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Salva Kiir’s Attack on His Own Legitimacy Claim

By Riang Yer Zuor Nyak

January 20, 2015 (SSNA) -- When the war started in December 2013, Salva Kiir, Barnaba Marial Benjamin, Michael Makuei, Ateny Wek Ateny, and many others could be seen on televisions, local or international, talking about Salva as a legitimately elected president, or the government as a legitimately elected one. Beginning from August of last year, IGAD joined the singing and started referring to Salva as the “elected, incumbent president”.

The SPLM/A’s response to this claim has been consistently that Salva and his government are not elected ones. Rather, they are constitutional. Any claim of legitimacy should spring from the Transitional Constitution of the Republic of South Sudan, 2011. Using the 2010 election as the source of his legitimacy would be futile attempt to twist an obvious reality.

The 2010 Elections

In April 2010, the Republic of the Sudan conducted national elections for all positions, except for those of the County Commissioners. This was because the Interim Constitution of the Republic of the Sudan and the National Election law did not recognize such positions. The positions to which the law authorized election included the position of the President of the Government of Southern Sudan. Salva Kiir was elected to this position as head of the autonomous regional government. This was in line with the provisions of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA).

The national election law gave the holders of the elected positions five years to serve before the next elections. The anticipated time for the next elections was April 2015, and this is still the case for the Republic of the Sudan.

The Independence in 2011

In fulfillment of the provisions of the CPA, South Sudan conducted a referendum in January 2011 on whether it should remain part of the Republic of the Sudan, or it should secede from the union to form an independent state of its own. The people of South Sudan overwhelmingly chose secession over the unity of the old Sudan.

On July 9, 2011, the Republic of South Sudan was born as the newest or youngest state in Africa in particular and the world in general. On that day, a new and independent transitional constitution was promulgated to establish the new state. It is this constitution that gave Salva Kiir his new four-year mandate as the President of the Republic of South Sudan. As such, his term began counting from that day to the 9th of July 2015.

The Legitimacy Question

Any one elected or appointed under a constitutional provision can claim legitimacy. However, such legitimacy is usually bestowed up on certain conditions and behavioral requirements. Once the person ceases to meet those requirements, or once those conditions disappear, legitimacy can be lost. This is not different with Salva Kiir.

Under the Interim Constitution of the Republic of the Sudan, 2005 and the Interim Constitution of the Government of Southern Sudan, 2005, Salva Kiir was elected to administer the region for five years. His mandate was to last up to April 2015. Within that period his legitimacy would run uninterrupted if he did not commit any behavioral mistake, or if he did not cease to function due to other conditions.

However, Salva’s time was interrupted on July 9, 2011 when South Sudan broke away from the rest of the Sudan. As a result, condition (remaining as part of the old Sudan) disappeared. Allegiance to remains as the current Republic of the Sudan ended, and a new allegiance to the new state with a new constitution began. This condition ended the April 2010 mandate, as it ended the former autonomous status of what was then one of the regions of the Sudan. That mandate went together with the electoral legitimacy, for you could not have one without the other.

Under the Transitional Constitution of the Republic of South Sudan, Salva was given a new mandate as the President of a new sovereign state. The new constitution gave the president four years before a new election could take place under a new and permanent constitution. The new term and mandate gave a legitimacy that would run through July 9, 2015.

The End of the Constitutional Legitimacy

Salva Kiir started the process of ending his constitutional legitimacy, leading to the current situation, a long time ago. He intentionally violated the constitution here and there, and a step-by-step process. The last step was the eruption of violence on December 15, 2013. Some of these violations are discussed below.

1. Appointments of Ministers

What I believe to be the first violation of the new Constitution came after the proclamation of Independence. Salva appointed ministers to his cabinet and sent their names to the newly reconstituted legislative assembly in a sealed envelope. He only needed the assembly to approve what was in the envelope without seeing exactly whose names were on the paper for approval. This went against Article 113 which gives the National Legislative Assembly the power to approve presidential nominations of ministers.

