require the UNHCR to ensure that the refugees they intend to repatriate home are better accommodated, well taken care of in terms of health, educations and more importantly security services as well as employment to those who are qualified. It is unfortunate for these neighbouring countries to start responding to the GoSS Liaison Offices' instructions to harass and intimidate Sudanese in their countries.
Without proper security census and general elections are not important. Conducive atmospheres in the entire South Sudan and some parts of Northern Sudan are key to voluntary repatriation to all the South Sudanese, including those from the North wherever they are in the whole world.
SPLM/A Members are Indebted to Dr Garang's Legacy
H.E. the Advisor of Diplomacy to the President of the Government of South Sudan (GoSS), and Secretary-General of the SPLM Party, Pagan Amum, while commemorating the death of the late Dr Garang de Mabior on July 27th, said among other things that the SPLM shall continue to maintain the legacy of the late Dr John Garang de Mabior. He also said that the scheme of the "New Sudan" is to transcend "Jallabaism" in a country of a million square metres. He said Sudan's Arabicism went through stages; and that the latest of these stages is what is called "civilization project" of the National Salvation Revolution (NSR). Amum also said that the "New SPLM Project" is an attempt to solve the crisis of "political instability" in the Country. The NSR had split into two parties: the National Congress Party (NCP) led by H.E. the President of the Republic, Omar Hasan Al Bashir, and the Popular Congress Party (PCP) led by Dr Hasan Abdallah Al Turabi in 1998.
One would sincerely hope that the SPLM Secretary-General truly fights to steer up the SPLM towards the actual legacy of the late Dr Garang de Mabior. What is this legacy? Did the late Garang keep secret this legacy? These will be some of the questions "Events" column will be discussing.
The Legacy of the late Dr Garang is that of a 'united secular and democratic Sudan', within which, Garang believed, all Sudanese irrespective of their colour, race, religion and cultural backgrounds would have a common ground. The late Garang did not keep such a legacy a secret. He almost sung this legacy whenever he made those popular speeches he used to make over radio SPLA and in most of the fora in which he addressed people of the world. This legacy did not, in any way, divide the Sudanese people into colours, races, religions and cultural backgrounds.
How could this legacy, which Pagan Amum referred to as a "New Sudan Project" aimed at solving the "crisis of political instability" in the country "transcend Jallabaism in a million square miles country?" Jallabaism and New Sudanism are concepts that the late Dr Garang tried to harmonise in order to arrive at a 'united, secular and democratic Sudan' but not aimed at dividing the people of the Sudan. In his address to the members of NCP at the headquarters on his arrival from Nairobi, Dr Garang said, "the (NSR's) 'Civilization Scheme' and the 'New Sudan Project' could be fused for the betterment of the Sudanese people.
SPLM under the leadership of H.E. Salva Kiir Mayardit should not be selective in cherry-picking the legacy of the late Dr Garang. Dr Garang aimed at uniting the people of this country on new bases. The new bases according to the understanding of this author are the maintenance of Sudan, its people, cultures, religions, races, colours; you name it, within a united, secular and democratic Sudan.
Thus, SPLM has an opportunity to challenge most of the national parties but not by basing their "project" on divisive politics. South Africa did face one of the most oppressive regimes in the world. The South African Pretoria regime then, however, did everything to mistreat, kill and humiliate the indigenous South African people. Despite what the Boers or the White South Africans did to the blacks, its leadership under the able leadership of President Nelson Mandela worked out a formula in which it managed to accommodate the Boers or the White South Africans within a united, secular and democratic South Africa.
What is being referred to as Dr Garang's legacy is a legacy Dr Garang developed through the help of his gallant forces, the SPLA and the political wing he created, the SPLM now administered by Pagan Amum. It means then that all SPLM/A members are indebted to the very legacy that is being talked about and as such are obliged to defend it with the aim of achieving this country's unity on the new bases of united, secular and democratic Sudan.
Arrest of Nhial Bol: is it Scare or Threat?
The Editor-In-Chief of The Citizen newspaper, Nhial Bol, was arrested Juba and immediately released by the authorities in the Government of South Sudan (GoSS). He was accused of reporting corruption practices in the GoSS, according to the Reuters report on August 8th, 2007.
How could any journalist refer to the arrest of Nhial Bol by the GoSS? Could it be referred to as an act aimed curbing press freedom in the South? Or is it meant to scare off journalists like Nhial Bol and many others from attempting to report about corruption in the GoSS? The Advocate newspaper has tried to make contacts with Nhial Bol in order to get more information from him on his arrest but all was in vain due to poor Mobile network connection with Juba.
However, to threaten journalists from reporting important matters like those of corruption in the South amounts to an indirect curbing of press freedom in the South. This is more so because when a journalist feels threatened, s/he would not have the morale, let alone the courage, to pursue any coverage of work related to his field, especially within the area where the threat was issued directly or indirectly.
We sincerely hope that what happened to our colleague, Nhial Bol, was a mistake carried out by individuals within GoSS and not meant to threaten or scare him. This is in line with the call made by H. E. Lt-Gen. Salva Kiir Mayardit, the President of GoSS and First Vice-President of the Republic, to the press to help his government fight corruption in the South.
Journalists have no individual or collective interests in reporting issues related to corruption and other human rights abuses such as tribalism and others. It is an obligation of their profession to report these issues and thus must not be taken personally by some powerful individuals in GoSS as an act of aggression against them. Instead, government officials in GoSS and indeed the whole country should encourage responsible reporting of the issues mentioned above because such reports would help them correct themselves.
It is true that top senior government officials in most third world governments could fall victims of acts they did not commit but may be committed by their junior staff in their various ministries or governmental institutions. Thus, anyone of them would be informed by the report prepared by the journalist and hence s/he would move in to correct the situation.
The South has become a model of press freedom in the Sudan and that is a beautiful thing to note. But if there are some people who think that the press freedom enjoyed by the South is a mistake, then s/he must be in the wrong place at the wrong time. This kind of people should be discouraged from acting like small dictators by the GoSS in order for it to improve its bad records of corruption.
To Appoint 250 Advisors Becomes Legalised Corruption
The Speaker of the Unity State's Legislative Assembly (USLA), John Tab, held a press conference at the SPLM Headquarters in Mugran, Khartoum, on Wednesday, September 5th, 2007. He disclosed in the conference that his State was planning to increase the number of the advisors to the Governor from 118 to 250. He also disclosed that his State was planning to request an increase in its share of oil revenue from 2% to 10%. The USLA Speaker went further to say that his State will reject any foreign company intending to operate in the State's oil fields if it does not provide services like road construction, education and health.
The last item in the list of demands of the Unity State government normally comes as a package within the framework of accepting companies that show interest in operating in any particular area in South Sudan and indeed in anywhere else in the developing world. Otherwise, companies that do not package such services within the framework of their work plans usually do not attract acceptances to their proposals.
Asking for the increase in the oil revenue from 2% to 10% may be a genuine request from Unity State. However, what Unity State needs the people of Unity State, South Sudan and the Sudan as a whole to know is how has it spent the 2% of two billion dollars, which is roughly about 40 million dollars? It will be very difficult for the Unity State government to demand for more oil revenue when – before the eyes of its own citizens – it has not accounted for the use of the 40 million dollars that it receives every year from the GoNU's treasury since it came to power two years ago.
The intention to increase the governor's advisors from 118 to 250 sounds a real joke. It is still a big joke to have 118 advisors let alone increasing such a number to 250. Whoever came up with the idea of appointing 118 advisors for the governor does not know the basis for which a State like Unity could be developed. How else could someone within the Unity State justify the spending of money on 250 advisors instead of development in the State?
The Unity State government seems to be usurping some powers from the government of South Sudan (GoSS). There is no doubt whatsoever that the State has the right to prepare its budgets that must include developmental programmes and/or plans. But it is in no uncertain terms that Unity State determines programmes and/or plans and acts on issues like increasing the oil revenues when its leaders like the Speaker know that such needs to be looked into by the CPA partners and not just GoSS.
The leaders in Unity State should really try to think along the lines of minimizing rather than increasing the number of their constitutional post holders. It appears that such a move seems to be aimed at politically bribing political followers and possibly improving the welfare of individuals rather than the general welfare of the State's citizens.
The governor of Unity State as a person does not need to be reminded that he is a revolutionarist who must have the interest of the poor people in his State at heart before thinking of improving the welfare of his politicians. He should think of developing Unity State and not increase the number of his constitutional post holders. He should not use his SPLM majority in the State legislative assembly to approve the appointment of 250 advisors, a matter that would sincerely make anybody in the country see the legalization of corruption in progress, God forbids.
Release of Allan Johnston and 250 Palestinians: Which is a Bribe?
Israel has released more 250 Palestinian prisoners from its jails. "More than 250 Palestinian prisoners freed by Israel on Friday, (July 20th, 2007) were embraced by joyous relatives and hoisted on shoulders at Mahmoud Abbas' headquarters — a heroes' welcome that translated into pure political capital for the Palestinian president in his power struggle with Hamas, (http://www.iht.com/articles/ap/2007/07/20/africa/ME-GEN-Israel-Palestinians.php). The release of the Palestinians was received with mix reactions, especially from the Palestinian leaders. Palestinian Authority President, Mahmoud Abbas, called them "heroes of freedom", (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/6907716.stm). But Abbas' arch rival, Hamas leader, Ismail Haniyeh, said it was a "political bribery"; and that his Hamas organisation will not cooperate with Israeli "gestures of goodwill", (BBC Arabic Service, July 20th, 2007).
While the release of every Palestinian, whether from Hamas, Fatah or indeed any other organisation is welcome, the statement of Hamas leader is not welcoming. How could Hamas leader say his organisation cannot cooperate with Israeli "gestures of goodwill", and that the move made by Israel is a "political bribery"?
In March 2007, Hamas leader had pledged to release the then abducted BBC's Gaza Strip reporter, Allan Johnston. Johnston was abducted by masked men on Monday, March 12th, 2007, in Gaza Strip. "Masked Palestinian gunmen kidnapped a BBC reporter from his car in Gaza City on Monday, March 12th, 2007. The man threw a business card on the street that identified him as Alan Johnston of the BBC, officials said. Palestinian security officials said no group claimed responsibility, (http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/836350.html).
Keeping up to his promise, Hamas leader secured the release of Allan Johnson on July 4th, 2007. "BBC correspondent Alan Johnston has been released (Wednesday, July 4th, 2007) after 114 days in captivity in the Gaza Strip. He describes the "appalling experience" at the hands of his captors, called the Army of Islam, (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/6268102.stm).
In a joint press conference Hamas leader held with Mr. Johnston, Haniyeh said: "If the Israelis think reasonably and rationally, and take into account the humanitarian issue and the suffering of the Palestinian prisoners, we will be able to reach a deal," the Hamas leader, Haniyeh", (http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3420884,00.html).
