It has come to the knowledge of this author that Lt-Gen. Paulino Matib Nhial, the Deputy Commander-in-Chief of the Sudan Peoples' Liberation Army (SPLA), is missing. Lt-Gen. Matib has been missing since his travel to the United States for treatment. Lt-Gen. Matib joined the SPLA in 2006 in a dramatic move that was known only to Lt-Gen. Matib and SPLA leadership.
Lt-Gen. Matib has been battling a number of diseases. He had been taken to South Africa and while in that trip, rumours engulfed South Sudan that Lt-Gen. Matib had died. These rumours were not only received with mixed reactions but Juba other parts of South Sudan like his Unity State experienced an immediate insecurity dangers. These rumours were quickly neutralized by the Sudanese Embassy in Nairobi, Kenya, which is led by an SPLM diplomat as its ambassador.
"The media advisor at the Sudanese embassy in Nairobi, Ms. Sumaya Abdelsadiq told the official SUNA that General Paulino was currently in Nairobi at the Grand Regency Hotel. He had arrived on Friday May 4 coming from South Africa from a regular medical treatment trip. Sumayah said she met Paulino this evening at the hotel he is residing in", (http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article21765).
According to Al-Wifaq daily newspaper of May 17th, 2009, page (1), Lt-Gen. Matib is missing. The paper said: "…and (Riek) Machar will enter the Sudan Peoples' Liberation Movement (SPLM) conference hall in Rumbek – where 1st-Lt-Gen. Salva Kiir Mayardit, President of the Government of South Sudan (GOSS) and First Vice-President of the Republic, opened SPLM conference held on May 17th, 2009) – and would look at the empty seat of Lt-Gen. Matib……America had detained the Passport of (Lt-Gen.) Paulino so as not to reach the South."
"The GOSS Mission to the United States of America was privileged to receive H.E Lt. General Paulino Matip Nhial Deputy Commander of the SPLA and his wife upon their arrival to Washington D.C Sunday August 3rd, 2008, on a private visit for medical treatment", (http://www।gossmission.org/goss/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=539&Itemid=193).
Mr. Ezekiel Lol Gatkuoth, Head of GOSS Mission, accompanied General Paulino Matip Nhial to Rochester, Minnesota, to commence his medical treatment. Upon completion of his treatment, Lt. General Paulino Matip Nhial will be meeting with the US Government officials to review the efforts and support to transform and strengthen the SPLA by the US Government. H.E. Lt. General Paulino Matip Nhial will also meet the Sudanese communities in USA", (http://www.gossmission.org/goss/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=539&Itemid=193).
Who is detaining Lt-Gen. Matib against his will in America since his trip to the US was partly official as seen from the statement above? This question does not judge the book from the cover. Unless the Al-Wifaq daily newspaper's report was baseless; otherwise "detention of Matib's Passport by America" means that the US Administration is detaining Lt-Gen. Matib's Passport. How could anybody refer to such an act? Isn't the "detention" against Lt-Gen. Matib's will? There are two actors from where the answers to the questions above could come: US Administration and GOSS/SPLM/A.
This author would try to find out why is the US Administration detaining Lt-Gen. Matib? It will also look at the fact that the "detention" cannot take place without the agreement of both the US Administration and GOSS/SPLM/A. If the US Administration did the "detention" of Lt-Gen. Matib without the knowledge of the GOSS/SPLM/A, then what has GOSS/SPLM/A done to address the situation. Lt-Gen. Matib is the Deputy Commander-in-Chief of the SPLA and the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) recognises this fact, which includes SPLA officers and men.
"As part of a peace agreement and in order to end the war, the Parties agree that the two forces, the SAF and the SPLA shall remain separate during the Interim Period, and further agree that both forces shall be considered and treated equally as Sudan's National Armed Forces during the Interim Period" (http://www.sacbc.org.za/docs/denis/cpa%20security%20arrangements.doc).
Having learned that the US Administration cannot detain Lt-Gen. Matib against his will, it would be important to note that GOSS/SPLM/A could be behind Lt-Gen. Matib's "detention." It is known to the entire world that the US Administration normally announces their suspicion of world leaders they consider as violators of human rights in their countries. The US Administration does not grant entry to the US of anybody they consider as war criminal or otherwise. Lt-Gen. Matib has never been mentioned by the US Administration as one of those war criminals. Thus it would be difficult to accept that the US Administration acted alone to detain Lt-Gen. Matib.
