Elders Call on Kiir-Machar to Exit Power After Transitional Government

A group of Dinka elders says President Kiir and Vice President Machar should resign in two years. The Jieng Council of elders asks the leaders to exit power after the Transitional Government of National Unity.

The group says both leaders have failed the country. And at the next elections, they should step aside to allow new leadership to solve South Sudan’s problems.

Jieng Council of Elders member Daniel Dhieu Matuet, an MP in the National Assembly, said this is the only way there will be peace and prosperity.

President Kiir says the national Dialogue’s outcome represents citizen views and must be considering. And promised to incorporate the resolutions will into the permanent constitution process.

The Jieng Council of Elders is headed by a 5-member team. They all confirmed to us that they had made this extraordinary statement that has been published online.

The group of Dinka elders said their ideas come as a result of The National Dialogue. This was a process of talking and planning initiated by President Salve Kiir in 2017. It was designed to produce peace and reconciliation after the period of the transitional government ends. At the time, SPLM-IO chairperson Dr. Riek Machar and National Revolution Movement Dr. Lam Akol, were not fully supportive of The National Dialogue.

The Jieng Council of Elders believes that recommendations made during National Dialogue have not been implemented. This means there is a risk that war will return to South Sudan.

In particular, they criticize President Kiir and Vice President Machar. Saying the current government is not interested in fixing South Sudan’s problems because it continues to be dominated by the rivalry that caused the fighting in 2013.

Now the Dinka elders say it is time to “break silence on national affairs.”

Daniel Dhieu Matuet is one of the elders. He mentioned there needs to be a new leadership with the skills and ideas to build the economy and unite South Sudan people. Matuet says the Dinka elders call on the old administration to declare they will not be President and Vice President in 2023 when the transitional government ends.

Dhieu worried that the economy collapsed, innocent people dying due to insecurity threats risked in the peace implementation.

”Things should be corrected when they are not made right, and it’s our duty; we’re not after the presidency. We’re not after ministries, but we want our generation to be reserves, have their lives, and have adequate security. The community is the family of these two people [Kiir-Machar]. What will make them happy, what will make them prosper they have to do it”.

Citizens also spokes out about the calls Jieng Council of Elders made. They say President Kiir and Dr. Riek Machar should not participate in the upcoming election.

The community members argued that Kiir and Machar have been waging a war that doesn’t promote peace and development.

“Starting from 2005, there is no development between the two leaders. Since 2005 up to date there is no change. Now we want a new face to come and develop others.” 

The presidential spokesperson says national dialogue resolution politically motivate and cannot be implemented.

Ateny Wek Ateny said the peace agreement is the supreme document that gives Kiir and Machar a mandate to rule the country during the transitional period.

 “What have been said in the National Dialogue, particularly the resolution that is calling for the President and Dr Riek Machar to step aside, has overtaken. The revitalized peace agreement on the conflict resolution makes it clear that President Salva Kiir and Dr. Riek Machar will be part of this transition that will last for three years, depending on elections. And they will also go elections according to the agreement which now is the supreme of the country,” Wek said.

The SPLM-IO disagreed with the calls for both leaders to leave power.

Puok Both Kulang, a Director for Information and Public relation in the leading Opposition group He said Jieng Council of Elders has the right to expressed their views but should know that SPLM-IO not eligible to implement any legal resolution of the national dialogue

“Whatever has been decided by the so-called ‘the National Dialogue’ will not concern us as the SPLMM –IO because we are not part and parcel,” said Puok

The elders emphasized that new leadership to set policy economy and development, not a power struggle, is needed in South Sudan.

Bentiu POC handover to the government, named IDPs camp

The United Nations Mission of South Sudan [UNMISS] has handed over the Bentiu protection site to Unity State’s government. The State governor and UN representative witnessed the handing over ceremony to South Sudan, David Shiera.

The Governor of Unity State, Dr. Joseph Nguen Monytuil, said the government and the UN agreed and signed a memorandum of understanding. He stated that SPLM-IO field commander met with him on the sideline to form joint security forces who will be deployed and patrolling all counties.

 United Nations had established Protection of Civilians sites POCs] following the fighting in 2013. Many civilians run for their safety to the UN compound in Juba, Malakal, Bentiu, Bor, Rumbek, and Wau. Bentiu PoC is a home to over 100 thousand people displaced by the conflict.

Monyuil explained the keys element of the MoU is “provision for maximum protection of civilians.