Well, what could be more reasonable than releasing as many as 250 prisoners from the Israeli jails? This gesture of goodwill to the Palestinian people from the Israelis needs to be capitalised on by the entire leadership of the Palestinian people, including Hamas. But for Hamas to say his organisation cannot cooperate with the Israeli "gesture of goodwill"; and that the release of the 250 prisoners, mostly from Fatah, is a "political bribery" defeats the logic in Haniyeh's call for Israelis to "think reasonably and rationally."
Hamas secured the release of Mr. Johnston who himself is a Briton from a country allied to the Israeli government. Did Mahmoud Abbas call the move as a "political bribery" like Haniyeh said after the release of the 250 Palestinian prisoners?" If Haniyeh was working to release Mr. Johnston in order to get something in return, then he may not be reelected in the forthcoming Palestinian elections. Because the people of Palestine elected him unconditionally and they certainly do not need any conditions from Haniyeh as he addresses their concerns.
The Palestinian people have seriously suffered and at times have suffered more in the hands of their ever disagreeing leaders than in the hands of their sworn enemies. Thus, in the interest of the Palestinian people, Haniyeh and Abbas, including the other Palestinian leaders need to look at the interest of their people and not those of their own. They should dialogue to end their differences and focus on how to bring about the ever publicized would-be Palestinian State.
However, the release of the 250 Palestinians is "reasonable and rational" and it does not sound like it is a "political bribe." It appears to be a very good step towards creating an atmosphere for dialogue between the people of Israel and the Palestinian people. It is true that the members of Hamas are not released; but to whom should that be blamed: on Mahmoud Abbas or Haniyeh? It is clear that the blame goes to Haniyeh because he has vowed not to recognise Israel and Israel has equally responded by releasing members of Fatah but not those of Haniyeh's Hamas. Nonetheless, one sees a light at the end of the tunnel in that gestures of goodwill are always reciprocated to. May be the time has come for Haniyeh to extend a gesture of goodwill to Israel in order to see the kind of reaction he could get.
Let Us Value the Lives of Animals As We Do Ours
Generally there is a maltreatment of animals in this country. Goats and sheep are given salty water to inflate their stomachs so that those trying to buy them for slaughter purposes see them fat. It is common knowledge, though that not all sheep and goats with inflated stomach will be bought on the same day. Meaning the sheep and goats that are not bought would suffer from hunger as salt would cause them diarrhea.
At times people who own sheep and goats within the residential areas do not care for them. They do not feed them properly, to be more precise. As hunger strikes them, these animals would go around the residential areas picking plastic bags, papers, even torn pieces of cloths. Some of these items they pick are indigestible and as such could simply cause stomach complications.
Some of these goats and sheep, especially in Khartoum north or Bahri's Industrial Area, are made to drink from chemically-polluted water as well as grazing from grass grown on the very polluted area. This chemically-polluted water affects the animals' livers and kidneys. That means that those people who buy and slaughter the animals before they die off in order to eat, especially those who enjoy to eat the light meal known as "Marara" run the risk of feeding on toxicity concentrated on the animals' livers and kidneys. This is a serious health hazard to the innocent citizens who do not know how the slaughtered animals survived. "Marara" is a light meal prepared raw from sheep and goats' livers, kidneys, sacks, bile, onion and hot chilies.
Dogs on the other hand, are many in Khartoum. Some of these dogs are very happy as they are properly looked after and their owners keep them indoors. Some of these dogs, however, are left uncared for by their owners and hence become a security risk to the public. Some of them acquire rabies and could bite and infect many people. In fact it is now commonly known that astray dogs have ganged up in the desert between Wed-Amara and Mandela residential areas; and that they are so wild that they attack and tare people who try to cross the desert into pieces that they eat, including their bones.
As a child, this author has looked after sheep, goats and cattle. He reared dogs as well and loves animals in general. In fact he finds that dogs are very intelligent animals and friendly if cared for. He, according to his understanding of dogs, believes that despite the intelligence dogs develop naturally, they are also in a position to acquire more skills from those who care for them, let alone hearing their names and listening to what they are being told to do. This applies to other pets or domesticated animals as well, including bigger ones like donkeys and horses. As observed from circuses, other non-domesticated animals also display, in public, the skills they acquired from training.
This article, however, is trying to concentrate this discussion on the plight of donkeys in the northern part of the Sudan. Donkeys are animals considered by very many people in various societies that maximize their exploitation like here in the Sudan as stupid, even though they abide by the commands given to them by their owners.
Here in the Sudan, donkeys are used to transport staff, water and indeed people from one place to another. Despite the fact that these donkeys do their work very honestly, they are being used very cruelly. They are beaten even at a time when they are performing their duties. When they get sick or involved in hit-and-run accidents, attention is not paid to them. When someone moves around the city of Khartoum, especially its suburbs s/he can witness the cruelty applied on them.
This author is not against the use of animals such as the donkeys in facilitating cheap transportation to the poor citizens in the society. But it sincerely feels bad and hurting when these donkeys are being maltreated at a time when they perform their duties honourably. Sometimes one really wonders as to whether those who own animals like donkeys really have some kindness in their hearts! How could people who own donkeys that help them make ends meet beat them while performing their duties? How do people feel when animals with limited strength performing their duties to the best of their abilities get beaten? How do people feel when animals that help them make ends meet are not taken to veterinary clinics for treatment when they falls ill or get wounded during accidents? How could people in their logical minds leave donkeys hungry after performing enormous tasks?
This author would sincerely like to call on the authorities concerned with the welfare of these animals to really try their best to come to the rescue of these animals. They should not wait until the concerned citizens of this country come up with an organisation whose main task would be to protect the rights of these animals when there is a whole government department that is tasked with the responsibilities of maintaining and protecting the rights of these animals. Meanwhile, the wild dogs causing havoc on the citizens of Mandela and Wed-Amara residential areas must be rounded up and killed as they pose serious insecurity problems to the citizens of those areas.
As a God fearing country known for its Muslim and Christian faiths whose history is certainly indisputable, the Sudanese people, including their central and state governments should pay attention to other life forms. Since we all know that God loves His creations, our faiths, based the love of God, should not only be geared towards the protection of the rights of human beings alone but also towards all God's creations. Let us value the lives of animals as we do ours as human beings.
Political Defectors are Very Dangerous Political Elements
Defections from some political parties to others are very common in this contemporary time of ours. They actually date as far back as to the time of the development of pluralism in politics. Some of them are hailed, especially when a powerful individual or individuals defect(s) from his/her party to another party. But when an individual or individuals viewed as dormant by their own party defect to other political parties, very little regard is paid to such individuals, especially from their own parties, but merely welcome and not necessarily hailed by the party they defect to. The latter is one of the reasons why some people who defect from their own parties feel marginalized in the parties they defect to.
Ever since the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) was signed in 2005, many southern, western, eastern, northern and central Sudanese joined the Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A) en masse. Some of these people have varied interests in joining the SPLM/A. There are those who believed that the wheels of power were exchanging hands with the advent of the CPA, and that if they remained in where they are they would be left in the cold. The best options for these kind of people were to join the SPLM/A so that, through the SPLM/A, which some of them sincerely believed had no cadres, they would be appointed as a top government officials in the Government of National Unity (GoNU), Government of South Sudan (GoSS) or state governments throughout the Sudan on SPLM/A ticket.
Then there is the second category of these politicians – those selected by their own parties to represent them in these various governments and their institutions. These categories of politicians got employed in some of the above-mentioned governments and governmental institutions, by government institutions we mean legislative assemblies, commissions and other government-related organisations. While there, some of them got lured into the ruling party either by getting convinced that they would achieve their objectives through the ruling party or simply hoping that by defecting they would continue to maintain the powerful positions they were offered initially or even get better posts.
Both categories are very dangerous political elements. They have no principles, so to speak, because people who have principles would not yield to money or positions, their consciences would not allow that to happen. More so, political parties start from small and grow into huge political parties through very natural growth that requires a fully developed political mind and tolerance.
The Advocate does not condemn people who have decided to shift their political allegiance because it is their rights that require no infringement. However, The Advocate tries to bring to the attention of this country's citizens the fact that if people cannot tolerate the parties they have worked hard to develop into a fully fledged political party, how could the same intolerant people sustain themselves in the new party, especially when there is no post forthcoming? Or in short, how could this defectors help develop further the principles of democracy? How democratic would it be to have people of one nation in one political party? Democracy is not all about seeking for political posts but rather about capturing power through a democratic exercise and implementing party programmes on various aspects of life putting into consideration the peoples' will.
"Democratic societies are committed to the values of tolerance, cooperation, and compromise. Democracies recognize that reaching consensus requires compromise and that it may not always be attainable. In the words of Mahatma Gandhi, intolerance is itself a form of violence and an obstacle to the growth of a true democratic spirit)", (http://usinfo.state.gov/products/pubs/principles/what.htm).
Cash Worth 7,000 Sudanese Pounds Taken At Gun Point in Torit
The town of Torit, the capital of Eastern Equatoria State (EES) last month witnessed an armed robbery. It was reported that a restaurant belonging to one of the indigenous people of Torit was attacked at night and cash worth 7,000 Sudanese Pounds (SPs) (7,000,000 old SPs) was taken at gun point.
Here, the first hypothetical question that would quickly form in the minds of many, especially those running the state is, "why keep such an amount of money in the restaurant instead of a bank?" This is a good question but it would obviously be misplaced if asked. The town of Torit, like other towns in South Sudan, is supposed to be secure by all means and if it is not, it is the duty of the government to ensure its safety through the maintenance of law and order. Otherwise, trying to blame the citizens of Torit and EES as a whole for not being careful about their own security would be an understatement.
The government of EES has been complaining about what it had usually referred to in the past as "criminal attacks" carried out by "elements" they believed at the time were militia used by the Khartoum government. The Governor of EES has more than once accused the Equatoria Defence Force (EDF), the Toposa and the Didinga militia for being behind such attacks. These so-called militias have been subjected to the DDR process and do no longer exist in EES as per the statements made by the EES Governor and reported by various media outlets.
This author does not intend to undermine the EES government in its efforts to maintain law and order in the state, but tries to bring to the attention of its leadership the need not to jump to conclusions whenever there is a security problem or breach in the state. It should always carry out necessary investigations in order to understand who are behind those problems and/or security breaches. Otherwise, it may become so difficult to arrest the situations of armed robberies in the state and as such may escalate and eventually become unmanageable.
Most of the people who have made up the leadership of EES have lived abroad, especially in most of the neighbouring countries. They have seen the situations of terror mostly lived by the citizens in the neighbouring countries like Uganda and Kenya. Both people and governments in these neighbouring countries do not like situations such as those of armed robberies in their cities and are trying their level best to arrest such situations. Whenever they try, however, they do engage in serious gun battles with the armed robbers as witnessed by Kenya from time to time, and especially recently when a top suspected robber engaged in gun battle with the Kenyan police. Most of these cases could have ceased had they been confronted from an early stage. It is on this basis that the EES government is being reminded in this column to address this menace at this early stage to avoid the development of the armed robbery menace into an unmanageable crisis.
