Peace, census, and then elections in order of priority

By: Dr. Chuol R. Kompuok

March 6, 2015 (SSNA) — South Sudan since its inception on July 9, 2011 has presented itself to the world as a great peace project not limited to South Sudanese, but also to the region and beyond. It was meant to create a community of peace and democracy based on the conviction that peace does not emerge from discussion or just utterance of plain words Salva Kiir uses to sing “no reverse gear to war,” but rather out of cooperation. Surprisingly enough, the unpopular president never honored his song for a very long time; he broke the accord and shattered the great peace project after most SPLM gubernatorial candidates lost 2010 Elections. After the president learnt that most of the staunch supporters lost the battle to private candidates for the gubernatorial posts for the ten states, he ordered the organized forces to take full charge of the polling stations across South Sudan to confiscate by force all the ballot boxes for the benefit of the SPLM candidates. The event culminated the rebellion in Jonglei state where the SPLA sector two (2) commander Lt. Gen. Gabriel Jok Riak under the direct command of the president Salva Kiir pulled the trigger and fired the first bullet, a circumstance that grazed Doleib Hill in Panyikang County of Upper Nile State to ashes on April 20, 2010 bringing the total losses from the government to 22 soldiers and wounding 19 others but, the rebel group led by Gen. George Athor lost only one person.

However, South Sudan after the long suffering of its people attempts to remodel Africa by realizing the European Kantian dream of “perpetual peace”, which is not based on the balance of military powers (or the supremacy of one of them) but rather on the universal recognition of the dignity of the human being, on the universal guarantee of human rights, and on sustainable human development, which mean superseding the current neoliberal model of globalization. In a sense, peace has its own definition that can be looked into from all angles. However, the uncivilized civil war, which is now consuming the best lives of future leaders and professionals of South Sudan, should not be considered the only best option, unless and otherwise all possible avenues for peace are exhausted. More so, the Troika and other international world bodies try to mediate the two warring parties through IGAD—led peace talk that bore no fruits for the last 15-month, but costing international community million of dollars weekly for maintenance of all the parties involved in the peace process. The Addis Ababa peace project becomes a melting pot for many, maximizing both abnormal profits and leisure should the war continue while serious human rights violation is taking place in South Sudan. To halt that profitable project the main focus now for both parties to the war should be geared towards achieving genuine peace without delay provided the root causes of the conflict are addressed. Without proper understanding of the term “peace”, it’s difficult to swallow the bitter medicine and forge a meaningful coexistence. 

The standards definition of peace in the WIKIPEDIA using contemporary world view is a state of balance, and understanding in oneself and between others, where mutual respect is gained by the acceptance of differences, and a total guarantee for tolerance, conflicts resolution through dialogue, people’s rights are respected and their voices are heard, and everyone is at their highest point of serenity without social tension. In light of the above definition, one would pose a question, where does South Sudan feature as a state at peace with itself where respect for individuals or other people’s rights taken into consideration? We can squarely blame the government of South Sudan under the leadership of Salva Kiir Mayardit, who only cares about the term limit but not the lives of South Sudanese and their welfare whom he put under the unprecedented suffering. In fact, it has now become a talk of South Sudanese leadership in Juba of election as if they have never seen election in their life time when people that voted them in the offices in 2010 are suffering on the tips of their noses. What a shame!

The civil war that takes away the peace from the rightful peace loving people is the war that must be fought by all to reclaim people’s will and aspirations for the better South Sudan. This is because, the prophet of doom Mr Salva Kiir Mayardit, ignited the war by firing the first bullet at the people for no apparent reasons but to effect self-aggrandizement. In reality, this mayhem was a mechanism president concocted to loot the oil resources and property and nobody should stop him at any cost. If human wants are satisfied, Salva Kiir together with his henchmen could have gotten rich a long time ago out of the oil money since enough has been siphoned out for the maintenance of their families and mistresses at the expenses of poor South Sudanese.