The is also a need to provide technical support for the joint security from the government and SPLM-IO to be deployed soon.

Governor says the government will officially take over camp responsible next week. But, humanitarians’ organizations will still work on the site to provide aid assistant to IDPs.

“The message is simply that the government is very keen to provide maximum security and also to provide services as well as peace evident,” Nguen reiterated.

Authority promised to maintain their mandates focusing on protecting civilians without forcing anyone against his or her wills to leave the camp. 

The UNMISS head in Bentiu, Hiroko Hirahara, said the POC site transition to ordinary IDPS camp is imminent and preparation is underway. He stated that an agreement between the state government and the UN was signed to ensure IDPs’ safety and security. The UNMISS promised to respond to some of the serious crimes.

UNMISS started handing over the POCs to the government last year after its formation of the Unity government. The IDPs criticized the decision, who cited a lack of faith from the government’s security forces.

During six years of conflict, Human Rights Watch reported about 60 civilians killed in Unity State, mostly women, children, and the elderly.

Jonglei_Pibor Conference ends to form Special Court and deploy forces.

The Peace Conference delegations for Jonglei State and Pibor administrative area have ended three days talks to form Special Court and deploy joint security force to protect civilians.

The conference was held in Juba on Monday 25th. Over 200 delegations in both communities participated in the events.

The delegates endorsed several resolutions hoping to end the inter-communal violence among the neighboring communities and return raided cattle to the owners.

Some of the resolutions validated include deploying joint security forces at the Gading area to stop cattle raiders, child abduction, and random killing of innocent people along the roads.

The traditional leaders were tasked with returning raided cattle, abducting children, and compensating the victims of the conflict. But it is not clear when will the court anticipated to preside over the cases will come to effect.

SPLM Youth League’s chairperson Daniel Abocha Ali condemned the practice of child and women abduction and demanded its immediate end. 

Two, identifying and punishing those involved in this unlawful and dreadful practice. Three, returning all abducted children and women to their rightful families by all communities.”

President Salva Kiir Mayardit calls the delegates to implement the fixed resolutions.

In his closing remark, Kiir warned that he will not orders any security forces to respond in any communal fighting again. “I have decided that for any fighting, I will not send any soldier, even police. You will be left to fight until one section run away from another. If you run away from the one fighting you, and come here, I will help and protect you” He said 

The President urged the youth not to be influenced by politicians to create instability. “Let us change the style of life if people talk of love. Love doesn’t come from the mouth, but action”.

On Monday, the governor of Jonglei State, Denay Jock Chicago, expressed concern that youth need jobs to stop the fighting. He urged the national government develops hospitals, schools, and roads in the villages.

The Greater Pibor Administrative Area leader, Joshua Konyi, said the conflict has killed many people and called the armed youth to accepted peace with their neighbors.

Vice president Igga asks Jonglei chiefs to regulate price of dowries.

South Sudan Vice president for Economic Cluster James Wani Igga has called local chiefs in Jonglei State to regulated traditional bride dowries.

The top leader was addressing delegations at peace conference in Juba on Monday.  Mr Igga attributed high bride dowries as a source to rampant cattle raiding.

Jonglei and Pibor experienced long-term youth inter-communal violence on cattle rustling, revenge killing, and children abduction.

In his speech, the vice president was so concerned about rampant cattle raiding that escalated insecurity threats among the innocent people.

Some community members believed that the traditional highest bride marriage in the communities forced young people to raids other people’s cows to get married.

Wani urged chiefs to sit down with their communities to reduce the bride price so that youth stop engaging in cattle rustling.

“High bride price, the wealth you need your youth to marry need to be reduced. It is not fair to sell your daughter like a car. If there is no wealth, this causes the proceeds of raiding too. This needs the chiefs of Jonglei to intervene because youth who have no cows go and raid to get more cows to marry.”

The Acting Paramount Chief of Bor County Sultan Malaak Ayuen disputed the suggestion. He said local chiefs have no powers to dictate traditional marriage and cannot preside over marriage processes.

“The chiefs have no powers to rule over marriages. The fathers and the relatives of the girls are the main characters of the marriage. They determine whether to give their daughter with a small number of cows or, not but chiefs have no authority in this case.”

Chief Malaak says the official bride price is 30 cows in Jonglei state, but some people increased it to hundreds of cows depend on their will.

ECSS denied allegations of deporting its Bishops to Juba.

