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General Lul’s prodigal Return from disappointed SPLM/A-IO to Juba Cold Reception

By Deng Vanang

February 23, 2015 (SSNA) -- Undoubtedly, he was a rising star in the East African sub-region’s recently established fastest growing armed movement, the SPLM/A- In -Opposition.

With full energy and relatively younger age on his side, supplemented with proportional height and good looks to match except the ever unpredictable good luck slipping through his fingers, Lul was apparently on his way to political pre-eminence.

Better known in Nuer community from which he hails as one that has never in a life time steered clear from wadding into depth of controversies with potential to crash any feeble personality into oblivion.

Miraculously, he survived all those difficult rites of passage he encountered with a little scathe including his sojourn as one of ‘Jiech Amer’ in a semi-desert to North – East Kenya from Ethiopia following Col. Mengistu Haile Mariam’s fall from power in 1991.

Now he is back summersault to yet another challenge many have held breaths about whether he shall this time around surmount as he did to previous ones.

Being a parrot for SPLM/A – IO and a thriving one, none imagined a few months ago he would fall from the crest into the hallow of this political valley that has so far signified his monumental fall from stiff political Mount Everest. This is courtesy of his uncharacteristically burning political ambitions, the euphemism for insatiable quest for power.

Beaming in the company of his two better halves that were conspicuously ill-fitting for the occasion as he returned while two more others allegedly held sway in the opposition SPLM/A – IO, he projected himself in public light as nothing short of a ladies’ man he is usually known for than seriously aspiring politician who is now ready to shed off military fatigue with three piece suit.

While his dalliance with David Yau Yau, the Administrator of Greater Pibor administrative area that received him at Juba International Airport connotes yet another misstep in his faulty political calculus.

That only gives Yau Yau an encouragement that his political model of Greater Pibor, Lul has mimicked for Greater Akobo, is at least admired by some quarters across the country than the failure with which quite a good number of people associate.

Unfortunately for Lul, the reception by Yau Yau typified the height of an ominous foolhardiness coming from someone known by his colleagues as clever. For it beats logic as to why someone of his caliber could copycat an already failed experiment of Greater Pibor.

He too miserably failed to strategize on how best a lonely defector returns to the folds he once left. Although it is understandable he couldn’t walk into the lion dent that mirrors from a distance the rebel held Greater Akobo and recruit a few disgruntled rebel soldiers with whom to come along without being foreseen by ever detective microscope of Prophet Dak Kueth and heavy handed Chief of General Staff of SPLM/A – IO, Simon Gatwech Dual.

He could instead have done himself something better by gathering a few hungry lost boys currently wandering in the streets of Nairobi in order to bolster the lonely figure in which he arrived to a cold reception by government in steady decline from the promising shadowy government that passes for the SPLM/A – I O and in which no doubt he lost both.

By arriving alone he lost the pompous image for which the government courted him in the first place to be offered anything substantial when the welcome grows cold and wanes while his loss of presence in SPLM/A – IO and trust of the Nuer people the former mainly represents is apparently evident.

This made one curious Lou Nuer elder sum up his political obituary with a single liner: It is the curse’ ghost Prophet Ngundeng Bong spelled against Lul’s biological clan that haunted and extinguished his once increasingly shining star.

Lul’s resounding long term fall from grace to grass began when he exchanged tirades with the son of revered freedom icon, Mabior Garang De Mabior over a little known website that was established for the SPLM/A-IO during its hard time by volunteers abroad. Lul was in for the adoption of the website to become an official mouth piece of the movement which Mabior vehemently opposed.

Although the angry exchanges between the two equally ambitious young spokesmen, Mabior for the political wing and Lul for the armed wing, were treated by a few as petty power struggle, most in-depth political analysts viewed the disagreement that horsed off some tribal lines with potential repercussion of disorganizing Dr. Riek Machar’s master plan of trying to put Bor community on movement’s band wagon, if Machar’s eventual throwing of his heavy weight behind Mabior is anything to go by.

It is likely from this in house misunderstanding Lul’s proverbial Chinese journey of a thousand miles out of SPLM/A-IO began in earnest by swapping what would have been wonderfully lasting legacy with perishable cash and villa in East Africa regional hub, Nairobi.

This pact with government, so to speak, typified a zero sum game. It is a total wind for him and a raw deal for the government. For had the combined value of such fortunes utilized by the government to build a full pledged primary school or a dispensary in one of the backward parts of South Sudan, it could be enough to perch considerable votes to extend President Salva Kiir’s term of office in the next election the lonely returned Lul can’t now and will never deliver.

