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South Sudan President Kiir Ends Government Paralysis, Fires Corrupt Cabinet

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By Joe Odaby

Juba — July 24, 2013 … On July 23, South Sudan President Salva Kiir Mayardit issued a presidential decree removing Vice-President Riek Machar Teny and dissolving the whole government of South Sudan.

Kiir dismissed all 29 ministers and deputy ministers. Kiir did not appoint a new vice-president or national ministers and deputy ministers. The decree directed the under-secretaries of the various ministries to run South Sudan’s ministries until further notice. The decree also stipulated the new government will have only 18 national ministers and deputy ministers in order to streamline government work. A senior official at the presidency predicted that government ministers will be replaced in a “very short time, as soon as possible.”

Officially, Kiir’s presidential decree does not explain the reason for the major shake-up. Senior government officials, including some fired by the decree, called the undertaking a “reshuffle” that had long been expected given the mounting problems in government work. Nhial Bol, the editor of the independent Citizen TV, concurred. He believes that the president must have acted in order to end government paralysis. “Things have not been moving in the government because of this internal fighting over who is going to control the SPLM,” Nhial Bol said.

Fashoda Institute, the leading, Juba-based think-tank, asserts that “in embarking on the profound reshuffle of government, President Kiir put the national interest ahead of internal politics and the early posturing for the 2015 presidential elections”.

South Sudan is facing numerous emergencies and challenges as a result of the attempt at economic stifling by Sudan. The economic development of South Sudan has been arrested by the Sudanese blocking of oil exports – thus depriving South Sudan of its primary source of revenues.

The Fashoda Institute states that Sudan has been sponsoring – primarily through the supply of weapons, ammunition and funds – the sustenance and escalation of insurgencies and tribal violence throughout South Sudan to the detriment of internal development. Allegations of endemic corruption throughout the entire government – which already led Kiir to undertake drastic measures such as suspending two senior ministers – considerably restricted the availability of foreign aid.

“The ability of the Kiir Government to tackle these daunting challenges has been needlessly complicated by their cynical exploitation by Vice-President Machar”, reports the Fashoda Institute. “In recent months, Machar aggravated national crises and problems in order to further his own personal political ambitions – namely, present himself as a presidential candidate and would-be national savior. Thus, in early 2013, Machar abused his role as chairman of the National Reconciliation Committee in order to increase his power by stocking internal rifts and tribal-based tensions.

Under Machar, the integrity of the reconciliation process – so crucial for South Sudan tormented and fragmented population – was being sacrificed on the altar of his personal political ambitions. The Machar camp argued that national leadership should be transferred from the Dinka to the Nuer because, in the words of a Machar key supporter, “it’s our turn to eat”.

On April 15, President Kiir issued a decree which removed some of the executive powers delegated to Vice-President Machar. The Presidential decreed “the withdrawal of all duly delegated powers assigned to the Vice-President” and restricting him to “discharg[ing] only his powers as stipulated” under the draft constitution. Machar remained the Vice-President, member of the cabinet and the national security council – albeit with significantly less power and authority. As well, President Kiir issued a decree dissolving the National Reconciliation Committee that was to be chaired by Machar.

In early July, after Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir once again arbitrarily shut down the oil pipelines, Kiir dispatched Machar to Khartoum to lead the negotiations on the resumption of South Sudan’s vital oil exports via the Sudanese pipeline. Instead of hard bargaining and marshaling international law and agreements to push Khartoum to the corner – Machar was forthcoming, conciliatory and compromising.

He permitted negotiations to slide to uncharted territories and expressed eagerness to compromise at all cost. Significantly, Machar exceeded his mandate and discussed reaching understandings about the long-term relations between the two countries under terms favorable to Khartoum. In a subsequent meeting with a Sudanese opposition leader, Machar hinted at some regret about the break-up of Sudan. “If we did not survive as one country, we should now survive as two neighboring sisterly countries,” Machar said. Little wonder that official Khartoum hailed Machar’s visit and senior Sudanese officials told Arab diplomats they were ready for dialogue with Juba if the government is run by Machar. 

