It is the position of the South Sudan Democratic Forum Party to inform the public that the speech delivered by President Kiir to South Sudan Assembly as the policy of his government left out the most important tasks a government emerging from a protracted conflict should pursue. The speech is devoid of important issues that could lead to socio-economic development in the South.
Although President stated that his government would work towards alleviating security problems in the South, he totally failed to enlighten the South Sudan Assembly how he would bring it about. There are so many security problems in the South which require the SPLM-led government to outline modalities of tackling them issue by issue. It is now almost one year and half since the Comprehensive Peace Agreement was signed. Yet, insecurity in the South is worsening.
President Kiir said that his government would take military action against the Lord Resistance Army (LRA), which attacked Juba’s suburbs last two weeks ago. Since the formation of the Government of National Unity (GONU) last year, the President made many press statements accusing the Sudan Armed Force (SAF) of supporting the LRA. He brought up the issue with President Bashir to handle. Yet the attacks of LRA continued unabated meaning that the support of SAF to LRA is continuing.
The Western World Intelligent services such as the CIA and MI6 admitted that the SAF is engaged in delivering ammunition to LRA. The CIA’s satellite reports indicated that the LRA is still receiving more military support from Khartoum’s government via air. President Kiir himself is aware of the CIA’s report.
Despite this enormous knowledge of the SAF’s involvement in support of the LRA, President Kiir has no policy of bringing the SAF to justice. What a responsible President of the South should do is to take President Omer Bashir to court of international opinion to respond to tangible evidence of support to LRA.
Had the President of the South been a member of South Sudan Democratic Forum, he should have informed the Assembly that his government would go back to IGAD and its partners to report violation of the CPA. The NCP-led government in Khartoum has been supporting LRA since the signing of the CPA. It is a proof beyond reasonable doubt that the NCP-led government in Khartoum would never discontinue supporting the LRA one year after the signing of the CPA.
The President made empty promises to South Sudan by saying that his government would eradicate LRA by any means. He made those promises last year. LRA responded to his threats by almost capturing the seat of his government. What the South Sudan Assembly wants to hear is not another false promise, but how his administration would bring the donors of LRA to justice either by use of South Sudan Army or by reporting them to IGAD.
Without bringing the SAF that supports the LRA to justice, the foreign and local investors would not be attracted to invest in Juba and other States. A confidence would not be restored in the minds and hearts of residence and foreigners in the South to ensure that indeed peace and tranquility prevail.
The Democratic Forum is also flabbergasted by the absence of withdrawal of SAF from the South as stipulated by the Interim Security Agreement Protocol of the CPA in President Kiir’s speech. Section 3 b of Security Agreement states, “except for those deployed in the Joint/Integrated Units, the rest of the forces of SAF currently deployed in the south shall be redeployed North of the South/North border of 1/1/1956 under international monitoring and assistance within and up to two and one half years (2 1/2) from the beginning of the pre-Interim Period”. It is clear in this protocol that the SAF should have started withdrawing from the South since January, 2005. The absence of this important piece of the CPA in his speech is an indication that President Kiir’s capability to maintain the smooth implementation of the CPA is questionable.
It is also a dishonor to South Sudan Assembly for the President to give a speech to the House without mentioning the development pertaining to the delimitation of border between the North and South. The National Congress Party made it comprehensible that it does not accept the South/North border of 1/1/1956. One of the examples of the NCP’s intention is the rejection of Abyei Report. Given all these, the first thing the President should inform the South Sudan public is when the border between the North and South will be demarcated. The Government of the South cannot talk about the SAF withdrawing without border demarcation. The SAF can withdraw to Renk town in Northern Upper Nile and claim that it is part of the North if Salva Kiir has no policy of pushing for the demarcation of the border.
Democratic Forum had hoped that President Kiir would mention the need for SPLA-SSDF dialogue which is the prerequisite for any development taking place in most South Sudan States. Although the Democratic Forum had notified the President that Juba Declaration signed on January 8 is dead, the President’s speech talking about bringing peace in the South has no substance. The SPLM-led government needs to clearly put the House in the picture how it would dialogue with SSDF’s Chief of Staff, Gen. Gordon Koang. A day before the President had delivered his speech, a military confrontation between the SPLA forces of Matip and SSDF took place in Nasir in which around fifty civilians died and hundreds displaced. The people of South Sudan may wonder whether the President is aware of problems taking place in the South or is more concerned with building partnership with Omar Bashir in disregard of the security of his own people.