Let us assume that the GOSS/SPLM/A called the shot to detain Lt-Gen. Matib. Another question would impose itself: why has the GOSS/SPLM/A detained Lt-Gen. Matib? Well, it is common knowledge that Lt-Gen. Matib had fought the SPLM/A through his defunct Anyanya Two Militia organisation which became part and parcel of the South Sudan Defence Force (SSDF). SPLM/A views all those who collaborated with the government of Sudan (GOS) during the war in the South as sellouts and should not be welcomed in the South, GOSS, SPLM/A; unless they rejoin the SPLM/A.
But it seems to appear that rejoining SPLM/A does not mean forgiveness either. What does it mean then? By accepting him and many others in its rank and file, however, SPLM/A was not only trying to deprive them of alliance with Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) but had other plans such as detaining some of them within the South and banishing others like Lt-Gen. Matib to the US.
Let us again assume that the GOSS/SPLM/A are not aware of Lt-Gen. Matib's detention in the US. What have they then done to address the situation, now that it has become a public knowledge? It is morally correct of any government to officially address – through diplomatic channels – the detention of any of its members. GOSS/SPLM/A has not made any such statements concerning the reasons for Lt-Gen. Matib's failure to return home from the US.
The GOSS/SPLM/A had sent Lt-Gen. Matib to the Republic of South Africa (RSA) for medical treatment. Even though the rumours of his death in RSA were so strong, Lt-Gen. Matib came back alive. The question the people of South Sudan, especially the relatives and the entire Nuer of Unity State would be asking is that: is Lt-Gen. Matib alive in the US or dead. This column does not intend to reactivate the rumours of Lt-Gen. Matib's death in RSA but warns that GOSS/SPLM/A's failure to inform the people of the South of the whereabouts of Lt-Gen. Matib could lead to similar rumours as those created when he was in RSA.
The US has no interest at all in detaining Lt-Gen. Matib. Therefore, if the "detention" of Lt-Gen. Matib in the US is a decision of the GOSS/SPLM/A and executed by the US Administration, then the US Administration would be wrong. It is illegal for the US Administration to detain Lt-Gen. Matib; let alone the fact that no US citizen can be arrested without formal charges. Even if there are formal charges, such a citizen will have to be brought before a court of law to answer for those charges. Since Lt-Gen. Matib does not have any formal charge brought against him by the US Administration, his continued "detention" would be illegal and that would mean that the US is violating Lt-Gen. Matib's basic human rights.
South Sudan is going through one of the most difficult periods in its history. There are conflicts everywhere in the South, including some signs pointing towards an early rebellion. It seems that this kind of situation would be increasing in worsening by the day. If there is anybody within the GOSS/SPLM/A who thinks that his group, tribe or community would be better placed to resolve the current crisis in the South, s/he would be lying.
The crisis in the South is caused by mismanagement of GOSS and SPLA. The origin of this mismanagement is tribalism. Thus the resolution of these kinds of problems caused by tribalism need the leaders of all tribes in the South, including Lt-Gen. Matib, to end the crisis. In other words, Lt-Gen. Matib and other prominent leaders from other tribes need to seat down to search for a solution to this crisis threatening to turn the South into yet another Somalia within the Horn of Africa region.
Saturday, May 16, 2009
It has come to the knowledge of this author that Lt-Gen. Paulino Matib Nhial, the Deputy Commander-in-Chief of the Sudan Peoples' Liberation Army (SPLA), is missing. Lt-Gen. Matib has been missing since his travel to the United States for treatment. Lt-Gen. Matib joined the SPLA in 2006 in a dramatic move that was known only to Lt-Gen. Matib and SPLA leadership.
Some prominent South Sudanese have of recent been responding to the exploding situation in South Sudan. This exploding situation ranges from tribal conflicts between tribes all over the South and an appearance of banditry along Juba-Torit road, which other people say it is the beginning of another rebellion.
The prominent people – some of who are very respectable – have unfortunately misplaced their arguments. The misplacement of their arguments is represented in blaming of the National Congress Party (NCP) for what is happening in the South. "Events" does not subscribe to any political party and today it looks at the logic behind blaming the crisis in the South on the NCP.
First of all it is important to note that the prominent South Sudanese mentioned above have clearly accused the NCP of being behind the current crisis in South Sudan. The logic behind their thinking is that the NCP is using some South Sudanese to create insecurity in the South so that they could prove to the world that the South cannot govern the South.
Well, it is known to the same world that the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) gave the SPLM/A the right to govern the South, control its security and certainly manage the entire finances. Nationalists whose government is empowered with political power, security control and money could fuse the three powers to gain support from their citizens. Nationalists with a tripartite power like the one we have just mentioned would create the necessary infrastructure The South today is suffering from the problems of insecurity, governance and financial mismanagement.