It is the hope of this author as a citizen of EES that the government of EES, with the help of its citizens, work together to arrest this situation of armed robbery in the towns of EES and end the menace once and for all. Otherwise, engagement in political rhetoric which clearly ignores this fact of trying to end the menace of armed robberies in EES and the other South Sudanese states, including the GoSS' capital, Juba, would amount to lack of commitment to deal with the situation.
Organised crimes are an obstacle to development because they deter people of goodwill and investors from trying to invest in areas that are rampant with such armed robbery practices. EES is one of the richest states in the Sudan. It has oil, gold, diamonds and mountains of precious stones, let alone the fertility of its land.
There is obviously no doubt that Sudanese who had lived abroad have learnt some bad habits such as those of trying to take what is not yours and are possibly trying them at home. But this should make the state governments even more determined to end such foreign and uncalled for habits of armed robberies.
Why is Formation of a Political Party in South Sudan a Back Up for NCP?
The former South Sudan Defense Force (SSDF), an umbrella organisation for the armed groups that signed the Khartoum Peace Agreement (KPA), which was signed by Dr Riek Machar and the National Salvation government (NSG), has transformed into a political party. SSDF, which later become known as South Sudan Democratic Forum and South Sudan United Democratic Alliance (SSUDA), another splinter group of the former SSDF, have merged to form a party - South Sudan Democratic Front - launched on September 15th, 2007 - by its Chairman, David de Chand.
The former South Sudan Defense Force was an umbrella for armed groups that signed the KPA with the NSG, namely, South Sudan Independence Movement/Army, which was led by Dr Riek Machar; SPLM/A Bahr Al Ghazal Group, which was led by the late Dr Kerubino Kwanyin Bol; SPLM/A Bor Group, which was led by the late Dr Arok Thon Arok; South Sudan Independent Group, which was led by Uncle Kawach Makuei, Equatoria Defense Force, which was led by Dr Theophilus Ochang; and a faction of United Sudan African Parties, which was led by the late Uncle Samuel Aru. These politico-military groups also did fall under one single political umbrella known then as United Democratic Salvation Front (UDSF). UDSF had since long broken into parts some of which regrouped to form the new party (SSDF) but its mainstream is currently led by Joseph Malual.
Since the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) did not encourage the existence of these armed groups, calling them allies of the Khartoum government, NIF government, NCP government and NSG, a provision was made in the CPA security Arrangements Protocol (CPASAP) that stipulates that these groups should either join the SPLM/A, Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) or disarm. This provision seems to have been met now that these groups have chosen to disarm, dissolve and get absorbed into the new political party.
The transformation of these armed groups into a political party might have been miscalculated by the Naivasha negotiators, especially those who negotiated the CPASAP. Because these armed groups have actually given the CPA what is due to it. Some of them have joined the SPLA, others joined the SAF and both the SAF and the SPLA have said they cannot take any more of these groups. SPLM/A said some of these armed groups are being used to infiltrate the SPLM/A, while the SAF says they have taken enough. So it seems that disarmament, joining SPLA, the SAF or dissolving these groups are not the only options there are. So, those who remained unabsorbed have decided to organise themselves into a political party that has already paid its allegiance to the CPA. Is there anything wrong with that?
According to the Juba Post Weekly newspaper, however, "many observers in the national capital, Khartoum, say the transformation of this militia organisation into a political party is a new strategy for confronting the SPLM as the party itself is a back up for the NCP", (Juba Post Weekly, September 27th – October 4th, p.1).
Who could these observers be? If they are SPLM/A members, they truly have a reason to worry: fear of political competition, may be. But if they are genuine South Sudanese, then it would be tempting to say that they are trying to distort facts. These people who are bent on distorting facts are actually the enemies of the CPA and the unity of the people of the South. What do they want these so-called militias to do since they have neither been absorbed into the SPLA nor into the SAF at a time they strongly feel that they should contribute to the politics in the South?
Do they expect these so-called militias to join the SPLM/A? It will be naïve, of course, to assume that everybody must join the SPLM/A, as it would amount to war-mongering to frustrate these so-called militias in order to drive them into the bush to fight for their individual and/or collective rights. Why must the formation of any political party be a back up for the NCP? Why can't it be a back up for a democratic transformation in South Sudan on one hand and the Sudan on the other? Is democratic transformation of the Sudan a monopoly of one or two parties in the whole country?
"According to analysis" Juba Post went on, "there is no guarantee that this militia in the South will put down their guns to join the newly-born political party since most of these militias are not educated to qualify for political activities", (Juba Post Weekly, September 27th – October 4th, p.1).
Is there a qualification for political activities in this world? Unless the sentence above is rephrased to make sense, it is meaningless. Those who gave this analysis are not politicians because politics has no school. Even those who graduated from political sciences colleges in universities are taught the art of government but not the act of it which is politics, let alone those who graduated from other disciplines. The act of government is politics and most of the political actors, especially in the third world, are not educated but with proper direction, they do bring the educated to the epicenter of politics, which could be regarded as parliament in this case.
South Sudanese should really come off this habit of using the NCP as a scapegoat for horrible attitudes they have developed towards their own brothers who have decided to participate in the politics of the South by forming political parties. NCP may have its own policies aimed at advancing their own course. But the people of the South must accept the fact that the South is in total grip of the SPLM/A. SPLM/A is in full control of political power, wealth and security in the South. This alone should really settle the minds of those South Sudanese who still dream of NCP's domination. It is the people of the South who will determine the future of the South and not the NCP. In fact the NCP cares less of what is taking place in the South and it might even be laughing at the leadership in the South because it is stuck on apportioning blames on the NCP instead of doing something worthy of praise by the people of the South.
The newly formed SSDF has declared that there is no more military group called SSDF; and that no one would be allowed to call himself a member of SSDF from Unity State to Equatoria and from Maban to Bahr Al Ghazal. "From now on there is no South Sudan Defense Force and no one will call himself a member of the SSDF from Maban to Bahr Al Ghazal and from Unity State to Equatoria States", (Maj-Gen. Gabriel Tanginya, Juba Post Weekly, September 27th – October 4th, 2007, p.1).
Having heard from the horse's mouth, nothing should be more relieving to those who are uncomfortable with the existence of the so-called militia. Thus, the skeptics should hold their horses and avoid rushing into making conclusions in form of analyses that could, at the end of the day, prove futile. This should be regarded by people of goodwill as an excellent development. It is excellent because it will now be easier to talk to the leadership of this newly formed political party than to the very many armed groups scattered all over the South.
The newly formed political party, however, has to take full responsibility of any negative actions that would be attributed to the militia. They should seek dialogue rather than war because the South and the Sudan as a whole have suffered from many wars. Any attempt to reignite another war in the South will not be accepted by the people of the South. Having formed a political party, politics should be the future weapon and not guns. Democracy does not entertain war-mongering attitudes but respect for the rule of law. South Sudanese are watching, and since they have passed through various stages during the two years of relevant peace in the South, some of them are scrutinising the existing parties and are weighing their opportunities to enable them join a party or parties that would promote peaceful approach to the problems in the South and disown those who would want to use force on a mistaken belief that they are practicing democracy.
As for the SPLM/A, it should have nothing to worry about because it has been calling for the transformation of the country into a democracy. Formation of political parties is the beginning of democratic transformation, which should be embraced rather than rejected. Political competition is the next step in the process to democratic transformation. America, a model of democracy, so it is believed, has many parties but two are strong enough to overshadow the rest: democrats and the republicans. Britain regarded as the mother of all democracies, has many parties but again two have been dominating the political scene in Britain: The labour and the Tories. In these two examples, one thing is very common though: the dominating parties in America and Britain do not ally with each other. They are very bitter rivals and the only consensus they could come to is when their nations are threatened by foreign aggressions or legislations that are favoured by majority of their voters. Thus, for SPLM to be a formidable party in the South, it must allow the natural development of political parties while protecting its party interest, of course. May the best parties emerge in the South!
Unity of Sudan and U.S. Insistence to Impose Sanctions
Assistant Secretary of State, Jendai Frazer, is reported to have revealed the agenda of the meeting which was held between Dr Lam Akol Ajawin, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, and the US Deputy Secretary of State, John Negroponte.
According to a statement attributed to Jendai Frazer by Al Sudani Arabic daily, she stated that the agenda included several issues that are related to Sudan such as the possibility of imposing new sanctions on Sudan because of the Darfur crises. She renewed US position towards Sudan's Unity. "We support unity and support John Garang's vision on a united democratic Sudan. We shall continue to work with them (the partners) to implement the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) signed between the North and South to achieve that Unity", she said.
There are two issues at stake here: Unity of the Sudan and the US insistence to impose sanctions on what SPLM Secretary-General, Pagan Amum, called "The NCP" – the National Congress Party. The insistence by the US administration to impose sanctions on the NCP is by itself negative and may not advance the cause of unity in the Sudan.
This is more so because the NCP, which surely enjoys support in the northern part of the Sudan, will be upset. The partnership between them and the SPLM would even be upset much more than it is already. The NCP as a partner in the Government of National Unity is an instrumental player in ensuring the unity of the Sudan. Unless the US administration changes its attitude towards the NCP, it would be difficult for the Bush Administration to "support John Garang's vision on a united, democratic (and secular) Sudan."
On other hand, the SPLM appears to be happy because it is reassured by the US administration that South Sudan will be exempted from the US sanctions. This happiness may be genuine because the South cannot afford any sanctions at this moment of reconstruction, but the US administration should know that it will lead to the separation of the South from the North.
SPLM will obviously find itself favoured by the US administration and the NCP is likely to view it as a collaborator with the US administration and thus refuse to cooperate. The NCP's non-cooperative attitude is obviously what SPLM needs to convince the people of the South that unity is not viable and separation is the only option.
If the US administration is sincerely interested in maintaining the unity of the Sudan, it should not segregate its people. The policy of segregation has to be changed and so should the policy towards the NCP. If the US administration strongly believes in the respect for people's freedoms and their rights to exercise democracy, the issue of South Sudan is not in the hands of the SPLM and the NCP. It is the people of South Sudan who have said unless the NCP makes peace attractive, they will not settle for anything less than separation. If that happens, it would be their inalienable right. How then does the US administration intends to "work with the CPA partners to ensure the unity of the Sudan" if it favours one partner and totally detests the other?
Who to Blame Now That CPA Partners Entered into Incommunicado?
The United States special envoy to the Sudan, Andrew Natsios, has said that the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) signed between the SPLM and the NCP is likely to collapse. He supported this statement by what he called 'continued accusations made by both parties against each other in the media.' He warned that the Sudan is likely to slide back to war. Natsios visited the Sudan recently and paid visits to Juba and Darfur respectively.