Ultimately, even Machar’s unilateral and unwarranted concessions were not enough because Khartoum exploited what it perceived to be Juba’s weakness and indecision to announce the complete shutdown of oil. Although detrimental to the future of South Sudan, Machar seems to be convinced that such a crisis would serve his own political ascent. Machar’s allies and confidants in London and Juba are convinced that Machar’s ascent to power is so important as to warrant intentional harming of the vital national interests of South Sudan. Simply put, the national interests should be sacrificed on the altar of expediting Machar’s own rise to power.

Machar’s allies and confidants explain that “a renewed oil cutoff could bring South Sudan to its knees, triggering a wider governmental collapse” which Machar “can capitalize on to force [Kiir] out and then rise to power.” This observation of Machar’s plans by his own allies and confidants sheds a sinister and significant light on Machar’s own conduct of the negotiations in Khartoum.

President Kiir will have a new and invigorated government that will be able to finally tackle the key challenges facing South Sudan: building alternate oil export venues – both short-term and long-term regional infrastructure; enhancing security and suppressing violence both internally and along the borders with Sudan and the Central African Republic; and launching overdue major social and economic development to put the country on a long-term ascent track. Juba will thus demonstrate activism – that is, initiate and launch major programs rather than be beholden to foreign aid.

President Kiir is correct in arguing that it was impossible to initiate anything beforehand because of the endemic lack of funds and government crises. Soon, with a new government in office and limited income from the short-term export push coming in – President Kiir’s Juba will be moving fast and resolutely to alleviate crises the moment this becomes possible.

South Sudan President Salva Kiir Starts War On Corruption, Fires 2 Ministers

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By SSN Staff

Juba — June 20 … The President of South Sudan has suspended two of his ministers and ordered an investigation into corruption allegations against them.

In a Presidential decree read Tuesday night, President Salva Kiir said he was lifting immunity for South Sudan Finance Minister Kosti Manibe Ngai and his Cabinet Affairs colleague Deng Alor Kuol.

It is stated that $8 million was transferred for the alleged purchase of anti-fire safes, but those goods were never delivered.

Corruption was a concern of South Sudan’s interim government since the 2005 peace deal that ended more than 20 years of civil war with Sudan. South Sudan seceded and became the youngest independent nation after a July 2011 referendum. President Kiir has pledged to put an end to corruption and dedicate all country’s resources to meeting the needs of impoverished population devastated by the decades of war with the Islamist giovernment of Khartoum which culminated in the Darfur genocide. Sudan’s President al-Bashir is indicted by the International Criminal Court and is wanted for crimes against humanity, genocide and war crimes.

Prospects of economic recovery in South Sudan are in jeopardy because of the renewed agression from Khartoum and threats of President al-Bashir to close the pipe-line which brings South Sudan’s oil, the main economic asset of the newborn land-locked country, to the markets.

On the morning of June 10, Sudanese forces – both military and irregulars of the Popular Defense Forces – attacked South Sudan’s Upper Nile State in several places along their border. In several spots, the Sudanese troops advanced some 10kms (6miles) into the territory of South Sudan – destroying rural infrastructure and scaring away the civilian population.

The Sudanese attack is an integral part of Khartoum’s policy of brinkmanship and aggression that is aimed to break down Juba’s will to exist as an independent state. The attack comes in the aftermath of a series of unilateral threats from Sudan’s upper-most leaders – starting with President Bashir’s sudden and unprovoked declaration, on Saturday, June 8, that Sudan was stopping the export of South Sudanese oil via Sudan’s pipeline. Bashir also urged all Sudanese youth to join the Popular Defense Forces and head south to fight South Sudan.

Experts of The Fashoda Institute (South Sudan’s Institute of Strategic and Regional Studies) believe that Khartoum is indeed cognizant of the ramification and consequences of Bashir’s sudden move. Bashir’s public declaration came irrespective of all the promises of a new era of cooperation by the highest levels of official Khartoum, and, more important, the explicit guarantees to Juba by Obama’s Washington that Khartoum will abide by all the agreements on keeping peace, oil export and revenues sharing.

