THE GREATER BOR COMMUNITY OF THE UNITED STATES (GBC – USA)
To: Greater Bor Citizens, South Sudanese Public, and the World Community
From: Governmental Affairs Committee commissioned by the GBC-USA President
Re: Reflection on Interim Period, Recent Cabinet Appointments and Way Forward in South Sudan
Dear all citizens of Greater Bor, South Sudanese Public, and the World community:
ENCOURAGED by the great yearning of our people to live in peace and security in our free homeland;
MINDFUL of the sacred promise we have to our martyrs who gave the ultimate sacrifice for us to be free and independent as a nation;
RECALLING the original founding principles and timeless creed of the SPLM to commit itself to ridding the society of all sorts of bourgeoisie, corruption and misrule based on ethno regional sectarianism;
BELIEVING that in an independent South Sudan, every community deserves to be accorded the same decent treatment from all levers of power;
CONGNIZANT of the fact that not all ethnic communities have representation in this cabinet/government;
RECOGNIZING the indispensable role youth play as stewards of our society;
PROUD of our Juba-based Greater Bor Youth leadership for breaking the silence on all the abuses directed at our community over the last 6 years of President Kiir administration; and
HUMBLED by the fact that three of our dear sons: Justice Michael Makuei Lueth; Uncle Atem Yaak Atem; Dr. Majak D’Agoot, and all sons and daughter(s) of Jonglei State who were appointed to the president’s cabinet, we, the Governmental Affairs Committee duly authorized by the overall leadership of Greater Bor Community in USA, would also like to add our voice to the national discourse as follows:
September 11, 2011 (SSNA) — First, we would like to congratulate and thank the people of Greater Bor, and all South Sudanese for all the sacrifice and perseverance which finally paid off with the independence of our country. We also congratulate President Salva Kiir Mayardit on forming the first government of our Republic and wish him the best in future endeavors. At the outset, we want to acknowledge the fact that the President has constitutional rights to nominate whoever he wishes to serve our country even if all of the 29 ministers were to come from his own clan of Awan Chan. The fundamental issue is whether or not these ministers will carry out their solemn duties to equally deliver services to all South Sudanese and we will get to it later on in the paper.
On August 27, one day after the announcement of the first ever cabinet of South Sudan, the Juba-based youth association of Greater Bor, under Juma Arok Maketh, released to the news media a letter indicating their disappointment with the cabinet appointments. In it, they expressed frustrations and even demanded that the appointed officials who hail from Greater Bor decline those job offers. The letter quickly became fodder for some South Sudanese who are quick on dismissing everything—an all too-common practice in our politics by those who are big on writing or speaking rhetoric than substances. It is our best hope that in a free and independent South Sudan, people will not be talking over each other any longer; instead they will start to embrace every capacity for understanding each other’s point of view, unlike in the past. It is what the youth tried to provide here. They engaged in free expression in a matter that gives life to truth and honesty. For some to mistake their statements for simple cry for power or as faulting the President is missing the big picture about what the people of Bor community have endured over the last 6 years. So we are here to say out loud and clear to all South Sudanese and the world community that, while the position paper of various groups or members of Greater Bor Youth did not go far enough, their call was not without substance. We think their frustrations and dissatisfactions must not be dismissed that quickly. If anything, that must serve to elevate our national discourse. As a matter of fact, their statements have every legitimacy given how this administration has over the last 6 years failed many constituencies except a few who have secured the President’s unquestioned loyalty, and we will explain why. The thrust of our paper will show the systematic removal or dismissal of selfless sons and daughters of Greater Bor Community from the army and government—a policy that has been at work over the last 6 years. So without further ado, we acknowledge all the frustrations of the youth and we support them by sharing in their frustrations, but we have reached a different conclusion. We say so because we think it is not the solution to ask our officials to walk away from the government. We would be the last community to leave the government if every community were to, regardless of whether we got positions or not. In that regard, we wholeheartedly congratulate Justice Michael Makuei Lueth, Uncle Atem Yaak Atem, and Dr. Majak D’Agoot on their recent appointments and strongly urge them to take up their positions in the current administration.
2. Bearing witness to virtues of history: What Greater Bor contributed to the struggle and what has become of its people during the Interim Period to present?