The Episcopal Church of South Sudan has denied any linked that result to deportation of two Bishops at Bor airport to Juba on chaos associated with disagreement.

The controversial dispute occurred at the airport immediately after they landed on Saturday, January 23. Security forced the church leaders to return back into aircraft citing their safety could not be granted.

“The two bishops refused to go back into the aircraft arguing that they did not understand the reason why they should go back to Juba. The aircraft left without them and later they were brought back on a vehicle to Juba,” ECSS stated.

Church leadership refuted an incident as issue with “no connection of wrangles over the power.”

Manyang Gabriel Kon worked for ECSS in Juba. He blamed security personnel for forcing two bishops to return to Juba upon their arrival in Bor. Gabriel said this is the third incident that has happened to ECSS bishops in Bor town

Emotional Photos of bishop and airport staff fighting went viral on social media platforms over the weekend. Photo shared shown the securities were blocking and pushing bishop back to the airport. And it was later denied.

Gabriel condemned the action. He said members of the ECS Church are being targeted by Jonglei State Capital Bor town’s security forces.

“It’s not clear to us because there were some people who wanted to attack Bishops, but they were going to Bor. To our surprise, the airport’s security personnel forced the Bishops and wanted to take them back to the airport”

“When you look at this situation, it’s not the one who is being attacked that’s harassed. However, the ones that are attacking them should be the ones being controlled, so this one is not clear to us why the officials in Bor are just targeting ECS workers in Bor,” said Manyang.

Police Commissioner Maj. Gen. Joseph Mayen said the security decision of ordering two bishops to return to Juba is to calm tension within the Church congregation.

He explained police department response came after tension increased among the youth at the airport during the bishops’ arrival.

They shouldn’t blame the government; instead, the government is giving them protection. They are supposed to cooperate with the government. The government has nothing with them; only what the government wants is the life of the civilians,” Mayen clarified.

Bishop of Jonglei Internal Province Archbishop Ruben Akurdit was seen having long term disputes with ECSS Primate Justine Badi, which triggered division within the Church.

Labor Minister: Change of the time zone “gives leverage” to workers

South Sudan Minister of Labor, James Hoth Mai has defended the government’s decision to change its time zone from Eastern Africa plus three to two hours. Official marked the country plunged into Central Africa time zone with Burundi and Rwanda.

The government publicly announced its decision to set back its time zone of one hour behind Eastern Africa time on January 15th this year. A new time zone shall be sufficient on February 1st, 2021.

In 1997 former Sudanese president Omar El Bashir joined the Eastern Time before South Sudan achieved its independence on July 9th, 2011. And Sudan reverted to its original time zone in 2017.

According to the Labor office, South Sudan lies between 24 to 36 degrees East of the Greenwich line. The prime meridian divided the world into the Eastern and Western Hemispheres.

The government said the unanimous decision was made based on the geographical longitude. South Sudan does not fall on the Eastern Greenwich meridian.

Mr. Mai said that the government’s decision to change the Eastern Africa community’s time zone would not affect the regular working hours in labor law. People will still work an aggregate time of eight hours per day, starting from 8 am to 5pm.

“We are not observing the day time saving because our border is different from Ethiopia in the far East. We have different of twenty-four minutes. Sun gets rise there in twenty-four minutes before it comes to us here. But, when you go far west in Raja area, we have additional thirty-six minutes, our sunset goes down here while still day time in Raja area. When you rounded them up, added twenty-four and thirty-six minutes, it will be sixty. And divide two it will give you two hour”.

James Hoth further explained the country was using Eastern Africa for “reason not known.” He said changing the time zone was related to the security situation to protect citizens from unknown shooters because the country was not electrified. 

He urged the public to pull back their time by one hour in February when the time zone comes into effect. The time zone shall change automatically to an electronic smartphone.

Governor Chagor: Youth need jobs to stop the conflict in Jonglei.

Jonglei State’s leader is not optimistic about ending communal violence triggered by cattle raiding and child abduction in his area. 

He expressed concern that it is impossible to resolve the conflict unless the government develops hospitals, schools, and roads in the villages. 

Today (Monday), delegates from Jonglei and Pibor Administrative Area commenced a two-day conference hoping to end the conflict that had taken years unresolved. 

Several peace talks and resolutions were agreed upon in the past but couldn’t stop the two communities’ bloodshed. 

Cattle raiding, abduction of children, and revenged killing had been significant issues that prolong the conflict. 