Article 113 (2) states that “Appointment of the Ministers of the National Government shall be approved by a resolution of the National Legislative Assembly adopted by a simple majority vote of all members.” This gives the Assembly the power to scrutinize the nominee to see if they meet certain constitutional criteria as provided in sub-Article 3.

Sub-Article 3 provides that “Ministers of the National Government shall be selected with due regard to the need for inclusiveness based on integrity, competence, ethnic and regional diversity and gender.” The act of forcing the Assembly to approve a list without scrutinizing individual nominees before they could become ministers did not give the Assembly the chance to meet such a constitutional obligation. It follows that the process was unconstitutional.

2. Recruiting and Training of Tribal Militia

The other significant violation came with the recruitment of a personal tribal militia, which has become known as the ‘Gel Weng’. Article 151 (3) of the Constitution does not provide him with the option of organizing his own private army without a provision of a law. It states, “No person or persons shall raise any armed or paramilitary force in South Sudan except in accordance with this Constitution and the law.” If he saw an urgent need for his personal militia, then Salva should have gone to the National Legislature to get some sort of approval or some legislative act of authorization, as this type of undertaking needed a law and money, and the National Legislature supposedly holds the national purse as stated in Article 55 (3) (d), read together with Articles 87 and 88.

Article 55 (3) (d) says that the National Legislature has the competence to, among other things, “…authorize annual allocation of resources and revenue, in accordance with Article 87 of this Constitution…”

While Article 87 talks about allocation of resources and revenues, Article 88 talks about general budget proposals and estimates to be presented by the President to the National Legislature for approval and enactment of an appropriation bill.

Therefore, the whole undertaking of recruiting, training and deploying the Gel-Weng was very unconstitutional.

3. Removal of Governors

In 2013, Salva started revoing state Governors allegedly exercising a constitutional provision. Article 101 (r) of the Transitional Constitution of the Republic of South Sudan allows removal of a Governor only when there is a crisis in the state. It states that the President may “…remove a state Governor and/or dissolve a state legislative assembly in the event of a crisis in the state that threatens national security and territorial integrity…”

In Lakes State, there was a crisis—an insecurity that remains to exist as of current. Salva removed Chol Tong on the pretext that there was insecurity in his state. In Unity State, there was no insecurity of any sort. Yet, he removed Gen. Taban Deng Gai without explanation. Those who were aware of the political differences between Salva and the two gentlemen knew that the removals were politically motivated. The Constitution does not provide for politically motivated removals.

After removal, the Constitution provides for temporary replacement, which Salva did by appointing care-taker Governors. After that, an election has to take place within sixty days. Article 101 (s) states that the President shall “…appoint a state care-taker Governor who shall prepare for elections within sixty days in the state where the Governor has been removed or the state legislative assembly so dissolved in accordance with the provisions of this Constitution, the relevant state constitution and the law…” This provision of the Constitution has not been fully honored by Salva Kiir. He appointed care-taker Governors who have served beyond sixty-day Constitutional requirement. Elections have not been organized ever since the care-taker Governors were appointed.

In addition to the two initial care-taker Governors, he has appointed two more care-taker ones, replacing Kuol Manyang and Paul Malong Awan, respectively. Therefore, as of now, there are four Governors who are serving unconstitutionally. Their mandates do not stem from the Constitution. They owe their legitimacy to Salva Kiir, not to the Transitional Constitution of the Republic of South Sudan, 2011.

4. Taking and Retaining Political Power

At the beginning of the violence, Salva and his group were constantly talking about a coup plot that they had discovered and foiled. They kept talking about their murderous acts as protecting the Constitution, or against unconstitutional act of trying to take power by force. Article 4 (1) states that “No person or group of persons shall take or retain control of State power except in accordance with this Constitution.” Two words: ‘take’ and ‘retain’ are very important elements of this provision.

As their statements reveal, they are doing what they are doing, pretending to be preventing unconstitutional takeover of the political power. But, all evidence point to the lack of violent takeover on the part of Salva’s political opponents. Instead, Salva and his group are the ones trying to retain power through violence, which is unconstitutional.

