Articles and Analysies
Reasons behind the delay of GOSS reshuffle By Gatkuoth Deng
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Apr 19, 2009 - 5:11:08 PM

Reasons behind the delay of GOSS reshuffle

By Gatkuoth Deng

It was since last year in May after the convening of the 2nd SPLM National Convention in Juba that wide spread speculations involving senior government officials suggested there was an imminent reshuffle of Ministerial positions in the Government of Southern Sudan (GOSS). This was after the newly appointed SPLM Political Bureau, which is the ruling party in GOSS, met and felt there was need to overhaul the government based on the transformation principle and new spirit adopted in the Convention.

Day after day, week after week, month after month, South Sudanese who have been monitoring the political developments inside Sudan and here abroad have been waiting for the day to reshape the shape of GOSS. This is by removing corrupt officials and replacing them with less corrupt while considering the regional balance in representation as the SPLM principle and putting the right person in the right position.

Unfortunately, the reshuffle could not take place. Why? Sources close to the office of the President in Juba reveal that there have been disagreements between the President and his Vice over the proposed representations. Sources said these were mainly over regional/ethnic representation in addition to personalities that should occupy such respective positions.

Constitutionally, President General Salva Kiir and his deputy Dr. Riek Machar are to consult on formation of the government or appointment of figures to hold ministerial positions before the President issues a decree to that effect. Sources indicate that during their consultations since last year, they could not come to an agreement on allocation of positions. The President wants to keep almost the status quo in terms of representation by just replacing figures with the same colleagues from the same region or tribe.

The Vice President rejected such a proposal and demanded that the ministerial positions be divided almost equally among the three Greater Regions of Equatoria, Upper Nile and Bahr el Ghazal. Sources say with respect to the security sector and finance which include Ministry for Defense (SPLA Affairs), Ministry for Interior and Ministry for Finance, the Vice President’s view was to divide them into the three regions. Currently they are all occupied by one region, and that is Bahre el Ghazal.

President Kiir wants the key security sector positions plus the finance to be controlled by Greater Bahr el Ghazal. Funny enough, he seems to have also allocated them as permanent positions to specific states of Greater Bahr el Ghazal. For instance, the Minister for Internal Affairs, Paul Mayom Akech is from Lakes state. He was replacing Daniel Awet Akot from the same Lakes state who was removed in a reshuffle more than two years ago and is now the Governor of Lakes state. The Minister for Finance and Economic Planning, Kuol Athian Mawien, is from Northern Bahr el Ghazal state. He was replacing Arthur Akwen Chol from the same Northern Bahr el Ghazal state after the latter was removed on corruption charges. The current Minister for Defense (SPLA Affairs), Nhial Deng Nhial is from Warrap state (Salva Kiir’s home state).. He was replacing the former late Dominic Dim Deng who came from the same Warrap state.

When it comes to ethnicity, Salva Kiir makes sure that his Dinka ethnic group is over-represented in the GOSS. The two leaders also disagree on who is best qualified for which ministerial position. This recurring situation is similar to the one the two leaders faced in 2005 when the government was initially formed. The President rejected the views of his Vice and instead took the advices of late Dr. Justin Yac Arop on how the portfolios were to be divided. At that time Dr. Riek Machar gave in to General Salva Kiir to avoid any deepening conflict. He also wanted to give the President the benefit of the doubt if his chosen team was going to govern GOSS fairly and successfully. The result is now clear to any body who can evaluate the situation. Instead of learning from his past mistakes which have dragged the GOSS to near collapse in terms of the triple crisis such as the security, political and economic crisis, sources reveal that he is at it again this time.

Most of the people here in the Diaspora were hoping that the 2nd SPLM National Convention, which succeeded despite attempted and failed conspiracies against individuals leaders, would have been the beginning of a real change in the SPLM-ruling GOSS. Our delegates went to South Sudan to actively participate in a positive change. We were made to believe that the SPLM was serious particularly when it also embarked on carrying out elections at the grass root levels in its various Congresses in states and counties before the Convention took place in Juba in May 2008. It was unfortunate that the party elections were just valueless exercises without implementation of their outcomes when those voted out governors in Unity and Eastern Equatoria states were not shown the door out of governorship.

To me, I thought the SPLM wanted to have strong bases at the grass roots by installing its popular leaders to lead the people towards the coming elections in order to win the elections and deliver its renewed promises to the people. It became clear that this was the position of the SPLM to remove governors who lost the party elections as articulated by James Wani Igga when he made it clear in the media that SPLM would not keep governors that lost the elections. But who is keeping them in office up to this point?

President Kiir should respect and abide by the Constitutions and principles of either GOSS or SPLM. It is evident that he has surrounded himself with unpopular politicians who have no grass root bases and use his directionless administration to survive on. He has turned the blind eye and deaf ear on those who positively try to advise him on important issues and decisions the government must take in order to avoid or minimize corruption, tribalism and incompetence all summarized in the triple crisis.

The author is living in New York, USA. He can be reached at: [email protected]


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