Magazine article New African

South Sudan: Is the Revolution Eating Its Own Children: Two-and-a-Half Years after Independence, South Sudan, Africa's Youngest Country, Has Slipped from the Lofty Ideas of Unity, Peace, and Nationhood into the Chaos of War. It Has Been a Sad Spectacle since the Fighting Broke out on 15 December 2013. Curtis Abraham Traces the Roots of What Has Become the End of South Sudan's Honeymoon

Magazine article New African

South Sudan: Is the Revolution Eating Its Own Children: Two-and-a-Half Years after Independence, South Sudan, Africa's Youngest Country, Has Slipped from the Lofty Ideas of Unity, Peace, and Nationhood into the Chaos of War. It Has Been a Sad Spectacle since the Fighting Broke out on 15 December 2013. Curtis Abraham Traces the Roots of What Has Become the End of South Sudan's Honeymoon

Article excerpt

IN SOUTH SUDAN, TWO PARALLEL conflicts have now converged and are threatening to tear the world's youngest nation to pieces. The first crisis is within the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM), the ruling party led by President Salva Kiir Mayardit. There has been a debate about the direction that both the party and the Government of South Sudan (GOSS) have been going in since independence in July 2011.

Some party members feel that the SPLM has lost direction since the independence referendum in January 2011 and has had no real vision or programme for developing the nation or creating national unity.

But the writing was on the wall, or more precisely, in a press statement. A little over a week before the current crisis broke out, via a 15 December shootout between rival factions of the Presidential Guard near the army barracks in the capital, Juba, former Vice-President Riek Machar Teny Dhurgon sounded an ominous warning in a press statement about the growing political tensions in the SPLM. The press statement scrutinised Salva Kiir's presidency as well as the possible succession in the 2015 presidential elections. As Machar announced at the press conference:

"We, the members of the SPLM Political Bureau, National Liberation Council, and SPLM leaders have called this press conference to enlighten our people on the internal crisis that has engulfed the SPLM leadership and paralysed its functions in the government and in our society. The crisis started immediately after the tragic death of the SPLM historical and eternal leader Dr John Garang de Mabior and manifested itself in the following..."

Machar went on to list a number of grievances including the negative influences of "anti- Garang" elements inside the SPLM and outside the party who have now surrounded President Kiir.

"These elements, using their relationship with General Salva Kiir, targeted and ostracised certain SPLM leaders and cadres they nicknamed 'Garang orphans/boys', creating schisms and precipitating open quarrels within the SPLM ranks."

There had been, Machar continued, a shift of decision-making power from the SPLM national organs in, for example, dishing out political appointments to regional and ethnic lobbies who go knocking on President Kiir's door lobbying for his attention while influencing him to turn his back on SPLM/SPLA veterans of the liberation struggle.

Machar lamented that the envisaged transformation of the SPLA from a liberation movement to a broad-based political party had not materialised, and this too he blamed on Salva Kiir.

"The SPLM chairman now uses his executive powers as President of the Republic, relying on his presidential advisor, to manage the SPLM and the country," Machar further claimed. Before his press conference, there had been vigorous and open debate about these issues (in March 2013), but the debate was shut down in July when President Kilt dismissed his entire cabinet, including some of his strongest critics within the SPLM, and brought in people from outside the party to replace them. This was followed by a further suppression of the public debate through the harassing of journalists and newspapers by the security forces.

Corruption

Then there was the issue of corruption. Allegedly 4.5 billion South Sudanese pounds was borrowed by the GOSS from an unknown source but its use remains a mystery, since the country has been under austerity measures since April ion. That year, Kiir said that officials had stolen some $4bn in government funds, almost one-third of all the oil revenues earned from 2005 to 2011.

According to Jok Madut Jok of the Sudd Institute and chair of its board of directors: "There is consistent evidence that corruption was rampant between 2005 and ion, and huge sums of public money were stolen by officials at various levels, but mainly at the highest level in the ministries. Some ministers would order their subordinates to simply empty bank accounts and give the money to them. …

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