Where does the NCP come in here? Did the NCP encourage the top Government of South Sudan (GOSS) officials to misgovern the South; mismanaged its finances; and support the insecurity campaign in the South? If the three questions above could be answered in the affirmative; then there is no need to blame the NCP. But if the answer to the questions above is in the negative, then these prominent South Sudanese should at least accept that the SPLM/A and GOSS have encouraged mis-governance, mismanagement of finances and mismanagement of security in South Sudan. How?
The current crisis in the South – at least the most pressing crisis of the three crises: misgovernance, mismanagement of finances and security – should be blamed on the GOSS and not the NCP. The GOSS with its security forces have guarded the South from the NCP and anybody associated with the NCP. How could anybody from the NCP, be s/he from the South get the opportunity to create insecurity in the South?
To the best of everybody's knowledge, the GOSS with its security forces have arrested people they allege support the NCP. They have never given the NCP the freedom to freely exercise its political rights in the South. In fact most of the SPLM/A members openly say that the NCP has no place in the South. That has been witnessed by the way they show their hatred towards the South Sudanese within the NCP. Which NCP member is there to carry out activities such as causing serious insecurity in the South? Who is ruling the South; is it NCP or SPLM/A?
It is now four years after the CPA and the South has received more than 6.0 Billion Dollars. With such a huge amount received by the GOSS; how much has it put in order to create an able security, which should have been given the mandate to crack down on anybody trying to bring about insecurity in South Sudan? How much of this huge amount has been given to the SPLA soldiers in order to overcome their suffering for 23 so as to raise their morale to do work? How much of this huge amount has been put to create the much needed services such as health and others?
SPLM/A and GOSS are in full charge in South Sudan. If they have failed to manage the South, NCP should not be blamed for their failures. It is true that some people in the North of Sudan had said in the past that the South cannot manage itself. This statement was not said because the South has no educated people who can run the South. They are there – many of them – but lack the direction of a leadership that is responsible. Responsibility does not entertain tribalism, corruption and insecurity in an entity governed by a civilized government. Now that the GOSS, SPLM and SPLA have actually proved beyond any reasonable doubt to the people of the North that they cannot manage themselves, they should accept the blame. NCP should be left aside and the leadership of the South now running the government of the day in South Sudan should address the crisis in the South without taking refuge in the NCP.
One South Sudanese writer once said: "Southern Sudanese need to understand that not every misfortune happening in the South is caused by the NCP. Salaries are being paid only after two months while others are running away with millions of dollars. In the market, a cowboy is exchanging dollars, and insecurity is everywhere in the South", (Loku, Tongun, S, Sudan Vision, May 12th, 2009, p. 5).
This site has learned that there is a serious problem of banditry along Torit-Juba road. Confirmed reports say that some members of the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) are behind this banditry attacks. Other reports seem to indicate that there is a rebellion in the making. The reasons behind this banditry or rebellion – whichever way one wants to see it – are said to be failure to pay salaries to SPLA, lack of food for the soldiers posted along the road; and the problems of tribalism and sectionalism within the Government of South Sudan (GOSS).
On May 9th, 2009, Al-quwat Al-musallaha (Armed Forces) Newspaper (page 1) reported the killing of two SPLA soldiers and the capture of two others in a clash between the so-called bandits and the GOSS security forces. It has also been reported that one member of the GOSS security forces was killed in yet another clash with the same bandits on May 11th, 2009, along Juba-Torit road.
This is not a new development. The Juba-Torit road had in the past faced a similar catastrophic banditry attacks. The GOSS used to refer to those attacks as committed by the Equatoria Defence Force in collaboration with the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA). GOSS did not mince its words then when it directed accusations for such operations on the SAF.
In response to the tribal fighting between the Bari and Mundari tribes, GOSS said: "From LRA attacks in Eastern Equatoria State (EES) to the recurrence of cattle raids that resulted in killing of innocent lives in Jonglei Lakes, Warrap, Unity and Upper Nile States, preventing these incidents is GOSS' priority", (The Citizen Newspaper, May 12th, 2009, p.1).
Reading from the GOSS statement above, the reader would realise that LRA is still being mentioned by GOSS as responsible for the attacks along Juba-Torit road. Is this true? May be and May be not. Because the whole world knows that the LRA had shifted their bases into the Democratic Republic of the Congo and are very active in Western Equatoria and not in EES.
According to the news reported by the SAF Newspaper, the two killed and two captured were said to be SPLA soldiers. Is the SPLA also called LRA? Obviously not. The SPLA remains SPLA and the LRA remain LRA. Why then does the GOSS refer to the attacks along Juba-Torit road as those carried out by the LRA?
