February 20, 2015 (SSNA) — At the beginning of this month a phenomenal declaration was made by the South Sudan Catholic Bishops which under normal circumstance should have caused political tremors. However, surprisingly this extremely important event passed on without South Sudanese noting its importance as one of the most potent weapons to end President Kiir’s government.
It would be an abdication of duty to refrain from bringing this topic back to the attention of the people of South Sudan because that would be tantamount to condoning the wrong going on in South Sudan.
“Citing a Biblical passage (Mark 10: 42 – 45) in which Jesus criticizes the ‘rulers of the heathen’ for lording it over their people rather than serving them, the Bishops argued that a government that wages war against its own people is not a legitimate government.” Please see, ‘Bishops declare that South Sudan ‘has abandoned God’”. https://radiotamazuj.org/en/article/bishops-declare-south-sudanese-nation-has-abandoned-god.
This bold declaration by the South Sudan’s Catholic Bishops offers the quickest solution to the ongoing conflict in the country. However, it appears that the Intergovernmental authority on development (IGAD) has brushed it aside in its quest to see the SPLM/A warring parties share power and wealth at the expense of the people of South Sudan. This of-course is not a solution in any way as it does not address the root causes of the conflict. It is only a postponement of the conflict to some future date.
IGAD needs to note that the government of President Salva Kiir is illegitimate as highlighted by the Bishops and therefore there is no ground for allowing IGAD to dictate things in Addis Ababa. President Kiir is a war monger. He started the war based on the lie that there was a coup. Please see, ‘President Kiir’s strategy to cover up ethnic cleansing collapsed in London.’ http://allafrica.com/stories/201402241137.html
In the middle of 2013 President Kiir recruited and formed his own personal tribal militia in Bahr El Ghazal in violation of the constitution and against advice of the then Chief of the Army, General James Hoth Mai. He then relocated this force of over three thousand men to Luri, a Bari village south west of Juba for further training around October of the same year.
In the first week of December 2013 President Kiir made speeches rekindling the emotive event of 1991 schisms between the Jieng and the Nuer in the SPLM then under Dr John Garang. This prepared grounds for the ethnic cleansing of the Nuer in Juba and country wide starting from 15th December 2013 and thereafter. The Revolutionary Movement for National Salvation (REMNASA) in their document, ‘REMNASA: view on the South Sudan crisis and approaches to solving it’ provide the context for the grave crimes against humanity committed by President Kiir and the Jieng Council of Elders (JCE). http://nyamile.com/2015/02/16/remnasa-view-on-the-south-sudan-crisis-and-approaches-to-solving-it/
Having plunged the country into a senseless war and prevaricated for 14 months President Kiir is now contemplating further violence. He confided in one of the IGAD head of the states on 26th January 2015 that “when I come back from Addis Ababa don’t expect me to obey your rules.” Please see, ‘South Sudan talks adjourned without power-sharing deal’. https://radiotamazuj.org/en/article/s-sudan-talks-adjourn-without-power-sharing-deal
“This war is evil”, the Bishops strongly stressed. This observation of the clergy is something that most people familiar with South Sudan would completely agree with. President Kiir due to his limited education seems to believe that he can do anything because believing he is a legitimate president, when in actual fact as already noted he is not.
President Kiir’s continued insistence to legitimise himself by singing: ‘democratically elected!’, ‘legitimate government!’, ‘democratically elected!’, ‘legitimate government!’ etc is simply a load of trash. It is crass and demeans the office of the presidency.
The regime has lied to itself and the people so much so that it now believes its own lies. Confronted with the fast approaching expiry of the fabricated legitimate period, they are running around like headless chickens. Initially, they tried to stage a fake election to refashion their legitimacy which did not work. With lightening speed they switched to the parliament to get legal extension to allow them to govern for two more years.
Will this work? No, it will not. The reason being the parliament itself has no powers to extend life of a government and itself. Dr Lam of SPLM-DC has already made this point clear in his article, ‘South Sudan opposition parties welcome election cancellation, condemn terms extension,’ published in South Sudan News Agency. http://www.southsudannewsagency.com/
Even if the parliament were empowered to do so, it has no legitimacy because among the MPs in the House, there are over 66 legislators appointed on the whims of President Kiir. For example the NCP (National Congress Party of President Omar Bashir) converts and others. These MPs do not have any constituency in the country. They are cronies of the president in corruption and abuse of power. They represent no one but themselves.