To all the natives of Greater Bor back home, we recognize it was with dignity and grace that you have kept silent in the face of mounting forces that have been at work all this time, forces that have been trying to diminish our standing. We are so humbled and grateful to you for the dignified way you have always handled yourselves in the face of those challenges and adversities. But we know we have something more hopeful to look forward to, now that our nation has achieved her independence. Let us go back to re-imaging our unshakable spirit—that common and enduring heritage (past and present) that has always allowed us to rise and fall as one people—the thread that has always bound us from Cueei-Keer to Cueei-Thon. We know our community, like many others, has always been on the right side of history. We are a people of history and walking away won’t rhyme with that concept of history. We simply cannot walk away from the government. It is simply not something that anyone can recommend at this pivotal moment in our history. It will kill hopes and prospects of shared sacrifice since every community will be expected to contribute to the state building experiment in one way or another.
To the youth, political and traditional leadership of Greater Bor back home, this is our request to you: stay calm and contemplate on our path. Get your act together and unite your ranks by embracing each other. Go back to preaching the basics and start educating our children about our past. Our forefathers and fathers, on whose shoulders we all stand, used to stick together no matter what faced them. They used to listen to each other and collaboratively deliberate on addressing existential threats facing their communities. Learn from the unshakeable spirit and wisdom of our legendary paramount chiefs who ruled our land from Cueei-Keer to Cueei-Thon. It is our timeless tradition, replete with their rare ‘pearls of wisdom’ and many tales of harmony, which allowed Greater Bor to overcome odds and thrive. It is what inspired and allowed the great generation that includes many of our current leaders to join with fellow South Sudanese to fight for the cause of freedom. It is why in 1991 and 2005, when our nation was at the depth of despair, that many of our leaders, including former First Lady Madam Rebecca Nyandeng de Mabior, counseled calm and urged us to hope and look ahead to the future. So looking backward, looking forward, we would like our children to live out that tradition by learning, drawing and benefiting from the vast wells of heritage.
i. Take time to reflect on all the significant contributions by Greater Bor to the cause of freedom
a. Greater Bor Contributions to the founding of our Movement, SPLM/A (1983 – late 1980’s) included:
i. Courageous and visionary leadership of Dr. John Garang de Mabior and many other Bor commanders who, along with other South Sudanese, helped found the SPLM/A and stuck with it through thick and thin until victory was achieved;
ii. First hosting and feeding of the first mutinied forces especially 104, 105 battalions and their commanders, including our wounded hero Kerubino Kwanyin Bol, in the rural Bor villages from Cueei-Thon to Cueei-Keer — is an endearing legacy;
iii. Serving as a reliable and dependable conduit for recruits and graduated SPLA patriots back and forth between Ethiopia and New Sudan;
iv. Providing logistical support including feeding of recruits and graduated SPLA forces engaging the government and/or moving back and forth between Ethiopia and New Sudan;
v. And providing security for all patriots (both recruits and graduated SPLA soldiers) who were passing through Bor area back and forth between Ethiopia and New Sudan; not a single recruit or graduated SPLA soldier was lost in the hands of Greater Bor citizen while crossing all areas of Bor South, Twic East and Duk counties.
b. Greater Bor Contributions to the cause of freedom (1983 – Independence included: Manpower and human resources with complete dedication to service for the entire period of liberation— this has given South Sudan a true self in the eyes of the International Community today). Like other South Sudanese, these men and women in uniform served honorably in the SPLM/A until victory was achieved.
c. Sacrifices made by Greater Bor Citizens (1983 – Independence) included:
i. Countless lives lost during the liberation struggle: it is not uncommon to hear of entire families shut down because all have perished in the service or through war related famines and diseases;
ii. Property lost due to war: all South Sudanese are aware of the fact that Bor was laid waste by the so-called Nasir Declaration during 1991 resulting in Bor Massacre and nothing was left once all was said and done;
iii. Displacements of our people within and beyond the borders of South Sudan;
iv. And many others, just to mention a few.
All of these contributions which include the ultimate sacrifice by our own martyrs will be in vain if you walk away from the Government, even considering how badly you have been treated in the past 6 years. We have to support President Kiir Administration and do our best for the development of this nascent state.