Late in September, the US Assistant Secretary of State, Jendayi Frazer, said that the US supports the unity of Sudan; and that it would work with the CPA partners to ensure the unity of the Sudan. In an editorial published by The Advocate on September 30th, 2007, Frazer was quoted as saying: "We support unity and support John Garang's vision on a united, (secular and) democratic Sudan. We shall continue to work with them (the partners) to implement the CPA signed between the North and South to achieve that Unity."
In this most recent visit to the Sudan, however, Natsios made his observations on the CPA and "he cited the failure to set the border between the South and North Sudan, share the oil wealth and pass key laws. The most serious danger is the militarization of areas around the oil fields, where he said neither the government nor southerners followed their pledges to pull out troops." He referred to the atmosphere surrounding the CPA partnership as "poisonous and that the war of words between the partners has to stop – we (United States) are concerned about the health of the CPA", (Juba Post, October 12th-19th, 2007, p.10).
It is almost impossible to believe that the US administration is concerned about peace and hence the CPA implementation. It is also hard not to connect the recent constitutional crisis in the country to the visit of Natsios to the Sudan and that of Pagan Amum, SPLM Secretary-General, to the US, which appeared to have included the SPLA military delegation. While in the US, Pagan Amum had affirmed the US administration's decision to exempt the South from US sanctions. Amum also said that the sanctions imposed on the north are actually imposed on the NCP.
What seems to appear when given in depth analysis is that the Amum's delegation to the US discussed many issues and it is difficult to rule out plots hatched against the NCP. Frazer had talked about supporting the vision of the late Dr Garang on the unity of the Sudan but confirmed that new US sanctions were underway against the government of national unity (GoNU) or NCP to be more specific. NCP is not synonymous with the North as it is just one of the many political parties in the North. Imposing sanctions on NCP is certainly imposing sanctions on the innocent people in the North of the country who are not necessarily NCP. In the same manner, unity of the Sudan or the late Dr Garang's vision of 'united, secular and democratic Sudan' cannot be achieved when there is a clear attempt to divide the people of the Sudan into being eligible and non-eligible for the US sanctions. Could the withdrawal of the SPLM from the GoNU be an attestation to the plot so that while in the GoNU they should not be affected by the sanctions?
Natsios, on the other hand, believes that both parties were not serious in implementing the CPA clauses but he remarked that "Sudan could fall back into war if it does not live up to the CPA. Before Natsios' words dried in his press briefing paper, the SPLM Leadership Council decided to freeze the activities of its members in GoNU.
Who should be blamed now that the CPA partners have decided to enter into incommunicado with each other? The CPA according to the late Dr Garang and Ali Osman Muhammad Taha had become a property of the Sudanese people. This is a true statement because the Interim Constitution of this country has been modeled on the CPA. Since the constitutions are indeed supposed to be properties of the citizens wherever they may be, the CPA is truly a property of the Sudanese people. How then should the Sudanese people react towards the current constitutional crisis? Could the CPA survive under the guidance of one partner in the absence of the other?
Starting from the top leaders of this country, President Al Bashir addressed the Sudanese people on October 12th, 2007, wishing the Sudanese Muslims a happy and prosperous Idd Al Fitr Al Mubarak but made no reference to peace. First Vice-President and President of government of South Sudan (GoSS), Salva Kiir Mayardit, also addressed the Sudanese people on the same occasion. He extended his personal Idd Al Fitr Al Mubarak's greetings to President Al Bashir and to the Sudanese Muslims countrywide. He also made no reference on what has developed from mere political differences to a constitutional crisis. Why? Does it mean that these top leaders of our country are less serious about what has truly happened in this country? Is the crisis a gift of Idd Al Fitr Al Mubarak to the Sudanese people? There will be more questions asked in this article than answers given, because the author is arguing as an ordinary Sudanese who has no influence on the decision-making process in this country.
The CPA, according to the partners - NCP and SPLM - has upto 85-90% of its articles implemented. The issue of Abyei has been made complicated by none other than the CPA partners themselves. It was agreed in Naivasha that Abyei should be given a special status. That was done and Abyei had a protocol of its own. In this protocol the people of Abyei were recognised to have had a serious problem, a problem that no one other than the people of Abyei themselves can fix. The CPA partners, recognising this as a fact, decided to give the people of Abyei the right to determine their fate in a plebiscite. This was done so because the CPA partners then recognised the fact that Abyei was annexed to the North in 1905 through the decision made by its traditional rulers at the time. It is on this very basis that the CPA partners, knowing that the administrative tribal leaders in Abyei then did not represent the true aspirations of the Abyei people, decided that the people of Abyei in this contemporary era must be given the right to self-determination.
There are three main problems to the protocol of Abyei namely, Abyei Transitional Authority (ATA); borders with the North and the deployment of the Sudanese armed forces (SAF) in Abyei oil fields.
The ATA should have been formed as stipulated in the CPA। If the NCP has worked against this principle, then they have to accept the blame for being intransigent. The fact that ATA has not been formed upto this moment (2007) confirms the fact that the NCP is dragging its feet on the issue of the ATA. This could bring many questions to linger in the minds of ordinary Sudanese. For example, if the SPLM and not the NCP is dragging its feet on the issue of ATA, why didn't NCP insist on establishing ATA? Does the NCP's feet-dragging on establishing ATA paint a picture that depicts a fact that Abyei is still a contested area due to its oil wealth? If not, why not. Abyei is not a contested area by all means because as per the CPA it belongs to Southern Kordofan and not South Sudan. That is the reason why Southern Kordofan State had to be abolished for Abyei to be accommodated. Giving Abyei a special status does not detach Abyei from being part of the North until the people of Abyei otherwise decide its fate in the scheduled plebiscite.
Discussing the borders of Abyei now does not arise. If Abyei's special status maintains its borders of 1905 with the South, then it belongs to the North until the people of Abyei decide on whether they remain as part of the North or South. Meanwhile, Abyei – with its current status – needs to belong somewhere and that somewhere is the North, part of which it was before the CPA. In other words, Abyei's case is not that complicated given the fact that the CPA guides its implementation. Unless Abyei's Protocol has been amended, which is impossible under the CPA, trying to discuss it while considering it as part of South Sudan is a violation of the CPA by itself? The discussion on Abyei has to be based only on the formation of ATA.
ATA leaders, who will closely be supervised by the Presidency of the Republic while running Abyei as an entity, shall be in a position to prepare the people of Abyei on the new reality: the border between Abyei and Southern Kordofan as of 1905, clearly identify the disputed oil fields in Abyei and prepare the people of Abyei for the exercise of self-determination.
SAF in Abyei
Since it is clear that Abyei is definitely an entity that still belongs to the North until otherwise decided in a plebiscite, the deployment of Joint Integrated Units (JIUs) in Abyei is essential. The Naivasha partners had agreed to form the JIUs not to replace the SAF or the SPLA but to protect peace, represent united Sudan, its sovereignty and territorial integrity. The presidency consists of three people: President Al Bashir, First Vice-President Kirr and Vice-President Taha and the JIUs directly fall under the direct command of this presidency. Therefore, the deployment of either the SPLA or the SAF in Abyei is illegal as it is a serious violation of the CPA.
Unless there are other concealed facts kept away from the Abyei Protocol, the problems above cannot cause a CPA partner to pull out or freeze its activities in a partnership. Neither the SPLM nor the NCP were defeated before the war and one truly wonders as to how politics – something that requires talking and lobbying and not fighting and killing – could be so defeating!
How could the Sudanese people who happen to 'own the CPA' feel about SPLM's withdrawal from the partnership? Would they be mistaken if they say SPLM has let them down? That is unlikely, because the SPLM has just committed one of the worse political blunders and failed to consider the Sudanese people for whom they signed the CPA but selfishly looked after its own interest.
It appears that wise people in the SPLM have been corrupted or cowed down by the SPLM and as such they could not offer any good political advice. Freezing the activities of the SPLM members in the GoNU or withdrawing them from GoNU is nothing other than either political immaturity or SPLM leaders are operated by remote control by some invisible powers. To freeze the activities or withdraw from the GoNU is a violation of the CPA as a contract signed between the two of them which is also binding on the two of them. Freezing the activities or withdrawing from GoNU or even boycotting the North of Sudan cannot bring pressure to bear on the NCP. Even though SPLM is showing the signs of an early breakaway from the rest of the Sudan, but even that is nothing that to the NCP because they have been preparing themselves for any eventualities, including the breaking away of the South from the rest of the Sudan.
The only problem here is that the SPLM forgot that by so misbehaving, it is letting down the Sudanese people in the North, East, West and Central Sudan who support the SPLM and pin their political hopes on it. Some of these people, including the people of the South have waited for 21 years hoping that the SPLM at the end of the day would deliver the goods to them – the late Dr Garang's best legacy and vision: a democratic, secular and united Sudan.
Hopes to achieve Dr Garang's cherished vision seems unlikely because the SPLM is behaving more or less like a secessionist political organisation that is disinterested in the unity of the Sudan and hence the rest of the Sudanese, especially the northerners. Instead, it is busy everyday and night calculating how much of the oil revenues they could get once they take the over all control of the entire South Sudan; with 100% of its oil and other natural resources' revenues. It appears that they cannot focus until they separate the South from the rest of the Sudan and, may be, just may be then, these leaders would think positively. Before that it is not possible since everyone one of them is busy calculating his/her gains, meanwhile the constitutional crisis continue and the very supporters of SPLM from all over the Sudan continue to live not as perplexed people but people under constant pressure of fear for a renewed fighting between the partners.
Meanwhile, NCP and SPLM need to select leaders who must be both humble and patient to manage their conflicts as they emerge. Humility and patience were the qualities displayed by the late Dr Garang and Ali Osman Muhamman Taha when they realised that the people of the Sudan needed peace more than them since they were representing SPLM and NCP respectively as parties. The humility and patience employed by both Garang and Taha were and/or are qualities translated into wisdom by their resolve to put an end to one of the world's longest civil wars. How best could the Sudanese people, irrespective of their political affiliations, colours and creed, honour these heroes of peace? Is it by introducing another war or by ending all the existing wars and creating an island of peace called 'the Sudan' within which all Sudanese must live in harmony and without fear of each other reverting to war or breaking away?
Natsios, the US special representative to the Sudan, mentioned at the beginning of this article, believes that both SPLM and NCP are to blame for failing to repair serious cracks within the partnership. This is true because the partners have failed to make use of the political and military mechanisms they laid down to resolve conflicts between them. The CPA as a document is not peace by itself. Peace emanates from the hearts of those who negotiated it and have the strong will to see through its implementation that must be accompanied by but solvable differences.
However, now that one partner is completely out of the partnership; what would the US envoy say? That the two partners are to blame in the current constitutional crisis? The answers to these two questions are one: US administration is to blame. The administration has been favouring one partner and totally disregarding, despising and wanting to remove from power the other partner in order to effect 'regime change.'
