Archive for June 26, 2014


South Sudan's coat of arms, in which the eagle symbolizes vision, strength, resilience and majesty, and the shield and spear the people’s resolve to protect the sovereignty of their republic and work hard to feed it.

South Sudan’s coat of arms, in which the eagle symbolizes vision, strength, resilience and majesty, and the shield and spear the people’s resolve to protect the sovereignty of their republic and work hard to feed it.

Every year for the past 10 years, The Fund for Peace, in partnership with the Foreign Policy Magazine, has released an index of the world’s most fragile states, based on the analysis of mountains of data.

How Equatorians are Rocking Kiir’s Boat from Within

Posted: June 26, 2014 by PaanLuel Wël Media Ltd. in Commentary

By Mapuor Malual Manguen

Dr. Riek Machar Teny, the leader of Sudan Peoples’ Liberation Movement in Opposition (SPLM-O) could be giggling now. The federalism which he demanded in the ongoing peace talks in Addis Ababa between his movement and the government has excitedly reverberated so much in three southern states of the republic of South Sudan prompting the presidency to urge proponents and opponents of federalism to stop debating it.

Riek failed to win to his side people of Equatoria region in battle fields. Having realized this, he wisely crafted another idea to win over their opinions; he demanded that future South Sudan government must be restructured base on federalism. And this quickly aroused nod from Equatoria intellectuals, writers, and three Governors of Central, Western and Eastern Equatoria states more than Machar’s own home turf.

Ideally speaking, it created what I may call “proponents and opponents frenzy” on social and main media where some individuals have already picked up ethnic or regional cards to propagate hate speech and discontent among the people.

While addressing the country’s national parliament on 1st June, the president of South Sudan, Salva Kiir Mayardit criticized the demand for a federal system by the rebel leader Riek Machar as a ploy to divide the “internal front” and that citizens be allowed to decide on the matter. The President was alluding to conduct of referendum where all South Sudanese electorates can decide themselves on whether or not the country should go for federalism.

When Vice President James Wani Igga, who too hails from Equatoria region urged politicians from his backyard to toe government agenda and stop demanding federalism ( which according to him Riek stole from Equatorians), he immediately came under fire from the youth who criticized his stance while praising somewhat louder Governor of Central Equatoria state, Clement Wani Konga. The youth also pushed other two Governors who were a bit reluctant to come out openly and champion this idea.

I called Governor Clement Wani Konga “louder” because he is the most vocal Equatorian politician demanding federalism to be established in South Sudan. He was the first most senior official in the government to defy his own government on this matter. On 5 June, barely four days after the President cautioned people of South Sudan against buying Machar’s demand, he ignored it and declared that “Equatoria stands for federalism and no one can sit on it”.

Governor Konga went ahead and organized general meeting with all civil servants and politicians from his state at Nyakouron Cultural Centre where he briefed them about state government’s position in support of a federal system of governance during which thousands of civil servants attended.

This move put his colleagues from Western and Eastern Equatoria states in awkward position in their backyards. It was against this backdrop that youth from Equatoria region urged them (two Governors) to equally educate their populace about federalism just like what Governor Konga did. Vowing to pressure, Governor Joseph Bakosoro and Louise Lojore had no option but joined chorus calling for federalism in South Sudan.

Casualty

The number one casualty in my view is the government of President Salva Kiir Mayardit. The defiance direction taken by three Governors of Equatoria region depicts negatively on the strength and unity within government corridors from central to state government level against strong oppositions from SPLM former detainees and SPLM in Opposition.

Further, Equatoria’s defiance has localized federalism debates to regional basis as proponents see their opposing group as oppressors who want to maintain dominance through centralized system of governance. In effect, Government attention has been divided between the known enemy in the bush and new internal agitation within its rank. This is how Machar’s time bomb is dividing “internal front” which President Kiir warned in his parliament address early this month.

Secondly, another casualty is the vice President James Wani Igga who became in this debate a lone ranger in his home turf. It paints Igga as someone who could not bring anything on the table. His advice against federalism was a test of his popularity in Equatoria. No doubt VP Wani was rebuffed by politicians and people he assumed to be his supporters.

It should be note that Riek Machar would have not taken up arms had he not been sacked and replaced with Wani Igga. Machar sacking put him far distance behind the ladder of succession in ruling SPLM party and presidency. Ideally, Wani is currently well positioned in line of succession if President Kiir were to leave office today. But, if he could not defend his position or bank foothold at his home, it is unlikely that his future ambition would be significant.

As Equatorian position is rocking Kiir’s boat from within, the safer approach government should adopt to tackle this tide is not to silence debate on federalism per se. The government must come out clearly and tell South Sudanese why federalism is inappropriate at the moment. The citizens should be educated about its advantages and shortcomings and why the government is not or willing to adopt it.

Moreover, South Sudanese should know why they want to move away from decentralized federalism the country has currently to complete federal governance system. This will let citizens make appropriate choice once and for all. Any new gamble may backfire in the near future and story will repeat itself again.