Hon: Denay Jock Chagor, the Governor of Jonglei State, said the armed youth would lay down guns if there are calls for employments at their villages to make development and peace prevail. 

“It is difficult for somebody who grows up herding cattle to stop doing cattle raiding while there is not any mean of development in their village, nothing. And now we are telling them, you lay down your guns, and sit down do nothing. That’s not possible,” says Chagor.

The Greater Pibor Administrative Area leader, Joshua Konyi, said the conflict has killed many people and called the armed youth to accepted peace with their neighbors.

“Unfortunately, always the peace conferences between Pibor and Jonglei failed, but why. Most failed because they were always being conducted in the city by the politicians who sit and resolve, not those in the conflict in the areas. Now we brought those involved in the fight, and the chiefs”, Konya said. 

Vice President for Economic Cluster, Dr. James Wani Igga, who is also the chairperson of the High-Level Committee on Jonglei Peace dialogue, has called for an end to the violence between Jonglei communities and Pibor. 

Wani directed the chiefs to mobilize the raided cattle’s return, abducted children and women between the two communities.

 “We come to a stop the bloodshed, for the killing of innocent children, women, and killing off old people who do not take part (in the conflict),” says James. 

Igga further stated that special forces would be deployed at Gading, the border of Jonglei and Pibor, to monitor suspects and prevent crimes.

Soldiers deserting cantonment sites due to lack of food and medicines, CTSAMVM reported 

The Ceasefire Transitional Security Arrangement Monitoring and Verification Mechanism, known as CTSAMVM, has reported that many soldiers left the training centers due to worsening conditions.

Peace Monitoring body said officers at training camps facing lack of food, medicines, and other basic needs.

Major General Dafaalla Hamid Mohamed, Acting Chairperson for CTSAMVM, urged the parties to address the awful situation soldiers underwent for many months.

“Regrettably conditions in cantonment sites have not improved, it is of concern that conditions in Training centers have deteriorated and as a result, many trainees have left the centers. There is still no deployment plan for the NUF (Necessary unified forces),” said Mohamed.

Dafaalla reported that senior military officers’ defection and their affiliated forces from SPLA-IO had created tension and violence. He calls the parties to take bold steps to keep the ceasefire holding and protect the civilians.

Hamid described that “ill-disciplined” soldiers had committed severe violations in the Lainya area involving civilians’ killing, rape of women, and assault on vulnerable people.

Representatives from the government, oppositions, and former detainees expressed the need for urgent graduation of forces.

Brig General. Andrea Mangu Adora, a member of SPLA/M IO, said the soldiers at the training centers hope for graduation despite the absence of food. He calls to end the fighting and urge the soldiers to respect the ceasefire agreement.

“If people being killed since it should be enough for us now to look for peace, no anymore killing, no anymore looting, no anymore causing disaster,” said Mangu.

South Sudan Opposition Alliance representative, SSOA Major General David Nyang, said many trainees face a lack of food and medicines. He emphasizes that the graduation of forces is a crucial element that should be a reality.

He calls the government and National Transitional Committee to avail the resources.

“There are many females in the training centers, including trainees, and the families of trainees. These trainees, there are seven hundred and ninety-one females. And the females have special needs which are not addressed.”

Major General Bior Leek, a representative from Former Detainees, raised concern that most soldiers leaving training centers might cause further violence.

“So, what do you expect? You will expect more violence, more fighting because the soldier having a gun going empty-handed is hungry. He will be thought for looting.”

Leek mentioned that changing allegiance within armed forces created violence in Maban, Moroto, and Paloch in which civilians were killed in cold blood. He urged the parties to form a high-level committee to address the issue and take measures against those who killed the civilians.

Gen: Gatkuoth Duop Kuich, a senior member of former TGoNU said all parties should agrees on the graduation of forces.

“When unified forces are graduated and deploy in all states means the communities will have harmony.”

Duop also recommends that the change of allegiance, which has created violence affecting the communities, should be stopped.

Last week, Defense Minister Angelina Teny promised to graduate the necessary unified forces toward end of this month

US ended travel bans on Muslims and African countries

Joe Biden sworn in as the US 46th president and Kamala Harris made history as the country’s first Black, female and South Asian vice president.

Biden signed several executive orders include rejoining the Paris Climate Agreement and ending travel ban on Muslims and African countries which Trump imposed. Biden’s National Security Adviser, Jake Sullivan said the president’s actions will immediately reveres the elements of the Trump policies that were deeply inhumane and didn’t reflect America’s values.