Hardly, for primary school leaver to maintain power with no basic political career, he decided to go wild and deployed the UPDF contingent after having seen his vice president Dr. Riek Machar whom he terms as the worst enemy threatens his power house and aspired to run for 2015 national elections. It is more than telling, in a recent briefing of SPLM-Juba, president Salva Kiir went viral accusing his rival of instigating war by saying Dr. Riek Machar onetime said, “much as the Nuer in South Sudan Army constitutes 75 per cent of SPLA army, it will take him (Dr. Riek) 2-hour to get rid of Salva Kiir Mayardit and form his government within the same span of time”, what a concocted version a coup plotter painted, the Kiir Kuethpiny narrative the whole world failed to buy, but only in the markets of the lemons in and around East Africa. In this tone of presentation, it was very clear from the onset that president Salva Kiir was preparing for the worst case scenario while his rival Dr. Riek Machar was very much hibernating not knowing the lioness got into the state of dementia, a state that wiped away the precious lives of all those whom we may not see in our life time. 

Salva Kiir’s psychic problem toward Riek Machar agitated him to the level no South Sudanese could imagine and exposes his old rift with Riek Machar over South Sudan 2011 Constitution. It is important to note that in his speech, while addressing the Sixth Speakers’ Forum on Wednesday Feb 8, 2011 in Juba, which gathered leadership of legislative assemblies across South Sudan’s ten states, the president of the government of South Sudan Salva Kiir accused his vice, Dr. Riek Machar, of running a parallel government within the government. The president in particular accused his deputy of floating a document supporting amendments to the current Constitution. Here is what the president had to say, “If we drive with this full speed, in reference to the circulating documents, which he said were unreasonable and creating disinformation, I believe we will not reach our destination, we will crash in the middle.” The president went on and said he did not want to see the parliament divided over the issues raised by the documents. “You are not here as tribes,” he told the Speakers. “You’re building a nation and building a nation is above any tribe and any tribal grouping will never take us anywhere,” he said. Mr. Salva Kiir further said, “There were those who display unity and nationalism at day time, but turn into tribal at night.” 

Given the above quotes and narratives of the president, the question one would want to ask the general public is who inclined to the tribal affiliation between the president and the vice president? Simple and clear answer is Salva Kiir Mayardit himself. The president was pushing very hard the passing of unpopular Constitution of 2011 with powers vested in him almost equal to God who created Heaven and Earth. Distinctively, under God’s creation, all the living and non-living things are living under the protection of HIM (the God) with the delegated powers to human being as the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) on earth. For Salva Kiir who claimed to deliver South Sudan to all South Sudanese on Golden Plate delegated executive powers to none, but those South Sudanese who voiced their concerns on his (Salva Kiir) fascist rules are convicted to death, an action that gave birth to December 15, 2013 Juba Massacre of more than 20,000 Nuer plus the other non-Nuer who happened to fall into the jaw of a deadly crocodile. In fact, sometimes people overlook the number of dying children who are not accounted for in the UN camps all over South Sudan. If we estimate the dying children together with initial Juba massacre, the figure would stand on average at about 50,000 people. These innocent children whom Salva Kiir’s militias spilled over their precious blood for no good reasons are now watching in their graveyards with no mercy until Salva Kiir joins them. From his speech in the Sixth Speakers’ Forum, one would deduce that the unpopular president was ready for war, which many South Sudanese underestimated. Nonetheless, Salva Kiir who is the driver of the vehicle without gear caused the accident head-on without shame while directing the blame to other people who were not party to the skidding car on the icy road.  

From the bird’s eye view Dr. Riek Machar was not trying to run a parallel government within the government as perceived by Salva Kiir, but in furthering the democratic processes when he suggested some amendments in the 2011 Constitution for the betterment of the lives of the entire South Sudanese, an act Nuer community were condemned to death. The president who claimed to be non-tribal in nature become the main architect, training 15,000 private army in Luri, 10 miles north of Juba without the knowledge and consent of former Chief of General Staff, Gen. James Hoth Mai, a Nuer. This is a proof beyond reasonable doubt that Mr. President was not for peace but his hands are tainted with Blood of innocent South Sudanese. In real sense Mr. Salva Kiir causes serious violation on the Constitution he claimed to have uphold, nonetheless, the Constitution does not grant him the powers to train private army without the approval from the toothless parliament whom he all the times threaten to fire at will and end up begging on the Juba streets.

