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Johannesburg!

By Daniel Akech | February 14, 2014

While riding a taxi from the airport here in Johannesburg to Sandton City at the dead of the night of February 12th, I believed more than once that I was actually in San Diego: the beautiful and clean highways and amazingly beautiful buildings some of which, such as the Sandton Sun, are four decades old but looks brand new. The main doors of the magnificent malls – Sandton City and Nelson Mandela Square faced each other, a few yards apart, in a competitive posture. While a few other buildings, such as Michaelangelo, have been appended to the business hotspot, Mandela’s unparalleled influence was visible. The gimmick of the builders of the Sandton City was connecting everything: hotels, offices, retailers, food courts, etc, through skyscrapers so that wayfaring is the most optimal way of accessing everything in Sandton City.

A further drive away brought me to another spectacular building housing the Standard Bank, a transparent building that is environmental friendly: lifts slow down when there is no one in them to only speed up once people enter; pieces of arts in form of maps of all the countries of Africa hanged in the middle of the hall. The Sandton City, Melrose Arch, Rosebank, Eastgate Mall, and other structures are beautiful creatures of financial literacy that men and women of this country have embraced. I found out that the magnificent headquarters of the Standard bank in Johannesburg was created at nothing more than 250 million USD. Upon hearing this, I thought of fake buildings, which were erected at a cost amounting to a fifth of this amount in our Juba.

However, Johannesburg does not lack problems. Their unemployment rate is astronomical per various reports and equally high is the number of crimes perhaps this is due to weakness in security sector. A number of South African soldiers, who were sent there to maintain peace among hostile communities, were reportedly robbed in South Sudan yesterday by some armed elements and no one was hurt!

The airport’s lights went off a night before I arrived here, which created a dose of panic. Due to issues pertaining to lack of basic services, there are over 30 protests daily in South Africa. Two days ago, a near clash between the supporters of the ANC and those of the DA was avoided through the use of police. The unpopular President Jacob Zuma, who does not hide his boldness in a hat, denies that his government is to blame and his diagnosis of the cause of unhappiness, as he disclosed last night in a speech, suggests that the protests are driven by a minority impatiently demanding to receive what the majority now has. Once there is a system in place, whether the President’s policies are bad or good does not amount to a complete collapse.

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Former Detainees at the Airport

By Daniel Akech | February 14, 2014

Waiting at a lounge at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, a group of passengers, who were unmistakably South Sudanese, walked in. They were political detainees of the current violence, who were exiled to Kenya after their release. Where they are headed to? The microphones just announced a flight boarding for Addis Ababa and all of them sprang up and exited the lounge. The encounter was brief and it did not allow for chats other than greetings. A number of them appeared to have aged as gray beards that used to be worn short are now overgrown and slimness has visited them once more after having forgotten it since after 2005 (who says people gain weights when stressed?). Misfortune unites characters. These folks look more united after what they went through.

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Supply Contracts Scrutinized

By Daniel Akech | February 12, 2014

 Since 2006, various wings of the government in South Sudan have been offering government contracts to local companies and foreign companies.

The basic prerequisites to win a supply contract include possessing a legal registration license under South Sudan company acts and the bank account of the supplier must have a minimum balance of 50, 000 SSP. These prerequisites are nominal as the decision for awarding a contract depends on other less known factors. The winner of an army’s contract has four groups to deal with:

  1. The target department (a sector of the army operation for instance), which needs to be supplied with food, fuel, or uniform sets
  2. The procurement, which advertises the needs of the target department and forms a committee including a member from the target department to decide on the awarding of the contract
  3. The army’s finance, which processes the payment and hands it over to the ministry of finance
  4. The ministry of finance, which pays out the money once the contract has been executed

The positive asset of offering a government contract to a local citizen is to empower her by creating a job for her and others she may employ. Noble as it appears on the first sight, this practice of awarding contracts has resulted in a massive looting of our resources by a tiny fraction of the society. We characterize the main features of the failure of this policy.

Inhibiting the capacity of the local contract winner to deliver includes:

  1. The lack of start-up money, which oftentimes is not objectively assessed prior to awarding of the contract
  2. Various manipulative actions (chiefly bribing) undertaken
  3. A fear of never getting paid within a reasonable time interval

A number of contracts have been offered on a nepotism basis or through bribery such as a promise to offer a certain percentage to those responsible for awarding contracts. Ten percent has usually been the benchmark when it comes to offering a ‘kick-back’ after winning a contract and those contract winners who had failed to respect this ‘norm’ have been labeled ‘lone eaters’ and their probability of getting another contract severely affected.

The common maneuver around the lack of start-up money has been to find someone else with cash to fund for the delivery of the contract. Well aware of the total lack of funding on the contract winner’s part, potential financiers charge exorbitant interests, for instance, most financiers charge between 10% to 30% return on a loan.

After securing such fund, the contract winner may go ahead and deliver. But she may have to wait for a while to get paid because there is usually a delay at the finance ministry in getting paid for contract delivered. This delay is often unlocked through bribing some ‘brokers’ associated with the finance ministry to speed up the processing of one’s payment. But then if the actual delivery has been done, then the payments that the original contract winner have to perform in order to get her money makes the delivery of goods to government sectors looks like a non-profitable activity, and as such no rational agent will continue playing by these rules and expect to gain.

The actual payoff received by the contract winner is affected by the duration of the payment (a long delay in getting paid means no gain) as well as the costs incurred from the various manipulative actions (bribing), which have been taken during the course of getting the contract, delivering it, and dealing with the finance ministry. The cost of a number of the manipulative actions available to the contract winner can be calculated as follows. Suppose the value of the contract is 2, 000, 000 SSP. Let’s suppose that one half of that is spent on buying goods and delivering them so that 1,000,000 SSP is the profit. Now this profit is shared over various other manipulative costs. The procurement brokers demand around 10% or 200,000 SSP of the original contract value as a kick-back. The local finance brokers demand 5%  or 100,000 SSP and the ministry of finance brokers demand around 5% or 100,000 SSP. The financier also needs a return on his money and that could be around 200,000 SSP. Thus if the contract winner delivers the supply honestly, she may end up with a profit of up to a maximum of 500,000 SSP. Under this process, the original contract winner fails to benefit much. But all is not lost as some seeks an alternative path for incrementing one’s contract value.  To maximize their contract values, a number of local contract winners have discovered another path to strike it rich fast: don’t deliver or deliver just a little something through bring the target department.