To answer the question above, one would say that the GOSS is probably trying to divert the attention of the people of South Sudan from blaming the SPLA for the attacks. This would be deceit at a time when the people of the South have come to know that it is the SPLA soldiers who are carrying out these attacks and not the LRA.
The SPLA soldiers are going for more than three months without salaries. The SPLA forces that are deployed along Juba-Torit road are not supplied with food. If soldiers are not paid salaries; at the same time food is not supplied; they are bound to use force in order to earn cash and at the same time some food to eat. Should they be blamed? No, it would be unfair to blame them because they had volunteered for more than 23 years and this is the time to get rewarded for the 23 years voluntary services to the Sudan People's Liberation Movement.
The GOSS needs to resolve the current crisis of failing to pay the SPLA salaries. This has to be a priority if the GOSS wishes to conduct elections in South Sudan peacefully. Otherwise, any attempt that would aim at undermining the issue of salary payment to the SPLA would lead to something bigger than just banditry. When such happens, the GOSS should forget anything called elections and should have itself to blame and not the poor SPLA soldiers. The GOSS had made SPLA soldiers to understand that the time for voluntary services is over. Thus, the GOSS should live up to its promise and pay the salaries of the SPLA and supply food to those deployed to protect the innocent civilians from this and other banditries in future.
Monday, May 11, 2009
Sen. John Kerry (Democratic Party), the Chairman of the United States (US) Foreign Relations Committee at the Senate, visited the Sudan on April 15th, 2009. He headed a US Fact-finding Congressional Mission to the Sudan. He was to review the progress of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) and the Darfur Peace Agreement (DPA). Kerry's visit came immediately after a previous visit made by Gen. J. Scott Gration, appointed recently by President Obama as his Special Envoy to the Sudan.
Kerry is a former US army officer, who had volunteered to serve his country in Vietnam, because, as he later said in his own words: "it was the right thing to do." He believes in the notion that “to whom much is given, much is required”, (http://kerry.senate.gov/about/biography.cfm). Kerry is also known for his commitment to his country, the US. He worked as Committees' and Sub-committees’ Chairman at various levels. He is known for his tough commitment to regime change in the Sudan during the period of the Clinton and Bush Administrations. He had stated that: “Besides, an intervention against the Sudanese government would fit rather nicely within the contexts of the Terror War”, Kerry, (http://www.michaeltotten.com/archives/2004/07/kerry-stop-genocide-in-sudan.php).
While in Vietnam serving his country, especially in the midst of the battles, he had seen the lives of his fellow soldiers, his friends, put at risk because some leaders in Washington were making bad decisions. For his leadership, courage, and sacrifice under (enemy) fire, he was decorated with a Silver Star, a Bronze Star with Combat V, and three Purple Hearts,(http://kerry.senate.gov/about/biography.cfm).
Some news outlets like Reuters News Agency which followed Sen. Kerry’s visit to the Sudan, said President Al-Bashir’s response to Barack Obama’s overtures to the Islamic world was conciliatory. The statement also said that the Sudan viewed the US as an enemy in the past. “Kerry made his comments just days after Al-Bashir struck a more conciliatory tone towards Washington by welcoming US President Barack Obama's overtures to the Islamic world. Sudan has viewed the US in the past as an enemy,” (http://www.reuters.com/article/latestCrisis/idUSLH612957)
Alertnet.org and Reuters shared the same views. It appears that one of them quoted the other, so it seems. But according to Alertnet.org, “Kerry arrived just two days after Sudan's President, Omar Al-Bashir, struck a more conciliatory tone towards Washington, seen by Khartoum in the past as an enemy,” (http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/LG649073.htm).
Who in the current developing relations between Khartoum and Washington is really striking a more “conciliatory tone”, is it Khartoum or Washington? Is it true, therefore, that the Sudan had always viewed the US as an enemy? This article looks deeper into the developing relationship between Khartoum and Washington in a positive rather than a negative manner as was mentioned by Reuters and Alertnet.org.
First of all, there should be some responsibility in writing news pieces and a respect to what President Al-Bashir means in his statement. Welcoming Obama’s overtures to the Islamic world does not mean that President Al-Bashir was toning down. But as one of those Islamic leaders in the Arab and African worlds, the president had the right to react to Obama’s statement. The statement was general and Sudan, including other Islamic leaders, had the right to respond. Who then “struck a conciliatory tone”, is it Washington or Khartoum?
