Posted on September 30, 2011 by Editorial Team
LETTER FROM JUBA:
From Marvis Birungi
No one can blame President Salva Kiir Mayardit if he looks unhappy in this snap. With barely three months in power and after more than 25 years of war, a rebellion is the last thing he needs.
Barely three months since coming to power and heading what is still Africa’s youngest country, South Sudan President Salva Kiir Mayardit is facing a rebellion after a rebel movement was formed this week and went on to call for his ouster. The news is a major talking point here in Juba this week and first appeared on South Sudan News Agency, a pro-government news website.
The NDF is led by one Jack Deng whose details still remain a mystery. It joins more than three other insurgent groups in the just independent South Sudan. The country experienced a number of militia groups after the April 2010 general elections where the latter accused the government of rigging elections in favour of the ruling Sudan Peoples’ Liberation Movement (SPLM) candidates. Among these groups is one led by George Athor, a former gubernatorial candidate in South Sudan’s Jonglei State. Athor signed a ceasefire with the government early this year but broke it a month later when he attacked two of the national army’s bases in Jonglei state.
Athor accused the army for launching the attack first but said he was ready for further peace talks. He still remains the most active militia in the south. Officials here accuse the Khartoum government of arming and supporting him. He was also accused of last month’s tribal attacks between the Murle and Lou-Nuer tribes that left more than 600 people dead and thousands displaced in Jonglei State. The group’s statement says it will unite all the fighting groups in order to fight for the change of the regime. Other notorious groups included the South Sudan Liberation Army led by the late Gatluak Gai in Unity State. Gai was killed by his deputy after a disagreement within the group. Insurgents Gabriel Tanginya, Yau Yau and Peter Gadet surrendered to the army. Like most of the other disgruntled groups, NDF accuses the SPLM-led government of corruption, tribalism, insecurity, mistreatment of foreigners, spiralling inflation and nepotism.
This is how some locals here think about the new group:
Patrick Riruyo, an employee with United States Aid International Development USAID in Juba describes the group as confused and without concrete reasons to defend their rebellion, while Deng Bol Aruei lines with most officials that NDF is another long stretched arm of the Khartoum government. Joseph Eluzai says: “Expect a handful others over time.” It is predictable, he adds while Mary Lasu calls it a ticking time bomb. Mugabe Benjamin says: “I know “they” (referring to the government in the south) are going to be quick to point fingers to Khartoum but what does Khartoum have to with Deng? We will give it another 22 years and sub-divide the country again.”
“The hippo and the crocodile will enjoy the game. Both know the waters well,” says Alunyo Alfred Lukooya. Alas for the cats and camels, he adds while Agok Anyar says: “All this shall come to pass. Many have tried but ended up
coming back with no proper reason than demanding to be given V8 vehicles, mansions and school fees for their many children.”
Juba Teaching Hospital need help from you.
Another talk in town is about South Sudan’s main hospital, Juba Teaching Hospital. The hospital is currently overstretched with flowing patients suffering from different diseases, an incident many attribute to the returnees from Sudan that led to an increase in Juba’s population and heavy rains. A visit at the female Emergency medical ward shows that conditions are so over-crowded; patients are forced to sleep on the floor. The patients, most of them adults, are on intravenous medication for malaria treatment, although there are also diarrhoea, heart and liver cases.
Sarah Joseph Ladu says she brought her baby girl of eight months two days ago for malaria treatment but then she also got infected. She says that she only managed to get attention several hours later on her day of arrival. Diana
Kepsolsol, the nurse in charge says the ratio of nurse to patients is one to more than ten instead of 1:6. Like other basic services in South Sudan, the health system is struggling to get to its feet after the 20 years of war left it in shambles.
Nevertheless, these improvements to this vital service during the past six years have been slow. Malaria, diarrhoea and respiratory infections still kill people at a higher rate here than almost anywhere else in the world. This is because, IN PART, many families live far from functioning health centres and lack clean drinking water. At issue as well is the fact that many centres have little or no drugs as is the case today at Juba Teaching hospital, says nurse
The recent flow of returnees from North Sudan into Juba, combined with the heavy rains have contributed to the over-congestion which is higher than usual cases of malaria and diarrhoea cases in health centres. Deputy Minister
of Health, Dr Yatta Loli Lugar admits that there is a problem, and while he does not offer any immediate solutions to the over-congested hospital, he says preventative methods can help. Locals here say that South Sudan’s health care system must be given immediate attention in order to improve the standard of living of its people. There is a push in some sectors to begin shifting money previously allocated for funding the military towards improving health care.
People here are keenly talking about Sudan’s rush to apply for East African Community (EAC) membership ahead of their government in Juba. President Omar al Bashir of Sudan wrote to the chairperson of the summit of EAC heads of state, President Pierre Nkurunziza of Burundi expressing his country’s interest in joining the EAC. Basher’s application has already been submitted to the partner states and a meeting was held to consider several issues pertaining to the integration process.