Soon one won a contract to deliver fuel or food to a battalion, all one has to do is to contact the battalion commander and negotiate the terms of delivery with him. It matters who one bribes! What one asks the battalion commander to do is to agree to sign a paper that says ‘goods have been delivered.’ He will then ask for a certain percentage of the contract value to be given him in order for him to do that. Then the contract winner will go to the border and bribe the important people there to write a document that says ‘goods have passed here in Nimule.’ Then now one has to bribe at the finance ministry to speed up the process of getting one’s payment to be tabled in the priority list.

Consequently, had the contract value been 2 million South Sudanese pounds, then one may lose half of that in bribery but keeps half. Then the same contract winner will now continue to do that and perhaps sometimes she has to deliver a little something perhaps a fifth of the total contract to avoid putting her collaborators into a problem. The infamous grain saga took place in the manner just narrated but this particular instance deserves treating in a separate note.

However, since there is very minimal that is done in order to deliver [as there is no delivery at all or there is just a little of that], the contract winner does not create a job for anyone and most of them do not even have offices. One of such people in this business was often overheard as referring to himself as a jobless millionaire, which clearly shows that a few could get rich using our public resources and refuse to create jobs for others even when such an option is available to them. A few have invested their money gotten through government contracts on buying expensive cars for showing off and engaging in exploiting our nation’s young school girls.

Besides the obvious failures narrated above, there are other critical issues that this heinous process has generated: if the contractor fails to timely deliver fuel or food to the armed forces [and they often do], the resultant logistical shortcomings can hamper the army’s performance and this can threaten our national security. The fear of fuel or food shortage can deal a serious blow to the army’s morale since this morale depends on the material conditions of the soldiers.

An army institution that pays its regular soldiers roughly five USA dollars per day cannot afford to throw money away in the name of empowering citizens who themselves are incapable of creating jobs.

How much does the army pay to a local supplier who has delivered a sack of maize flour to an army’s base? How much does it cost a supplier to buy this at Konyo-Konyo (in Juba) market? The following table answers  such questions.

Item Description

Quantity

The price Bilpam pays to a supplier

Cost (SSP) in Konyo-Konyo

Maize flour

50 kgs

284 SSP

135 SSP

Sugar

50 kgs

479 SSP

220 SSP

Rice

50 kgs

500 SSP

188 SSP

Cooking oil

20 ltrs

228 SSP

112 SSP

Beans

50 kgs

360 SSP

175 SSP

Lentils

25 kgs

583 SSP

132 SSP

Fuel

1 liter

9 SSP

6 SSP

The difference is staggeringly high! Even a contract winner who buys his goods from retailers [forget supermarkets] will still make 45% gain off every South Sudanese pound spent. So if a contract winner buys her goods in Kenya or Uganda in a supermarket, then she can even make a higher profit.  It does not cost that much to transport goods from Konyo-Konyo to Bilpam as the cost for transporting a 50 kgs bag of maize flour from Konyo-Konyo to Bilpam includes 4SSP for loading and uploading and 12 SSP for transportation.

The blanket shouts of corruptions oft-intended to generally portray those in the government in negative lights while those outside of the government with clean hands and clean hearts have been nothing less than exercises in futility. In order to avoid repeating all the previous mistakes associated with the awarding of contracts, there is a need for the government organs that offer contracts to citizens to seek out information on their performances and use that information to learn how to better deliver such services. The government officials ought to see such mistakes as an opportunity to learn what went wrong and how to do better going forward.

The idea of empowering local citizens through involving them in government’s contracts is noble but there has to be a better way of implementing it than it has been handled in the recent past years. Before South Sudan’s independence, as a result of heavy dependence on Khartoum, the government lived on a paycheck to paycheck and it could not afford to pay anything on time. The policy of giving government contracts to capable companies to be paid later once the government is in a better position financially might have been informed by the government total reliance on a paycheck from oil revenues, which were almost always delayed. If the government is able financially, it is recommended that a payment of 50% in advance be given to a contract winner to start the contract. Then 20% of payment done in the middle while the remaining paid after the contract is delivered. A stringent follow-up and performance evaluation is a must. Failure to perform can be punished by legal means and denial of future contracts.

 

 

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South Sudan in Crisis (Facebook’s update # 18)

By Daniel Akech | February 4, 2014

February 4th:

Since the clashes broke out under cover of darkness on December 15th, it has not been easy to piece together to get a holistic picture of what triggered the gunfire. The main actors who must have better stories cannot tell them freely. What we have been seeing are fanatics from both sides queuing up behind their leaders’ positions regardless of whether these positions are genuine or not. Those in the government are stuck with the official position that what took place was a coup engineered by Dr.Riek Machar and others who were detained. Those in Riek’s camp believe that President Kiir and his core group cooked the coup and attempted to feed the whole world with it. Lives have been lost and cities have been washed away, and so all sides are doing their best to make the other camp look bad. Interestingly, some have made themselves look bad through contradictions generated both by their choices of actions and their tongues.

 

Thus far, the government has not been able to provide an irrefutable evidence that the clashes that began on December 15th amounts to a coup. The new flag, gracing a cow, that both the President and Hon. Michael Makuei Lueth weaved before SSTV’s viewers as evidence of Riek’s intention to change the Nation’s flag leaves one asking whether the government actually has serious evidence against the alleged coup plotters in detention. Where else has a similar flag been spotted (with a solid proof) in rebels previously held towns? Now that Riek Machar has named his rebel movement as “South Sudan Resistance Movement/Army (SSRM/A),” let’s wait to see if the flag of the SSRM/A coincides or differs with this cow bearing flag allegedly found at Riek’s residence in Juba.

 

The government has also said it has a drawing showing how the coup plotters divided Juba into quarters with each attached to a name of a commander. Common sense suggests that anybody can create both a flag and a map of how to take Juba and plant them in the house of Riek Machar, which was demolished in spite of the fact that it is a nation’s property. If there were real evidences against those accused, why didn’t the Minister of Justice present them to the US and other international representatives who went on air denying the existence of an evidence for a coup? Are government’s failures to convince Thomases beyond reasonable doubt of the veracity of its story about the conflict due to incompetence on the sides of the leading actors or due to lying to circumvent an embarrassment?

 

In the other camp, Riek’s choices of actions from December 15th until now are better evidences against his intention and plans to overthrow a democratically elected government than are the evidences of such a plan as provided by the government officials.

 

Why are the parties continuing the fight? The rebels feel that the government started the war and so they must just beat it to hell until the government of President Salva Kiir is overthrown. How easy is such a task? The weakest government that ever existed in the continent of Africa was that of Tito Okello of Uganda, but it took the then rebels six good months to oust him and this was not entirely done through gunfire but with a combination of trickeries including attacking Kampala after ceasefire was signed the previous day.