The author is journalist, blogger and political commentator based in Juba. He can be reached at mapuormalual@yahoo.com or mapuormalual.wordpress.com

South Sudan-China Relations: A reversed courtship

Posted: June 26, 2014 by PaanLuel Wël Media Ltd. in Featured Articles

By Dr. Luka Biong Deng Kuol

china-kiir

The International Crisis Group (ICG) came with a comprehensive report in April 2012 about a new China’s courtship in South Sudan in the wake of the independence of South Sudan in 2011. However, since the eruption of conflict in South Sudan in December 2013, the situation has changed drastically and that puts South Sudan in rather awkward diplomatic challenges that change the direction of diplomatic courtship.

Within the four months of the crisis, more than one million of citizens of South Sudan got displaced, a quarter of million took refuge in the neighbouring countries, 32 percent of the population are in “emergency” category of food insecurity with 37 percent population whose survival is in question, 60,000 children may perish because of lack of food and thousands of innocent people have been killed in brutal way that is so alien to values and customs of people of South Sudan. Above all, mistrust between and among various communities deepened, social fabric weakened, pride and dignity of our great people as well as the image of the new nation have been tarnished.

This devastating development shocked the world and international community that unanimously welcomed the newest country to the UN family with optimism and high hopes of contributing to global peace and stability. Within a very short period of time, South Sudan lost its good relations with international community, particularly United Nations and its closest friends such as USA. US President Obama, whose origin is traceable to Nilotic ethnic group in South Sudan, issued an executive order to impose sanctions on individuals involved in obstructing the peace process or gross human rights abuses. UN Security Council threatens to impose similar sanctions. One Sudanese diplomat was jokingly telling me that you (South) have outperformed, in a very short period of time, the NCP in antagonizing international community and getting sanctions from USA.

With the deteriorating humanitarian situation, the initial mandate of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) to support peace-building, state-building and capacity development has been changed to refocus on protection of civilians, aiding the delivery of humanitarian assistance, monitoring human rights and preventing renewed violence. In other words, the UN assistance for strengthening the capacities of government is no longer part of the new mandate. Hilde Johnson, the head of UNMISS and a friend to the people of South Sudan who came to contribute towards building the new nations, decided not to continue heading UNMISS with its new mandate.

The recent donors conference in Oslo on South Sudan clearly indicated the shift of international community’s focus from state-building support to humanitarian assistance. Many long-standing friends of South Sudan are disappointed to seeing such a nation that they attached high hopes has degenerated again to humanitarian situation rather than building a new nation to fulfill the aspirations and selfless sacrifices of its people.

In the light of such deteriorating relations with international community, South Sudan started to look for new friends such as China and Russia. The Minister of Foreign Affairs paid special visit to Moscow to forge new relations with Russia and to convince it to support the government of South Sudan in the UN Security Council over issues related to South Sudan. The invitation extended to President Putin to visit South Sudan shows the diplomatic desperation of Juba to get support from Russia. Although Russia does not have a vested interest in the affairs of the South, it has huge investment potentials, particularly in the oil sector and infrastructure development.

On the other hand, China has huge economic and diplomatic leverage and potentials to assist Juba during this difficult period. Given the enormous challenges facing Juba, South Sudan has to forge a new courtship in China. As part of its new diplomatic outreach, the Vice President will visit China towards the end of this month. As this visit has been cautiously arranged by Chinese Communist Party rather than by the Government of China, Juba will have an uphill task to be successful with its new courtship in China.

This visit will come by the time South Sudan faces a serious conflict that is threatening not only lives and livelihoods of people but also investment opportunities, particularly in the oil sector. Also the IGAD peace talks on South Sudan have been adjourned indefinitely because of lack of political will by the warring parties. Also IGAD is currently making serious consultations with African Union Peace and Security Council and UN Security Council of possibility of imposing punitive measures and sanctions against the warring parties. Even in the upcoming 23rd Ordinary Session of the African Union summit in Equatorial Guinea, where the status of peace and security in Africa will be discussed, South Sudan conflict will be on the agenda and possible punitive measures and sanctions as may be recommended by IGAD may be considered.

In fact this visit will come at rather awkward time when China will be discussing with other members of the UN Security Council the possibility of imposing sanctions on the warring parties in the light of stalled peace talks in Addis, Ethiopia. As such we may not expect the visit to achieve much. It is likely that the Vice President may not meet with his counterpart in the government but probably his counterpart in the Chinese Communist Party.

Despite the challenges facing this visit, the Vice President may need to exert considerable efforts to convince Beijing to listen to him. On the top of the issues that Beijing will be interested in is a credible commitment by Juba to peace process as well as implementation of the cessation of hostilities agreement. China as member of UN Security has detailed and full report of the violations committed by the two parties of the cessation of hostilities agreement. Also China will be interested to know whether South Sudan has a credible investment strategy with a clear set of priority projects thoroughly assessed and duly approved by the relevant institutions. Importantly, China may like to know the thinking of Juba of how to protect the oil installations and other foreign investments and the role it can play.