There's one thing that ought to be borne in mind, which needs to be accepted by everybody, including the news agencies as a fact that the Oboma Policy does not subscribe to confrontation. If it does, the policy would defeat the purpose of Oboma's Administration’s call for “ HYPERLINK "http://change.gov/" Change”; not only in the US context; but throughout the world. Obama’s non-confrontation policy seems to prefer negotiation with whoever believes that negotiation solves problems that were or are a reason for the conflict in the first place.
This is one of the US Administration's top Policy priorities as was mentioned in President Obama’s inaugural speech: “And so to all other peoples and governments who are watching today, from the grandest capitals to the small village where my father was born: Know that America is a friend of each nation and every man, woman and child who seek a future of peace and dignity, and that we are ready to lead once more, ” (http://www.cnn.com/2009/POLITICS/01/20/obama.politics).
A new 17-nation poll conducted for the BBC World Service finds widespread and growing optimism that Obama's presidency will lead to improved relations between the US and the rest of the world. In 15 of the 17 countries polled, majorities think that the election of Barack Obama will lead to improved relations with the rest of the world. On average 67 percent express this upbeat view, while 19 percent think relations will stay the same and just 5 percent (said) that relations will worsen, (http://www.worldpublicopinion.org/pipa/articles/views_on_countriesregions_bt/583.php).
It would then be reasonably sound to say that the appointment of US-Air Force Gen. J. Scott Gration as US Administration's Official Envoy to the Sudan was the first sign that points towards the implementation of the Obama non-confrontation policy. Choosing Gen. Gration for the job wasn’t just a coincidence. Gen. Gration was brought up in Africa by his missionary parents. Thus for the success of the policy implementation, it was wise for President Obama to appoint someone who understands Africa like Gen. Gration. For the benefit of the reader, it is appropriate to give a brief resume of Gen. Gration.
Gration grew up in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where his parents worked as missionaries during the HYPERLINK "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Congo_Crisis" \o "Congo Crisis" Congo Crisis in the early 1960s, his family was evacuated three times and became refugees. After his family returned to the US, he studied at Rutgers University, where he enlisted in the ROTC (Reserve Officers' Training Corps) programme and earned a Bachelor's Degree in Mechanical Engineering. After graduating he joined the United States Air Force in September 1974. He earned a Master's Degree in National Security Studies from Georgetown University in Washington in 1988, (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scott_Gration).
In his maiden speech as he assumed his official duty, Gen. Gration spoke to journalists in Khartoum. He said: "I come here with my hands open. It will be up to the Sudanese government to determine how they want to continue with the relationship. Hopefully it will be with hands of friendship and cooperation,," (http://www.rnw.nl/internationaljustice/icc/Sudan/090402-us-envoy-to-sudan). He said he had discussed with the government of National Unity (GONU), Darfur Administration and Government of South Sudan (GOSS) the progress of their administrations and the peace processes.
Sen. John Kerry as described in the second and third paragraphs of this article is the second sign of implementation of the Obama’s Policy of non-confrontation. Kerry’s delegation was quite representative of the US Administration's executive and legislative arms in the persons of Gen. Gration, President Obama's (White House Appointee) Special Envoy to the Sudan; and Sen. Kerry, US Senator and Chairman of the US Senate's Foreign Relations Committee, leading both Senate and Congress delegations. He confirmed to the press in the Sudan that he was heading the Congress and the Senate delegations: "Now it is my opportunity representing the US Congress and US Senate to be here to engage on humanitarian issues and obviously issues pertaining to the conflict", (http://www.reuters.com/article/latestCrisis/idUSLH612957).
In addition to these signs of implementation to the Obama’s non-confrontation policy, the tone of the US Administration as observed from the two envoys was and remains to be friendly – toned down – so to speak. The aggression witnessed during the Clinton through to the Bush Administrations is none existent. More so, there is a call from these US envoys for the improvement of the 'bilateral' relationship between Washington and Khartoum.
Strategically and in no uncertain terms, what seems to be happening is that the US Administration is implementing parts of its policies in the African and Arab continents. The US Administration, GONU, GOSS and Darfur Transitional Authority seem to be embarking on a serious effort aimed at implementing the CPA, DPA and new agreement with the Darfur rebel non-signatories to the DPA, as well as working out possibilities of normalizing full diplomatic relationship between Khartoum and Washington. This message was very clearly given to the Sudanese people by Gen. Gration: "The US and Sudan want to be partners, and so we are looking for opportunities for us to build stronger bilateral relations", Gen. Gration, (http://www.rnw.nl/internationaljustice/icc/Sudan/090402-us-envoy-to-sudan).