 

The government is encouraged by its successes in the battlefields against the rebels. One thing that is true though is that there is no military balance. The rebels’ side is poorly equipped, and what made them stood up against the SPLA and its allies on the Bor-Juba road for nearly a month was it use of human wave. The White Army was numerous and fearless, but they ran short of ammunitions, which led to their withdrawal amidst massive losses back into the jungle of Gadiang. The losses of the White Army were mountainously proportional to their determination! The line of dead fighters extends a length from a place called Gut-Makur (near Mangala) all the way to Mathiang beyond Bor town. No one has been able to burry anyone. There are talks of bringing bulldozers to collect the dead and slump them into mass graves (but there are legal procedures to be followed; one wonders if such legal procedures were followed here in Juba between December 15th  – 19th).

 

The rebels have both been accusing the government of violating the ceasefire and attacking government positions in Bor after the signing of the ceasefire and Riek has been singing Kiir Must Go mantra nonstop. Why didn’t the government forces pursue the fleeing rebels to Gadiang immediately after taking Bor back? There was a rumor that the allied forces refused to move on and the reason cited was that they had to rehearse. Could the reason have been linked to salaries? This is a possibility that does not seem far too wild a shot. The Ugandan top commanders, including the son of President Museveni, who are managing their portion of the war in a hotel in Juba, could use this war as an economic opportunity to enrich themselves at the expense of their own fighters as many military leaders do here in the third world countries.

 

What is in it for the Uganda’s UPDF? Besides the economic interest of Uganda in South Sudan, The President of Uganda General Yoweri Museveni has a personal issue with Riek, which  goes back to 2006 when Riek attempted to negotiate a peace deal between Joseph Konyi and the government of Uganda. General Museveni might have been interested in using the opportunity to physically eliminate Konyi, but Riek might have stood in his way. Riek in a recent interview with Reuters believe that without Museveni’s forces standing in their way to Juba, his rebellion would have been in Juba by now (whether this is true is a matter of subjectivity).  Now with Ugandan forces having been paid (I know this because a Ugandan friend who runs a hotel business here in Juba spoke with a Ugandan officer in Bor yesterday whom he wanted to buy an airtime card for his cellular phone and who declined the offer saying that they had just been paid), what are the chances of the government forces and their allies pursuing the rebels deep into their heartland?

 

Even if Riek were to be backed by a foreign country soon, such a help will come a little too late. The Lou and Gawar communities after huge sacrifices they threw behind Riek in vain in form of their best and young fighters making up majority of the White Army will not be able to recover to lead the way for Riek again soon. Riek’s potential fighters will include a significant diaspora youth, but a number of them were flown away by foreign countries under tremendous urgency, who might be comfortable fighting from their desks under cover of their computer screens. The Nuer on the West of the Nile has been divided and the control of governorship in Unity state, which comes with the benefit of 2% of the oil produced there, are figuring in what is happening there.

 

What is the role of oil in this conflict if any at all?

A lot of news about oil in South Sudan are distorted for political use. Riek Machar was reported to have said that he would sign a new deal with Al Bashir on the oil. There are 613 oil wells in South Sudan.  Due to mechanical failures and other events such as this conflict all of these wells do not all operate at the same time. Currently, the number of wells operating are slightly above 470 with 280 of them operating in Paloich (Paloich has 318 wells in total, which is more than half of all the oil wells in South Sudan). The remaining oil wells are 128 wells in Adar, 88 wells in Gumri, and 100 + wells at Molita (in Dinka Abeliang area). About 150 of wells that were operating in Unity state (Tharjath and Rubkona) have been shut down due to the current war. While the oil is a national commodity belonging solely to the national government with a small percentage to state government, the lands on which the majority of the oil sit in South Sudan belongs to the Dinka ethnic group. This was not true in the 1990s. The Unity oilfield in Unity state (located in Nuerland) used to produce 160,000 bpd of which 90% was pure oil while 10% water, which made it then the lightest crude and the biggest oil field in the entire Sudan. But the oil wells of Unity area (Unity is a name given to the oil area) have been depleted and the production there now is roughly 100 bpd and 80% of the quantity is water, which has rendered this field fruitless. The realities of the 1990s have changed and opportunistic politicians refuse to update their fanatics as wrong statistics serve them well.

 

The conditions of those in the UN compounds continue to deteriorate. Last week, over 60 deaths in the UN’s compounds here in Juba were reported in the local news. The President reportedly visited the hospital to witness the bodies taken there. What went through his head? This is not the worst it has gotten as diseases are mounting attacks on the displaced persons. Heavy rain was reported in towns such as Bor, where countless dead lie on the surface of the soil. Need we remind ourselves that such exposure could lead to development of new diseases?

 

What about traders who bootstrapped themselves up the social and economic ladder and have seen everything that had built washed away? Their losses are, cruelly put, collateral damages!

 

Unhelpful is the government’s tough stance against those who left their jobs as a result of the conflict.  This will leave them with no choice but to join Riek’s camp in case they weren’t already there.  An absolute military victory against a guerilla force that has tied its grievances to those of the second largest community in the country is a false hope.

 

As the drum of war thunders, what is the shape of the end of this conflict?

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South Sudan in Crisis (Facbook’s update # 17)

By Daniel Akech | February 4, 2014

January 3oth:

In the last three days, the screams of bullets have nearly become an irritating music here in Thongpiny estate in Juba. Thirty minutes ago, a few rounds of bullets flew above buildings near Airport Plaza Hotel. I was playing a game of chess with some friends near this Hotel. We quickly put away the chessboard, but returning to my residence immediately became a little uneasy. As it has now become the normal way of reacting to daytime’s gunshots, young men hit to the streets: some carrying AK47, others carrying hand-held grenades, and a number of others rushing back home.

The terror these gunshots sow in the eyes of foreign workers and other venerable citizens who need nothing but peace as well as the swiftness with which men rush to respond to bullets by firing into the sky are visible signs of a traumatized nation.

Unfortunately, the country will continue to bleed from the consequences of this conflict long after it has ended. The conflict has led to an increase in the guns’ carrying population. A number of armed men who are interested in looting or settling old scores with their foes are afforded an opportunity to do so with little consequences from the law as little attention is being paid to gunshots or an actual murder. Life has therefore become so cheap amidst this chaos.