5. The Deaths of the More than 20,000 Ethnic Nuer in Juba

The deaths of the more than 20,000 civilians began on the 15th of December and it continued until all the remaining ones had to take refuge in the UNMISS compounds. They were specifically targeted on the basis of their ethnic backgrounds. Every indication points to such an act as premeditated. This act of unjustly killing people went against the very Constitution that they claim to protect.

Under the Bill of Rights, Article 11 of the Constitution talks about life and human dignity. It states, “Every person has the inherent right to life, dignity and the integrity of his or her person which shall be protected by law; no one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his or her life.” The way these people were murdered was such that they had no right to life, no human dignity and the integrity of their persons was never respected. The law simply failed to protect them as their lives were taken arbitrarily on the streets, in their homes and in their cars.

It was an ultimate act against the Constitution.

Now, Is Salva A Legitimate President?

I shall begin by saying that Salva is not an elected president, and any claim of legitimacy should not come from the 2010 election. It follows that he is, instead, a constitutional president. Any claim of legitimacy should come from the Transitional Constitution of the Republic of South Sudan, 2011.

However, by his behavior in office, he has eroded away all the constitutional legitimacy that was bestowed on him by the Constitution. Right now, he only stays in power because he can. His attempt to organize an election to legitimize his rule so as to meet the constitutional deadline is a sign that all along, he has been talking of himself as an elected president, just to fool the people and win their support—internally and externally. He really knows that he is not an elected president.

After all, he admitted his lack of electoral legitimacy by stating, quoted on the 13th of January 2015,  that “Those of Riek [Machar] and their friends are trying to hold the country back from going for elections so that they keep the government in hang, so that when the term of this government comes to an end in July, they come out and say you have no legitimacy, which I don’t think our people will accept”. He further stated, “The simple reason for going for elections is to avoid power vacuum and losing legitimacy.” That is one big brutal attack on his own electoral legitimacy claim, as it is clear from his two statements that he is after the constitutional mandate when he talks of the loss of legitimacy in July.

Another problem that Salva is facing is lacking of things to say. The only thing that he can always come up with is some intelligible attack on Dr. Riek Machar. In his statement, he talks of “Those of Riek Machar and their friends…” as “…trying to hold the country back from going for elections so that they keep the government in hang…” Before Salva’s statement, Riek Machar had not made any statement since the talk of the election began this month.

It was only after his (Salva’s) statement that James Gatdet Dak, the Press Secretary of Dr. Riek Machar, was quoted on the 17th of January 2015 as having made a statement to this effect. He was quoted to have said that “’Our leadership rejects this and asks the South Sudanese and the international community to reject it.’” So, where does Riek Machar come in, in Salva’s statement? He just attacked Riek Machar before Riek Machar said anything. Was he trying to pre-empt so that he could later say, see, I told you that Riek Machar was against the election? It was just a sign that he was not even comfortable with what he was saying, and was trying to blame someone for something.

Anyway, it also shows that he knows that he has completely struck down his constitutional legitimacy by ruling the country in contravention with the Constitution. That is why electoral legitimacy has always taken precedent over constitutional one.

So, if not a legitimate president by election, and not a legitimate president by constitution, can Salva really still go around and talk of himself as legitimate? Legitimacy comes and goes. When it is there, then it is there. But once it goes, it no longer exists. Just because it was for Salva, that doesn’t mean that it will always exist for him. He can try as many as he wants to run an election to restore it. But, he will not regain it by running the elections that he and his group are talking about.

I personally believe that the elections that they are talking about in Juba will never take place. Talking about them only betrays Salva’s usual claim of legitimacy on the basis of the April 2010 election, a thing that places his supporters in a tongue-tied position at a time when their only point of support is electoral legitimacy.

There are many reasons for me to take the position that the elections will never happen. I will talk about these reasons in my next article. In the meantime, let us all keep listening to Juba on this issue.