It is the position of the Democratic Forum Party that the SPLM-led government must start a dialogue with SSDF. Juba Declaration signed by Lt. Gen. Paulino Matip exists on paper. A farmer in Maiwut wants an agreement which exists in practice because without that, his farm field would be a battle ground between the SPLA and SSDF. The cause of poverty and drought in the South is the perpetual conflicts between armed groups. Without a policy to facilitate a dialogue between SSDF and SPLA, President Kiir would become another Joseph Kabila of Democratic Republic of Congo who runs a government in major towns only.
The President admitted that “there have been sporadic outbreaks of violence across Southern Sudan, some related to the activities of other Armed Groups encouraged by sources not comfortable under the peace atmosphere ushered in by the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, and others attributable to ethnic and sectional clashes over pastures and water points”. If that is true, then he should have informed the House that he would make two choices: either he should negotiate with SSDF and sign “Comprehensive Juba Declaration” (CJD) or take the SSDF’s friends he called “sources” to court of international opinion such as IGAD which mediated the CPA. It is advisable for President Kiir to take a less problematic route, which is initiating negotiation with SSDF. There is nothing wrong with him taking Omer Bashir to IGAD on this particular issue. However, the verdict of IGAD is obvious: President Kiir would be advised to dialogue with SSDF as Southern Sudanese.
Another important thing missing as part of the policy of the government is the issue of disarmament. We concur with the President that civilians holding dangerous assault rifles must be notified legally to discard them. However, our difference lies in policy. The SPLM Party has taken a position the experts of disarmament considered as irresponsible and lacks principles established by the United Nations. Based on research from other countries emerging from conflicts, unilateral disarmament the SPLA is pursuing can ignite another war because two groups which have the same military capability cannot disarm themselves without risking a bloody war. The attempt of SPLA to disarm the White Army of Jonglei State led to death of two SPLA army Generals and three Colonels (Col. Wutnyang Gatkek included). In most parts of Jonglei and Upper Nile States, the White Army is more powerful than the SPLA. The SPLA forces in Yuai were dispersed in one hour by the White Army forcing their commander to flee to Bor town.
The same day President Kiir was delivering speech to the House, the White Army attacked the seat of Ulang County’s government in the town and killed the Deputy Commissioner and other officials. The Sudan Radio Service’s report states that “the armed civilians of Lou-Nuer attacked Ulang at 3 o’clock at night and they were repulsed about 6 in the morning and then came back again and attacked Ulang. So that attack is still going on right now. Lou are now in one side of the town and the SPLA forces are on the other side of the town. There were six people confirmed dead, including a young lady who died on her way to Nasir clinic. Some of those killed are county officials including the deputy county commissioner.” An incident like this disproves unilateral disarmament being pursued by the SPLA.
It is the position of the Democratic Forum that the best disarmament policy the government should pursue is mutual disarmament, which means that both the SPLA and the White Army should agree on the modalities of the disarmament. The first thing is to build the trust between the SPLA and the White Army. President Kiir should not forget that as the Commander of SPLA, he committed human rights abuses which destroyed trust between the civilians and the SPLA. If today he is the President of the South, he should first apologize to all South Sudan civilians whose loved ones were killed by the SPLA including the atrocities committed by Riek Machar’s faction in Bor. Both Kiir and Riek Machar need to apologize to people of South Sudan for crimes against humanity they committed during factional wars between the SPLA-Torit and SPLA-Nasir. The Bor, Ayod and Ganyiel massacres are still fresh in the minds of civilians of Jonglei State. The reason the White Army was formed was to protect themselves from SPLA gangs. It is the responsibility of the President of the South to inform the public in his speech to parliament that SPLA is no longer a “group of armed Mafias”. The signing of the CPA is not enough for civilians to trust the SPLA with their security.
It is also inconceivable to the people of the South for the Commander-in-Chief of the SPLA Army to give speech to Parliament without mentioning the atrocities being committed daily by the SPLA senior commanders in Greater Equatoria. On April 7, the speaker of Bahr el Jebel Parliament--Brig. Gen. Zamba M. Duku--issued a press release calling for the Government of South Sudan (GoSS) to do something about it. He states in the press release that “some of the insecurity in Yei town is caused by senior SPLA officers who confiscate land from institutions and citizens in Yei and put up permanent buildings of their own”. If SPLA is part of insecurity in the South, the question then becomes: How would it bring peace and tranquility to the South as the President alleged in his speech? Based on what is taking place in Yei County, the argument of the President in his speech is like saying that Mafia would restore peace and tranquility in Italy.