During the first three days of the conflict, a considerable number of people reporting (locals and internationals) to the media has been trapped behind the walls of their compounds (Madame Rebecca Nyandeng and this author included). So whenever someone reports something (including this author), you must consider the possibility of him/her not being an eyewitness! This is not to dismiss what others are saying, but we have to be extremely careful.

While a considerable number of Nuer lives in the UN’s compounds, it is not true that we do not have Nuer who live in Juba outside of these compounds. Yesterday, some 4th year students of Industrial Chemistry gathered at the University of Juba and called me to find out whether I will be available this Saturday for our PDE course, which was interrupted by the conflict. A majority of the students in this class are ethnically Nuer. I was so pleased when I hear from them. Last Wednesday, while returning from Bilpam on a boca-boda, I alighted before reaching my compound in Thongpiny and walked. I bumped into soldiers patrolling near the Canada’s house. I said hello to them and they greeted me back and they walked parallel me, chatting in Nuer language. One hotel facing my residence has exclusively Nuer guests including a friend who teaches in Wau, and who came here to pick up his salary, which is reportedly delayed because of this crisis! The recent gunshots, which I hinted in this post turned out to have absolutely nothing with targeting of civilians. The first one on Monday’s night was a bodyguard of some general who pointed a gun at a foreign shopkeeper, but ended up firing into the sky. On attempting to get him to drop the gun by other soldiers, soldiers ended up firing a lot of bullets into the sky. The one yesterday, turned out to have been a fight between two soldiers and I was told by a former presidential guard (who was fired because he could not locate the CD with Rwandan National Anthem, which resulted in an embarrassment as the President of Rwanda caught everybody unprepared) that one of them fired into air.

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South Sudan in Crisis (Facebook’s update # 16)

By Daniel Akech | January 29, 2014

One rebel soldier called his friend and instructed him to go and help his wife to get his salary for his children. He took up arms against the government and he thinks the government will allow him to remain on the army’s payroll. The sanity of this soldier aside, his children are South Sudanese citizens who are not to blame for the actions of their father. As South Sudan does not have a welfare system, what is the fate of the venerable dependents whose breadwinners have taken up arms against the government? Is fighting to install another man on the throne worth more than the lives of one’s own children? One renegade officer who had learned at the cost of his own error returned to Juba shaking his head for no to the preceding question and so were 250 rebels who poked the sky with their riffles’ butts in Unity state last Saturday.

We have been told that the White Army’s primary goal of attacking and destroying Bor and attempting to head to Juba was the news of the unfortunate massacre of the Nuer in Juba by some armed Dinka forces. While such news helped the WA to magnify the depth of the wounds it inflicted against civilians in Bor town, it is probable that the White Army was caught by the news of the massacre of their kin while already on its way to Juba! The SPLA took Bor on December 25th from the rebels, which the WA retook six days later. The news of the Nuer massacre in Juba exploded probably around December 18th, and if such news were to be used to gather the youth of Lou and that of other sectors of Nuer living as far as the Ethiopian border, then because of the population spacing such a mobilization should take at least a week in the face of extreme urgency. To walk from Chuei Keer to Chuei Thon, the South-North length of Bor Dinka’s territory (stretching three counties), can take no less than five days. Therefore, a trek to Bor town from Akobo should take at least another week walking nonstop. The large numbers of the White Army as reported by the BBC at 25k shows that the youth was mobilized from the wider Nuer communities spread throughout Jonglei and Upper Nile. Surprisingly, both the mobilization and walking from the Nuerland to Bor area took just a little over a week! This is mathematically and physiologically impossible.

On January 25th, some armed group clashed with the SPLA in Bor area. On assessing the damage, 67 fighters from the armed group while 4 from the SPLA were found dead, the assortment of the weapons some of the dead had included machetes and other ancient tools. Either this is a new group coming to get their loots and weapons from the SPLA as others might have possibly done or if this was a sector of the rebels, then the rebels are not serious about the task they are undertaking. Are we living the Wild West Movie Series here in South Sudan?

Riek Machar, the rebel leader, had not only deceived the White Army and a number of his fighting forces, he had left behind a cluster of shocked souls when he leaped into the bush on the false pretense that his life was in danger when in fact he was heading to the bush to get the White Army and return with it to capture Juba. Riek had deceived his colleagues in detention by sharing one side of his plan with them while hiding from them his alternative plan of getting to the top seat by force arms. While he preached democracy and transformation of the party, he had a secret plan to resort to the force of arms using only his tribal men (numerically stronger in the armed forces than any other tribe) to attain the goal. If anyone knew of this plan it is only his small inner circle including Taban Deng, Alfred Lado Gore (an Equatorian whose bodyguards are all from Nuer, which is unusual as many politicians tend to be guarded by their tribal men), and possibly Ezekiel Lol (a diplomat whose AK47 taken out from his hotel room was loaded). Riek could have given his group a name (he had historically created so many names for his factions), but he did not do so out of fear of losing John Garang’s family, which he is ruthlessly using for his own good and to the disadvantage of the said family. Riek, Taban, and Lado were not members of the Presidential Guards and yet when the clashes began, the trio was at the center of it by engaging in commanding of forces. A number of things point to the claim that Riek Machar did plan for this war.

However, the President Kiir had become increasingly provocative since July of 2012, pushing Riek to the edge. The President removed his appointees who had appeared to agree with Riek’s political framework. Former governors of Lakes and Unity states, Chol Tong and Taban Deng were both removed on this ground although contrary reasons were cited. Governor Nyandeeng Malek was also accused by Governor Malong of not being too enthusiastic about the President’s willingness to run for another term in 2015. This could have caused her her job, but for one reason or another the noise of her removal only became a lullaby of some Warrap’s MPs. The President seems to be gentle on female politicians. Although accusations of Governor Nyandeeng Malek were floated, he never took any action against her. The President refused to lock up the wife of John Garang even if she has gone in the media as sympathizing with Riek. The President somehow brought Hon. Awut Deng Achuil back into his government even if she left her prior cabinet post unhappy about the direction of the governance (especially after she was frustrated in attempting some reforms in the Labor department).