Although some say Sudan would boost EAC credibility, others strongly argue that South Sudan should be given first priority to join the EAC for the role played by neighbouring Kenya and Uganda during the liberation struggle. Uganda is said to have heavily supported South Sudan with weapons and even some men to the Sudan Peoples’ Liberation Army (SPLA). Michael Ladu says South Sudan shares cultural ties with the rest of the East African people and that it has built a strong economic presence in the country already. Elija Malok Aleng, former Governor of the Central Bank, said South Sudan informally accepted the EAC because citizens from East African countries are running almost all businesses in the country. He added that South Sudan should formalise the joining of the EAC by signing the treaty.
Democracy and governance specialist Daniel Wuor Joak argues that it is not yet time to join the EAC because South Sudan does not have a competitive industry. Joak says: “Free movement of people and goods would not benefit South Sudan.” Joak suggested that South Sudan should sign as associate membership and later on when it develops it should apply for full membership. But the Vice Chairman of South Sudan Business Union, Aggrey Esbon said there is no problem in joining the EAC because all economic activities in South Sudan are done in partnership with East Africa. He stressed that South Sudan should initiate and intensify its production of goods.
New Rebel Movement Emerges in South Sudan; Calls For The Overthrow Of The Government
September 25, 2011 (SSNA) – A new group calling itself “the National Democratic Front” has been launched in South Sudan calling for the overthrow the current government of the Republic of South Sudan accusing it of corruption, tribalism and sliding into the abyss. It pledged to unite all the fighting groups in South Sudan in order to fight for the change of the regime. The Front is led by Jack Deng of whom little has been heard of before.
The following is the full text of the statement issued by the “National Democratic Front”:
The birth of the Republic of South Sudan was a moment of great joy. It was the moment the Southerners have been struggling to attain for centuries. The independence of South Sudan is not an end in itself but the beginning of the long road for the attainment of peace and prosperity for our people, who have been kept behind by the war. All these need a government that is forward- looking and rises to the enormous challenges posed by the birth of the new state.
However, the situation in South Sudan is slipping into an abyss unless drastic steps are taken to stop the slide. The country is gripped by many problems, for instance:
1. Rampant Corruption:
Corruption in South Sudan is a cancer that has evaded treatment. It permeates all levels of government from top to bottom. The widely spoken of corrupt ministers in GOSS who many believed would be relieved came back in force in the government of the new state. The message to the people is that those in charge do not care about their feelings. Thus, nothing short of the change of government will ever eradicate corruption.
The country suffers from many forms of insecurity and nine out of the ten Sates are affected in one way or the other. Former SPLA officers are fighting the government, tribes are fighting each other, sometimes with the abetment of the government such as the most recent Murle-Lou Nuer fighting where more than six hundred people were killed. The life of a human being has become so cheap in South Sudan! A government that cannot provide security for its citizens is not worth being in office.
3. Tribalism and Nepotism:
National unity is the safety valve for the progress of our country. Unfortunately, tribalism and nepotism have become the order of the day threatening the fabric of our unity.
4. Treatment of Foreigners in Juba:
Since 2005, many foreigners from the neighbouring countries have come to Juba, the capital of South Sudan, to render much needed services. However, a lot of them have been subjected to mistreatment and extortion; some lost their lives and others are languishing in jail without charges. All this is done by security agents. The South which has enjoyed the hospitality of the neighbouring countries and others in the region during the difficult times of war, the least expected of it is to reciprocate by treating the foreigners well.
5. The Spiralling Inflation:
Lack of clear economic policies has led to uncontrollable rising prices in basic commodities, especially the staple foods making them beyond the reach of the common citizen. For example, in Unity State, a bag of dura (90kg), which is the staple food, sells at 1,600 SSP when the minimum wage is only 300 SSP!
For all these failures and more, the National Democratic Front is launched today to spearhead the struggle to rid the people of South Sudan of this corrupt, inefficient and tribally-oriented government. The NDF shall:
1. Strive to unite the ranks of all the groups fighting in the bushes of Southern Sudan,
2. Upon the removal of the current government, establish a transitional government of national unity with the following objectives:
(a)- work out and implement a special socio-economic revival programme for South Sudan that will reverse the current decline of the economy and render basic services to the people.
(b)- pursue a sound foreign policy based on our interest and promotes regional and international co-operation.
(c)- Build a truly national army of South Sudan, both in mission and composition.
(d)- Carry out a complete overhaul of the security and law enforcement agencies to be for the service of the people and their protection.
(e)- hold a National Constitutional Conference in which all the political parties will take part. The NCC shall discuss and agree on the principles of the permanent constitution of the country, and set the time for holding the general election for the Constituent Assembly that will promulgate the permanent constitution.
The NDF is open to all South Sudanese who believe that South Sudan deserves better than the present government which is like a rudderless ship. We call upon all the masses of our people to stand with us in order to bring the suffering of our people under this misguided regime into a speedy end.