Nevertheless, we get the frustrations from you and from other South Sudanese communities who are excluded from then Government of South Sudan and now recently formed Government of the Republic of South Sudan. No question, President Kiir has failed you and other South Sudanese during the interim period and we worry that he has not learned any lesson from his past failures. We get it and here is why we know you have been let down by Kiir administration.
ii. What the people of Greater Bor faced during the interim period to present
In this section, we bring you the reasons why we said the youth were justified in complaining about the recent cabinet appointments. During the last 6 years the people of Greater Bor maintained what almost amounts to a patriotic code of silence in the face of many disturbing signs of abuse foisted on them by Kiir administration. In all the instances, they never complained or whined because it is in their genes not to rush to conclusion. For some nefarious intentions or reasons, they did not get a single explanation although they were owed many explanations. They did not complain, because (1), it was the most appropriate thing to do, and
(2), first priority for every South Sudan was to see implementation of CPA and keep NCP in check.
Then the systematic policy of removing those from Bor began. First it started with the removal of Jok Riak from the SPLA Tanks Unit, followed by Malual Majok from the Directorate of Military Intelligence. And the weird thing about their removal: there were no wrongdoing charges against them, and their replacements came from President Kiir’s village. Second, there was the forced retirement of 17 generals from the police and prison service, with many of their counterparts left to serve. Some of those 17 generals from Bor who were removed included: (1) Lt.Gen. Makuei Deng Majuc (Inspector General of the South Sudan police). (2) Lt. Gen. Wal Athieu Madol (Undersecretary in the Ministry of Interior). (3) Lt. Gen. Kuol Ajak Deng (Director for Administration, South Sudan Prisons Service). (4) Lt. Gen. Mathiang Aluong (Director for Administration, South Sudan Police). (5) Lt. Gen. Machar Akau Machar (South Sudan Spokesperson). (6) Lt.Gen. John Diing Deng (Jonglei State Prison chief). (7) Lt. Gen. Reuben Garang Yuol (Director for Training, South Sudan Prisons). Third, came the mysterious incident of December 2008 in which the President asked Governor Kuol Manyang of Jonglei State to be Minister for SPLA and Veteran Affairs (Defense), only to result in an overnight veto that switched the appointment to Nhial Deng Nhial. Fourth was the recent sweep of 2011 in which the then Central Bank Governor, Mr. Elijah Malok Aleng was disrespectfully sacked from his governorship of the Central Bank of South Sudan and replaced by his deputy, Kornellio Koryom, from Warrap State. And the fifth was the relieving of Dr. Majak D’Agoot from National Security.
We have to wonder if there is a pension system in place for those coercively/forcefully retired public servants and their dependents to fall back on since they haven’t saved for their retirements during their course of service for liberation struggle. We hope there is safety cushion for them and their dependents but we just do not know how they are now pushing on with their lives these days.
At any rate, these are painful matters but we have to hold steadfast because when our people joined the movement, they were sacrificing for larger purpose and so in that case we have to remain supportive of the current government until next elections. We must acknowledge though that we are not the only community in this pain. Some communities, like ours, are facing the worst brunt of underrepresentation.
3. Frustrations by other South Sudanese Communities over lack of inclusiveness in Kiir administration
We must say, although sadly, that one thing that has continued to ail us in South Sudan is the notion that numerical advantage must trump everything. The fact that we continue to perpetuate the overrepresentation of Dinkas and the Nuers in the government is not a good sign for sustainable politics and for smaller communities, as well. It is imperative to mention the glaring examples of inconsistencies of many smaller communities within or outside of bigger ethnic groups which suffer from non representation in the current administration. If this is the case then Aliab, Ciech, Je/Kachepo, Jur el Bel, Anyuak for example need government supported programs. Among other isolated and marginalized communities within Dinka ethnic group are Aweil (Malual Gier-nyang), Twic Mayardit and among others in Nuer ethnic group are Maiwut, Nasir and Ulang, among many others. The overrepresentation of parts of Warrap in all key functions (Presidency, Supreme Court, Central Bank, Foreign Affairs) of the Government is NOT a good sign for other states and does not reflect well on the Presidency. It is damaging, to say the least. We feel for those in Northern Bar el Ghazal (those of Aweil) and Unity State and all other non presented South Sudanese communities. One wonders what happened to then Deputy SPLM/A Chairman Kiir of 2004 who singled out at the meeting in Rumbek the people of Bar El Ghazal as having suffered greatly. Are those in Northern Bar El Ghazal not part of the people who suffered as well?