The US administration from the period of Bill Clinton became closer to the problem of the civil war in the Sudan. It financed the peace processes on Sudan, especially the IGAD peace initiatives which culminated into the CPA in 2005. The US administration is the biggest superpower behind the success of the Sudanese peace processes. As such, the US administration, under President Bush, needs to look at the current constitutional crisis with sympathy and no bias in order to influence the peaceful resolution of the crisis, avert war and help to realise the late Dr Garang's vision of 'united, democratic and secular Sudan.'
Even though some analysts squarely put the blame for the current constitutional crisis in the country on SPLM for withdrawing from GoNU, SPLM may not be blamable. But those powers that directly or indirectly, within or without the continent, which favour and encourage the SPLM to always focus on its partner as an enemy rather than a partner, with whom it should do business come what may, are to blame. The US administration has singled out itself as one of these superpowers interested in the unity of the Sudan but with a leadership they would want to impose on the Sudanese people as part of the policy of their 'regime change' in the Sudan.
History has taught the entire world that it is easy to manage peace even though it takes more resources than war. It is thus the hope of every peace-loving Sudanese to see into it that the US administration played a fair role as it tries to address the current constitutional crisis in the Sudan. But failure to give this crisis a fair shot is likely to reignite fighting between the people of the South and those of North Sudan. By extension, however, the war would obviously engulf the areas that are being run by the CPA like the Nuba Mountains, Southern Blue Nile and Abyei.
One seriously hopes that Natsios, as the US administration's envoy to the Sudan would, after this constitutional crisis is resolved, advice the US administration to work towards assisting the people of the Sudan without bias in their seriousness to transform the country into a democracy. Otherwise, any unfairness from the side of the US administration towards the resolution of the current constitutional crisis in the Sudan is likely to put the US administration in an awkward position as a leading world power. Those in the US administration who think that they may scavenge through a chaotic Sudan to implement 'regime change' need to know that a chaotic Sudan is likely to increase the worries and spending of the US administration to police the world than to alleviate the US from the burden it is already shouldering.
Efforts of Dr Machar and the Readiness of Al Bashir to Respond Commendable
The Vice-President of the government of South Sudan (GoSS), Dr Riek Machar, who came from Juba leading an SPLM delegation to meet the President of the Republic, Omar Hasan Ahmad Al Bashir, to deliver SPLM's demands on how to resolve the constitutional crisis, seemed to have made a breakthrough in settling one of the outstanding issues.
Dr Machar's team met the President of the Republic on Tuesday, October 17th, 2007. In the evening of the very Tuesday, however, the President of the Republic issued Republican Decrees making a reshuffle in which he appointed and fired ministers, presidential advisors and state ministers in the government of national unity (GoNU).
This has been a very interesting and welcome political development in the sense that the meeting Dr Machar held with the President of the Republic did bore fruits. This truly means that Dr Machar's team did play an excellent role of a mediator, a role that no one could have played better given the bitterness that had developed between the Naivasha partners lately.
This, therefore, means that the GoSS has people with excellent negotiating qualities. The fact that Dr Machar and his accompanying delegation could negotiate with the President of the Republic and within hours resolve one of the outstanding issues that brought about the constitutional crisis, means that dialogue and not withdrawal or threats to go back to war are what are needed in this country to address serious issues. This also means that GoSS has identified a team of its own which should be maintained to continue dealing with the outstanding issues.
Tuesday's GoNU cabinet reshuffle is nothing but an attestation that the outstanding issues that seem to be causing serious cracks in the partnership are resolvable. Even though the coming of Dr Machar into the forefront of the GoSS' negotiating team with the NCP is late, it is an extremely beautiful development. It is thus the hope of every peace-loving Sudanese that SPLM and NCP maintain this line of dialogue so that this country averts the possibility of a return to war.
The peace-loving Sudanese must commend the efforts of Dr Machar and certainly the readiness of the President of the Republic to use his powers to address the crisis. The Sudanese people must be hoping that the other members of SPLM and NCP who wanted to capitalise on the crisis in order to cause chaos adopt the approach of insisting on negotiation and dialogue rather than making threats which could play into the hands of wrong elements within the country and another war could be reignited unnecessarily.
The peace-loving Sudanese would therefore hope that the President of GoSS appoints or sanctions the Machar team to enter into serious dialogue with the NCP to address the remaining issues that are hampering the implementation of the CPA. This is important because this country needs wise and patient leaders from both NCP and the SPLM to continue with dialogue and negotiations. The CPA requires continued dialogue and negotiations for its implementation to progress in order to address those pending issues that are threatening the security of this country.
The International Community Should Reassess its Strategy on Dealing with CPA Partners
Events have revealed that the recent SPLM pullout from the government of national unity (GoNU) is related to the issues of ministerial reshuffle requested by the SPLM's leadership, Abyei Protocol and the status of the Sudanese armed forces (SAF) in the South.
This author, in an article entitled: "Who to blame now that CPA partners entered into incommunicado", discussed the complexities of the Abyei Protocol and the status of the SAF in Abyei but did not have enough space to discuss about the reshuffle and the role the international community could play in either uniting the Naivasha partners or continue to widen the rift between them. This article, thus, will try to address the latter since the formers have been exhaustively dealt with.
According to SPLM sources, President Al Bashir received the nominations made by the First Vice-President to reshuffle his members within the government of national unity (GoNU) but that President Al Bashir refused to effect the changes SPLM wanted. What should be made very clear here is that the issues of delaying reshuffles in this country are not new. This is attributed to very many factors. One of them is that the Head of State, who is normally the final authority in the reshuffling of GoNU, waits for detailed reports on individuals nominated to such posts as ministers and advisors. This is an important exercise so that criminals or simply people with bad human rights or criminal records do not find their ways into the cabinet of a sovereign national government as this would send distressing signals all over the country and indeed the world over.
For example, there are some people currently working in the GoNU and GoSS as senior officials and/or legislators whose nominations cannot be accepted in any respectable government, especially in countries that do scrutinize the nominations of their candidates before they are appointed to become senior civil servants let alone ministers. One of such individuals was appointed in GoSS and the other in the GoNU legislature, previously accused of committing murder, rape and shooting at a car driven by a foreign aid worker for raising dust on the road on which he was traveling respectively.
Therefore, it normally takes months for the president of the republic to get the detailed reports on those nominated for constitutional posts. But should this really be one of the reasons for SPLM to withdraw from the GoNU? If it is, one would say that either political immaturity or a problem in understanding the difference between running a real government and the pseudo-government run by the SPLM in the bush prior to the CPA is the matter.
This truly is so because the SPLM leadership Council should have withdrawn its members from the Interim National Assembly and the Council of States but not from the government. What they did is not a suspension as they would like the Sudanese people and the world over to believe. It is a withdrawal from the partnership and/or coalition between them and the NCP. Ministers and Advisors at the national level are appointed by the Head of State and cannot be suspended by anybody other than the president of the republic who appointed them.
Role of the international community
The international community has played a big role in the current constitutional crisis in the Sudan. How did they do that? Given its dislike of the NCP, the international community found a friend in the SPLM. They have developed better relations with the SPLM, even making SPLM to behave like a party running a sovereign State. They have made their intentions very clear that they are opposed to the NCP and this could be realised in the very many resolutions issued by the Security Council on the Sudan, and US insistence to effect regime change.
The danger in this kind of behaviour displayed by the international community in their dealings with the CPA partners is that it works towards dividing rather than uniting the people of the Sudan. It sends resonating signals to the SPLM that they are the favoured politicians in the country. It makes the SPLM forget that they do have shortcomings since they will be about the only player accepted in the field to perform.
There is no doubt that the performance of the SPLM has been checked by the international community, which is fully aware of what is taking place in the South under the SPLM. For example, from the time the SPLM took over 100 percent of the South, hundreds of innocent people have been detained, harassed, tortured, displaced from their own homes or even killed. These enumerated facts form the basis for serious violations of human rights against the people of the South by the SPLM.
The GoSS has been mismanaging the oil revenue cash and upto this very moment a lot of money since the tenure of Arthur Akuen, SPLM's former Minister of Finance, has not been accounted for. This is known by the international community which apparently turns blind eyes on it because SPLM is a better devil than the NCP.
The international community has worked so hard to see in to it that the Naivasha talks succeeded and that the people of the Sudan needed peace and reconstruction. But how could the international community help the people of the Sudan in general and the South in particular to have peace and reconstruct the South? Could the international community help the people of the Sudan and the South by keeping silent or turning blind eyes on what is specifically happening in the South in terms of human rights violations and institutionalized corruption?
The President of GoSS, H.E. Lt-Gen. Salva Kiir Mayadit, is trying his best to fight corruption in the SPLM and the GoSS. But two years on, this fight has been elusive because he lacked serious cooperation from his folks. This being the case, good governance and the rule of law are missing in the South and these two are the main ingredients of democracy. How could the international community seek to change the regime in Khartoum for committing human rights violations while encouraging the SPLM in the South to commit worst human rights violations against the people of the South at the very nose of the international community? Where is the logic in this kind of rationale?
The international community has to reassess its strategy as it tries to deal with the situation in the Sudan as a whole. It has to forget the so-called regime change and should instead concentrate on how to help the people of the Sudan to unite. The unity of the Sudanese people is a prerequisite to any useful future transformation of the Sudan into a full and complete democracy. Thus, trying to divide the people of the Sudan on the basis of friendly and unfriendly entities is likely to keep them divided forever, or in short, divided entities or independent states, for that matter.
Maj-Gen. Edward Lino's Attack in Juba: What a State of Lawlessness?
On November 3rd, 2007, this author was given disturbing information that seemed to have occurred in Juba. The Chief of SPLA External Intelligence Services, Maj-Gen. Edward Lino Abyei, was attacked in Juba on that fateful day. This report was given to The Advocate by a reliable source.
It It said that Maj-Gen. Abyei was driving along a certain road in Juba's Nimra Tallata residential area at night. While driving along the way, in which Maj-Gen. Peter Gadet lives, he was stopped by the bodyguards of Maj-Gen. Gadet. They complained that Maj-Gen. Abyei flashed them by his moving vehicle's lights. Maj-Gen. Abyei was reported to have introduced himself first and then told them that he didn't intend to flash them as he was normally passing by the road. The report further indicated that Maj-Gen. Gadet's bodyguards opened Maj-Gen. Abyei's vehicle driver's door, pulled him out of the vehicle and thoroughly beat him up.
This action raises a lot of questions that need serious answers from the SPLM/A top echelons. Why on earth should the SPLA soldiers, under the control of Maj-Gen. Gadet, beat Maj-Gen. Abyei, especially after establishing who he was? Where was Maj-Gen. Gadet when his own colleague was being battered up by his bodyguards? Is this some tribal vendetta or how could it be best described? Could this kind of uncouth behaviour be described as having been necessitated by tribalism which seems to be thriving in the South nowadays?
