The Government of South Sudan should Stop Curtailing the Freedom of Expression

Posted: August 7, 2018 by PaanLuel Wël Media Ltd. in Apioth Mayom, Junub Sudan, Opinion Articles, Opinion Writers

By Apioth Mayom Apioth, North Dakota, USA

Peter Biar Ajak is a South Sudanese PhD student of politics and world affairs at Cambridge University in the UK; he was detained by agents of the national security at Juba International Airport on his way to Aweil for the celebration of Red Army Day.

Peter Biar Ajak is a South Sudanese PhD student of politics and world affairs at Cambridge University in the UK; he was detained by agents of the national security at Juba International Airport on his way to Aweil for the celebration of Red Army Day.

Tuesday, August 07, 2018 (PW) — President Salva Kiir wishes to finish discussing outstanding issues on power sharing agreement signage day. Somebody tell me right now that we are not running a Kindergarten here, are we? How chaotic and simpleminded can we become on these significant issues that may have dangerous repercussions if they are not handled with great care.

High Level Revitalization Forum (HLRF) has been on and off since the summer of 2017; we have had one full year discussing and trying to find the middle ground where we will need to form one unity government. It is business as usual for Juba government. Dr. Peter Biar Ajak was arrested and he is being held without trial; the Members of Parliament bagged a whopping $16 million right on our watch while the peace negotiation were ongoing in Khartoum.

And two weeks prior to the thievery of $16 million from the public coffers, the same Members of Parliament extended the presidential term limit to 2021, an actuality of three more years added to the current term which was also extended to three more additional years in 2015. The $16 million was awarded to the Members of Parliament for a job well done for having been on the good side of Mr. President.

Furthermore, Kiir directed his minister of Finance and Economic Planning to salvage the economy from total collapse. In the last twelve years, it has been one presidential decree after another even if the said official had been in office for a mere week. For an economy to start producing sweet goods, it needs a deep strategization and not a mere barking of orders to your subordinates.

There has to be a continual coordination among the varied ministerial departments and the office of the president. President Kiir has to stop misusing his presidential powers through his henchmen such as his director of National Security Akol Khor. Mr. Director General hand cupped Biar Ajak at the airport and took him to the notorious Blue House cell. The National Security guards took both Isaiah Abraham (Diing Chan Awuol) and Akuach from us for being too critical of the government.

From countless government critics to Biar Ajak and so many countless journalists and critics that have been roughed up pretty hard by the security agents. The arrest of Peter Biar Ajak and the refusal of SSOA to sign the agreement of power sharing indicates that the time for total peace to come to South Sudan is far from being realized.

The first lady of the nation, Mrs. Mary Ayen Mayardit was recently promoted to the rank of the general in the military, and the word on the mouth of the harbinger is that she was the power behind who talked Kiir into accepting the 35% allocation of power to women in the government.

Thirty five percent is a minuscule amount when South Sudanese women’s population makes up about 50 percent of the overall South Sudan population. That was a long overdue policy that needed to be implemented long time ago. Women need their own womenfolks in the government so they could voice their concern in a highly conservative male dominated and stratified patriarchal society.

South Sudan is not only behind in economic development, but our cultures are too far behind in their exposure to democratic freedoms that have been common place in Sub-Saharan Africa for close to hundred years. Younger generations of women would get a chance to model careers after the women representatives in the government.

Black African women have to cater to the ever demands of life struggles while at the same time battling gender bias and discrimination at home and workplace; they are always trying to prove their male counterparts wrong about what the culture say otherwise. Women have their own given birthright to be the sole custodians of their bodies because men have their own bodies separate from those of women.

By having women to make their own decisions about themselves, they are in turn given a lease on life to make decisions about their reproductive rights which may help them in the long run to delay child bearing and be able to go to school first and start a family sometime in the future when they are ready to embark on such a route.

Women are drivers of major innovation projects and are inventing many things that make our lives a little easier to enjoy. We don’t have any excuse whatsoever to neglect their intelligence to contribute their equal share to the betterment of humankind.

How is Peter Biar Ajak any different from someone who allocated a 35% of power to womenfolks in the government? He was trying to defend our basic human rights when he fell into the traps laid before him by Akol Khor at the Juba Airport. The condemnation is pouring in from every corner of the globe telling Salva Kiir to free Peter Biar.

Juba government contradict itself and it is still making baby steps from realizing what we all yearn for in the nation. The United Nations is asking the international community to weigh in for the $350 million needed for those taking refuge in Uganda, Kenya and Ethiopia, however, our Members of Parliament stole $16 million right before our very eyes in the August House.