While someone who had worked with Riek closely told me that Riek cannot distinguish between what is private from what is public (citing his lavish gifts to individuals and organizations from public accounts, which is in fact a crime nearly everyone who had worked in the government here has committed), he acknowledged that Riek is a hard-working person. The President acknowledged this hardworking in his deputy by delegating some of his own duties to Riek. This together with other gestures might have appeared as incompetence on the side of the President, which emboldened some of his opponents to position themselves as better alternatives. For instance, in 2012, the President was neither sick nor outside of the country, but did not show up for work for 9 days! His then Vice-President Dr. Riek Machar chaired the Council of Ministers at least twice against what the Secretary of Cabinet affairs in Kenya told cabinet members in a distant workshop attended by the President himself: that the Council of Ministers must not meet in the absence of the President in Kenya. The Vice-President was asked to go and check on the President, which he did and returned with the news that the President was doing well. The Vice-President used the windows of opportunity afforded him by the President to position himself for the top job and this angered the President, who discovered the increasing popularity of his archrival and violently revoked some of the powers he initially handed to Riek quietly.

The President angered a number of communities through his decreeing in and out of the government and some of these communities were only brought back into the President’s camp by the nasty smell of death from the current violent. Among many of the President’s failures, intentional or not, he allowed one state to dominate two important institutions: the directorate of internal security and foreign affairs. The current press secretary of the President, who was his vocal opponent prior to having been silenced with a lucrative job, once pointed out that both the Director of the internal security, Akol Khor and his deputy were from Tonj. Akol’s deputy was only changed recently by the current Luis from Western Bhar al-Ghazal state. Mr. Wek had crammed even the names of grandfathers of the personnel running the directorate of internal security and which section they came from in Tonj. He once pointed out that the security of Warrap state alone cannot be decided by Tonj leave alone that of the whole country!

After July 9th 2011, of all the ambassadorial personnel the President selected, 28 of them, according to a Law Professor, came from his home state of Warrap including a brother and a sister of the then Minister of Foreign affairs, Nhial Deng Nhial! Yes, this may not be startling because we do not know the total quota of all the embassies. Two or three siblings can only dominate an institution through competitive process. As in 1952, Allen Dulles was the Director of the CIA while his brother John Foster Dulles was the secretary of state in the Eisenhower Administration. But South Sudan is a country of tribes and clans and jobs distribution is important as the employment of one person becomes the source of income for the extended family.

Jobs were assigned without mechanisms for checking accountability. Of all the MPs who were given CDF (community development fund), only one of them (oops I have been corrected as my friend Aleu Majok has provided another name and hopefully a few more positive stories will emerge — watch the comments coming below), Professor Bari Wanji, had used them to the advantage of his community by building a hospital in his home state of Western Bhar al-Ghazal. In a number of places the money had been pocketed by the MPs. In Bor, the money had been used to construct boreholes, but the water is sold to villagers at 1 SSP per jerrycan. The CDF continues to roll into the pockets of the MPs. While we have lost a lot of public money through dubious schemes, this war alone is an economic opportunity for some few at the expense of many and it is one reason any sane person will want it ended soon.

Under the surface of all these problems, the advisors and other lobbyists are to blame because they have turned the Presidency into a cash flow project! The President has surrounded himself with a useless bunch of advisors– whose ideas are primarily flattering and twistable in the direction of their best advantages in keeping their jobs and getting the fattest allowances. When a reshuffle is being done, the lobbyists gather around the President and began to float the names. Oh, X is too powerful and so we do not need him. The result is that the government ended up with a majority of the weak hearted and ignorant bunch running it. A reform in every sector is a must; and this does not mean just reshuffling the people, but rather go deeper to find people who will restructure things for better.

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South Sudan in Crisis (Facebook’s update #15)

By Daniel Akech | January 27, 2014

Which side are you on in this conflict? Whichever side you will choose will lose because what is being played is a game in which a majority of fighters are fighting to either remain being exploited by their tribal leaders or to install their tribal leaders to exploit them.

Unfortunately, for those holding influence among the fighters in this conflict, this is a game worth playing and this is so because they have differing calculations of the outcomes of the game.

Those leading the rebellion, along with their propagandists waging a concurrent war virtually on the web, are promising their fanatics freedom, democracy and fair distribution of oil wealth above the battles’ sky.

After some military gains a week ago, the rebels thought that the victory was going to be swift and the fruits of the bloody struggle were nearly visible. Now, the unexpected had happened as the White Army’s advancing along the Bor-Juba road was bitterly brought to a halt by the combined forces of Uganda and the SPLA last weekend. What was decisive was not the capturing of Bor from the rebels, but the rolling back of the rebels near Gut-Makur all the way back to Bor. The superiority of the weapons held by the Ugandan forces and the government forces figured prominently.

Has the war ended because the rebels had been flashed out from all of the towns they previously had captured? The answer is a resounding no.

Yesterday morning, a group of rebels who defected from Juba and Yei some weeks back attacked a place called Kalthok in Awetrial County. This group might be heading to the Nuer land as passing through Aliab’s and Chiech’s counties might be the shortest route there. The fate of this group believed to be led by Gen. Tanginye, who was recently released from jail on charges of rebellion and who had recently been re-instated into the SPLA with a pricy rank of a Major General, is not known.

Thursday afternoon,  the commander of Bor visited Mathiang, where the SPLA forces were digging trenches as an overall plan for the defense of Bor against future attacks from the rebels. The SPLA forces reconnoitering around Mathiang fired shots at suspecting rebels’ presence yesterday evening.  Today at around 3:00 pm, the rebels attacked Mathiang. The SPLA repulsed the attack. The rebels left behind 15 of their members as they fled back into the bush. Under the shields of trenches, the SPLA lost no soldier. This attack is already a violation of the cessation of hostilities accord signed by the government and the rebels in Addis Ababa. A cattle raid by some remnants of rebels attempting to shoot their way out of Lakes state to Unity state  was reported by phones from Awerial County. In Jonglei state, a group of men attired in police uniforms raided cattle in Anyidi. These raiders are likely from the rebels, who have infested the jungle of Jonglei after being driven out from Bor.

Rebels seem to be heading back to their strongholds to re-organize, recruit, and find some answers to what they saw in the battlefields: their numerical strength does not stand a chance against the superiority of war gadgets held by the government forces and allies. The rebels will look for allies to supply them with better tools for executing the war. But in the face of the current defeat, such a supplier will have to think twice before jumping in with two feet. Some of the countries that may sympathize with the rebels may now push them to fight diplomatically. The US government, which resents China’s absolute control over the oil wells, may not be prepared to back the rebels militarily but it could help them diplomatically by pushing the government to be reconciliatory and compromising on the negotiating table.

The South Sudanese government must not try to be too arrogant in the negotiations due to the fact that the current upper hand against the rebels is not going to last for too long. The Americans can easily call off the Uganda’s participation in the battlefields. Al Bashir who is as crazy as Museveni can easily aide the rebels with military supplies provided that the US can uplift some of the sanctions on the Sudan. Al Bashir and the Sudanese rebels of JEM and SPLA-N cannot be on the same side of the fence. Since the JEM and SPLA-N have bad blood with Riek Machar (when Riek was sacked from his Vice-President post, the author was in Nuba), it is going to be difficult for Al Bashir to be on the same side for a long time.