Much as his excuse that Riek Machar’s abandonment of the original pursuit of avenging the death of massacred Nuer in December, 2013 and eventual violent overthrow of Kiir’s regime for a political strategy of renegotiating himself back to vice presidential position is quite mild and lame. Since political differences can’t be solved with crude vengeance and neither is the lack of one having an influential slot with which to correct and prevent the bad past from recurrence in transitional government meant for ushering in the everlasting structural reforms.

Lul’s trouble is in forgetting too quickly his constant placement on endless and equally frustrating study tours outside South Sudan despite senior military rank he held at Bilpam, coupled with ramshackle Mercedes Benz into which he generously invited me along Airport – Malakia road in late 2012 which obviously told of marginalization in the military he was painfully undergoing. His sorrowful situation at the time made the 15th December, 2013 incident the falling heavenly manna he tenaciously grabbed with both hands.

However, he lost grip of the incident he only heard about while in Addis Ababa and hence, the need to put his personal interest before its veracity like the rest of his colleagues who flocked back a head of him.

A wheeler – dealer self - styled orator, Lul and I crossed the swords of Damocles for the leadership back in our youthful days in Nairobi in 1990s.

First, it was our mortal struggle in outwitting each other for the leadership of probably well-known Nuer dominated South Sudan National Youth Consolidated Program, SSNYCP in Nairobi, Kenya. In its first and last elections in 1998, I, he and two more other candidates squared it off over the Chairmanship. We were the most hopeful candidates at first, but two little known and late comer candidates pulled up a surprise against two of us.

The culprits were purely Nuer’s failed guerilla politicians chased scrambling for safety from South Sudan by Garang to Nairobi where they found solace in meddling with youth politics so as to make themselves relevant by throwing their dead weights behind the hotly contested elections but which regrettably  ended in chaos.

These politicians were fearful of me as more politically mature among my competitors. They thought could I wind and take charge, of this youth outfit, I could most likely transform it into more formidable one to challenge their political, but factious might.

Like their factions, they made candidates appeal to clan loyalties except me who stood on the Nuer nationalist platform with well-organized manifesto which exuded more promising development programs and solid unity for forward looking youth.

This left Lul to pull Lou Nuer youth on his side, one Tut with Jikany and Lony Rut, current coordinator of SSUNDE, with Fangak and Bentiu youth. It was the latter that won followed by Lul and Tut came third. I emerged a distant fourth.

Among them I scored the morale victory as a nationalist more keen on uniting youth with likely forging of subsequent unity of their fractious godfathers while they became more of clan warlords interested in benefiting from the spoils of disunity of the Nuer people. And with my talent had the ability to craft a winning coalition with Lul who commanded a formidable Lou Nuer youthful force.

This alliance made minced meat of green horned Lony and Tut’s previously strong factions. In this bare-knuckle struggle for an empty power, SSNYCP became a pale shadow of its former self as the winner, Lony who claimed Chairmanship became more feebler in charge of disorganized faction with less coordinated program of action.

Fortunately, Lony surpassed us with zeal and moved on patiently to make something out of nearly nothing as Tut left for resettlement in Canada with his disillusioned Jikany supporters joining me. In the later date I and Lul dropped out of youth politics in which both us lost interest as we grew more politically mature and met again somewhere in late Dr. Michael Wal Duany ‘s led South Sudan Liberation Movement/Army, SSLM/A in 2002.

In SSLM/A, Lul joined the armed wing as the student in Nairobi while I as new graduate threw my lot behind political wing. I as the spokesman for the movement and Lul becoming ranked military officer, the movement decided to share out military ranks amongst all its ranks and files.

Whether a politician or military officer, everybody should be given the military rank for anticipated integration into Southern Sudan national army following the soon to be signed CPA.

Lul grabbed the opportunity with tenacity among others by getting the rank of a Colonel. That is his previously few stars combined with those of his late alternate commander and photo journalist, Isaac Ruach Kong as the way of propping him in order to make up for the lost brother.

But being morally loaded Philosopher unlike the rest I detested the bias of a civilian getting such a rank many foot soldiers of over twenty years in the frontline without break were not dreaming of getting.

A year later, when I shared with my war veteran dad the idea of sharing out of military ranks which I rejected, he protested against my ignorance about the importance of military in a third world country like South Sudan. His natural wisdom lived to demolish my philosophical hypothesis following the formation of GOSS and post-war SPLA in which Lul Ruach, irrespective of his young age, short cut and fast lane maneuvers, was only added one more rank to become Brigadier general with which he is today comfortably engaged in some sorts of horse trading.

Deng Vanang is the Author of a book: South Sudan the Making of a Nation, a Journey from Ethnic Polities to Self-rule, State and Democracy. He can be reached at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Can a Democratic Government Extend its own Life?

By: Dr. Lam Akol

February 23, 2015 (SSNA) -- Last Thursday, the government tabled before parliament an amendment bill in order to amend the Constitution for the Government to extend its life for two more years. In a democratic setup, is a government allowed to extend its own term of office?

