Category: South Sudan News Written by News Desk
By Wol Deng Atak
The debate whether Kiir and his co-competitor, Dr. Riek Machar, in violence for wealth gains and power could set the nation engulfed by power free has been ongoing without concrete conclusion. Would it in anyway serve the best interest of the nation if both men to leave active politics? I think their exit is a remedy to South Sudan political crisis because their actions continue to generate recipes for crisis.
Firstly, in pursuit of complete dictatorship, President Kiir turned state security into regime protection or his personal protection force to the misery of the citizens. He has completely squeezed media space forcing it to only parrot government’s propaganda or remain muted to avoid forced closure. On the other hand, professional associations like lawyers association is controlled, debates prohibited even within academic premises.
The above situation is so enforced that even parliamentary deliberations are reduced to a mere rubber stamp to avoid Kiir dismissing decree. Riek is no better either. He ran the IO like his private company giving no space for difference voices. He would be another Kiir if not worst than him if Riek ascend to presidency. Kiir’s earth scorching policy nearly put every media house in fear with each journalist believing he could be arrested anytime and subjected to torture or even killed. His security services do these at his directives because he knows that people have withdrawn every single trust they had in him. Complete deteriorating social security and services, delayed salaries, extreme inflation, an unprecedented lawlessness.
All these happened at Kiir's watch and doesn’t think he and his rival Riek Machar have caused all these to the most tolerant people never found elsewhere in the world. Kiir has turned national security service into a mere Personal Protection Force (PPF) and so is Riek with his security apparatus then based in Pagak. As it is the case in Juba and else where in South Sudan, citizens are being arbitrary arrested each time without access to legal services and this amounts to complete denial of civil liberty contrary to what the SPLM fought for. The citizens' fate rests with the discernment of the national security officers whom are often at a whim. IMG 2486 President Salva Kiir Mayardit The above is contrary to the SPLM founded on democratic principles and freedom of expression and of media. Surely, this is not our country; this isn’t the South Sudan we wanted to live in.
It is becoming another Sudan – it is sad that the head of state turned back and adopted the very system each of us ran away from. This is a lost direction and a dangerous precedence. Secondly, economy collapsed, with prices of primary goods having increased by more than 600%, subsequently students dropped out of school because their parents can’t afford their education. Kiir’s government never provided quality education at first place so those who could have their children school in foreign countries had them returned home because they can’t keep in school. Apart from the fact that South Sudan is one of the poorest countries (yet natural-resource rich) the citizens are poorer today than three years ago. Many citizens skip lunch in order to get supper or at times take one to two days without a meal so they can save for another day in order to live. A 50kg of maize flour costs 3,000-7,000SSP, which is four times more than a graduate earns a month and six times the salary of an ordinary soldier. And more so nation currency losses value every single day. Kiir’s government has resolved to let everything takes its own course.
There’s no magic in economy, there’s need for a hard work and change of policies, something Kiir’s administration won’t do and no one of the countries will bail out this nation under President Kiir. What can improve the economy when much of the hard currencies go into buying military hardware? Why would anyone expect a major comeback in economy when top elites including the head of state are involved in looting the country? Our economy can only be rescued if President Kiir resigns, Machar barred from returning to active politics and then borrow from the World Bank and IFM.
Thirdly, failed foreign-relation is hurting the nation harder. It’s abundantly clear that our country suffers and geared toward international isolation. We lost our diplomatic support in almost every country because of the failed policies of President Kiir and his inconsistence decisions. He fell out with the TROIKA countries, the very countries, which are called midwives of South Sudan, Kenya, and Ethiopia, Eritrea as well as other East African countries. Don’t we need them yesterday like now and tomorrow? We surely need them at our back. Remember, South Sudan can’t walk alone. If President Kiir thinks so, that’s a political mistake. While we’re locked up in senseless war with each other throat, much and valuable parts of this country is being taken away from us at the watch of Kiir. -Kafi-Kengi at the border with Darfur, for example, is on the brink of being taken away, a place full of uranium reserves, part of Eastern Equatoria with abundant oil is on the verge of being lost, Abyei is nearly gone, Heglig is never mentioned, parts of Kajokeji is taken by Uganda as well as some parts is going into Ethiopia not forgetting bigger parts of western and Central Equatoria occupied by DRC- these are tangible issues a patriotic citizen in leadership should engage in them, but turning guns against innocent citizens who happened to have a different opinion. President Kiir just needs to resign so that we can save this country.
Fourthly, rampant corruption, this is the most visible act in this country and President Kiir had admitted publicly while addressing people earlier this year in Dr. John Garang Mausoleum that corruption had reached unmanageable state. This is evidenced in the recent Sentry Report confirming that he himself is involved in corruption with impunity. While we would admit that there is corruption all over the world, each government sets mechanisms to control it. In our case the leadership has undermined institutions capable of fighting the graft. If the anti-corruption commission was allowed to perform its task, the auditor general performs its duties without hindrance and accountability prevails then it would have made sense there is zero tolerance to corrupt practices.
Fifthly, lawlessness has taken reign of the nation; even as you read this, there is someone dying out there in South Sudan because men in uniform are engaged in killing citizens. Many have been killed in numerous occasions. Visit Juba Teaching hospital each morning and you will meet wards packed with bodies of people shot the previous night. There is “Joint criminal enterprise (JCE)” in Juba that grabs homes at gunpoint during daylight. It is currently taking place in the areas of Thongping, Gumbo, Jebel, Munuki as well as Gurei and police have withdrawn from this due to the fact that the legal system has collapsed.