The author is a South Sudanese. He can be reached at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

More reshuffles will not prevent President Kiir government from decaying

By: Sirir Gabriel Yiei Rut

January 18, 2015 (SSNA) -- It must be a terrible life to be a minister in this government, knowing that you may be fired at the drop of a hat for no particular reason other than suspicion of your disloyalty.

This, of course, is regardless of how you may have served the people of South Sudan. Honestly, how can we run a country like that? A colleague of mine jokingly said to me that “Mashalah fi duol jaahin lom, at least they have international friends coming to them” and I agree.

Make no mistake, I feel no compassion whatsoever for the potential victims because they joined SPLM-Juba faction with their eyes wide open hoping to pursue personal and not national interests. So they must reap their harvest of sorrows.

I am really more concerned about the damage that is being done to our country’s potential through mismanagement and sheer waste of precious time and resources as ministers are hired or fired at President Salva Kiir Mayardit and his close colleagues' whims. Our land is tied of welcoming fresh bonds.

I do agree that there is a lot of deadwood in the Cabinet and, of course, if we try and quantify the losses to the country caused by the actions of some of these ministers, they would definitely be in prison were we in a normal democracy where there is accountability.

Some obvious names pop up in my brain which I am sure my dear readers are aware of.

Throughout my experiences, I have learnt that if you want to change the results of a system, you change its structure because it is the structure that determines behaviors and the output you get.

The results we are getting from the SPLM-Juba faction management style are not solely determined by who occupies what position at ministerial level; it is because we have a fundamentally flawed political system.

As long as we have a system where a partisan President has the sole discretion of appointing ministers, their loyalty will not be to the country first, but to the party and in our case to the President and lately his close friends, regardless of their competence or intent.

We certainly have a structural problem and this has been the case for many years. Ministers that are corrupt and incompetent, but loyal to the party have tended to get away with it despite the damage they continue to cause the country. The recent purges are a clear indication of how flawed our system is.

Of course, the situation is made worse when you have a dictatorial President because he will tend to protect his incompetence and position by appointing yes-men who will not dare challenge him. Ask expelled SPLM-Ministers. This leads to substandard solutions to our problems.

I would certainly prefer a system where Parliament is responsible for appointing ministers and these ministers are accountable to Parliament with the President only having oversight. This removes patronage bias and creates some collective accountability. That is what I will definitely promote as President.

Our country will continue to stay arrested by the selfish pursuit of power and privilege by a few at the expense of having smart and ministers around who can deliver to the millions of our people who deserve a better life.

For far too long we have bought the lie that only those that participated in the struggle have the inalienable right to rule, even when they have shown us that they are disinterested in creating the future we desire. Their core competency will remain being popular within the party structures and groveling to the President and his entourage, nothing else.

We can also no longer pretend that SPLM in its totality stands for our good because throughout their disastrous reign, we have seen how they only stand for themselves.

We must believe that as a nation, our potential must only be limited by our imagination and not by guns or fear. South Sudan has all it needs to be a great and prosperous nation and it is our responsibility to ensure that all South Sudanese take the opportunity to live to their full potential and gain access to opportunities to serve others in public office if they so wish.

The sad reality is that amongst us lie all the skills and talent we require to take South Sudan forward but we continue to be limited by a political system of patronage that draws talent from a limited pool with limited competencies and narrow political motives.

In my opinion, leading South Sudan into the future will take a totally different kind of leadership than what we have seen within SPLM-Juba faction we cannot accept the caliber of the average SPLM cadre to lead this nation into the 21st century.

We also cannot have leaders and ministers who have conflicts of interest as is the case with most of them. Our political leadership must never be in business or be involved in money making ventures because this creates a serious conflict.

As a result, our public resources are not allocated or managed efficiently and this has led to the plunder of our resources, patronage and corruption and theft.

The long and short of it is that, no amount of Cabinet reshuffle will change the fact that our political system no longer serves the interests of the country and those involved in it are therefore not the people we should expect to create the South Sudan we imagine.

In my opinion as Cde. Sirir Gabriel, the President can reshuffle all he wants, but this will not lead to new results. We are stuck in a rut of entitlement to power, non-accountability, mismanagement and lack of national interest.