When it is all said and done, we do know that the government positions are too few for every single South Sudanese community to have their own sons and daughters appointed to serve. But the litmus test has been and it will continue to be about whether or not the services are equally provided to all South Sudanese communities.
4. Evaluation of the entire Government (then GoSS and current administration)
We can note with some authority that our government/SPLM Party has lost its way. During the past 6 years of the peace implementation, all levels of GoSS became characterized by incompetence and corruption. And we fear those vices may as well continue to bedevil our nascent state if nothing drastic is done to quickly address the hopeless state of affairs. The Movement that started out on strong footing and ended the war with much of its popular revolutionary appeal intact somehow has abandoned its founding principles of fairness, justice and equality. Back in the day a soldier or a commander would even prefer to trade places with a dying child or youth who did not have water or food to eat. In the days after war, we have seen a change of hearts and minds and many of our leaders are living lavishly at the expense of our suffering population. Over these few years some ministers were busy building mansions in neighboring countries or in some far away foreign lands. This is not the kind of image we need to build South Sudan on. As citizens of the Greater Bor, we categorically condemn it. An SPLA soldier is currently treated like a second class citizen with a stingy pay that is either delayed or diverted. The streets of Juba and other South Sudan towns became overcrowded with children begging for food, something we have never heard of in our culture even during the war. The Movement that used to pride itself on enforcing the laws of man quickly became the Party that rewarded crimes and bad behavior after bad behavior. Case in point: people turned guns on fellow South Sudanese and joined the enemy only to come back to higher positions in the government of South Sudan.
The great appeal of SPLM began to take on a sorry state with some getting branded as Garang Boys and Kiir Boys. Some of the bad legacies are as follows:
a. Questionable handling of appointments and vetting of government officials which left people wondering about who sits down with the president to pick his team members
The appointments and vetting of government officials appeared to be skewed toward Warrap State but that is fine with us as long as the President is constitutionally permitted to pick the members of his team in whatever way he wants. But we cannot stop asking ourselves these questions: Who sat down with the President when he was deliberating on picking the members of his team? Who recommended the recycling of some of the same corrupt officials that worked very hard to satisfy their personal interests at the expense of South Sudanese? If they haven’t for the last 6 years, are these same ministers going to deliver services to all South Sudanese now especially with the number of the most vulnerable citizens among us increasing on a daily basis? The reason why we ask these questions is if those who advise the President have the greater public good at hearts, a good number of former ministers who have tainted records would have been sent home but it seems that power consolidation at the expense of South Sudan development appears to be the driving force behind the President’s decisions on who to fire and who to reappoint to serve in his government. This is a tragedy that must be corrected now rather than later, for we cannot afford failure but to develop this nascent state into a prosperous one.
a. Corruption in the GoSS [the case of missing grain, and 2 billion in US dollars siphoned off to foreign accounts; and 13 ministers named by an international watchdog as having played a role in this];
Not even the President himself can deny the fact that some of his key government positions are filled by unethical public servants who aren’t ashamed of betraying the orphans, widows and innocent civilians in Juba and all South Sudan ten states while they are busy building mansions in foreign capitals for their own families. The question becomes: is the president sincere in his call for zero tolerance on corruption? And the answer seems to be: not so sure. In order for the president to come clean on the question of corruption, he has to make the names of the 13 former (or reappointed) ministers who have been accused of having siphoned off public funds to foreign accounts public. Unfortunately, it is not going to happen at least in the foreseeable future. At the moment the issue of Arthur Akuien Chol and the lost millions of dollars is not resolved or less investigated and so is the case of Kuol Athian Mawien who masterminded the biggest scandal in South Sudan History: issuing $2 billion contracts to fictitious traders to produce maize that didn’t exist and he is still at large today. In addition to the fact that the national wealth ended up in few people’s pockets, this scandal calls the credibility of contract bidding process into questions. Assuming then Minister Kuol Athian Mawien was scammed, what will the world community think of a government that cannot even distinguish between credible businessmen from phony ones? In any case, the president needs to show substance on fighting corruption rather than talking rhetoric devoid of tangible punitive actions on culprits.