Before answering this question, let us consider our system and compare it to similar systems and experiences over the world.

Our system is a constitutional presidential democracy. In a Presidential Democracy, the president serves for a specific term and cannot exceed that amount of time. Elections to have fixed date not subject to change. This is in contrast to a parliamentary system in which the Prime Minister may call for elections any time he sees fit but, even here, there is always a set number of years he cannot exceed without calling for a general election.  All these measures are necessary to ensure a basic requirement of democracy; and that is guaranteeing smooth transfer of power. The essence is that the political party that wins a majority does not lengthen its term of office using the same majority to deny the rest their opportunity to be voted to power by the people. Such a move can be termed “Democracy Once” dictatorship; which is no democracy at all. If a need arises to change the terms of office, the matter must be referred to the people in one way or the other. These guarantees may be included in the constitution as explicit provisions or be understood as a given without which democracy is compromised.

We are governed through the Transitional Constitution of the Republic of South Sudan 2011. This constitution provides for a presidential system in which the president was to serve for four years up to 8 July 2015. This is the same period set for the election of a new Parliament. By tabling an amendment to extend the terms of office of the President of the Republic and the National Legislature without returning to the people the government is breaching a fundamental principle of presidential democracy. If we accept its claim that it was elected by the people in 2010 up to 2015, by whose mandate does it want to rule up to 2017? Does the political party that enjoys the majority in parliament have the right to amend the constitution at will to continue in power for a period more than what the electorate gave them? If this is allowed once, what prevents it becoming a precedent to be repeated time and again? Where will such a precedent leave the democratic requirement of the “transfer of power” between political parties through the mandate of the people?

True, our constitution has a provision that allows for amendments to be made to the constitution (Article 199). But does this provision apply to all articles in the constitution without affecting the nature of the state as provided for under Articles 1(4-5) and 2 of the same constitution? For example, is parliament allowed to amend the Bill of Rights (Articles 9-34)? It is the contention of this author that it cannot. By the same token it cannot amend the articles on the cyclical “transfer of power” (Articles 66 and 100) without seeking the consensus of the people from whose will the Constitution is derived (Article 3). These articles cannot be amended because they form the core of the constitutional presidential democracy we have adopted. This is the crux of the matter.

This matter becomes more critical if we look at the Parliament entrusted to amend the constitution on behalf of the people. The current National Legislature is composed of 332 members; 282 members of the National Legislative Assembly and 50 members of the Council of States. Only 170 members of the National Legislative Assembly were elected to the Legislative Assembly of South Sudan in 2010. The entire membership of the Council of States was appointed by the President in 2011, who also appointed the other 112 members of the National Legislative Assembly. Hence, the total number of appointed members in the National Legislature is 162 members. That is, 49%, which is about half the total membership< of the National Legislature is appointed. This is the body expected to make such a serious amendment!

The government was cognizant of this fact when it insisted on holding elections to renew its legitimacy. It was fully aware that it alone cannot amend the Constitution to attain that objective. If it did, that would be a breach of the Constitution on matters that are taken as given by practice and precedents. When President Museveni did amend the Ugandan Constitution to run for a third term, the move was resisted. This was the same reaction in a number of other countries which underwent similar experiences, the most recent of which was what took place in Burkina Faso last October. Beginning on 28 October 2014, the people of Burkina Faso went on the streets in Ouagadougou to protest against moves by President Blaise Compaore to amend the constitution so as to extend his rule by allowing him to stand for re-election in 2015. Indeed, the protesters did on 30 October force the MPs to suspend the vote on changing the constitution, leading to the overthrow of the President. All this goes to underline the point that there are articles in the Constitution that cannot be changed without changing the rules of the game. And the only accepted game changer is the people.

We all know that the main reason why the 2015 elections were not possible is the destructive war that broke out on the 15th of December 2013 and is still raging in the country. Insecurity is also prevalent in some parts of the country that is not related to the civil war, notably in the Lakes state. The insecurity militates against conducting a free and fair election. It was therefore, obvious that attaining peace must be the priority so that the situation returns to normalcy, after which the people will be able to exercise their democratic rights including taking part in the elections. However, both the government and the rebels could not make progress in the peace talks and, in fact, the Cessation of Hostilities agreement they signed in January 2014 was not respected and the fighting continues unabated. Despite this obvious reality, the government closed its mind and insisted on holding partial elections for the sole reason to gain legitimacy. After spending money on a futile exercise it finally realized that it cannot proceed with the elections but did not give up its determination to cling to power by all means. Hence, came the idea of unilaterally amending the constitution.