The US 46th President also signed an executive order reversing his predecessor’s decision to leave the World Health Organization in the midst of a global coronavirus pandemic.

His predecessor had opted out of the United Nation’s specialized health agency at the peak of the coronavirus crisis last year.

During his inauguration address, Biden plead for national unity as political, economic and health care crises grip their nation.

“We must end this uncivil war that pits red against blue, rural versus urban, conservative versus liberal,” he said. “We can do this if we open our souls instead of hardening our hearts.”

President Biden take over the power from Donal Trump following election in November.

The inauguration, social distancing was observed due to COVID-19 pandemic that has killed more than 400,000 people in the United States.

New York post reported that President Joe Biden will sign over a dozen executive actions in his first hours as commander-in-chief, immediately halting the travel ban on countries with heightened terror concerns, as well as construction of the border wall.

Former President Donald Trump departed Washington, DC earlier today a head of Biden inauguration ceremony.

According to US media, Trump then boarded Marine One with former first lady Melania Trump. A departure ceremony is being held at the base before they leave for Mar-a-Lago, Trump’s private club in Florida.

World leaders have welcomed the new administration of US President Joe Biden, marking an end to the presidency of Donald Trump, who had largely rejected multilateral cooperation on global issues.

DW (Deutsche Welle) website, the European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen congratulated Biden, saying that Europe has a friend in Washington.

“This time-honored ceremony on the steps of the US Capitol will be a demonstration of the resilience of American democracy,” she said.

German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier said in a video statement that he was looking forward to tackling global issues with the US, describing Biden’s inauguration as a “good day for democracy.”

Uganda election creates fear to South Sudanese in Kampala

As Ugandans start casting their votes, South Sudanese living in Kampala and other parts of the country expressed fear of possible violence if election results turn against people’s choice.

Polling stations opened this morning for over 18 million registered voters to elected their leaders.

In today’s election, a pop star and opposition leader Robert Kyagulanyi better known as Bobi Wine, is challenging the longtime President Yoweri Museveni, with other nine Presidential candidates.

Rev. Stephen Kulang Jiech, a South Sudanese Church leader who lived in Kampala said, foreign nationals are indoors waiting for the result of the election.

He hopes the election will be free and fair to avoid violence among the Ugandans.

“Now we are at home, and we don’t know what is going on in the polling stations unless at the midday because they closed all the media, there is no Facebook, there is no internet.”

Uganda has hosted 1 million South Sudanese refugees, the vast majority of them women and children.

Nyumazi Refugee Camp chairman, Nyang Aluel Akuei, said the situation is normal, citing that refugees are not worried.

“As elections start this morning, people at my settlement wake up as usual, and we started our normal activities. Our shops are open. People are moving within the settlement. I’m not seeing anything that is causing an alarm”.

Nyang stated that no refugee is allowed to move out of the settlement to neighboring towns. The camp chairman calls upon the government of South Sudan to engage their counterpart to avoid any disturbance.

“In case of any disappointments or dissatisfaction from the outcome of elections, we as refugees want to stay in our settlement. We don’t want the nationals to come to a settlement and begin disturbing us because some people will be disappointed,” said Aluel.

South Sudanese youth member living in Uganda said he is disappointed with the internet shutdown in Uganda.

Kur Abraham describes the lack of internet connection as a bad sign, and people will be missed out on the information.

“We are not connected to the internet or social media because all Data is not working countrywide, I think. I’m having a lot of things to do online. Since Data is not there, I’m not feeling well because I’m missing a lot. Not about the elections, but my things and my studies.”

In Kampala, South Sudan’s embassy warned its citizens to stay indoors from 14th -21 January. Amb Simon Duku encouraged South Sudanese to buy enough phone credits to call the embassy in security threats.

The embassy instructed its citizens to move with valid national ID 24/7 or only a valid passport. Avoid wearing clothes with colors representing political parties like yellow and red during this election process and NEVER move in a group.

On Tuesday, Uganda’s communications regulator ordered internet providers to block all social media platforms, followed by a total internet showdown yesterday.

Facebook and Twitter were among apps that became inaccessible on several network providers in the country.

Facebook announced on Monday it had taken down a network of fake and duplicate accounts linked to the country’s information ministry.

On Wednesday, the US and EU said they would not observe the elections after several officials were denied accreditation.