GOSS PRESIDENT'S PEACE CELEBRATION SPEECH A DISAPPOINTMENT AND DISGRACE FOR SOUTHERNERS
January 15, 2007
The 9th of January was supposed to be a day of joy for Southerners particularly because it was the second anniversary of the CPA. However, as southerners listened patiently to their leader's speech, they were also internally asking themselves and wondering whether really President Kiir was the right 'Moses' who will deliver them! Apart from the poor reading and the unacceptable personal body language in front of the camera, the speech was poorly written and did not reflect the standard expected of a president's speech. GOSS has capable ministers who could have improved the speech and it was surprising for many spectators why the president's speech should have been so poor in content and context.
The people of the South and indeed the Sudanese people and of the World at large expected the speech of the GOSS president to include the following: the implementation of the CPA, what was implemented and what remained to be implemented and what are the difficulties if there are any. The second issue that would have come in the president's speech is his report on his government's achievements or non achievements. For obvious reasons and because none was achieved, the president glossed over and avoided acknowledging his government's failure to achieve in spite of millions of dollars that were received as oil shares.
The third issue could have been on GOSS policy on the combat of corruption as this management virus is spreading within GOSS departments. But the president only chose to 'beg the question' by stating that corruption was not confined to the South only. In other words, if corruption was in the North or a worldwide phenomenon, why can't it then be practiced in the South? But the president, perhaps to distance himself from corruption, departed from the principle of individual minister's responsibility, a clear departure from the usual norm of cabinet collective responsibility. In reaction to the latest accusations made on his Deputy, Minister of Transport and his Chief of staff, the president said that it was the responsibility of those individuals to clear their names. The accusation on the above ministers is well documented. The Newspaper that made the accusation published bank statements and it is Mr. Kiir to take it from there and form an investigation committee to find out the facts. President Kiir chose to leave it to the individuals accused to defend themselves. What if they choose to remain silent as many culprits such as Justin Yac and Arthur Akuen did previously?
What can be discerned from all this is that GOSS is not a united cohesive institution and perhaps this explains why no one among the many capable intellectuals within GOSS bothered to have a look at the president's speech before it was read out. The fourth and fifth points that would have been included in the president's speech could have been security and return of IDPs and refugees. Thank God the 9th has come and gone and it will be remembered by Southern Sudanese as the day when all their hopes and expectations were shattered by the very man that many considered as their 'Moses' after the death of their charismatic but controversial leader Dr. John Garang.
A day has passed and one can't help reflecting on the bad experience the South had at the Peace Day celebration. We wondered why many speakers apart from the GOSS president failed to comprehend the essence of the occasion. The governor of Equatoria, General Clement, for example, staged an assault on GOSS and due to the presence of Al Bashir many observers implied that he was putting the case of the Central Equatorians to the president of the Republic for arbitration. Observers wondered whether this was not the beginning of a crisis within the South similar to the one that occurred during the May Regime when Equatorians complained to president Numeiry about the HEC and which led to the unfortunate re-division of the South. Like his boss, General Clement could not tell us any achievements made by his government. Our leaders washed their 'dirty linens' in front of their foreign guests and the whole Peace celebration became a forum for accusations and counter accusations. President Beshir who impatiently listened to his Vice president lashed out and put most of the blame for what the GOSS president complained of on the incompetence of the SPLM government. He in fact stole the show of the day while President Kiir stood scornfully by. President Bashir revealed a previously undeclared amount and said that the Federal government paid the SPLM sixty million dollars. For the first time Southerners learnt that this large amount was paid and how it was used and on what will remain buried for ever. But surely certain individuals, namely, Pagan Amum, Nhial Deng Nhial, Deng Alor and many others will have to account for this public money sooner or later.
Our 2007 message for President Kiir is short, stop complaining and go straight to business. Your government has enough money to start development if used efficiently and correctly. Wasting time complaining on Abiey and the issue of borders should not divert us from our main task of starting development. These issues could be resolved as we move along.
For the issue of Abiey, part of the problem is caused by the intellectuals of Abiey who reject the formation of an administration before the borders are determined. But the establishment of an administration will give confidence to the Abiey citizens who may decide to go back home. Most of them have now settled in the northern states. While the South/North borders have not been determined yet governments at all levels have been formed. The year 2007 should be a year of transparency and accountability as already by your Excellency's dismissal of those accused of corruption. Although we hold that the real culprits are still at large we think it is a good start on the war on corruption. Oil money should be used for development and reconstruction especially on roads, hospitals and schools as priorities. GOSS must look for other sources of revenue to pay its staff and there are a lot of untapped resources out there.
The year should also be a year of reconciliation and unity marked by fair representation and inclusiveness of all groups in the political and administrative organs of our government. It is only when this happens that we can talk of a united Southern Front and be sure of a united stand. Last but not least GOSS ministers should be driven by logic and not emotions. Their actins should be guided by the CPA and the Interim Sudan Constitution. It is sad to see some GOSS ministers behaving as if the South is already an independent state making us to look foolish locally, regionally and internationally. Similarly, The SPLM and its partner must reactivate the forum established to resolve their differences away from the public. In fact complaining to the public against our partner is an agitation and can heighten tensions.
We hope there will be something to report next time you meet the people.