Shockingly, the rebels are not convinced that they had been defeated and their propagandists on the web had been denying the capture of Bor and Malakal by the government forces and its allies. What is responsible for this glaring hallucination is a combination of a number of things.

The colonial anthropologists laboriously romanticized the notion of bravery among the Nuer fighters. One of such brave fighters is believed to have downed a colonial wooden aircraft with an interesting assortment of weapons including sticks and spears. Such stories together with numerous tales of the Nuer’s successful raids into Dinka areas are retold over and over. While the Nuer are indeed brave and did succeed in winning numerous victories against some segments of Dinka (some Dinka such as the entire Northern Bhar al Ghazal and a number of other segments of Dinka within the greater Bhar al Ghazal never had any contact with Nuer), there had never been a purely tribal war with all of the Nuer united on one side and all of the Dinka united on the other side. Now, that we have a nation, chances of such a war occurring are even much more remote unless in a certain rare scenario, which I will highlight later.

As far as the White Army are concerned, whether the violent campaign continues or is halted is a decision solely on the fingertips of their young leader, Dak Kueth, who is believed by his fanatics to have divine powers that help him interpret ancestral prophecies. Since the reason the White Army joined the war was to avenge the death of their fellow tribal members sadly murdered in Juba by Dinka armed forces, whether they will continue to fight or stop depends on whether they had exacted the revenge to their satisfaction. So far their barbarity is mindboggling: they had murdered elderly patients in the main hospital in Bor, they raped sick and elderly women in Bor hospital and they raped and killed women who sought refuge in the Episcopal Church of Sudan in Bor town. All of these crimes are recorded elsewhere in the mainstream media. I am not shocked a bit by the nasty wounds left behind by the White Army. It was the same tribal militia that Machar unleashed on Bor civilians in 1991. Knowing what this group was capable of doing and still claiming responsibility for this group in the ongoing conflict amounts to shooting oneself for Machar.

Those who took up arms against the government were encouraged to do so by the mere fact of the dominance of the members of their community in the SPLA and when the White Army joined them in their thousands their faith in a military victory grew even stronger and their leaders began to let the tongues precede the screams of the bullets – prematurely announcing their advance on Juba, which gave the President of Uganda a reason to seriously engage in the battlefields under the pretext of preventing the capturing of Juba by the rebels.

The numerical strength of the Nuer in the SPLA had been weakened by the fact that a considerable number of the Nuer remained loyal to the government and to an extent of fighting members of their own community. One does not understand how Dr. Riäk Machar, whose goal now is to overthrow the government militarily as he had reiterated in his interviews, failed to envision how this would play out. The Uganda’s active engagement in the battlefields seems to be a wild card in Riäk’s calculations. One hopes that the warring sides will soon stop the war and negotiate their way out. Whether this wish will become true depends on whether external pressure will be used to continue war or to pause it to be resumed in the future.

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South Sudan in Crisis (facebook’s update # 14)

By Daniel Akech | January 22, 2014

January 21st:

In the last thirty-seven days, a hurricane has been let loose on our fragile nation. The machine guns held mostly by ignorant citizens have cut down thousands of innocent lives. Hundreds of thousands have been uprooted from their homes in Juba, Malakal, Bentiu, Panrieng, Bor and other places, and the building structures they had left behind had been reduced to landfills. It is so easy to tear down a building or a life than to build one because the former requires so little or no thinking at all!

To explain the massive loss of lives and destruction, both sides are pointing their fingers to the other side (or some external hands) for blames. One Minister told me that Riek has now given us something to blame in case of an underperformance. In an attempt to be seen strong amidst the wholesale destruction in his hometown of Bor in which his house was reduced to ashes, a friend told me that he had plans to demolish it and rebuild it better. While Riek just did that for him, he is looking forward to do the cleaning and rebuild it once this carnage is over.

A serious poverty has been exposed in the government’s way of managing crises. The government had encouraged citizens to protest against the UNMISS’ role in this war, which is seen to be supportive to the rebels. Am I accusing the government falsely? No. In a protest in Rumbek, one of the speakers armed with a loud microphone and holding a placard denouncing Hilde Johnson, the head of the UNMISS, was a security officer according to what I heard from another SSTV’s viewer who identified him. Today, the food manager of a certain hotel told me that all the shops were closed in the town and he saw a large crowd of protesters holding placards and cursing Hilde Johnson and her mother. Whether there is a relation between the two events, I do not know. Sadly, these protests together with the already growing anti Hilde rhetoric from the top government leaders are making Hilde Johnson famous. She is enjoying the drama! The fact that President Salva Kiir regula visits to Hilde in her UNMISS has already made Hilde feel as though she is the head of a parallel government. She has a well equipped army to back her up. She lives like a president in her own palace a block away from where I am scribbling these lines. While the government supports these protests against the UNMISS, some government officials, as reported by the Citizen Newspaper, have called on the UNMISS to investigate the crimes committed by the rebels against civilians in a number of towns. How can one simultaneously distrust and trust an entity without knotting oneself into a contradiction?

The rebel leader, Riek Machar, claimed credit for the recapturing of Bor town by the White Army on December 31st from the government forces by asserting that the militia group was under his control. While in Bor town, the White Army had used the UN’s vehicles that the UNMISS’s spokesperson admitted to have been commandeered by the rebels, they shot dead a number of patients hospitalized in Bor, they killed a number of innocent civilians among other crimes documented by international journalists, and among the rebels are under age fighters. By claiming control over the White Army, it follows that Riek should be responsible for the crimes committed by them. On the contrary, some top government officials are exonerating Machar through their unprocessed utterances. The Minister of Defense has been quoted by the Citizen to have said that the White Army were recruited on a voluntary basis and that Riek Machar does not have a full control over them, which will make it difficult to apply the cessation of hostilities. But if Riek is not in control of the White Army, then he is certainly not responsible for the crimes they might have committed. Does the Minister of Defense need a legal advisor to control the Defense’s media relations? In what amounts to an inappropriate application of the rule of neutrality, the UNMISS, which is nothing more than a military wing of the NGOs, has said that both the SPLA and the rebels have used child soldiers. But if this is true with regards to the SPLA, then such a failure will be blamed on the UNMISS and other UN agencies who were given donors’ funds for Disarmament, Demobilization, and Rehabilitation (or Re-integration of the former soldiers into the civil population) with the goal of witting out minors in the SPLA among other things.