Therefore, Juba, the national capital has turned into where the strong takes from the weak. The previously busied streets of Juba are currently largely empty. People have run for safety to the neighboring countries. Every night there is noisy sound of gunshots in all corners of the capital. These shots are from security forces that shot into the air to justify their action of looting shops at night. Although I can’t blame them because their families are starving, I can’t justify their actions either. Their salaries can’t sustain the family with such an economy. All these can stop if President Kiir accepts request to stand down and allow transition to end. We are all tired of war. Gen. Paul Malong, the chief of staff of SPLA reportedly said during the security meeting that he’d asked President Kiir to relinquish power because the country was exhausted and everyone wanted no war anymore. This is a big confession, which means it is not you and I that are tired of war but everyone else.
Sixthly, President Kiir is talking of calling for early elections because he believes he will run unopposed because there’s no political discourse and all politicians will shy away from such crooked elections. Surely, no one will want to participate in elections in which President Kiir will give himself 99% votes. During the last election most Southerners voted for him including myself because there was a task for him to do - takes us to the Promised Land, which he did very well, this is enough and an honor we gave him. He will never at this point unite this country; this is a fact clear to some of us. Besides, to be sincere there will be no elections in real sense, for conditions to meet in order to have elections are far-fetched. There’s need for border demarcation of state borders, constituencies, national census- all these require money, which the country barely have.
Seventhly, two and half years have passed and citizens are still in the POCs in their own country because of war imposed on us by Salva Kiir and Riek Machar for the reason of power. How can their freedom be given away in exchange for power? Whether the war being fought is justified either to President Kiir or Riek Machar, it’s never justified to subject people to the suffering. Those in their homes are even more miserable than those in the POCs. For they live in fear all the time not knowing when he/she will be attacked at night by unknown gunmen. I have never heard a country in which unknown gunmen operation prevails for more than four years unabated except in Kiir’s administration in Juba. It has become common slogan by some security officers who jokingly tell those voicing different opinion that “unknown gunmen would be sent your way if you continue saying what you stand for”. Others may say that President Kiir has done nothing to leave his position others on the other hand believes Dr. Riek Machar hasn’t done anything to deserve being barred, but now each has his supporters having different definitions of these conflicts and no side is willing to concede or accept the truth.
In fact there is no truth depending on which side you are listening to the version. Enough is enough, the two should be asked to leave in order to move the country forward. South Sudan isn’t all about them. It’s about all of us. Eighthly, Dr. Machar, Dr. Riek is already out and shouldn’t be allowed to return active politics again. It’s extremely important that Kiir step aside and leave active politics so South Sudan regains its promise of hope and freshness - brought to unthinkable state by the duo full of selfish interest. This country shouldn’t be left to serve self-interest of the duo. The nation interest is bigger than them. Fellow compatriots, countrymen and women you and I have endured so much for too long. You and I have undergone unspeakable situations and one of the worst civil wars ever imposed on us by leaders that are too good to be good.
While millions South Sudanese languish in severe hunger, the two leaders are busy calculating how many lives of young men and women they should give their blood to maintain their status quo and yet their children are abroad enjoying life like there has been no war, as though people are miserable back in the country. Thousands of people have died during this conflict, 2.4 million have been displaced and as many as 5.1 million are food insecure and could starve to death and many others die of diseases.
If people from the hometown of the chief of General staff of the SPLA fled in large numbers to the neighboring Sudan, of what use is our government? By the way, there’s no small government and there’s no big government. A government is that which takes care of its citizen day in to day out. Lastly, our social fabric is broken. Kiir’s administration has subjected his own tribe to one of the worst insecurity ever. People from Dinka ethnic are being dragged out in buses while travelling within the country by people frustrated in the way the government is being run by President Kiir and his JCE syndicate. And people outside think it’s the Dinka that has destroyed this country and the one keeping him in power, so that some places are unsafe for them in the country. And the problem isn’t the Dinka, it is President Kiir that has a dumped the private manifesto and resort to ethnic mobilization and thus making the self-appointed Jieng Council of Elders more powerful than the party, which brought freedom and him to power. It’s not that other tribes don’t want Dinka to exist in this country, this is wrong and a complete ignorant if at all it is the opinion, but a failed system is the very one colliding people so that each tribe thinks it is the other one responsible for failing of the country. It is kleptocratic government, cliques who have captured and hold the state hostage to their selfish interests. There’s no law and order and this has given armed men an opportunity to grab land, kill, torture, beating unarmed civilian at will. Kiir’s regime isn’t only disapproved by other tribes and outside countries, a large number of his tribe mates don’t like his kleptocratic style. High profile politicians like Dr. Majak Agoot, Dinka said the country is controlled by the “gun-class” to show how the political system failed the nation. The first people to go critical of his regime are Dinka, many have been exiled including Dr. Luka Biong, John Pen De Ngog, including my poor self. Others have been killed for speaking out against his handling of state of affairs, the likes of Isaiah Abraham. Deng Athuai cheated death twice at the hand of “gun-class” who tried eliminating him. And I say all these just to advocate a return to country South Sudanese died fighting for.