That is not about to change until we begin to source talent outside political party structures.

I have said my words and may gods of the land hear my voice...

Cde. Sirir Gabriel Yiei Rut is a writer and commentator and He is the Chairman of SPLM Youth League Chapter in Egypt he can be simply reach through This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

South Sudan: The need to eradicate tribal politics and dictatorship

By James Gatdet Dak

January 18, 2015 (SSNA) -- Oxford dictionary defines tribalism as a behavior or attitude which is based on being loyal to a tribe or other social group; or the state of being organized into tribe or tribes.

By that social definition allow me to add that tribal politics is about the identity of a given group or tribe that is based on common ethnic identity or cultural factors that are used to induce the group into a functioning political unit subtly or in a dynamic pattern.

A tribal grouping although based on a defined or understood interest may have some disagreements on how to express a common purpose but will, likely, ultimately rally behind that common purpose.

Formations of groups or tribes for mere social reasons have some advantages, such as clear communication and the establishment of traditions that are expected to be observed for tranquility and social development.

However, tribal politics always has bold negative side as it creates a barrier between the various other tribes that make up a given societal political constituency in a given country.

The consequences of this is that ascending to or maintaining political power in many instances becomes less about presenting attractive ideas such as visions, principles, policies and programs that are for the welfare of the collective all, but rather about manipulating tribal political alliance.

Groups and individuals therefore concentrate on struggle for influence, position and money, and in most cases play along without concerns about the consequences for cohesiveness and national development, which is being ignored and eroded.

This phenomenon also carries the danger that societies may become oligarchies by default, as an outgrowth of the shifting alliances of tribal leaders.

Thus, groups or individuals with a strong sense of tribal unity and identity can benefit from kin selection behavior such as common property and shared resources.

The tendency of these tribal members to unite against an outside tribe and the ability to act violently and prejudicially against that outside tribe is in this situation likely seen to be boosting the chances of survival in prolonging the reaping of the fruits of that unity of tribal purpose.

South Sudan Crisis

In the light of the above discription one may confidently say the ongoing crisis in South Sudan emanated mainly from the curse of tribal politics.

A group of tribally motivated elites, which became desperate to scapegoat and avoid genuine national issues, unfortunately bent on entrenching dictatorship in order to dominate political power and control the country’s resources at the expense of the rest in the country?

Prior to the 15 December 2013 violence, cues were clearly written on the wall.

This group led by the president of the Republic, chairman of the ruling Sudan Peoples’ Liberation Movement (SPLM) and commander-in-chief of the organized forces – in government – was driving at it.

General Salva Kiir, in a seemingly mindset which combined tribalism and dictatorship, perfectly concluded his plan by first dismissing reformist leaders from his government and further dismantled organs of the ruling party.

In that he unconstitutionally dissolved the SPLM structures including the Political Bureau (PB) and the National Liberation Council (NLC).

He strangely further declared that only his office survived that unconstitutional undertaking and that the secretariat should singlehandedly report to him. All these he did as the party’s national convention was to be conducted.

Coincidently or by design, his action was more or less a replica of what he previously accused our late chairman of 10 years ago with these remarks.

“The Chairman killed the national Executive Council (NEC) by creating the leadership Council. But there is no provision in the Convention for a ‘Leadership Council’. Does he want to revive the Political Military High Command? The Leadership Council creates a situation where all are directly reporting to the Chairman – including SPLM County Secretaries. When I mentioned these facts, they should not be construed to be my personal or family problems. Those around the Chairman don’t tell him the opinion of the public. The Chairman is everything, from a finance officer to one at the lowest level,” Salva Kiir Mayardit, from the minutes of Rumbek meeting in November 2004 while reconciling with the late chairman, Dr John Garang de Mabior.

As if he was not the same leader who later on became president and administered tribalism as a silent criteria for selections in employments to public and civil service jobs, in which more than 90% of the civil servants at the ministry of finance, for example, came from one tribe; and as if 90% of the culprits and beneficiaries of the infamous Dura Saga were not from his home region, he further accused the late chairman.