In principle, opine East Africa experts in the West, Khartoum is exploiting Juba’s desire to export oil in order to increase pressure on Juba and demonstrate that Khartoum remains the senior player in the region. The desire of South Sudan to use oil revenues as an engine to jump start the nation’s economic recovery makes it vulnerable to Sudanese extortion. Moreover, Bashir’s orders to attack South Sudanese territory and cut-the-oil declaration comes in the aftermath of repeated warnings and threats regarding Juba’s alleged support for the escalating insurrection and popular revolt in southern Sudan.

On May 27, Bashir accused South Sudan of helping the rebels in the southern parts of Sudan and explicitly threatened to stop the flow of oil from South Sudan to Red Sea ports. “We warn the government in the South that if they provide any assistance to the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N) or to the rebels in Darfur, we will completely close the pipeline,” Bashir declared. “We will know if they stop the assistance, and we will know if they assist them.”

The Fashoda Institute writes in its “Khartoum’s Oil War” analysis that Bashir’s June 8 declaration, which led to an armed confrontation 2 days later, is part of a major undertaking against South Sudan that goes far beyond retaliation for the alleged support for rebels in South Kordofan and Blue Nile States. Khartoum’s new policy aims to markedly escalate tension, and even lead to wider war. The Islamist Government which came to power in Khartoum through a coup two decades ago made Sudan a hub of Jihadist terrorism serving as a link between the Sunni Al-Qaida and the Shiite Iran. Its decade-long genocidal war against Sudanese Christians and animalists resulted in the Darfur genocide and ICC indictment against Sudan’s President al-Bashir for crimes against humanity.

South Sudan’s independence gained in 2011 was perceived by the Islamist Government of Khartoum as a set-back in Jihad which has to be avenged.

Indeed, addressing the Khartoum rally on June 8, Bashir emphasized that stopping the flow of oil was only the beginning and that a military confrontation with South Sudan was soon to follow.

Waving his trademark baton and dancing on stage, Bashir addressed the now agitated and jubilant youth in the crowd and those watching the televised speech. Bashir urged the youths to join the Army and the paramilitary Popular Defense Forces.

Baroness Cox, Former Deputy Speaker of the British House of the Lords thinks that “it is only the resistance by Southern Sudan that is preventing the Islamization of the rest of Africa, down to Cape Town”.

American experts on African politics also believe that the real reason for Bashir’s sudden bellicosity has little to do with South Sudan’s alleged support for the rebellion in the southern parts of Sudan. The real reason is opposition’s credible threat to topple Bashir and his regime within 100 days because of the rapidly deteriorating socio-economic situation in the country. Earlier on June 8, Sudan’s opposition alliance, which is comprised of over 20 opposition parties, announced a plan for the peaceful overthrow of the Bashir regime. “I expect the regime will fall before the 100 days finish,” said alliance head Farouk Abu Issa.

The alliance’s plans include public forums and mass rallies aimed to mobilize the country’s destitute youth for peaceful protests until they are able to topple the Bashir government. The opposition alliance already prepared “an initiative for democratic change” that includes modalities for a transitional administration, and is “going to send this initiative to the president.” The opposition alliance intends to ask the state security services for permission to hold their first mass rally at Khartoum University. “If we don’t get it, then there is another step we can take but we will not announce it now,” Abu Issa told a press conference.

Bashir’s Khartoum cannot afford to ignore the opposition’s threats to agitate and mobilize the youth. Sudan is suffering from months of inflation exceeding 40%. Meanwhile, the overall unemployment rate is rapidly growing to well over 25%, with youth unemployment in the cities exceeding 60%. To date, there has been no outlet for the frustration and despair of Sudan’s urban youth. Nor was there any hope for a way out of their destitute. Now, Bashir fears, the opposition alliance might be offering these youth a venue for venting their frustrations and a hope for employment and betterment of life in the aftermath of a peaceful regime change.

Bashir’s Khartoum has no plan for economic change or recovery. Hence, Bashir desperately needs a foreign distraction for the masses, as well as excuse to dispatch the poor and discontent youth far away from Khartoum. The most expedient solution is for Bashir to send them to fight and die for the Jihad against South Sudan.