As of today all the towns that were taken by the rebels are now under the control of the government. There is no way, a war fought in the bushes can be ended militarily. A political solution is needed, but so far leaders seem locked in the war mode. The President should have spoken last night about the fate of the detainees and the way out of this conflict. To convince the onlookers of doing something, the government should have appointed a court hearing date if it insists on passing the detainees through legal procedures.

The current government’s approach that seems to seek to expand the size of its enemies is a path that leads downward to a swift collapse. Waging a war against the UNMISS is a futile exercise especially when that is done through just talking loud rather than getting hard evidences and lodge an official complaint letter to the relevant authority. The Minister of Information tried to enter the UN’s compound in Bor following the capturing of Bor. His entourage (armed with cameras and possibly personal riffles) was denied entry. Why didn’t the Minister lodge a prior entry request from the headquarters in Juba? What is the normal procedure for entering into an UNMISS’s compound in South Sudan? South Sudan ought to figure out how to deal with foreign nations with interests in South Sudan for the country’s stability depends so much on this. The current dismissal attitude uphold by a number of current Ministers, who view certain powerful foreign nations as predators, who are only interested in swallowing the small fish – South Sudan – has to be reversed or this six-week-old hurricane, which has set our country back for several years, may become a recurrence phenomenon. The network has been restored in Bor. I just received a call from there a few minutes after posting the first version of this update.

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South Sudan in Crisis (Facebook’s update # 13)

By Daniel Akech | January 22, 2014

January 16th:

It is now a little over a month since the December 15th’s violent explosion in Juba. The smokes of lies emanating from that explosion continue to swirl about here in the streets of Juba. ‘God’s willing, the SPLA will be in Bor this evening.’ Those favoring government’s military triumph over the rebels would say. Surprisingly, this is what they were saying almost three weeks ago, and as of the writing of this note, the rebels are still holding their positions in Bor. In the other camp, their encouraging news is that the rebels are advancing on Juba and will take Juba soon. While the rebels’ advancing on Juba was announced nearly three weeks ago by various media as eminent, as of the writing of this note, the SPLA was in Jemeza heading towards Pariak, which the rebels took a few days ago.

It is necessary for both sides to lose faith in a military victory in order to engage one another seriously on the negotiating table. Such a lost of faith in a military victory could come in form of a military deadlock, which has exhibited itself in the operations on Bor-Juba road, which has entered into its fourth week without either side sending the other on a sustained run. The Government’s heavy investment, in form of human resource and material costs (one Brig. Gen. told me that 32 fighters from his village fell in the battles of Pariak and Sudan Safari on the Juba-Bor road), in wrestling back Bor town shows that the government’s faith in winning this war is strong. Contrary to this government’s overwhelming optimism, the rebellion may not be ended simply by taking back Bor because the rebels will resort to operating in the jungle. How long such a looming operation jungle storm will continue to float over the skies of this virgin nation depends on the willingness of the suppliers of military supports to the rebels. The rebel leader, Riek Machar, who declared his intent to overthrow the government through military means from his first interview after the clashes, seems to have a moving agenda as far as his message to the fighting crowds and the rest of the world.

Riek had put to a good use the unfortunate ethnic targeting of Nuer citizens in Juba by some armed Dinka forces in mobilizing the White Army to come to Juba to avenge the deaths of their people (he knows what he wants: to bring Kiir’s government down and installing Riek’s government by force). According to this view, every relatives these young fighters knew in Juba had been killed by Salva Kiir’s forces, who wanted to murder the son of Machar in Juba on the night of December 15th. So the son of Machar rebelled because the government wanted to murder him and the accusation of the coup against him was a ploy to do away with him. The White Army seems stuck in Bor area. Lacking a direct access to them, we can only speculate about the possible difficulties facing this militia. Food is not a problem in Bor for the rebels because they have looted the WFP’s storage that can feed up to 180,000 people per a month. There is no way the rebels in Bor could hold their positions for nearly a month unless they are receiving supplies somewhere else. Since Bor area is flooded by water, the quickest way to supply ammunitions is by air. Who is doing it for the rebels is an interesting question? According to some sophisticated elites on the government’s side, a list of the sympathizes of the rebels’ cause (whatever it is) includes the INGOs and their military wing the UNMISS, a number of western countries, and Ethiopia. On visiting Juba days after the clashes, the Ethiopian Prime Minister allegedly advised Kiir’s regime to lower its head against the passing storm. Having been overtaken by a number of rigid and authoritarian ministers as described by western media, Kiir’s government has decided to stick its head out and confront the storm with a force, the success of such a force against Riek’s forces will definitely make Riek’s backers think twice about investing in backing a rebellion without a foreseeable chance of winning. Riek’s failure to achieve a military victory in the shortest time possible is a major disappointment to those who thought this was going to be the case given the fact that a great majority of people in the armed forces come from Riek’s tribe. There was one time about 50,000 fighters mainly from Nuer tribe were incorporated into the SPLA with their ranks and their leader Paulino Matip Nhial promoted to be only second to the President in military hierarchy. A number of things explain the failure of the mutiny in Juba. One fact was that not all the Nuer soldiers turned their guns against the government and so the overwhelming Nuer’s military strength was divided between the government and the Riek’s camp. The population of Juba, which is mainly young, is overwhelmingly Dinka and of these youth, a number of them are trained soldiers who left the armed forces for one or another reason and became traders. A considerable number in this population has access to private guns and whenever a gunshot is heard, young men are often seen with AK47s and hand grenades. When gunshots were heard on December 15th, people began to ask one another what is happening and the rumors of a coup or a lahkbata were circulated through phones. On December 16th, a number of young armed men joined the fight. With these young Dinka men fighting on the government’s side, the Nuer’s majority among the armed forces was neutralized, but it was the access to ammunitions that became decisive: the shortage of ammunitions led to the collapse of the defenses of the mutineers. The stores of ammunitions were not easily accessible to the rebels.