If Juba could provide credible assurances to the concerns of Beijing, it is likely that a loan package from Chinese Export-Import (Exim) Bank may be concluded during this visit. With the conclusion of such loan, the Vice President may have opportunity to request Beijing to ensure the Chinese companies operating in South Sudan to adhere and abide by good business practices such as transparency and cost-efficiency through competitive bidding process, corporate responsibility, social, environmental and quality standards, partnership with local companies, training and employment of South Sudanese nationals and quality delivery.

As mentioned by Francis Deng that foreign policy is an extension of domestic policy with its success and effectiveness depending on a positive domestic “commodity to sell” in promoting international cooperation. It is apparent that the Vice President during his visit to Beijing is in shortage of positive domestic commodity to sell to China to make his diplomatic courtship effective. Rather than looking for new partners, South Sudan should put first its house in order with a positive domestic policy on which to base its foreign policy outreach. When our house is in order, South Sudan will not only consolidate and strengthen its relations with traditional partners and friends but it can create new partnership with new partners such as China and Russia.

The author is Associate Professor at University of Juba, Global Fellow at Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO), and Associate Fellow at Harvard Kennedy School.

Why the ‘Stupid’ Comment will Stick

Posted: June 26, 2014 by PaanLuel Wël Media Ltd. in Featured Articles, Malith Alier

By Malith Alier, Juba

stupid

This is not the first time for somebody in the region to publicly abuse or say unkind words toward South Sudan. It is at least the second time as far as I know for somebody to insult the intelligence of South Sudanese people entirely or through their leaders.

Maboub Maalim is therefore, a second person after Beshir of Sudan who referred to South Sudanese as “asharat” or insects in Arabic! The Beshir outburst came as a result of a successful capture of Panthou/Higlig in April 2012. So, both comments came as a result of wars. We will come back to that point later.

South Sudanese by nature are proud people. They based their pride on dignity and respect. Therefore, they always react to anything that demeans or unfairly challenge their intelligence no matter how slight it may be. Therefore, it sufficed to say that these insults taken on individual level would have been reacted to ferociously. Fist fight or insult for insult would have occurred immediately!

Unexpectedly, the government of the day which represents us all opted to ignore the Beshir outburst but instead reacted to the Maalim one, years later. There may be two reasons for this selective reaction. One reason is that, the first insult was directed to all South Sudanese but the latter was directed at the leaders on top of which, is the president. Second reason is that, dealing with Sudan is a tricky business because of oil and other things. That is why the government ignored Mr. Beshir and his insect reference.

Third reason is that the government respects big people or heads of states in the calibre of Mr. Beshir. Lower people like Maalim can easily get crucified as we have witnessed though for the same crime of attacking sovereignty of the country.

South Sudanese themselves have not yet regarded their leaders as stupid out of respect for them and the dignity of this nation unlike Zambians during the time of Levy Mwanwasa. The late Zambian president was referred by some quarters, as “cabbage” meaning that he was in a vegetative state of mind. However, this cabbage tag did not arise out of nothing. Mwanwasa was involved in an accident prior to his ascendency to the president. None of the current South Sudanese leaders on both sides was involved in an accident causing brain damage. They are in their natural mind state.

The selective reaction to a foreign interference in south Sudan means that the South Sudanese house is divided in to two, the leaders who deserve protection and the rest. Abraham Lincoln once upon a time declared that a house divided against it-self cannot stand. This is one reason why the stupid comment will stick. Many foreigners reason that any insult on the country would be ignored just like the Beshir one.

So, the same government selectively opted to fight insults against its leaders but ignored those directed at the citizenry as a whole. The minister of Interior has taken it upon himself and went all the way to parliament, lecturing it on how to protect the president from such comments or abuses according to Sudantribune website. This is a clownish attempt. This very minister was in parliament at the time Beshir abused the whole nation but failed to react as one of the representatives of the people of South Sudan. What necessitates his reaction this time is any one’s guess.

Another reason why the stupid tag will stick is based on social theory. During childhood, if a child is teased but he strongly reacts against it even to the fight, then that tease sticks because those who tease the child get maximum satisfaction from it. This is also true even with adults. There exist so many deviations and gratifications within human beings. There are those who derived gratification from inflicting pain on others.

You know terms like masochism and the likes. Also note that, South Sudan is always referred to as a child of just two years or soon three by leaders to cover for their failures in the state. Therefore, it is teased by anyone who is older in the region and beyond. It is upon South to react appropriately to such teases and insults.

Ignoring the insult like the one by Al Beshir would have been the best option; because it would have avoided gratification derived by those who at all cost try to inflict pain on others in such a way. Further, there was that tease by Museveni of Uganda about security which was also ignored.

Coming back to the point in paragraph three, it is not only South Sudan which fighting a war in the region but many others including Kenya, Somalia, Uganda, Sudan, CAR among others. If fighting wars make a country stupid then these mentioned countries which are fighting meaningless wars are also stupid.
Those who live in glass houses must not throw stones