The contradiction between President’s proclamation of upholding the rule of law and what is happening in Greater Equatoria calls into question the determination of the President to ensure that rule of law reigns supreme all over the South. The President was informed in December by the government of Yei County about the atrocities and illegal possession of land of private citizens by senior SPLA commanders. If he is a man who can intellectually define the meaning of the rule of law, he should have taken an action since 2005. It is the frustration with his administration that compelled Bahr el Jebel’s Parliament to issue a press release three days before he delivered a speech hoping that he would alert the South Sudan Assembly. Yet, the President failed to mention that incident in his speech. The parliament of Bah el Jebel is 95% controlled by SPLM Party members. However, they are disillusioned by their President.
Despite the fact that the President said that he would invite Transparency International to open a branch in the South to monitor corruption in the South, it is debatable why the President appointed notable SPLM/A leaders known to South Sudanese as graft suspects. There are officials who hold senior positions in the GoSS who were dismissed in Abel Alier and Joseph Lagu’s government due to corruption. These are known musketeers who could have been exposed and subjected to courts for clearance before they hold public offices. They were the ones who promoted embezzlement of public funds; bribery; tribalism; favoritism; nepotism; sectionalism; conmanship; lack of transparency & accountability; questionable & un-procedural award of tenders & procurement; forgery; inequitable distribution of national resources; just to name but a few in the seventies before abrogation of Addis Ababa Agreement.
We would like to lecture to the President about the role of Transparency International. The organization does not prosecute corrupt officials, but only exposes corruption in the government. Punishing those responsible for corruption is the responsibility of the Executive Branch of South Sudan Government. The President should not expect Transparency International to deal with SPLA senior officials who are currently amassing wealth at the expense of the poor in Yei County.
Another important issue missing in the President’s speech is the evil of tribalism. In September, 2005, the SPLM Nuer Caucus wrote a letter to the President to make their grievances public on domination of GONU and GoSS by Dinka ethnic group. The same concern was raised by Equatiria’s tribes who are terribly marginalized because all the tribes of Equatoria are considered as one ethnic group. The letter of the SPLM Nuer Caucus accused the President of practicing tribalism. This evil is defined by academics as the domination of government by one ethnic group. Tribalism is one the primary reasons which encouraged President Numeri to abrogate Addis Ababa Agreement. The Democratic Forum had hoped that the President would notify the House on the modalities of fighting this evil. Right now in Juba, there are people who are employed based on tribal favoritism other than academic merit.
The Democratic Forum Party would like to inform the President that one of the effective traditions practiced by civilized countries to curb corruption is for parliament to pass Accountability Act. The SPLM dominated Parliament needs to pass such an act to curtail the musketeers appointed as ministers in the GoSS. Without it, it would be difficult to determine where senior SPLM officials got money to build lodges in Juba estimated to cost $500,000 dollars. The officials of the government started receiving salaries for the first time in Sept, 2005. Where did the money come from to build lodges?
It was Dr. Garang who, in Nov. 2004 in Rumbek, admitted that “corruption within the SPLM has grown to become a huge elephant”. President Kiir blamed him for failing to kill an elephant before growing huge. Unfortunately, the elephant Dr. Garang referred to has begotten three off-springs under his administration. Should he apologize to late Dr. Garang? The President has a huge task not only to kill the mother elephant which was born during the administration of Dr. Garang but also the rest of the off-springs. Most of the GoSS’s 2005 budget dissipated mysteriously without people of the South feeling any change to their socio-economic conditions. Mockingly, the President donated $1million dollars to Kenya whose Teachers’ Union objected to their government’s plan to send 200 teachers to South Sudan the same day President Kiir delivered speech to South Sudan’s Parliament!
The people of South Sudan want to know whether their President is strong enough to handle problems facing South Sudan. The primary job of South Sudan President is to safeguard the CPA which gives the people of the South an opportunity to exercise the right to self-determination finally. Regrettably, President Kiir is utterly unaware of his responsibilities on his desk. To defend the CPA, the President must know that the state called Sudan currently has two governments: Government of National Unity (GONU) and Government of Sudan’s Military Intelligence (GOSMI). The President informed the Assembly of South Sudan that he would build strong relationship with GONU. However, he made no mention of building a bond with GOSMI to restore peace and tranquility in the South.
The people of the South believe that their President is building a relation with National Congress Party with the hope of achieving smooth implementation of the CPA. However, the President needs to dispel the public’s feeling that GOSMI has a different President other than Omer Bashir, who is also the President of GONU. The killings of innocent people by LRA seem to suggest that the central government in Khartoum has two Presidents: one controlling GONU and the other presiding over GOSMI. If President Kiir is attempting to contradict facts on the ground and would argue that President Omer Bashir is also President of GOSMI, the time has come for him to notify IGAD about the violations of all Protocols of the CPA by the SAF since the signing the agreement on January 9, 2005.
Gordon Buay Reath
On behalf of South Sudan Democratic Forum Party