Some people reading this article might conclude by saying that the author is wrong; because Maj-Gen. Gadet is not an SPLM /A proper. Well, this is not what this author would like to encourage as a debate because South Sudan is not homogeneous as such, even though it is quite a divisive statement that should not be entertained.
However, what the authorities in Juba need to look at in this case is that SPLM/A is one single body. Therefore, everyone who either by chance or otherwise finds him/herself in the SPLM/A is an SPLM/A and must abide by the laws and regulations set up by the SPLM/A. She/he must accept responsibilities of his/her actions when caught behaving unbecomingly. This, however, is a sign of trying to develop homogeneous society but must be supported by actions of goodwill, not tribal will, to make the development of homogeneous society a reality. Taking the law into one's own hands is a crime and it certainly scares off the peace-loving South Sudanese.
If such a thing could happen to one of a top SPLA intelligence officers what could be the general feeling of the ordinary citizens in Juba and other towns of the South in as far as the behaviour of the SPLA officers and men under Maj-Gen. Gadet is concerned? Where is the rule of law that some SPLM/A top officials are talking about? Is it the withdrawal of weapons from soldiers and other citizens who possessed them in Juba? No, that seemed to have been a mere military order given by the commander-in-chief for execution. In the case of South Sudan, law and order could only be established through the existing structures like an effective and unbiased judiciary, the ministry of legal affairs and constitutional reforms, police and prisons administrations in GoSS.
The South or 'New Sudan' as assumed by SPLM/A senior officials and diehards has been liberated. Keeping that assumption alive, one would say there is indeed no need for the South to be run like a rebel-held town. The South has 'sovereign state' institutions: GoSS and its other related arms – Parliament and the Judiciary – as well as the states. But again, one never forgets to remind himself/herself that tribocracy (the desire to rule by tribal affiliation) continues to be the ruling system in the GoSS, and then ask: how could law and order be reinforced under GoSS?
What is important, however, is that the people of the South must be made to know in no uncertain terms that they are living within an entity that respects law and order. This is important because what happened to Maj-Gen. Abyei is shocking and must be sending distressing signals all over the South. Because the simple logic here would be that if this is what happened to a top SPLM/A officer, what could happen to any ordinary person in Juba and South Sudan as a whole?
The GoSS, under H.E. Salva Kiir Mayardit, has to be seen addressing cases like this and many others in order to make the citizens of the South regain confidence in the SPLM/A and GoSS. Those who did this to Maj-Gen. Abyei must be made to answer for the crimes they committed against their own senior officer. After taking such disciplinary measures against those who wronged Maj-Gen. Abyei, the rest must be warned against committing any crimes related to the latter or about to be committed against any other ordinary citizen in South Sudan. This, however, cannot be achieved without the activation of structures that are mean to manage law and order in the South.
Behaviours such as those presented by the case of Maj-Gen. Abyei are counted on the general performance of the SPLM/A. This being the case, the GoSS, and SPLM/A have to sincerely review the relationship between its top officials. Because the case of Maj-Gen. Abyei is sending signals out there that clearly reveal that there is division within the SPLM/A and individuals who joined or rejoined it. This is definitely not what the SPLM/A would like to hear, least from its own supporters and diehards. An organised army, government and party would produce an organised society. This doesn't seem to be the case with the events that are occurring in the South nowadays. This should not be allowed to continue, because the people in Juba in particular and the South in general will also continue to experience and live under immense intimidation, what a state of lawlessness that could become?
Equatorians Must Unite Unconditionally for Yambio and Other Incidents Not to Resurface
The Equatorian Community in Khartoum, South Sudan and other parts of the world were enraged when 12 police officers and men were gunned down in Yambio. The 12 police officers and men include three senior officers: a Brigadier; a Lt-Col. and Major. They were killed on November 4th, 2007, by the SPLA elements in the Joint Integrated Units (JIUs). Equatorians in the Sudan and the world over have described these cold-blooded killings as barbaric, inhuman and very hard to digest.
This is not the first time such a killing that takes a tragic dimension has taken place. Tragic deaths like that of the late Benjamin Bol Akol, Former Minister of Agriculture in the Regional Executive Council in early 70s, Nyachigak Nyachuluk, one of the very first few Murle intellectuals killed in mysterious circumstances in SPLA in the 1980s, the 28 SPLA Lowulak officers and men (from greater Imotong tribe) gunned down in Kapoeta in 1990; were not but some of the serious crimes committed by the SPLM/A. These deaths were not investigated even though there are genuine South Sudanese within the SPLM/A who are asking themselves questions like, why are these cases not investigated?
Lack of investigations and serious adherence to recommendations made on any such cases is the problem behind these tragic killings. There are people within the SPLM/A who, once they realise that the results of any investigated case would incriminate anyone from their section of the tribe, they destroy the entire report. This is one of the very reasons why many investigations in the SPLM/A have never bore fruits. This, too, makes the SPLM/A as a politico-military organisation to ignore making public investigations since it is so easy to destroy and withhold any investigation report.
Let us look at the latest investigations conducted by the SPLM/A on two of their own officials. Col. Patrick Zamoi, former governor for Western Equatoria State (WES), was accused of inciting tribal hatred in WES. In other words, he was accused of pitting the WES people against the settler tribes in WES. Col. Zamoi was arrested, locked up with his children within a home and later on released to go and study in Kenya. Who from amongst those concerned South Sudanese within or without the SPLM/A has asked what happened to Col. Zamoi's case?
Maj-Gen. Isaac Obuto Mamur Mete, another SPLM/A officer whose fighting records are second to none within the SPLM/A during the liberation struggle, was accused of undermining the SPLM/A and GoSS. He was locked up and an investigation committee was formed to investigate him. What happened to him now? Is his investigation complete? If yes, in whose favour is it? Maj-Gen Mamur's Committee was given 14 days to present its findings to the SPLM/A authorities. Has anyone heard about the committee's findings? No one did, and it is nearly six months since he was locked. Even though this author was informed by a reliable source that Maj-Gen. Mamur was found innocent and should have been released by now, tribocracy may want him dead than alive.
Why? If any reasonable person asks, that most if not all SPLM/A investigations do not produce results. How could any public profiled case not be made public since it was made public initially? The failure to make public results of any public investigation brings anxiety to the public. This, thus, would mean that the public itself, which is following such public cases, would be forced to carry out its own investigations. It is, however, better for any investigation's results to be made public rather than leaving it entirely on the public to do the investigation. Otherwise, the reasons for SPLM/A's inability to make public its own public investigations could be deduced as tribocratic exercise practiced by individuals within the government. These tribocratic individuals, thus, believe in concealing facts based on tribal affiliations within the SPLM/A and GoSS, for reasons best known to their tribe and not the South.
This author hopes that The Advocate esteemed readers do not get him wrong. Tribe is as important as being. A tribe gives a person the pride of being cultured. It is through tribes that people discover who they are. But tribe could easily be steered the wrong or the right way. A tribe can be used to advance the cause of human freedom and this has been seen in Africa. A tribe could be used to suppress others, especially when it is combined with state and/or political power; and this too has been seen happening in Africa and Rwanda is a case in place. The Hutu tribe ruled Rwanda from the late 1950s but the other tribe, the Tutsi, was suppressed until when it had to constitute a force to liberate its people in Rwanda in early 1990s.
Advancing the cause of freedom through a tribe could also mean responding to cries of those around that particular tribe with a view to extending a helping hand. A tribe that extends a helping hand to other tribes understands what justice means. By understanding what justice means, such a tribe would also be ready to establish law and order through which justice could be managed to take care of those that desire help. This would be nothing less that an extension of a helping hand to the general public.
But how could someone explain the Yambio incident at this era of peace? Why do we have to kill each other when guns had been silenced years ago? If there is truly an investigation to the Yambio incident, the only hope one could bank on is that the Yambio incident investigation should not follow the trend of the SPLM/A previous investigations that bore no fruits at all.
Equatorians, a multitude of tribes that is currently moaning its sons killed in the Yambio incident, need to look at what is happening around them. Those leaders who claim to represent them must be made to know that they have let Equatorians down. This is because some of them have immersed themselves deep into money-making exercises while forgetting that they are supposed to protect their constituents.
Some of these leaders have very bad track records. Some of these leaders, until very late, tried to stand for the truths and the Rumbek minutes are a testimony to this. But what seems to have appeared is that these very leaders who, in the past, were known for being yes-men are back in the profession of true yes-men. Why? If someone may ask. It is because in the past they were struggling on how to secure positions in the SPLM/A. Now that the positions are secured, how to become rich very fast is the next step. The latter step, however, revives the profession of yes-manhood.
Yambio incident should trigger an automatic unity of the people of Equatoria. The unity of the people of Equatoria is very essential in order to unify the voice of its people so that they use such a voice to address the problems facing Equatoria. The people of Equatoria need to unite their voice against any illegal settlements in Equatoria by tribes that got to Equatoria during the war. The war is over and they must pack and go, if they want peace in Equatoria and South Sudan as a whole. The failure of GoSS to address the problem of returning the settlers in Equatoria back to their original homes raises suspicion and Equatoria cannot be compromised for the illusive unity of the South. In fact the unity of the South as well as its liberation cannot be complete when some tribes continue to occupy a greater part of Equatoria. Equatoria as an entity is not against any South Sudanese who chooses to settle in Equatoria legally. It is the illegal settlement in Equatoria which has bred hatred between the people of Equatoria and the tribes that have chosen to settle in Equatoria. The illegal settlers in Equatoria are to blame for the Yambio and other incidents in Equatoria. Equatorians must unite unconditionally for the Yambio and other incidents not to repeat themselves.
Al Bashir and Kiir May be Playing into the Hands of Enemies of Peace
Early this week, H.E. the President of the Republic, FM Omar Hasan Ahmad Al Bashir, called on the Popular Defence Force (PDF) to return back to their training camps. He said his government has withdrawn 80% of the Sudan Armed Force (SAF) personnel from the South, and that the remaining 20% will follow suit. But, he said, any threats from SPLM/A in trying to move North would be challenged. The President was quoted by the BBC Arabic Service, November 18th, 2007.
This speech has received two official criticisms from SPLM/A senior members: The SPLM/A's representative in America, Mr. Ezekiel Gatluak; and H.E. Lt-Gen. Salva Kiir Mayardit, First Vice-President and President of GoSS, on return to Juba from his latest US visit. Gatluak said that, "President Al Bashir's statement amounts to beating the drums of war." While Lt-Gen Kiir said: "SPLM/A will not restart war but will have the right to defend itself."
To give in depth analysis of these two SPLM/A officials' reactions, one would realise that by saying "It will not start war but has a right to defend itself", (Salva Kiir Mayardit, BBC Arabic Service, November 20th, 2007, 0500 hours GMT), SPLM/A does not intend to return to war; but could if forced to do so. Meanwhile, by saying that they have and are completing their withdrawal from the South and against any infringement of the SPLM/A towards the North, President Al Bashir is saying: I've left for you the South but please do not infringe on my rights in the North as a territory. Who should the blame then go to; SPLM/A or NCP?