Therefore, scheduling elections for June 30, 2015 to extend the bloody hands of Kiir, before achieving Peace and conduct of National Census is a violation of the rights of people of South Sudan. Such is linked with a direct robbing of people of South Sudan the right to democratic processes. Salva Kiir will always play a ticket of peace loving person while bleeding the country if he continues leading the country. Indeed, South Sudanese should be aware of such a game player in the overcoat of democrat. In the same vein of argument, conducting South Sudan population and housing census before 2015 elections was the pre-condition that was stipulated in the 2011 Constitution.  

Rewinding the history, prior to 2011 Historic Referendum, the Fifth Sudan Population and Housing Census, a milestone in the implementation of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) was conducted from 22nd April to 6th May 2008. Many South Sudanese believed the census to be first all-inclusive census ever since Sudan became independence in January 1956 and assume the results will help decide on how wealth and power ought to be shared in the Sudan. However, the anomalies came to be the order of the day as both South Sudan and the Sudan traded accusations when the official results of the Census got announced with the South Sudan population estimated on average about 8.2 million or 21.10% of the total population. The semi-autonomous Southern region disputed the results as manipulated and represented nothing of Southern population.

The then Sudanese First Vice President and the head of Government of Southern Sudan (GOSS) Salva Kiir Mayardit warned he would not accept Census results that appear unreasonable. Again, Salva Kiir said, he is unhappy with the results of the census conducted in 2008 and called for it to be excluded from wealth and power sharing which was thought to be used to determine the distribution of wealth and power, including booming oil proceeds. President Salva Kiir told a rally at Lainya, Central Equatoria state that we will not accept less than 15 million as population of Southern Sudan. In another venue in Bentiu capital of Unity State where president spoke to the South Sudan Chiefs Conference on May 14, 2009 and said “he is unhappy and unsatisfied with the census results.” It was also Salva Kiir who rejected the results and at the same time accepted the census results, a big contradiction from the president.

Given all the odds of the population census, South Sudan as a sovereign state promises itself to conduct population census before conduct of the national elections scheduled for June 30, 2015. The 2008 Census helped in determining wealth and power sharing, not limited to Sudan only, but also explicitly applied to South Sudan wealth and power sharing. Salva Kiir who championed the rejections of the Census results when South Sudan still an autonomous region, now change the tactic by supporting elections in the absence of Housing and National Census. Without shame, the head of National Statistics and Census Bureau Isaiah Chol Aruai supported the president and said the Bureau’s failure to hold Census ahead of elections should not stop the polls from taking place although he agreed that collecting census data, under normal circumstance, was supposed to precede the elections. The Chairperson of the Bureau violated the South Sudan’s 2011 Constitution, which stipulates that the census data are to determine among other things, … the number of electoral constituencies for the general elections” in favor of the president. Moreover, the drafting of the Permanent Constitution should have preceded the elections as one of the requirements in the process but only cowardice person, Isaiah Chuol Aruai, the head of National Statistics and Census Bureau should have been the one to admit the conduct of elections in the faces of all crises the country has engulfed in. God sometimes works miraculously, Isaiah Chol Aruai, the head of South Sudan Census and Statistics Bureau fell in the hands of the SPLM-IO after plane that carried him landed in Jiec payam of Ayod County in the hands of the people whom he denied their plight on the postponement of 2015 elections, a call supported by every sound minded South Sudanese citizens. Anyway only God knows.        

In the scheduled June 30, 2015 elections, many South Sudanese forecasted it to be another mayhem that serves only as a catalyst for unprecedented catastrophic awaiting South Sudan. Many officials in the government of South Sudan appear to beat the drums, “elections must go ahead” including those whom their constituencies are grazed to zero ground cum non-existence population or yet to be born. For instance, nearly the entire greater Upper Nile Region become ghosts town and if at all the ghosts conduct the elections, it will be the first experience of its kind ever in the world and South Sudan as the nascent state will be the real model of the day. If not because people are obsessed with greed and lust for scrupulous rent seeking behavior now in the South, none of these officials would talk about 2015 elections before achieving the prerequisites—peace and national census. Greater Bahr el Ghazal region is not exceptional. Lake state for instance, is susceptible to intra clans fighting since the time the president Salva Kiir imposed illiterate Gen. Matur Chut Dhuol as the military governor. The move of the president to remove unconstitutionally the elected governor Chol Tong Mayay of the Lake state further the suffering of the people and to make the matter worst president put to shelf people’s call to remove the caretaker governor Gen. Matur Chut to give peace a chance.