To the UN and INGOs community whose aversion for authoritarian behaviors is widely documented, Riek’s goal of the current violent protest remains the same as that of his 1991 failed attempt oust John Garang from the helm of the SPLM/A’s leadership: creation of democratic processes and respect for human rights, which are lacking in the current political atmosphere of Kiir’s government (his diehard supporters have taken the liberty to call the unnamed rebels: democratic forces). His use of the White Army, which committed a massacre in Bor in 1991 turned off the INGOs, which were initially supportive of his call for respect for human rights. The use of a similar militia force under the same name of White Army is not a great advantage for Riek in this conflict as such untrained fighters without ideological grounding tend to do outrageous things carrying huge negative consequences such as violations of women and killing of the elderly. For instance, the UN, this evening on the SSTV, condemned Riek’s forces in Bor for commandeering 20 of its vehicles and used them in their fight against the government. It is now plausible that the UN’s ammunitions might have been commandeered by the rebels. The biggest question is why was the rebels’commandeering of the UNMISS’ war gadgets discovered first by the SPLA and not the UNMISS? Since there are no civilians in Bor, why does the UNMISS maintains heavy presence there? To protect its properties! But the food in the WFP’s compound is feeding the White Army and the ammunitions and vehicles of the UNMISS are being used by the rebels. Since the UNMISS has not reported any attempt by its heavily armed forces to fend off the White Army from its compounds, it is likely that the UNMISS has been cooperating with the rebels, but only relabel this as commandering of its things by the rebels. The news of this cooperation has been circulating in the army circle under the banner that the UN is lending support to Riek’s forces. Some have alleged that some cartridges of ammunitions belonging to the rebels fleeing Jemeza were found to have been labeled with the UN. Yet another rumor had it that a UN plane believed to be carrying ammunitions to the rebels had been stopped and detained at the airport. While such rumors have not been corroborated by the author, they suggest that the UN as represented by the UNMISS is viewed to be favorable to Riek’s camp. If these accusations against the UNMISS are true, then all of these forces involved will end up turning South Sudan into a Congo or a Somali or the Rwanda of 1994.

The USA government helped broker the peace accord, which led to the creation of South Sudan, and it had spent billions of dollars aiding South Sudan in its earlier stages. However, the oil wells of South Sudan in Paloich are controlled by China (with nearly 500 workers in Paloich), Malaysia with nearly 200 workers in Paloich, and India with about 300 workers in Paloich. A group of Indian Engineers I bumped into today thought that the current conflict is between the SPLA and the SPLM, which is accidentally almost true! However, this ignorance show that these engineers are only here for oil wealth and nothing more and even the current heightened killings have not woken up their curiosity! China during the civil war aided Khartoum in order to finish off the Southern rebels and its oil workers have reportedly inflicted a huge ecological damage in the Upper Nile state. India and Malaysia are countries that many of South Sudanese learned about after the war with the North because it is where the richest go to get treated. Could Americans be looking for a possible shakeup in the governing elites of South Sudan to allow American engineering companies some space in the oil fields tightly controlled by Chinese? Riek’s western education background and his noted better relationship with INGOs community makes him more favorable than Kiir in the international arena. But a lot more is at stake: tribes are the political parties in Africa! A formula that makes America happy and Riek Machar happy, but the Dinka unhappy will not work because one cannot afford to have the majority be in the opposition especially when the ousting from power was done through force. A formula that works for everybody can be found. Clearly, the unhappiness of the second largest tribe, the Nuer, in South Sudan means chronic instability. The involvement of the USA in the oil fields comes with protection from aggression. For instance, Al Bashir or any other forces, who may fight against the government of South Sudan cannot destroy oil installations owned by the USA companies as it has been the case under present set up. It was a terrible mistake to think that our oil is too small for America. The government of South Sudan has been a major failure in many aspects including tempering with the interests of their closest allies. Part of this failure has to do with the lack of a blue print on the country’s foreign policy. Indeed, the lack of seriousness and preparation on governance is that whenever a new minister is appointed she has to start from the scratch.

It is very difficult to quantify the impact of the detainees’ release or their continued detention. They have now become the center of the diplomatic battle between the rebels and the government. No side has won the argument to the satisfaction of the other as to whether the current rebellion started out as a coup or not. If it was a coup, then those accused of engineering it ought to be freed or executed according to the law. If it was not a coup, then the government has to release the detainees without any court process (perhaps with apologies to them and their loved ones).

The crux of complication is the conflictual relationships between those locked up and those who are in charge of security sectors:

1) Mamur Mete, who is now the minister of security in the office of the President was once locked up and both Oyai Deng and Gier Chuang who are among the current detainees were highly powerful and the duo may be among those Mamur could have blamed for his arrest

2) Pagan Amum who is now detained was at the center of the conflict that fitted Aleu Ayieny and Telar Ring Deng on one side and Pagan Amum and others on one side. Aleu is now the Minister of Interior while Telar is the Legal Advisor to the President both of whom sit in the committee that decides the fate of the detainees.

3) Malong Awan Anei, the governor of Northern Bhar al-Ghazal and who is now at the center of the operations against the rebels once felt out with Dr. Majak D’Agoot over a case regarding the Redemption of Slaves.

Judging by what he says, Riek is fighting unceasingly unless the detainees are released. Is this a desperate attempt to give what has boiled down to a tribal rebellion a national character? Perhaps some of the detainees who might have sided with Riek politically will run away from him given the way things have turned out. It is easier to cross over tribal lines in political matters, but when violence is involved tribal leaning becomes the norm. There is no single Dinka soldier carrying arms against the government now even if there are Dinka politicians opposing Kiir. While the current was is so damaging, things could have been nastier had David Yau Yau with his Murle militia remained fighting the government specially now.

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South Sudan in Crisis (facebook’s update # 12)

By Daniel Akech | January 22, 2014

January 6th:

Various news outlets (including the disgraceful Sudan Tribune) and Facebook’s updates have aired yet another demolishing news of the false death of Lt. General Malual Ayom Dor. The General is neither dead nor wounded. I spoke with him last night after hearing of the cowardice ambushed that took the life of another patriot – a loss this country cannot bear (May His Soul Rest in Peace). Gen. Malual told me that he was in Pariak with his forces yesterday. After the news popped up again a few minutes ago this morning in forms of phone calls and messages including one phone call from Uganda that asked me when the funeral will be, I called Gen. Malual barely a minute prior to sitting down to write this update you are reading. Gen. Malual is well and he is positive about wrestling back the town of Bor soon from the invading tribal militia. Out of respect for loved ones who are present on Facebook, please avoid sharing sensitive matters as regarding losses of lives. Our own SSTV has been reduced to a vessel of airing decrees and other useless items. We need a number of SSTV journalists in front lines so that our citizens are fed with the correct information on the current events. It is clear that at a time like this, people are thirsty for new information and the enemies of this nation who are looting and destroying the little infrastructure we have in place are taking advantage in feeding people with lies because lies are the gasoline that amplify the flames of the fire known as violent conflict.

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