a. Autocracy in this Government
This government is now deemed by many as the government controlled by a handful few from Warrap State who misadvise the President to focus on consolidating the power to the detriment of everything else. There is nothing less autocratic than a government run by frequent issuance of decrees by the President. It is not uncommon these days for the President to issue a decree relieving individuals deemed less trustworthy from their duties and appointing their replacements. And by the way, there is a single destination for a nation in which there is no term limit on president’s tenure in the office; a nation in which a president is empowered to appoint and fire elected government officials: AUTOCRACY. One does not need a rocket scientist to deem President Kiir administration as more autocratic since he is empowered to veto the will of the people as he is entitled to fire their elected representatives with or without any cause as he so wishes by just issuing a decree. The constitution must clarify when and how the President must issue decrees in his capacity as the chief executive officer of this nation.
b. Empowered executive and weakened legislature and judiciary
There is no question, the three branches of the South Sudan government: the legislature, executive, and judiciary are not independent of each other as the executive seems to have veto powers over all the decisions to the detriment of the other two branches. The constitution needs to set up a system of checks and balances to help ensure that no one branch can be more powerful than the other. Each branch has powers that it can wield to keep the other branches in check. If the system of checks and balances were in place, the executive would have arranged to have all the President’s cabinet and judicial appointees scrutinized and confirmed by the legislature. It did not happen when the cabinet members were presented to the legislature as no confirmation hearings were held and there was no pushback from the legislature to have the administration produce the names of the 13 corrupt former ministers to be sure that they weren’t reappointed to serve in the new government. Nobody knows who these people are and it is even suspected that some (if not all of them) may have been reappointed to serve in this post independent President Kiir Administration. Under the constitutional democracy, the national assembly has the right to examine and check the track records of all the appointees before they can assume their positions in the executive and judiciary, but because of the repressive attitude from our current executive branch, the cabinet and judicial appointees [let alone the Central Bank Governor and Supreme Court Chief Justice appointees], were not presented to the legislature for scrutiny and confirmation hearings as the President was allowed to have his way with his appointees. The democratic ideals which we all fought for have never been given a chance to take hold in South Sudan. The South Sudan National Assembly ought to be an independent entity that has powers to reject corrupt nominees and endorse whoever they deem qualified and reputable to serve South Sudan’s national interests. We want our nation to survive/thrive in the midst of these challenges and as of now an effective governance is way out of reach if we do not have strong legislature and judiciary to keep executive excesses in check.
C. Failure to deliver services to all South Sudanese
If one sits down today and asks for evidence of what has been accomplished in the past 6 years with petro dollars, one won’t show anything other than presidential palace, government office buildings, and mansions for government officials in South Sudan towns and foreign lands. Is that the development our martyrs shed so much blood for? Of course, not! It is a shame and a betrayal on our nation to see that South Sudanese are more hopeless now than they were during war time and this is because they have seen how self-centered and corrupt the public servants who were thought to be fighting for larger public good have become. This begs a question of whether or not we will expect to see something different this time and the answer, we are afraid, is a clear no as some (if not all) of the same corrupt officials who failed South Sudanese in the defunct GoSS are now asked again to serve in this administration.
d. Insecurity across South Sudan, among others
Insecurity is causing an immense instability in the Republic of South Sudan, and we should not underestimate these problems that are brewing and growing bigger and bigger day by day. Thousands have died from tribal conflicts since 2006.The government must protect its citizens even if it fails to provide all other services, and it is very unfortunate that many people have died so far from preventable tribal skirmishes and unlawful cattle rustlings. The Government must make the protection of its citizens the top priority above everything else because people need to feel safe first before they can do anything else. Insecurity also leads to the loss of freedom, for example the killings that recently occurred, at Duk, Wernyol, Fangak, Pibor, Uror and other places in Jonglei State not only led to the loss of innocent lives but also a loss of freedom for individuals who cannot lead their normal life under constant state of fear. It would have been easily prevented by the South Sudan Government had the President and his team made insecurity issue a top priority. We know all the communities in Jonglei State must embrace the co-existence to live with each other in peace but the government has the solemn responsibility to rein in on those who resort to violence. On the same token, the Warrap, Lakes, and Unity states must champion true peace, coexistent and reconciliations, and this will have a ripple effect on all ten states.
Having fully discussed what has transpired since the founding of our Movement, SPLM/A, all the way to the independence of South Sudan, one would understand where we and the rest of South Sudanese stand moving forward:
. Categorically, we are not aligning ourselves with anybody but are fully supporting President Kiir administration.