The consensus of the South Sudanese to amend the terms of elected institutions stipulated in the Constitution may come about in either of two ways. First, if the stakeholders in the peace talks reach a peace agreement, then this agreement will be incorporated into the Constitution by carrying out an amendment that includes the term of office of the transitional government. Second, if the peace talks are not conclusive, then all the political forces in the country shall hold an inclusive national conference that will deliberate on how to bring about peace to the country. The resolutions of the conference shall constitute the programme of the new government of national unity. It is this programme that will determine the length of time it takes to get it implemented by the new government, and in turn, determine the amendments to be made to the constitution on the strength of this consensus.

The amendments tabled by the government on Thursday were unilateral lacking the consensus of the people as shown above. The government should have waited for the outcome of the current round of peace talks (which started on the 19th instant), which, according to the government and the rebels in their first of February agreement, will see the conclusion of a peace agreement. If they conclude a peace agreement, then the first scenario becomes applicable. If they fail to reach a peace agreement then the second scenario becomes the course of action by default. Making a unilateral move to amend the constitution is a breach of the constitution as explained earlier since the proposed amendments are not backed by the consensus of the people of South Sudan.

Dr. Lam Akol Ajawin is a former Sudanese foreign minister from 2007 to 2010. He is the Chairman of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movememnt for Democratic Change (SPLM-DC).

Difficulty in any struggle

By: John Chuol Bol

February 20, 2015 (SSNA) -- My patriot citizens, I am calling all of you to stand firm and never be checked by Cde Brig Gen. Lul Ruai Koang’s defection during our struggle. Cde Lul has earned our respects since the massacre of Nuer in Juba in 2013. He has been the voice of our Nuer Martyrs across the world, and he has the public gratitude for that. Cde Lul has been one of the few young politicians, who have won the popular supports from all the freedom fighters and their supporters. Those in uniform and the rests around the globe invested their trusts on him because is fresh young politician with bright future. I can say Cde Lul had won huge supports and popularity, especially from young educators globally not just the Nuer people.

Cde Lul used to advocate for change on behalf the South Sudanese citizens in order to achieve a just and a fair nation with full democracy after Salva Kiir has instituted his dictatorial model. I believe Cde Koang knew it very well that to transform and to build (institute) a just and a democratic nation/state are always difficult to achieve in any system because ideologies direct individual’s ambitions. In his January 1963 States of the Union speech, Former US President John F. Kennedy once said, “Democracy is a difficult kind of government. It requires the highest qualities of self-discipline, restraint, a willingness to make commitment, and sacrifices for the general interest”. That is, to achieve it, one must sacrifice at all costs.

Now is a one case for him, and I don’t believe Cde Brig Gen. Lul Ruai Kong will preach the freedom and transformation he used to advocate for the last 12 months starting from the day he arrived at the capital genocide of Juba this February 2015. As a comrade, I wish him the best luck in his future’s political career under the terrorist regime of Salva Kiir.

To all the freedom fighters, movement of the people both in diaspora and in South Sudan under Cde Dr. Riek Machar Teny, I wanted to remind you with this; “Learning to handle problems is like lifting weights. The more we do, the stronger we become. None of us wish for problems, of course, but when they come along-and we all must face [the] problems in our lives[time]-we can take solace in knowing that we are gaining coping skills that will help us in the future”. If we don’t stand firm, the future of south Sudan as a nation is in jeopardy. There is no short cut to transform it my friends.

While we may face multiple issues with some of our politicians and leaders for their own political tendencies during our struggle, we should never betray our South Sudanese Nuer Martyrs whose blood cemented in Juba in 2013. There is no any reason to reward a criminal who ordered the massacre in Juba to just join his camp. Our freedom fighters and Gojam have risked their lives to defend our dignity and freedom to live like the rests in South Sudan.  To win this war, we as individuals share the victory as each participate directly and indirectly.  I recall what Howard Schultz once empathized; “Victory is much more meaningful when it comes not just from one person, but from the joint achievements of many. The euphoria is lasting when all participants lead with their hearts, winning not just for themselves but for one another”. My SPLM/A-IO freedom fighters, SPLM-IO Chapter leaders, members, community leaders and members, I want to remind all of us with this; if we fail, we are failing our own nation of South Sudan and Nuer people in particular all together. Leaders come and go. Let’s unite under Cde Dr. Machar and fight to win this war. If one leader stops, other takes the lead. There is no going back to Juba while the same killers still the leader, No! Last but not least, please Do Not Spoil the Nuer Community value this time.  Let our struggle continues!

The author is a former SPLA Soldier (a veteran), former chairperson of SPLM Chapter who led the defection from the genocidal SPLM Juba and formed the SPLM-In Opposition Chapter of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada in 2014. He is now a senior SPLM-IO Member & a Political Analyst in Canada. He is reachable at:  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

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