South Sudanese Embassy in Kenya: A Victim of Immature Students’ Politics

Posted: November 28, 2018 by PaanLuel Wël Media Ltd. in Columnists, Commentary, Contributing Writers, Junub Sudan, Opinion Articles, Opinion Writers

BY JB -JOK BIOR, NAIROBI , KENYA

Wednesday, November 28, 2018 (PW) — South Sudan Students’ Association in Kenya {SSSAK} is facing one its worst crises in more than a decade of its inception, a trend that has turned the former comrades into political foes. The students’ association is now entering its fourth month of chaos and uncertainty. Nothing specific seems to be happening, well, not anytime soon. Everything is currently paralyzed in a standstill. We now have a legal case pending in a Kenyan court and it is until mid- December before its fate is determined.

But, as things stand and considering how hectic December will be, it’s most likely that we might welcome a new year, while still finger pointing each other, concocting unimaginable stories and trading accusations. In another twist, this students’ political mess has dragged in South Sudan Embassy in Kenya and this is the basis of my writing; to separate lies from the truths. But first, allow me take you through the genesis of this particular crisis.

In the month of August, this year, the SSSAK Interim Leadership headed by Ayuel Taupiny Malek as its President, came to end and that meant the executive was to start the electoral processes as dictated by the SSSAK Constitution. The electoral commission was appointed, vetted and instituted in consultation with the relevant organs of the association. The Commission then declared various elective positions vacant and interested student aspirants, from the various universities in Kenya, seized the opportunity and applied. Tom Gatdel Maloa, a student at St. Paul’s University and a member of SSUF/A {well, he publicly declared his support to the newly formed Malong’s political outfit in a letter that was widely circulated on social media} declared his candidature in the Presidency. At the same time, Ayuel Taupiny Malek, the incumbent President and a student at the University of Nairobi, offered to seek an official mandate from the student voters.

However, before the Electoral Commission made public the names of the aspirants, a petition against the outgoing executive was brought before the Student’s Council Leadership. Ayuel and his team were accused of having allegedly misappropriated student funds. According to the petition, the executive was given money, an amount of three thousand US dollars, by the Chairman of South Sudan United Front/ Army and the former Chief of General Staff of the now defunct SPLA, General Paul Malong.

The money was purposely intended to facilitate the Students – South Sudanese Leaders Conference that was scheduled to happen on the 12th of May, this year. However, the Government of South Sudan, though invited, did not like this get together event and the conference did not happen.

This particular revelation by the petitioner necessitated the institution of an investigating committee that would dig deeper into the alleged scandal. Well, much as my memory can stretch, those who went to Malong’s house to ‘investigate’ him were individuals with ‘specific interest and connection to the man. But then, the Committee’s Findings from the General were that the money was actually given to the executive for the facilitation of the foiled conference, a claim the executive later admitted and affirmed to in their Financial Report dated 18th October, 2018.

Consequently, Ayuel and his team were disqualified from the race, leaving Tom Gatdell Maloa running against himself, unopposed! Chaos irrupted. Bad politics ensued. Malong’s SSUF/A became the prime suspected of deliberate meddling into student politics to further its grip on the students’ association, through Tom, its member! What followed were the bitter exchanges between the SSUF/A top leadership and the outgoing SSSAK Executive, on the same.

How the embassy got entangled in immature students politics

The first time the Embassy learnt about the students’ elections was through the Electoral Commission itself. In Kenya, the policy demands that South Sudanese nationals must first have a consent letter from the embassy before any gathering takes place. Therefore, the Commission under the chairmanship of Mr. Simon Mawich had to go to the Embassy to secure the necessary documents, which they received.

The Embassy did not care who became what and in which position because SSSAK is an independent institution. As crisis cut deeper and chaos continued to get out of hand within the students’ body, a concerned group of students wrote a letter, seeking an immediate intervention from the South Sudan Embassy. The letter warned the diplomats from the South Sudanese Mission in Kenya of a possible disruption of elections should they be allowed to continue as planned and before the contentious issues were ironed out.

The government officials heeded the call and convened a meeting within the Embassy premises. In attendance were the electoral commission, the councilors from the various universities and the concerned group of students.

In that meeting, which I personally attended, the councilors acknowledged the fact that the crisis was rocking the students’ association and they proposed that the Students could not head into the polls as divided as they were, but Commission brushed it off and blatantly denied the existence of any crisis within the students’ body, an assertion that questioned its neutrality in the electoral process.

On seeing this, the government officials, headed by H.E Kur Garang Deng then, advised the Electoral Commission to seek an extension of their mandate from the Council Leadership in order to create a space for further discussions among the students on the issues raised in the letter before the polls. The Speaker of the Council, Mr. Gatmai Bum was equally advised to facilitate this process.

Unfortunately, the diplomats’ informed advice was seen as an interference into the Association’s independence by the Commission and defiantly refused to have their mandate extended. There was no consensus reached then and the diplomats distanced themselves from further involvement into student affairs, well after a lengthy persuasion. This is how the South Sudan Embassy in Kenya innocently got dragged into the student politics.

A few days later, the Commission made a statement alleging that the South Sudan Embassy did not want Tom’s Presidency because of his tribal background. Some diplomats in the persons of H.E Kur Garang and Mr. Barnaba Bol Nyuol were attacked in a very strongly worded press statement released by the commission.

This again betrayed the Commission’s constitutional neutrality in the electoral process. Two days after the particular press release, a fake letter, with a forged Embassy’s stamp, alleging Kur Garang’s defection to Gen. Paul Malong’s Rebel Movement shocked the entire South Sudanese Online community. Whoever wrote the damning letter is still at large.

In conclusion, this article seeks to debunk the lies being spread against the Embassy of South Sudan in Nairobi and to lay the facts bare. The truth is, the diplomats being defamed by some ‘’sponsored political goons’’ are simply victims of immature students’ politics. If indeed the Embassy did not want Tom because of his tribal background as it’s being purported, why then did the Embassy officials write the letter, consenting the students’ event to the Kenyan authorizes?

It’s so sad that all these are happening in a supposedly intellectual organization like the South Sudan Students’ Association in Kenya, SSSAK. The current state of things is very worrying and equally disturbing and it actually throws the future of the students’ body into an unprecedented dilemma. Unless we exercise and show political maturity and tolerance, the future we seek to better is still a luring mirage!

JB-JOK BIOR is a student at the University of Nairobi and can be reached by this email: rumuormill2015@gmail.com

The opinion expressed here is solely the view of the writer. The veracity of any claim made is the responsibility of the author, not PaanLuel Wël Media (PW) website. If you want to submit an opinion article, commentary or news analysis, please email it to paanluel2011@gmail.com. PaanLuel Wël Media (PW) website do reserve the right to edit or reject material before publication. Please include your full name, a short biography, email address, city and the country you are writing from.

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