. South Sudanese votes are not in anybody’s pocket come next elections. They have the right to vote for the candidates they believe will listen to them as citizens of South Sudan; be transparent; and lead South Sudan to prosperity.
. Nevertheless, the President and his cliques can rest assured they are not entitled to running the nation for life.
In closing, the thrust of our position paper on the interim period and the recent cabinet appointments is clear: we are against the systematic removals/dismissals of Greater Bor Community members from the army and civil service. As for the recent cabinet appointments, we strongly urge our appointed sons to take up their positions (Minister of Parliamentary Affairs, Deputy Minister of Defense and Deputy Minister of Information and Broadcasting), and discharge those assignments with professionalism and to the best of their abilities. We expect every son and daughter of Greater Bor who is given any job whether it is cleaning streets or working in an office to do that job to the best of his or her ability.
To you, Mr. President, the challenge is on you. Because the question that will be asked 20, or 50 years from now will be: “did your first cabinet/government represent the demise or the future of SPLM Party, and that of the people of South Sudan?” There are only two ways to ensure either one. Whether to continue following the same mediocre path of the last 6 years or steer clear and develop robust policies that will ensure our nation’s survival. Because the SPLM is becoming weak in the eyes of many, it has become easy for opposition parties that have no prior accomplishments or track records to decry what did or did not happen. But if the SPLM, the Party of Dr. Garang, were to adopt its former revolutionary zeal and institute ‘taking the towns to people’ as its governing philosophy, there is no reason why it cannot effectively serve the interests of the great people of South Sudan for many years to come. It is entirely up to you, Mr. President, how you want to pitch to your new cabinet the very fact that the dreams and hopes of the people are in their hands. Because this much is very clear: precious blood was spilled for us to gain this freedom and someone had better take good care of orphans, children, widows, women, widowers, elderly, youth and the most vulnerable among us.
Mr. President, make sure all our 10 states get all the help they need in terms of resources to provide services to our people. We feel those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for our homeland have been betrayed when government officials continue to show no care for the innocent citizens who have nothing to fall back on, or even worst, soldiers who are not getting enough salaries or benefits. If officials are busy buying expensive cars and houses, what kind of reward can we give as a nation to those who have died for our freedom? That is the enduring question that will continue to haunt your administration.
To all our fellow youths who are disaffected across South Sudan, be reminded that you are the conscience and stewards of this very young nation. Our fervent plea to you is this: Let us be the generation that saves South Sudan from the wraths of tribalism, where leaders and communities, large and small, are constantly set against one another. A nation does not belong to those in power but to the common men and women in the villages who wake up every morning working hard for their children to inherit a better country than they found it. Let us not wait for all leaders to come and empower us to help our people and communities. Start wherever you are to help children and the elderly in whatever small way you can. Such a small measure inspires hope. Plus, you know it takes sustained activism to bring about social change. If the entire youth fraternity works in our communities by sharing all the ideas for increasing opportunities and reducing poverty, our nation and the way of life can surely change. Youth unemployment is a stain on our nation’s character and we must push the government to address that. Our SPLA commanders used to talk proudly about the youth as the future of our nation. Now, it is a different story. It is like tomorrow is some distant future that keeps on disappearing. Let the youth be regarded as part of the accountability system that challenges the government to live up to the expectations of all South Sudanese. The youth need to remind the government that leadership by example is one that must show moral courage whenever confronted with a dose of healthy criticism. We, citizens of this great nation legitimately voiced our frustrations and fully supported President Kiir administration to chart a course that will save our country’s soul.
Finally, we are thankful to the United Nations for giving us, the people of the Republic of South Sudan, the swift recognition on the world stage and particularly to the nations of Eastern Africa, and to people of Norway, United Kingdom and the United States for standing with us during our dark and bright days. We ask you to stand behind our current government because the people of South Sudan need you now more than ever. We need your help in areas of political and economic policies because we are creating a nation at the most precarious period of global economic meltdown.
PREPARED AND SIGNED BY:
Governmental Affairs Committee of GBC-USA
REVIEWED AND CONFIRMED BY:
Executive and Oversight Committee
Board of Trustees
Reuben Guguei Panchol, Chairman, GBC-USA; [email protected]