However, readings from the past show as common knowledge that SPLM/A is on record for having made threatening statements over and over that, 'it would revert to war if the CPA is not implemented.' "Walid Hamid, the SPLM/A Northern Sector Official Spokesman, had stated this in 2006: “The CPA is a sound mechanism for conflict resolution, but difficulties have been encountered in the course of implementation - if these mechanisms fail, there are various options, including going back to war”, (The Citizen Newspaper, January 31st, 2006, lead story).
These threats became apparent when Lt-Gen. Kiir campaigned against the NCP in Washington. Lt-Gen. Kiir said in Washington that, "NCP has no political will to implement the CPA" What else does the SPLM/A expect from a partner that is continuously made to feel threatened; and the threat comes from none other than SPLM/A itself?
Humans do not accept threats, this very common in the tradition of human persons. They are born free and logic is supposed to guide their central thinking, humans don't like being bullied in any form. In fact the relationship between mankind today is based on mutual understanding and respect for all the values of fellow humans. In the case of the current crisis, it should be borne in mind that politicians, true politicians, that is to say, do not entertain exertion of any pressures on them. None in the SPLM/A would certainly accept any kind of pressures aimed at say, 'regime change' within the SPLM/A. Children around teen ages do not accept bullies let alone receiving threats, at a time when every Sudanese and the world over knows that the war had no clear victor.
The question is: were the SPLM/A making the threats to cow down, change the thinking of the NCP? Or were they seriously aimed at reigniting another war with its partner? The choice for 'trying to go to war' seems to be that of the SPLM/A which continuously keeps threatening its partner of 'going back to war.' SPLM/A knows that they made the Naivasha agreement with the NCP on the basis of having the consequences of war and hence agreeing to settle it; but not on the basis of a victor versus a loser.
The NCP, from the CPA onset, did not intimidate or threaten the SPLM/A in public, something SPLM/A enjoys doing to NCP. The non-implementation of the CPA is not a threat to return to war; but rather something that requires patience with the continued process of dialogue; and flexibility to approach the issues related to the CPA.
The President of the Republic is on record in the NCP as having advised members of the NCP to tolerate the behaviours of some SPLM/A members to safeguard the interest of peace. The President believed that it will take SPLM/A sometime to come off its war hangovers. This was a mature approach because he has been proven right now that the SPLM/A have failed to come off the war hangovers. Should he be blamed? Obviously not; and those fair Sudanese nationals would realise that the President of the Republic is simply saying enough is enough, no more bullying, no more threats; and must prepare his forces for any possible showdown, should it be imposed on him and his ruling party.
There is one identifiable concern though, which seems to be a common denominator to both parties to the conflict – NCP and SPLM/A: the desire "not to start war but defend oneself should war be imposed." This means that the NCP and SPLM/A cannot fight each other, because none of them is going to pull the trigger, since each one of them is on defensive position. However, this common denominator could be utilised by the governmental and non-governmental organisations (GOs/NGOs) as a reason to interfere in order to mediate. There are still chances for this country to avert war. Reconciliation between the partners is possible since there is a ray of hope – the desire "not to restart war."
This being the case, it should be noted that the process of conflict resolution and management denounces preconditions, let alone threats of any kind. It is a-give-and-take exercise and Naivasha should have taught lessons to anyone from within or without the partnership who keenly lived or followed the process.
It is inconceivable to assume that those who negotiated Naivasha were not patient enough to accept the give-and-take formula to gain the CPA. It may be conceivable, however, to assume that those from within or without the partnership have indeed learned some lessons and are prepared to use them in order to help this country avert war. Any military strategist would not miss understand that, even though the SPLM/A and NCP are both not willing to pull the trigger, some lunatics within both parties may actually pull the trigger. What would be the result of pulling the trigger? It will be very devastating; and the Sudanese public should not undermine this.
So far, no trigger has been pulled, so the urge to both the SPLM/A and the NCP to denounce their threats of "going back to war"; and "getting ready for war respectively", should be discouraged and dialogue as a means of resolving conflicts adopted. It was through dialogue that the two parties ended the war; and dialogue would obviously remain to be the best option to end the current constitutional crisis in the country. The country, its people and governments know the importance of peace and ending the current constitutional crisis so that there are no unnecessary tensions and mental intimidations imposed on the Sudanese people to live with.
President Al Bashir's remarks were serious, just like were those of his First Vice-President, Kiir. However, the President and his Deputy should heed to calls made by the Sudanese people represented in their various political parties and other syndicated organisations to end the current constitutional crisis in the country. The President should maintain his positions of not being the first to restart war with SPLM/A and revise the approach of dealing with the SPLM/A.
Meanwhile, the First Vice-President should also continue with his attitude of no-return to war attitude. The President and First Vice-President are the fathers of this nation and like in other nations, differences would always occur; but there must always be strong will to handle any emerging crisis of this nature. But given the complexities that characterize the partnership in the Sudan, The frustration of the President and his Deputy are understandable. Frustration, however, could be what the enemies of peace in the Sudan are upto. Should it be the case, then the President and his Deputy may be playing into the hands of those enemies of peace in the country and war may truly be invertible.
It is the hope of every peace-loving Sudanese indeed that the frustration in trying to handle the delicate issues of the CPA should be the least of all problems to Al Bashir and Kiir. They hold in their hands the buttons that could trigger war in this country. It is they who will settle the current crisis and not anyone from outside the borders of this country.
This country needs development and not war. War had destroyed the country's economy; infrastructure in South Sudan, Eastern as well as Western Sudan. We hope that those who want war may not find acceptance from the symbols of peace and love in the Sudan: Al Bashir and Salva Kiir. These two understand the war that each of them is threatening to return to. They know that Sudanese and not anybody from outside this country's borders had fought the war which was ended in 2005 but after experiencing immense suffering resulting from war consequences.
'Baba Ja Dingde-kling'
The Events column has been closely following developments taking place in the country. It will not address them all but would be selective as it addresses most of them. One such development is that of the killing of 12 Police soldiers in Western Equatoria State by none other than the SPLA contingent of the Joint Integrated Units (JIUs). These 12 soldiers included three senior officers. The incident, also known as "The black Sunday" took place on Sunday, November 4th, 2007.
Equatorians have used strong terms to denounce and condemn the act. Some are now saying that they are not liberated. Others say that the oppression has been extended by the "Jallaba" to the SPLM/A. While others exaggerated by saying that what is happening in the South is nothing less than an occupation by alien forces. There are those who say that it is better to be oppressed by an enemy but not by a brother or sister. The list of these proverbs is long and one would understand the frustration of the people towards the SPLM/A.
The people who have said all the proverbs above, however, are those very brothers and sisters who had misunderstood the Khartoum Peace Agreement (KPA) and its architects. The architects of the KPA were insulted and made to hear phrases like: 'You are sell-outs'; 'You've sold the South to "Jallaba"'; 'Wait for the men, they are coming.' Very few from those who badly waited for the coming of "men home" knew that the KPA architects came ahead to warn them of impending dangers.
Like any other people that felt the oppression and needed liberation very badly, those who misunderstood the KPA and its architects were thrilled to receive and welcome the "men home." Some had even sung songs for the compared-to-none-victorious SPLM/A. But now that two or so years have passed, the same people who composed the beautiful reception songs to welcome the "men home" have been made to sing toddlers songs like: 'Baba Ja Dingde-kling' shamelessly sung by some senior Equatorian SPLM/A members – what a travesty of liberation?
Today there is no one to blame for whatever is happening at home except those who were waiting for the "men" to come home. But as a people that share the same destiny, it is time to re-examine ourselves and bear in our minds that all men are equal before God. Those who had insulted the architects of the KPA have been forgiven long since. Now it is time to stand up for the truth and fight for equal rights of the people of the South.
No party or parties should be allowed to oppress, divide or manipulate the people of the South on tribal or any other basis. But who is supposed to make this happen when the lion sleeping and waits for his next victim? Please, don't take this for the 'Cat and Mouse' story because men are men wherever they are. The people of the South should, in one single voice, tell the SPLM/A in no uncertain terms that the people in the South, and not one single tribe, need to benefit from the CPA in its entirety: security, jobs, loans for development, services and political representation. Unless SPLM/A works for the interest of the people of South Sudan unconditionally, no one sees any reason why it must exist as a political party, claiming to represent the Sudan let alone the South. The people of the South should prepare for SPLM/A's exit so that the South could be saved by some genuine political parties that are managed by true sons and daughters of the South.
Must the Entire South Really be Compromised for Abyei?
Abyei as many readers of this column and Sudanese at large have come to know has two major problems. These problems are the implementation of its protocol and the complications surrounding this implementation which seem to be bogging the entire CPA implementation down.
The implementation of Abyei protocol has a serious problem. It appears that the Abyei members who happened to have participated in the Naivasha negotiations on both sides did not exert influence over what is now the Abyei protocol. It would really be difficult for the rest of South Sudan to understand the reasons why Abyei protocol has taken this long when implementation on the other four protocols started within the first year of CPA?
The Abyei members in the SPLM/A should tell the people of the South the truths so that if any future conflict is to erupt from the non-implementation of the Abyei protocol, they must know the reasons why they will have to die again.
What the people of the South need to know, however, is that the Abyei protocol did not come as a protocol so easily. It was the most difficult protocol to negotiate in Naivasha. It was difficult because, regardless of SPLM/A interest to include Abyei in its map, it was a non-starter strategy – Abyei truly was annexed to the North by the Abyei Chieftains led by their paramount Chief, Deng Majok, in 1905. It doesn't matter how this agreement was reached between the Chiefs in Abyei and the Khartoum authorities at the time. The Chiefs then and now are representatives of the people and it is not possible to say that they were deceived. The Naivasha agreement as a whole was and will remain to be based on the status of Abyei of 1905.
For those who understand the conflict resolution process, they would understand here that the Khartoum authorities at the talks in Naivasha did make concessions on Abyei. It was the right of Khartoum to claim Abyei from the SPLM/A but, as a give-and-take process, it did agree on a middle solution. The middle solution here was the desire of both sides to grant Abyei a special status. Abyei, according to its protocol, belongs to the presidency, not the SPLM/A or the government of the Sudan.
The reasons why Abyei's protocol is not implemented is that the SPLM/A has ignored the Abyei protocol which accepted the special status of Abeyi based on 1905 borders. SPLM/A wants the borders of Abyei redrawn, basing the redrawing on 1965 and not 1905. The element of 1965 is alien to the protocol of South Sudan in that the protocol of South Sudan is based on January 1st, 1956. Isn't this a contradiction, if not a violation of the Abyei protocol?
