Addis Ababa, May 20, 2012 (SSNA) — After wider consultation, we, the South Sudan citizens in Ethiopia, collectively rejected the appointment of Mr. Arop Deng Kuol as South Sudan Ambassador to Ethiopia. As citizens of the Republic of South Sudan, we are opposing his appointment not only for national security issue but also the principles of Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations. We issued a press release in 2011 demanding his removal from Addis Ababa for legitimate reasons. However, the office of President Salva Kiir did not pay attention to our request to remove him from GoSS Head of Mission in Ethiopia for reasons enumerated below.
We have noticed for quite awhile that President Salva Kiir pays attention to petitions coming from Dinka ethnic group and doesn’t even respond to requests made by non-Dinka communities. When the Union of Dinka Community in Kampala, Uganda, petitioned for the removal of GOSS Head of Mission in Uganda in 2011, the Office of the President took the issue seriously and recalled GOSS Head of Mission immediately to Juba and replaced him with a new head mission.
The South Sudanese in Ethiopia petitioned the office of the President many times but never received any response at all. We have learned that the case of Arop Deng Kuol has been seen by the office of the President as Nuer versus Dinka politics because the majority of South Sudanese in Ethiopia are Nuer. Most importantly, Arop Deng Kuol himself repeatedly made it abundantly clear that President Salva Kiir could not remove him because of the petitions of “people who didn’t support SPLM/A-Torit faction after the Movement split in 1991”. His statements to South Sudan communities in Addis Ababa confirmed the obvious fact that the case of Arop Deng Kuol is being seen in tribal lenses by the office of the president.
When Vice-president Riek Machar visited Addis Ababa on September, 10, 2011, the South Sudan community organized a meeting to express the position of the community. All the 40,000 people who attended the meeting called for the removal of Arop Deng Kuol and Dr. Riek Machar was shocked with the overwhelming rejection of Arop Deng Kuol to continue as GOSS Head Mission to Ethiopia. After listening to community members attentively, Dr. Riek Machar assured the community, in front of Arop Deng Kuol, that the Government in Juba would appoint a new Head Mission to fulfill the democratic wish of the citizens of South Sudan.
Unfortunately, the promise made by the Vice President never materialized and Arop Deng Kuol continued as Head of the GOSS Mission to Ethiopia. After the independence of South Sudan, and its recognition by the UN and AU, our community made another request for the appointment of a new ambassador who is not Arop Deng Kuol. Based on the principles of Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, the followings points disqualify Arop Deng Kuol to be appointed as South Sudan ambassador to Ethiopia and AU.
1. Arop Deng Kuol owns businesses in Ethiopia and he is Ethiopian citizen who holds Ethiopian Passport. He acquired Ethiopian citizenship after marrying from the ethnic group of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi in 1997.
2. Based on Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, Arop Deng Kuol could not have been appointed as Ambassador to Ethiopia prior to relinquishing Ethiopian citizenship.
3. South Sudan cannot appoint somebody who has vast businesses in Ethiopia because there would be a conflict of interest between South Sudan national interest and the private interest of Arop Deng Kuol.
4. Arop Deng Kuol owns three houses in Addis Ababa; four clothe factories, three cafeterias, ten Mini buses, two hotels in Addis Ababa, one hotel in Keren, two super Markets in Addis Ababa.
In the field of public relations, the government of South Sudan could not have appointed somebody who has bad relationship with South Sudan communities in Ethiopia. For the last seven years, Arop Deng’s relations with South Sudan Diaspora in Ethiopia have been characterized by the followings:
5. He denied scholarships for seven years to South Sudan students who are from Nuer, Anyuak and Shilluks. All the scholarships to Ethiopia institutions of learning have been given to Dinka.
6. He refused to organize community celebrations and to attend them as GOSS Representative in Ethiopia.
7. He wrote letters that South Sudan community leaders in Ethiopia were banned from visiting the Embassy of the Republic of South Sudan.
8. He took referendum money ($20,000 US Dollars) which were sent through GOSS Mission Account by 2011 Referendum Taskforce.
9. He claimed that $20,000 US dollars were given to the Director General for African Affairs in Ethiopian Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs as part of GoSS diplomatic campaigns for recognitions from Ethiopian government.
If ambassadorial appointments in South Sudan were conducted in a way that took into account Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations of 1965, there was no rational ground at all for somebody who owns so many businesses in Ethiopia to have been appointed without infringing the principles of Vienna Convention. Article 42 of the Vienna Convention states “a diplomatic agent shall not in the receiving State practise for personal profit any professional or commercial activity”.
Besides, our community is taken by surprise with the violation of protocol by the Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia, which violated two cardinal principles of Vienna Convention. First, in the diplomatic rules, a receiving state cannot accept an ambassador before receiving credentials of the ambassador from sending state. The Ethiopian Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs accepted Arop Deng Kuol to become South Sudan ambassador prior to receiving his credentials from government of South Sudan. This violation confirms the allegation that the in-laws of Arop Deng Kuol in the Ethiopian Ministry of Foreign Affairs wanted him to become the ambassador at the expense of South Sudan national interest. The people of South Sudan should ask themselves whether Arop Deng Kuol will really serve the national interest of South Sudan given his businesses and family connection in Ethiopia. Article 13 (1) of Vienna Convention states,
“the head of the mission is considered as having taken up his functions in the receiving State either when he has presented his credentials of when he has notified his arrival and a true copy of his credentials has been presented to the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of the receiving State, or such other ministry as may be agreed, in accordance with the practice prevailing in the receiving State which shall be applied in a uniform manner”.
Second, the Ethiopian Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs could not have accepted Arop Deng Kuol as ambassador to Ethiopia prior to relinquishing his Ethiopian citizenship. Article 3 of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations lists, as one of the functions of a diplomatic mission, “protecting in the receiving state the interests of the sending state and its nationals, within the limits permitted by international law”. The Vienna Convention on Consular Relations asserts a similar role for consular officials.
Article 38 of the Vienna Convention 1961 states that except where additional privileges and immunities have been specifically granted by the host State, a diplomatic agent who is a national of or permanent resident in that State shall enjoy only immunity from jurisdiction, and inviolability, in respect of official acts performed in the exercise of his functions. Article 38 clearly differentiates between an act carried out as part of his official duties and those done as a personal act. Any actions done personally and outside the ambit of official consular duties shall not be covered by “diplomatic immunity.”
Based on the principles of Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, there are many reasons against the appointment of Arop Deng Kuol as South Sudan ambassador to Ethiopia. Conditions that could raise a security concern and may be disqualifying include:
1. The exercise of dual citizenship;
2. Possession and/or use of a foreign passport;
3. Residence in a foreign country to meet citizenship requirements;
4. Using foreign citizenship to protect financial or business interests in another country;
5. Performing or attempting to perform duties, or otherwise acting, so as to serve the interests of another government in preference to the interests of the South Sudan.
Based upon the above legal reasons, we call upon President Salva Kiir to recall Arop Deng Kuol and appoint a new ambassador as soon as possible. As stated above, the appointment of Arop Deng Kuol as South Sudan ambassador to Ethiopia violated every letter and spirit of Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations. Unless President Salva Kiir wants to endanger the national interest of South Sudan, article 42 of the Vienna Convention states clearly that “a diplomatic agent shall not in the receiving State practise for personal profit any professional or commercial activity”. Mr. Arop Deng has more businesses in Ethiopia than Prime Minister Meles Zenawi and appointing such a person as South Sudan diplomatic representative is an infringement of article 42 of the Vienna Convention.