These relations (US-Sudanese) were severed immediately after the introduction of Shari'ah Islamic Laws (which were popularly known as September Laws) and followed by the SPLM/A rebellion in the country in 1983 and later in 1997. To query why the relations are needed now by both parties? One would speculate an answer that it could be a matter of both countries’ strategic interests.
For Sudan's strategic interests, however, recognition of the Sudan by the US as an effective member of the international community and removal of its name from the list of countries that Washington alleges sponsor terrorism would be a mere addition to its many successes. It is understood in international politics that what the US supports, is usually, but not always, supported by the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO). The US normally commands NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF). In the recent past, "the NATO Secretary-General and the Supreme Allied Commander Europe welcomed the nomination by President Bush of General David D McKiernan as the next commander of the NATO-led ISAF," (http://www.nato.int/docu/update/2008/01-january/e0118b.html).
Sudan has the oil and other precious natural and mineral resources and would need the World Trade Organization (WTO) through the NATO to have some of its products sold in the NATO markets. It would also mean that the European Union (EU) could become an automatic partner in such a business process because its citizens are the majority in the NATO alliance.
As for the US Administration, the Sudan is a strategically located country and that is of great interest to the US and its allies. Sudan is a bridge between Africa and the Arab world. It is in the US interest to renew friendship with the Sudan and avoid many complications, including a belief of the US previous administrations that the Sudan was dangerous terrorist country. The US Administration could gain from the many natural resources that the Sudan is endowed with but only through a non-confrontation policy like the one adopted by the Obama Administration.
The US is known to have a reservoir of oil that cannot be used unless sanctioned by an order from the top Administration. In other words, the oil to the US is an important strategic item. Sudan has other natural and mineral resources which the US Administration would be interested in. Sudan's strategic location that borders Nine (9) African countries is an interest to the US. The Great Lakes region from where many streams drain into and thus producing Lake Victoria and River Nile in the Sudan, which is one of the fewest sources of clean drinking water in the world, ought to be a long-term strategic interest of any country let alone the US because water is life. A columnist stated in The Citizen Newspaper that: "Specialists are anticipating disputes to arise over water sources in the world because of population increase that is unmet by a similar increase in those sources", (Economic Viewpoint Column by Muhammad Rashad, The Citizen Newspaper, May 3rd, 2009, p.11).
In short, the two countries have more than one reason to becomes friends and maintain such friendship for the interest of their peoples. But there are so many things this author as a Sudanese citizen has to say for bilateral relations between the Sudan and other countries to thrive.
The Sudanese peoples from all parts of their vast nation are known for their kindness and respect for foreigners. This kindness and respect should not be misunderstood for weakness and stooping low. It is true that the Sudan has had its internal civil wars. It is also true that these civil wars have been reduced to only one area instead of three areas of South Sudan, Eastern Sudan and Darfur. This wasn't simple and certainly going to bring peace to Darfur isn't simpler either. But peace in Darfur should be brought about by the Sudanese themselves and not through some kind of pressures from anybody outside the nation's borders.
There are international and regional treaties of which the Sudan is a signatory except a few like the Rome treaty which gave birth to the International Criminal Court (ICC). Sudan, as obligated by the International Law, has the right to use all the articles mentioned in the United Nations (UN) Charter meant to guide diplomatic relationships between states and non-interference in the internal affairs of any state.
Sudan as a country and its people – in the definition of the UN – is a member state of the UN. Being a member state of the UN means that what applies to all other member states applies to it without exception. But whenever bias of any kind is spotted, there's every reason for the Sudan and indeed any other country to react to that particular bias.
The Sudan is not an enemy of anybody as stated by Reuters and Alertnet.org; it doesn't choose to be anybody's enemy. What brought about bad relationship between the Sudan and the NATO/EU is the fact that the government of the Sudan is accused of killing people and fueling the wars in South, East and Western Sudan. The NATO/EU did not cross check some of the reports they receive from either their missions or International NGOs working in Darfur and South Sudan. Some of these reports were biased. Thus, some of these missions and NGOs have taken sides in the civil wars in the Sudan and as such made bad reports on the Sudanese government to the NATO/EU alliances.
Sen. Kerry said that: "in the midst of the battle while serving his country in Vietnam, he had seen the lives of his fellow soldiers, his friends, put at risk because some leaders in Washington were making bad decisions," (http://kerry.senate.gov/about/biography.cfm). The Sudan is a victim of those kinds of bad decisions based on bad reports filed to the UN by humanitarian organizations working in the Sudan and other Western countries represented in the NATO/EU alliances.