Can we really say Salva Kiir is a man of peace or just a chameleon who dance to the tune of the criminals? Without further analysis, one would conclude that president Salva Kiir Mayardit is a culprit who will directly report to ICC after the conclusion of the peace deal. Salva Kiir government’s rejection of the advice of the US government and other international bodies for South Sudan not to hold elections before the conclusion of IGAD mediated peace is a sign of dying horse with little hope to live longer. The outdated lawyer, Michael Makuei Lueth and obsolete pharmacist, Barnaba Marial Benjamin creates a lot of havocs to the people of South Sudan and the country at large. Sometimes, one wonder as to who, the spokesperson for the government since both of them utter words with strong bearing effect on the people who voted for them together with the unpopular president. In a nutshell, one would be able to deduce that the government of Salva Kiir Mayardit is the government with no direction, now experimenting on the mode of governance with weak institutions. As for Barnaba Marial Benajmin, who came into the parliament through Uror County ticket because his biological father believed to have come from Uror County of Lou Nuer, but breastfed and groomed in the Lake state, has betrayed his people shamelessly in favor of Dinkaism. He has totally forgotten that those who rejected him from Bahr el Ghazal yesterday are the one whom he is trying to jump into bed with them in pretext of working for one people, one nation, a total abomination.

The South Sudan cabinet’s current postponement of scheduled 2015 elections for the next two years to give peace a chance is a tactic that will not save Salva Kiir’s government towards the concerns of all South Sudanese, who are crying for peace than the government’s concern for the president’s term limit. The rubber stamp parliament the matter was referred to for further consideration has no legal mandate for the extension of the president’s term limit since their term limit is on the burst of expiration comes July 9, 2015. As a matter of fact, none of them would have legal backing from the public to extend the term limit without the consent from the people and the 2011 Constitution of the land that everyone upholds by imposition. All South Sudanese are tired and sick of the game the government plays every time they see reactions from the public and would by all means try to please them but run in vain. The government in Juba should admit committing the heinous crimes against the people immediately and further unconditionally accept publication of the AU Commission of Inquiry results to make peace a reality. And IGAD heads of state including those who are fighting alongside government while negotiating on behalf of the government should distance themselves from South Sudan’s internal affairs to give South Sudanese a breathing space.    

In conclusion, election plays key role in the democratic transformation in the most contemporary world where transfer of power ideally runs smoothly without fail. However, South Sudan though has come a long way achieving its hard worn independence on July 9, 2011, making it 194th country in the world failed to be in the same category in the implementation of the international laws. Therefore, it’s not excluded in adherence to the international laws governing the fair conduct of business in line with world businesses, and respect for the rights of all human beings irrespective of their color, race, creed, sex, age … to live without fear of any sorts. South Sudan leaders decided to rule the country with impunity denying people their basic rights. Approximately, about 150,000 people live in the UN concentration camps in the South and about 2 million people live as refugees in the neighboring countries. Such a state of affairs put the country to test.  However, to think of elections at this point in time is an insult to the intelligentsia of South Sudanese without laying good ground for peace as number one priority followed by national census. 2015 elections, is a mere propaganda from the center, and the project is not achievable either. It rather serves as recipe for more wars and not to forgetting, the South Sudan independence was achieved through historic referendum, for which South Sudanese were the main participants all over the world. In this case, Salva Kiir as individual cannot hold the people and the land hostage to maintain his grip on power and lay down the law of the land to rest. All South Sudanese people MUST rise tall, above, and beyond individual interest but against one man’s fascist rule and say enough is enough for them to enjoy peace, tranquility, and stability. May God help South Sudan!

Chuol Kompuok is a concern South Sudanese and can be reached at [email protected].

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