“…Corruption, as a result of the lack of structures, has created a lack of accountability which has reached a proportion that will be difficult to eradicate….,” also from the Rumbek meeting.

General Kiir in that meeting also clearly showed that his primary interest and obligation as a leader was to first and foremost look after the welfare of his tribesmen or region when he stunned the same meeting with this anti-nationalistic statement.

“I assure you that the allegation that I am against peace is not true. I am really for peace so that the International Community could rescue our suffering people. People of Bahr El Ghazal have suffered too much from repeated famine and from the Arab militias – and for these reasons I am the first to embrace peace to relief them from suffering,” Salva Kiir.

When in 2013 he felt that he was losing popularity in the Political Bureau as colleagues declared intention to constitutionally contest for his chair, General Kiir went to his home region and uttered tribal remarks in which he asked his kinsmen whether or not they would allow “their leadership to be taken away.”

The answer was a big NO followed by an assurance that the homeboys would defend “their” leadership with bloody iron fist.

From that moment he relentlessly continued to play up threats against the Nuer community from which a leading reformist and challenger, Dr Riek Machar, hails.

Immediate recruitment of tribal private militias was then entrusted to the then governor of Northern Bahr el Ghazal state, Paul Malong Awan.

The recruitments ensued in the president’s regional states of Warrap and Northern Bahr el Ghazal without the knowledge and consent of the then army’s Chief of General Staff, General James Hoth Mai.

This is the private militia group which teamed up with the presidential guards and carried out the targeted massacre of Nuer unarmed civilians in the capital, Juba.

General Awan was later on given the new task as army chief in recognition of his role in the recruitments of the tribal militia group and the subsequent massacre.

Thousands of the Nuer civilians butchered inside their houses and in the streets of Juba for many days knew nothing or had nothing to do with the political debates in the SPLM.

They were simply targeted due to sharing ethnicity with the leader who happened to come from their tribe.

I want to reiterate by underlining that before the 15 December crisis, reformist leaders were much concerned about the prevailing state of tribalism, insecurity, corruption, stagnant economy, poor foreign relations and lack of vision and direction in the ruling party.

The leaders were also from different ethnic groups, of whom members from the Dinka tribe were the majority.

However, the ongoing challenge to democracy in South Sudan is not the prevalence of ethnic diversity, but the use of tribal politics to promote narrow tribal interests. This is tribalism.

This is a worrying trend given its obvious negative consequences. The 15 December tribally motivated violence by Salva Kiir and his accomplices revealed the extent to which tribal forces could deny freedom, democracy and development and quickly plunge the country into civil war.

The regime would argue that their blood tainted administration recognizes inclusivity in ethnicity. But this is just a coated cover on a bitter pill.

It is crystal clear that elite leaders in Juba have exploited tribal loyalty, coupled with the treason of surrendering the country’s partial sovereignty to foreign agents to advance personal gains.

These unsecure leaders also engage in patronage to these foreign agents and continue to dwell on parochial interests at the expense of the suffering masses.

In essence, tribal chauvinism and practices have occupied a vacuum created by lack of strong democratic institutions in the country.

South Sudan needs peace and introduction of various reforms including political reforms under an able leadership so as to build genuine democratic institutions and viable political parties that compete on the basis of ideas, not tribal groupings, as foundations for political platforms and competitions.

There should also be concerted efforts to organize and step up civic education among the populace as well as create a common identity for South Sudanese with the aim to discourage tribalism and dictatorship and instill nationalism and democratic values in the minds of the people.

We should not allow the gains of the decades of our collective struggle for freedom, democracy, justice, equality and prosperity, etc to be swept under the carpet by these unremorseful elite leaders in Juba.

We should be one people, free, secure, equal, prosperous and happy.

The struggle continues…and may God bless South Sudan!

The author is a Spokesperson in the Office of the Chairman, SPLM/SPLA. The opinionated contents in the article are however his personal views. He can be reached at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

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