Why were some leaders in Washington making bad decisions, according to Sen. Kerry? The answer to this question is simple: the reports on how the US forces were fairing on in their war against the people of Vietnam were bad or biased. Thus the “ Change” mission President Obama came for is to ensure that no bad decisions in Washington were made. The Change” seems to be comprehensive and will certainly include making sure that good reports were used for good decision-making so that no American serving his country at home or abroad, traveling around the world or just staying at home fell victim of bad reports again. It should clearly be understood then that bad reports on any situation would always lead to bad decisions made by the governments that entirely rely on such reports.
Gen. Gration is reported by the media to have made his second visit to the Sudan. This is yet another sign which clearly shows that Washington is serious about making “partnership” with Khartoum in what seem to be common interest: Darfur peace process, the CPA implementation and a possible normalization of diplomatic relations between Washington and Khartoum. Gen. Gration’s mission and GONU’s readiness to renew friendship with Washington are steps towards the right direction so long as they are based on Obama’s non-confrontation Policy.
One last thing to mention is that there is hope that the US Administration remembers the fact that the Sudan has many political parties. Therefore, the US Administration should improve its relations with all the political parties in the Sudan. Besides, the US Administration could support Sudan’s efforts to hold elections and support the Sudanese peoples in their efforts to transform into a democracy. But trying to maintain relationship with some political parties in the Sudan, pitting others against the government and totally ignoring others, the US Administration would be trying to wade along the watery or muddy path of its predecessor. To seek for “partnership” with the government of Sudan is seeking for “partnership” with the Sudanese people.
Sen. John Kerry’s statement “on Friday, April 17th, 2009, that the ICC war crimes charges against Sudanese President Omar Hasan Al-Bashir should not stop efforts to resolve the Darfur conflict” (http://www.reuters.com/article/latestCrisis/idUSLH612957). should be ignored and regarded as hangovers from the previous US regimes. It is not possible for a country like the US – which properly understands the meaning of collision of peace and justice – to fail seeing how the ICC war crimes charges against President Al-Bashir would not just affect but seriously damage the Darfur peace process and the CPA implementation. The US refused to ratify the Rome treaty because they don’t want American citizens to be subjected to such a court. Why, does it really mean that the US is prone to injustice? No judgment! But there are people in the US who have committed more crimes than ICC thinks President Al-Bashir did.
The illusive fight against corruption in South Sudan: "No prosecutions since the establishment of GOSS"
The Government of South Sudan (GOSS) under the leadership of H.E. First Vice-President, Lt-Gen. Salva Kiir Mayardit, had emphasized and reemphasized its commitment to fighting corruption in South Sudan. This noble task was backed up by an Anti-Corruption Commission. This commission was specifically created to fight corruption in all its forms in South Sudan.
Like it was mentioned in one of this author's articles entitled "Legislators Ought to Probe GoSS for the Whereabouts of $702m", (http://ohiyok-oduho.blogspot.com/search?updated-max=2008-04-14T04%3A33%3A00-07%3A00&max-results=7) early in March, 2009, the South Sudan Legislative Assembly (SSLA) refused to approve a debate on a case involving cash amounting to 6.26 Billion Sudanese Pounds for food strategic reserve (food security) for South Sudan. It is reported that out of this cash only one state implemented what was required of it. The rest of the cash could not be traced and this seems to be supported by the SSLA leadership, which recently passed an anti-corruption bill. "The south Sudan legislative assembly has endorsed the anti-corruption bill for the year 2009",(http://www.gossmission.org/goss/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=772&Itemid=136).
On March 31st, 2009, Al-Wifaq Newspaper reported the disappearance of 14 Billion Sudanese Pounds in Northern Bahr Al-Ghazal State. This cash disappeared from the State Ministry of Education in Aweil. The cash was distributed amongst the officials at the Ministry. The State Education Minister in Aweil discovered the racket and quickly reported the theft to the police who are said to be holding the culprits.
This theft is occurring irrespective of the GOSS President's insistence to fight corruption in his government. "GOSS president has reiterated before the donors' conference in Juba his determination to eradicate corruption in the South", (http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article20921). The President of GOSS declared his war against corruption in 2007. The menace called corruption continues to this date in South Sudan. Why? It's an infectious disease that seems to have been easily transmitted to the other people in GOSS administration. However, the fact that it's a disease, the SPLM Secretary-General, Pagan Amum, confirmed it. He said "corruption is a true disease in the South", (http://www.newsudanvision.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1598:south-sudan-passes-anti-corruption-bill-&catid=1:sudan-news-stories&Itemid=6). There are some factors that contribute to the continuation of corruption in South Sudan:
*Tribalism strengthened by poverty and protection of corrupt officials by the decision-makers in GOSS on sectional and tribal lines;
*Inability of the Anti-Corruption Commission to investigate and arrest those corrupt officials in GOSS; and
*Parliament's inability to play its important role of enacting laws against corruption and its practices in South Sudan.