Further, the parliament is supposed to uphold the constitution and it has not done so since coming into life at the time of independence. President Kiir breaks the law left and right without the parliament holding him to account, for example, in the case of Panthou war and the formation of a private tribal militia funded by the state. The real test was the events of December 2013 when President Kiir committed grave crimes against humanity. No one in the parliament raised a motion to debate the ethnic cleansing of the Nuer to hold the leadership to account.
That parliament is a joke. It is a house of dummies. Whether the parliament extends President Kiir’s term or not, it does not matter. The whole government with its three branches of judiciary, parliament and executive have lost legitimacy and the South Sudan Catholic Bishops have now certified it. What more?
Dr Luka Biong Deng in his self serving or rather Jieng serving article, ‘Why government is right to postpone election is South Sudan’ tries hard to present the Dinkocratic system as a democracy seeking the right legal avenue to remain in power. This kind of antics does not wash. He and the Jieng controlled SPLM should shed the delusions and accept that their entire system is illegitimate with or without parliament approval. http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article54003
Now the South Sudan Catholic Bishops have given their verdict that President Kiir is illegitimate. They unequivocally stated that “a government that wages war against its own people is not legitimate government.” These words are weighty. Churches are known for discreet ways of approaching issues. Seldom do clergy make such statements unless the issue has really reached a critical boiling point endangering the country.
The declaration therefore is very significant because the Catholic Church represents a considerable percentage of South Sudanese people. The population of the Catholics in South Sudan according to World Christian Encyclopaedia is around 2.7 million people. This makes roughly 30 percent of the entire population of South Sudan. The other Christian denominations combined could make about 40 percent with the rest being people who practice traditional religions.
In South Sudan Christians do not segregate themselves according to their sects. They socialise and pray freely among themselves. They too respect all the clergy of the various churches. This is always evident in social occasions such as birth, celebrations, marriages, death and so on. In such occasions the Christian inter-mingle freely with each other regardless of their sects. This phenomenon is Characteristic of the South Sudanese, though it may astonish outsiders watching.
So the call by South Sudan’s Catholic Bishops would practically be taken seriously by all the Christians in the country. What does this mean? It means that the Church has expressed the will of its adherents who make up 70 percent of the country. Democratically speaking the edict of the clergy translates into a vote of no confidence in the government by majority of South Sudanese.
The illegality of president Kiir’s government is something that can no longer be disputed. His presidency from a legal point of view as well as on constitutional grounds can not stand. This view has been argued elsewhere exhaustively. However, with the church finding President Kiir illegitimate according to scriptures does not only concretise the facts but urges him to vacate the presidency at once.
Christians around the world must take South Sudan’s Bishops declaration as basis for action. The Vatican, Canterbury and others should now put pressure on their members of parliament s in their respective countries to ask their governments to cease cooperating with the ‘evil’ regime of President Kiir. This issue now is clearly more of a moral problem requiring instant action.
The South Sudanese Diaspora should now mobilise and wave the declaration of the Bishops to the clergy of their local churches as well as their members of parliament demanding their support in calling for their government to take action against the criminals in Juba. South Sudan’s Bishops recent declaration is a spiritual manifesto that no local church can ignore.
South Sudan’s Bishops declared position further means that the basis of the talks in Addis Ababa is now futile because there can be no grounds for negotiations with an illegitimate regime which basically, “wages war against its own people.”
Thus the talks in Addis Ababa should be re-opened under new impartial mediators, preferably under one or some of the eminent persons to bring all the people of South Sudan (stakeholders) to a table to hammer out an interim government with clear objectives.
In conclusion, the Bishops guided by the Holy Spirit have helped in shining light on the darkness in Juba. Now that the regime is certified as illegitimate it is up to the people to use this certificate effectively to realise a peaceful change in the country. This said it must be remembered that the Bishops call is a duty to Christian people wherever they are to do their bit to rid South Sudan of evil. That evil is the SPLM/A in its totality. In other words this call from the church endorses resistance against the evil doers in Juba for a humane and caring government that fears the Lord to be established to care for God’s people. So, “together let us once again make South Sudan a God fearing nation.[Truth hurts but is also liberating]
The author lives in the Republic of South Sudan. He can be reached at [email protected]