Kiir Administration contradict itself and it is not making any progress as we speak: It is as if it makes one step forward and makes two steps backward. What we yearn for in South Sudan is to be able to have a space to freely express oneself; a space to freely assemble without intimidation from anyone; a space where you can be as free you want…

Riek Machar and Pagan Amum were fed up by this order of things when they decided to be presidential candidates back in 2013, because the government was a sick monster which was unable to meet the aspirations of South Sudanese heads on. We are in year 2018, and Salva Kiir is still running the show anemically unable to change his ways.

It is okay to sign the deal with the opposition parties; however, what we really needed was to bring in a different leader or bring in a different leadership style since Kiir won’t give up his crown to someone else. There are all kinds of mess that need to be clean up everywhere in South Sudan. We need a new absolute and thorough coordination with our leadership in Juba to cordially and honestly work with all the stakeholders that are yearning for a change to take over.

The government and opposition groups are all South Sudanese, and throughout the peace negotiations the government delegation wanted to maintain a status quo by standing their ground and never wanting to change one bit which resulted in the South Sudan Opposition Alliance refusing to sign the deal on July 26th.

What the opposition groups are saying is that this mess was initially created by the government and we need a brand new approach to shake things up a bit; and for that to happen we would have to put our heads together and strategize to bring in true reconciliation and healing.

We are urging the Juba government, especially President Kiir to stop misusing his presidential powers and start to exercise self-control to enable the peace agreement to be implemented fair and square from now on going forward. Churches, women organizations, youth and all the major stakeholders in the peace agreement must take the lead to start an honest harvesting of bringing all communities together.

A perpetual coordination from the lower tier of community organizations to the upper tier is vital to have a thorough realization of peace to take centre stage. As Dr. Jok Madut Jok recently revealed to us that democracy is not a western phenomenon as many failed and authoritarian leaders would falsely lie to us. Everyone wants to be free as much as life could afford.

We implore Juba government to allow freedom of expression; freedom to assemble; freedom of press, and all sorts of freedom so we won’t be able to have any limitations to reach what our hearts and minds aspire to achieve. We don’t want the international community to always criticize us as if we can’t take care of our affairs.

Governments which feel threatened by political criticism and commentaries are perhaps doing something wrong down the line, and may be they have been busy playing around and waiting for someone else to pick up their slack. We would like Salva Kiir to start doing his end of the bargain, meaning he has been given the powers to get dirty and make sure his mind and heart are always tuned to the implementation of policies that would make our lives better from the current stagnation of the affairs.

We implore Salva Kiir to stop thinking of South Sudan as his personal property that he must use as he pleases. South Sudan is a nation of tens of millions of people whose lives are dictated by vast array of things other than glorification and personification of their head of state. It is utterly wrong to make an impulsive state decision based on populist ideologies and personal dislike of the officials.

I am talking about how Salva Kiir keeps on decreeing out state officials based on personal disagreements with the said officials. Decisions ought to be thoroughly thought out and an allocation of time must also be set out to map out a strategy in order for all plans to have a chance of success.

Once the people have returned to their former homes; we would love our government to start allocating 5% of the national budget to Agricultural food production development. It won’t bode with us very well to continue buying pricey food commodities from Uganda, Kenya and Sudan when we have a fertile land waiting for us to work it up.

Small farmers are the major means of agricultural food production right now in the country and so it would do us a great service to link them with commercial storage facilities where they will enable to keep their commodities before they are taken to their major markets in towns and cities across the nation since some food items are perishable and they don’t last long to stay fresh.

Agricultural facilitation centers ought to be created in cities and rural towns for proper coordination with these small farmers so they could continually be educated and provided with climate-resistant and pest-resistant seeds which are currently on the market as high yielding varieties of subsistence and cash crops.

Likewise, major agribusiness entrepreneurs who wish to start agricultural cooperatives must be given incentives to create vibrant agribusiness enterprises; they may be provided with agricultural subsidies and bailouts as protective measures against much developed cooperatives in the East African region.

There are things we could never do without and a few of those things is making sure we have a stockpile and resourceful storage of food handy to keep the flesh on the bone for life sustenance.

Apioth Mayom Apioth has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Social Sciences from the Evergreen State College in Olympia, WA USA. He is an Admission Counselor from the University of North Dakota. He can be reached at agutkeu@gmail.com

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Comments
  1. John Mayen says:

    Do not be too critical of gov’t and gov’t’s policies meant to maintain peace and order so that citizens can practise their rights/freedom of expression in a sensible way which does not increase chaos, public disorder and violence. Any gov’t – be it US after Julian Assange, Snowdenor Manly or the Saudi Kingdom jailing activist, would always react badly against those who instigating public disorders. We S. Sudan particularly we PhD, doctorate, masters or graduate students need to use our skills and knowledge wisely to guide our governments and people step by step out of this mess without causing too much troubles. If Peter has breached law and order by overstepping his freedom of expression and th S. Sudan’s gov’t deems so then let’s advocate for his release in a very sensible way without too much criticism as expressed in the above article.

    Like

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