Tribalism, poverty and protection of corrupt officials via tribal bias
Tribe is positive thing; but tribalism is negative and on the line of tribalism, a senior government official would squander public funds but a senior relative from his/her tribe within that particular ministry any other higher institution in GOSS would bail the thief out. What happened here is that the corrupted cash is divided between the two or more as is the case in Aweil. These two or more relatives are both suffering from poverty and certainly want to live like the others who have been helped by their tribesmen in GOSS. This could be seen from those who were accused of corruption, arrested but later on released in Juba. There is hope, at least with the new anti-corruption bill, that those officials who divided between themselves Four (4) Billion Sudanese Pounds in Aweil, should be brought to books. If this happens, tribalism and poverty may differ in their close relationship in GOSS.
The Anti-Corruption Commission seemed to have been created to impress the donors. Otherwise, how could the commission fail to arrest and charge a single corrupt person? The answer to this question is simple: the commission is powerless – it has no powers to arrest and investigate unless such is done as a public relations exercise – smoke-screening – if you like. The Anti-Corruption Commission should not be blamed for failing to arrest anyone in the South. But now that a bill has been passed to help enact laws for the commission to carry out its duties, we hope that the commission would do its best to function and report any hindrance to its work. "In an effort to combat corruption, the SSLA passed the long awaited anti-corruption bill today in its third and final reading", (http://www.newsudanvision.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1598:south-sudan-passes-anti-corruption-bill-&catid=1:sudan-news-stories&Itemid=6).
Parliament's failure to play its role
The parliament of South Sudan has some of the best legislatures this country has. The problems of corruption and insecurity in South Sudan are directly attributed to the poor or corrupt leadership within the SSLA. It should be noted, however, that SSLA leadership had ignored to discuss matters such as the 6.26 Billion Sudanese Pounds meant for strategic food reserve or food security. This amount was seriously mishandled by various states and some GOSS top officials and by refusing to debate it, SSLA is encouraging corruption.
Reactions from Anti-Corruption Commission and SSLA
The Chairperson of the Anti-Corruption Commission, Dr Pauline Cuir Riak, was happy and had the following to say: “I am confident that with the provision of the bill, we shall be able to carry out our work effectively without any threats." "In an effort to combat corruption, the SSLA passed the long awaited anti-corruption bill today in its third and final reading", (http://www.newsudanvision.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1598:south-sudan-passes-anti-corruption-bill-&catid=1:sudan-news-stories&Itemid=6).
Dr Jimmy Wongo, a legislator in SSLA, conquers with Dr Pauline Riak and says that, "the bill must be accompanied with strong measures to bring all corrupt agencies to law. Nobody has been prosecuted in the three years since the establishment of GOSS", (http://www.newsudanvision.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1598:south-sudan-passes-anti-corruption-bill-&catid=1:sudan-news-stories&Itemid=6).
Responding to the same bill, SSLA Speaker, James Wani Igga, said: "a nation cannot work effectively with the absence of an anti-corruption bill." He hailed the adoption of the legislation as a milestone for the Southern Parliament.
The best way to deal with this issue of corruption is not just the passing of anti-corruption bill. It's the seriousness to follow the implementation of such bills and taking those who undermine such implementation to task, including dismissal from public offices. This measure, coupled up with a commitment from the Anti-Corruption Commission to do its work unhindered, corruption may be eradicated for ever in South Sudan.
The disappearance of the Four (4) Billion Sudanese Pounds from the ministry of education in Aweil may be a blessing in disguise. Those who are involved in the theft of this huge sum of cash must really be dealt with; now that the SSLA had passed the anti-corruption bill.
Just like the SSLA Speaker said, "a nation cannot work effectively with the absence of an anti-corruption bill." Now that the anti-corruption bill has been passed, may GOSS, SSLA together with the Anti-Corruption Commission review the previous cases, like 702 Million Dollars which disappeared sometimes back, the disappearance of the 14 billion Sudanese Pounds in Aweil and of course, the Al-Cardinal scandal. Failure to address the cases that were known to be serious corruption matters in the past would encourage future corruption in South Sudan. It will amount to injustice to prosecute others while protecting other corrupt officials within GOSS. Best wishes for a success against corruption in South Sudan.