South Sudan: A young nation faces a lot of problems

By Okoth Owity Opap
Posted to the web on May 20, 2014

May 20, 2014 –– A young nation lacks political ability to solve its political dispute peacefully and democratically. This leads to violence, death and civil war. South Sudan became an independence state on July 9, 2011. It took 50 years for South Sudan to get independence from Sudan government. In 2005, Peace agreement was signed to end the civil war in Sudan.  Immediately, the young country gets in troubles. President Salva Kirr has failed to build institutions that support development, effectiveness, accountability, or transparency. But his administration has been engaging in corruption, nepotism, tribalism and arbitrary arrest, according to Sudantribune website. These policies have created division within the government, political party and among communities in the country.  

Although he fails the country for eight years, yet he wants to run for third term. It is unbelievable to many politicians. His desire to run allows some members of Sudan’s People Liberation Movement (SPLM) to declare their presidential candidates in 2015 election. These members are Pagan Amum, SPLM secretary general and former vice president Dr. Riek Machar both intended to run in 2015. After Kirr learned these individuals wanted to contest on the party’s ticket against him, immediately he shut down the government in July 2013. Two months later, he also dissolved the political party structure leaving only his position untouched, Lwanyo Padiet says. These actions were meant to silence his opponents in the party.

The conflict is power struggle within the SPLM’s leadership, senior of the SPLM, like Pagan Amum and Riek Machar expressed their intentions to run for leadership of the SPLM and the president saw their move as a threat to his leadership,” Padiet says.

To constrain those who want to unseat him during the party’s convention, Kirr canceled SPLM’s convention so that nobody could run against him.

“For the president to stop the move of Amum and Machar, then he came up with mechanism of failed coup attempt,” Padiet states.

According to Sudantribune, this coup attempt was dismissed by Machar and international community because fighting began between president’s body guards and no outside leaders involved. On the other hand, Kirr uses coup attempt to eliminate his political rivals.

Even though the party is mandated to hold convention every 5 years in order to elect a new chairman, Kirr has delayed convention and eventually he canceled it.

“The leadership of the SPLM comprises of 15 members in the constitution, and 15 members elect the chairman of the party under the SPLM’s Constitution. The chairman of the party is a candidate for presidency. When President Kirr realized that he would not win party’s nomination, he canceled party’s convention which should have taken place in May of 2013,” Muon Deng says.

Furthemore, Amum submitted party’s conference request eight times to President. In a democratic society, citizens are free to run for any political office they want. It is also their rights as citizens to compete in free and fair elections.

“After Kirr postponed the meeting he dissolved all his cabinet, he removed vice president who wanted to contest for the party’s chairmanship and 15 members of his cabinet who wanted vice president to run,” says   Deng.

It is obvious no politicians can give up their political rights due to intimidations. While Machar and Amum were removed from their government jobs, they still drew big crowd for their political support. After their removal, these people prepared to challenge Kirr failed policies. They offered better polices to eradicate corruptions, nepotism and tribalism. Their policies designed to enhance development.

“Three months later, former vice president and 11 members held a press conference to explain the reason why president postponed SPLM conference to the members of SPLM and each of 11 spoke to the media why they wanted to endorse vice president instead of president. They set up public rally on Dec.17, and then Dec.15 at night, president ordered disarment of Nuers who were in Republican Guard because he wanted to arrest his former vice president Dr. Riek,” Deng says.

Sadly, political dispute between president and his former vice president created tribal distrust. This leads to target Machar’s supporters and members of Nuer Community.

“President ordered arrest of vice president and 11 members. Before 11 members were arrested, he ordered disarment of Nuers in Republican guard because president is from Dinka tribe while vice president is from Nuer tribe,” he says.

Apparently, attempting to disarm Nuer military for a tribal agenda did not succeed. But it marked the beginning of bloody war on Dec.15, 2013. Nuer resisted disarment and fought back. Furthermore, the disarment was carried out among the president’s body guards.

“Presidential guard comprises of 7,000: 5000 Dinkas and 2000 Nuers, so at night presidential commander Marial ordered disarment of Nuers. But Nuers refused to lay down their guns and Marial ordered 5000 Dinkas to disarm Nuers by force. Marial shot the first bullet that how fighting started in Juba,” Deng says.

During the fighting, those were loyal to president were defeated.

“After fighting 2000 nuers defeated 5000 Dinkas. As soon as president realized his body guards were defeated, he ordered enforcement from Bilpam military headquarter: 200 tanks came and defeated nuers and then they went back to Bilpam,” Deng says.

After the army went back to the barracks, ethnic killing was carrying out targeting Nuer people in Juba throughout the night, Sudan tribune reported.

“Presidential guards went to Nuer neighborhood, door –to-door killing Nuers at night. So 10,000 Nuers were killed and 5860 escaped to UN compound,” Deng says.

Although war took place in Juba, it affected some people in Kansas City, Mo. Muon Deng is a resident in Kanas City and also a student at Penn Community College. He says, “I have 6 cousins who were killed by president Salva presidential guard,” The incident which occurred in Juba has affected south Sudanese people not only those who are at home but also people in Diaspora. Lwanyo Padiet is another South Sudanese who has been living in Kansas City since 2007. He is also a graduate student at American Public University in West Virginia. Padiet is majored in Master of Arts - Political Science which concentrates on Comparative Government and Development. He says civil war in the country hurts everyone.

“I’m from Malakal, my property is looted, demolished, burned down and people were killed and eaten by birds.  Those who survived   deserted the town for their safety or took refuge at UNIMISS in Malakal for protection,” Padiet says.

Currently, the country is at war and more civilians are dying, thousands are leaving the country seeking refuge in Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia and Sudan. Despite of destruction, so far there is no political agreement between the government and rebel to end nearly four months conflict. According human rights report, 10,000 people have been killed.

“To solve the problem, president Kirr must resign and I would like to see an interim government being formed without Kirr and Riek because new leader will reconcile with South Sudanese communities,” says Deng.

A writer of this article is a journalism student at Park University and can be reached  at


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