SPLM/A has been mobilizing the South Sudanese to prepare for a fight for Abyei should the authorities in Khartoum refuse to agree with the new arrangements. Is this really fair to the people of the South, let alone the North, which feels that its rights over Abyei are being infringed upon?
South Sudanese know that Abyei is rich in oil and may be other minerals but would they really benefit from Abyei after its liberation? The majority of South Sudanese fought the war that brought about the CPA but how much have they benefited from the protocol of the South? Must the entire South really be compromised for Abyei?
SPLM/A and the NCP need to go back to the real protocol of Abyei and implement it as agreed upon by both sides. At the same time, the people of Abyei must know that it was they and not the rest of the South who annexed Abyei to the North in 1905. It is the people of Abyei who, according to the protocol of Abyei, should determine the fate of Abyei in a plebiscite. But trying to mobilize the people of the South to correct a mistake committed by none other than the people of Abyei is unfair to the people of the South and those of the North to whom Abyei legally belongs.
How Does NCP Expect to Win Elections in the South?
The leadership of the National Congress Party, (NCP) held a meeting with the NCP Southern Sector (NCPSS) members on November 26th, 2007, at the Party's Headquarters' premises. The NCP leadership called on the NCPSS to return to the South and reactivate the work of the Party there. The leadership of the Party said that it will win the elections in the South come the general elections. These statements were reported in most of the Arabic papers, including Al Ray Al Aam of November 27th, 2007, p.1).
The reactivation of the NCP as a Party in the South on one hand, and campaigning to win the elections, on the other is possible. But this is not an easy exercise – it requires a lot of money for such work to succeed. Even though the leadership of the SPLM has been making a lot of fuss about some imaginary money poured into the South to buy people to vote for the unity of the country, it is time that the NCP knows that NCPSS has been going through thick and thin in the South.
The NCP Party in the South has suffered from lack of finances to manage a number of its requirements. These requirements are: Rent for the various NCPSS Secretariats; allowances for those running the NCPSS Secretariats in the South at all levels and transportation for most of these secretariats; and last but not least, the Party's failure to amend its constitution in order to accommodate non-Muslims.
How does the NCP General Secretariat expect their Party in the South to win when they have deliberately ignored most of these Secretariats that are supposed to ensure the sustenance as well as the success of the Party in the South? The Party's constitution was made for Muslims alone and the Logo of the Party is a testimony to this. NCP knows how sensitive the religious aspects of life in this country have been. Thus, questions like, how much ready or prepared is the NCP to promote our socio-cultural needs, the needs that obviously include the religious aspects of life? Questions like this would emerge and it will be very difficult for any NCP candidate, be s/he Christian or Muslim.
Non-Muslims within the NCP know that NCP's constitution is Islamic-based. They have not complained because they believed and continue to believe that things will change in future. This is the future and now it is three years into the interim period and nothing has been done to make them part and parcel of the NCP. Should they really be blamed if some of them decide to leave the NCP because of its religious slogans?
It is the hope of this author that the NCP does now view this as a wild attack. It is not an attack but rather a reality, in that the CPA, which the NCP and SPLM have agreed on, has brought about a new reality in this country. The CPA does not discourage religion but has certainly drawn a few lines on the socio-cultural aspects in this country. For example, the CPA accepts Islam and Christianity as official religions in the Sudan. This means that political parties, including the NCP need to adopt this in order to accommodate the Non-Muslims in their parties. This being the case, the NCP Secretariat has to move in order to make the NCP constitution acceptable to all Sudanese: Muslims, Christians and certainly those who have no beliefs because their votes shall count.
This author would agree with the leadership of the NCP General Secretariat that NCP may, and not will, win the elections in the South. But in order for this serious approach to succeed, the Party has to reassess itself, especially in the South and make the Party part and parcel of the South Sudanese members of the NCP. More importantly, the Party's General Secretariat need to know that the current attitudes developed by some Northerners within the NCP General Secretariat towards the South Sudanese has to stop, and that the Party has to be supported financially so that it is able to sustain itself now and in the near future. This is important because the contest between NCPSS and the SPLM in the South is not going to be an easy one.
There is No Money Pouring into the South
Events has noted that there is a lot of concern within the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) over money poured into the South by the National Congress Party (NCP) to buy votes for the unity of the Sudan. This concern was echoed by the First Vice-President and President of the government of South Sudan (GoSS), H.E. Lt-Gen. Salva Kiir Mayardit.
In an address he gave to the Youth and other worshipers in Juba's St. Theresa Cathedral, Kator, on Sunday, November 25th, 2007, H.E. Lt-Gen. Mayardit said: "My advice is that if you are given money take it but vote for what Southern Sudanese stood and fought for – besides nobody will take you to court for taking bribery money", (Isaac Vuni, Sudan Tribune Newspaper, November 28th, 2007, p.1)
This author hopes that this concern over the "money pouring into the South" is not a strategy properly devised by SPLM/A in order to divide the people of the South into pro and anti-separation elements. It should be noted that SPLM/A in the past isolated people on the basis of "Nyegat" (Anti-SPLM/A working from within) and SPLM/A proper. This was extended to those who did not want to join the struggle but supported the movement. Would it be in the SPLM/A's interest to re-devise the same strategy that is likely to keep people, including its own supporters and sympathizers, away from it?
Such divisive sentiments would not help the SPLM/A and any other South Sudanese thinking on the same line. These sentiments should have gone with the first era of the SPLM/A in the interest of accommodating more Sudanese into the SPLM/A. South Sudanese are politically mature and they know what they have to do when they chose to do it. But any kind of blackmail to draw them into the SPLM/A because it is fighting for separation of the country cannot work. This is a bitter pill of truth that has to be swallowed by the SPLM/A.
Democratically, however, there is nothing wrong with SPLM/A if it chooses to campaign for separation. To campaign for separation, however, is a process which SPLM/A must know needs South Sudanese regardless of their political standings to make it happen. In the same thinking and as a democratic right, there is also nothing wrong with those who would choose to campaign for the unity of the country. This thus means that conviction rather than money is what would make the people decide but not political blackmails.
The people know and they have seen three years into the interim period pass by and noticed that they have not gained anything from the CPA? Since when has the SPLM/A thought of what is good for the people of the South? Did the SPLM/A think of the people of the South when they – on behalf of the very people – negotiated the CPA? If they had thought of them why then take 70% of power when SPLM/A knows that they form a minority because not every South Sudanese is SPLM?
To encourage the people to get money which is not there would also change the mentality of the people towards the forthcoming plebiscite. Some if not all – since poverty is that ruthless – may not concentrate on anything called plebiscite because they would be gearing up their efforts to search with the aim of hitting the jackpot of unity of the Sudan. More so, it encouraging corruption, which H.E. Lt-Gen. Mayadit is trying to fight against?
There is no money pouring into the South as emphasized by the SPLM/A. This appears to be a direct fear from a formidable opponent like the NCP. But it should be reiterated that such fears are unfounded, but as allegations they exist. There should be no reasons for SPLM/A to worry if they treat the people of the South well. The people of the South do not like to be segregated upon. They detest tribalism, nepotism and political domination. They need services, development, peace, proper security, freedom from all kinds of oppressions, including abuses – they need all those good things a liberated human person could desire. The people of the South do not like concoction of stories that are deliberately directed towards hatred of individuals in other parties. How best could the parties in the South, including the SPLM/A work towards uniting the entire South?
Those Who Detest Criticisms Desire to Conceal Facts
Events has noticed that a number of South Sudanese – especially those who think that they shouldn't be criticised when they go wrong and their sycophants – refer to The Advocate Newspaper as a government newspaper. This people cannot comprehend how the partners in The Advocate could manage to put up a newspaper and somehow sustain it.
Those who insist that The Advocate is a government newspaper perhaps want The Advocate to praise the SPLM and criticise the NCP. This line of thinking is naïve, in that there is no way – in this era of freedom of expression and speech – that SPLM, NCP or indeed any other party could control a newspaper it has no hand in its establishing. Otherwise, it would also be in line to naively think that those newspapers which support the SPLM and actually conceal facts about what is happening in the South from the public for fear of washing dirty linens in public are SPLM newspapers. In fact the SPLM and GoSS send their adverts to some of these newspapers with the aim of promoting them but not to The Advocate, which they view as anti-SPLM, but those in The Advocate do not think that they are SPLM or GoSS.
The reasons that the SPLM and GoSS are against people who criticise them is because they want facts about them concealed. How could the SPLM as a movement and GoSS as a government expect to rule the people of the South without being criticised? What does NCP got to do with the affairs in the South when it had handed over the South to the SPLM? NCP is known for its past records, so is the SPLM, but why should SPLM's GoSS detain people without trials, oppress and subjugate the majority of South Sudanese and yet expect people not criticise it?
The Advocate newspaper had stopped circulation several times. Those who read The Advocate newspaper would realise that its issue number is 99 today. These 99 issues represent less than four months; where as The Advocate has been in existence for about six months. Meaning that, The Advocate issue numbers should have been 144 and not 99. However, The Advocate newspaper has stopped for more than one-and-a-half months or 45 days to be more precise.
How could the government, with all the abundant resources at its disposal, fail to print its own newspaper? Those who work in the newspaper business know very well that to publish a quality newspaper in Khartoum nowadays, someone must have not less than 20,000 Sudanese Gineih to print a respectable newspaper per month. That figure does not include the salaries for staff. What is 20,000 Sudanese Gineih to the government? In fact 100,000 Sudanese Gineih is what could simply be injected into any government department for services. Thus, it would not be that difficult for the government to support The Advocate with any amount required by The Advocate administration.
However, to assume that; since The Advocate Chief Executive and the Editor-in-Chief are government officials, therefore the newspaper is government, adds to the naivety of those who think that The Advocate belongs to the government. There are some Sudanese working in senior positions with the government and own newspapers in Khartoum but their papers are not labeled government-owned like The Advocate, why? Do those who think that The Advocate is government worry about something which many do not know? Or is it because The Advocate is owned by wrong people, people who are neither members nor sycophants of the SPLM?
Those behind The Advocate have taken upon themselves to address – without fear or favour – serious problems that are plaguing the Sudan, especially the South and may bring about war if not resolved. The Advocate fights tribalism, Nepotism, oppression, domination, grabbing of peoples' lands, occupation of peoples' villages in the South; and certainly the notion that others were born to rule. If this is not seen as a noble fight, then The Advocate can do very little to open the minds that are already saturated with corruption. Those in The Advocate, like those of you out there, know that oppression and subjugation don't have colours. We cannot complain that the "Jallaba" oppressed and subjugated the South Sudanese while we entertain a deadly form of oppression and subjugation exercised by South Sudanese.
We in The Advocate shall continue to be on and off in our operations. We would prefer it to be that way because we don't want anybody to control us in our thinking or tell us what to do when we do not want to do it. Otherwise there can be no freedom in the press when that happens. So, government or no government The Advocate shall overcome its hurdles and continue with its noble fight against the carefully devised neo-colonialism.