Ezekiel Lol is Cheaply Selling Kiir’s Government in the West

By Mark Paul

[Melbourne, Australia]

Former South Sudan’s Ambassador to the United States and United Nations, Hon. Ezekiel Lol Gatkuoth. (Photo credit: brookings.edu)

Former South Sudan’s Ambassador to the United States and United Nations, Hon. Ezekiel Lol Gatkuoth. (Photo credit: brookings.edu)

Sept 16, 2014(Nyamilepedia) — Ezekiel Lol, one of the political detainees that Kiir feared freeing is out there, selling Kiir’s government cheaply on Blue chips. Didn’t the President hear Makuei Lueth’s call to ‘hang by the neck’? Or has Lol and his colleagues defied death? Well, Mr President might not have hanged them properly.

I am going to report to those who didn’t hear it straight from the horse’s mouth. It’s not ‘stepping onto the toes’ of the government Mr Minister. It’s called REPORTING! After all the new Media Law has just been assented to.

In his recent visit to Melbourne, Australia, Mr Ezekiel Lol Gatkuoth, a former South Sudanese political detainee, held a meeting with some South Sudanese members at Monash University last Saturday the 6th of September. Mr Gatkuoth plainly put it that ‘Kiir made a mistake of not hanging me.’

When the government of South Sudan alleged a coupe, Ezekiel Lol was amongst those detained and tried on treason charges. On the judgment day, the Judges of the South Sudan High Court were pondering on how to deliberate on the case of the Political Detainees [dubbed as G11].

Darkness and fear was looming across the land. The tribal conflict was almost brewing into a tornado of fire. To strike a balance between selling its unpopular legal argument to the public and preventing a second wave of disaster, the government carefully chose to stay the case.

Presumably, the legal rationale was that staying the case would give the government an opportunity to summons the accused back to court should fresh evident surface. But that would never come to pass. The case was as fluid as the argument itself. Whilst plain acquittal would have openly slapped Kiir in the face and justify that the government had no case at all, the government’s legal disgrace was smothered in judicial stay. For that reason and some other legal and political short-term self-appeasement, Kiir had to call it a Judicial Stay. However, staying rather than acquittal was an ambiguous legal and political ruse that the government would wish they had never played.

Prior to the release of the political detainees, the uncertainty of whether to ‘hang them by the neck until they die’ or to squash the case was conspicuously evident from the Office of the President and his Minister for Justice. The heat was also felt as far as the Ministry of Information and Makuei Lueth had a reason of his own to shout. Makuei, together with some of his die-hard government generals unflinchingly made some general comments that caused more harm than good to the country.

While releasing the detainees was a decision that was favourable to the government albeit not in its entirety, Kiir knew Dr Majak de Agot, Former Ambassador Ezekiel Lol, Former SG of the SPLM Pagan Amum and the Former Minister Oyai Deng Ajak would be a thorn in his flesh if he releases them. One could argue that Kiir had used his foresight to foretell of some inevitable Political Party Crashers.

The reports had it that the four were feared because the president thought Majak and Oyai were the top Brass in the army and would be more likely to take it to the frontline if freed. Pagan, having played a major role in the CPA and had developed into an eloquence negotiator, would rally and gather support around the country. Ezekiel Lol, the former Ambassador to the US has connection in the White House and he would comfortably address people like Susan Rice as his ‘friend.’

The president had real reasons to worry. You could bet had he hanged them, for Kiir, the party would have continued peacefully. Unfortunately, that’s far from the reality on the ground at the moment.

By releasing the four detainees he earmarked as being dangerous, Mr President seems to have made a power-threatening mistake, at least in Mr Lol’s opinion.

Ezekiel Lol Gatkuoth, now the Deputy Chairperson of the SPLM-In Opposition for External Affairs can explain it in better terms why Kiir must go.

He narrated how he horribly witnessed the select target killing of ethnic Nuers in Juba followed by the unexciting game of cats and mouse he played with the security personnel before he got arrested. However, Mr Gatkuoth fell short of acknowledging the Akobo select killing of Ethnic Dinkas by an estimated 2000-armed Lou Nuer Youth on Thursday 19th December.

Mr Gatkuoth went on to explain that president Kiir could not possibly address others as rebels when he was the one who had rebelled.

‘Salva is the rebel.’ He pointed out. ‘This crisis started back in Yei in 2004.’ That President Kiir, then a deputy in command had ‘tried to take power forcefully from Dr Garang with no vision and mission.’

‘Kiir had left the SPLM and he is working with strange people… he took back the SPLM to NCP.’ Lol snapped.

He revealed that, while Riek volunteered in 2004 and talked Kiir out of his grievances with Garang for four days, the SPLM top leadership held meetings, settled their scores [or pretended to have settled them] and said ‘SPLM Oyee!’ However their slates where not cleaned. They tried to forge the party forward but ‘the differences remained.’ Lol stressed flamboyantly.

Questioned on why he joined the SPLM-IO under the leadership of Dr Riek Machar instead of being the third bloc together with his political detainees, he made it clear that Kiir made up a private army, ‘trained, armed and paid from the office of the president.’

He remarked that while Kiir had accused Garang during the Yei incident of being a dictator who is running the country as ‘his own private company,’ Mr Gatkuoth reiterated that, President Kiir, in one of his Cabinet meeting had boasted that ‘in the movement I was known as a tiger and I’ll show my claw to whoever opposes me. I’ll scratch them until there is blood. And if need be, ‘I’ll mess up this country, littered it, mix it with mud, pee on it and throw it to you’ detailing that Kiir is only out on plunging the country down the abyss not ruling it.

He urged the Equatorians – ‘not Wani Igga’ – to ‘help the two communities to reconcile.’

With sentimental voice filled with anger and frustration, Mr Gatkuoth would resort into Nuer dialect as he reminisces how the targeted killing in Juba has cost him his brother in-law.

‘Kiir killed my people including my brother in-law. This has become personal and I can’t be neutral,’ explaining further why he joined Riek. ‘I can’t be neutral!’ He asserted amidst anger as he shook his head.

He added that Salva has been accusing those he showed the door during his cabinet reshuffling as thieves. ‘If he is the leader of the thieves, is he not the big thief? Salva can’t be telling the world he is the clean one’ he concludes.

One could infer from Ezekiel Lol’s speech that Kiir had a reason to fear the four. This man seems to be out gun blazing in his new role as a deputy chair for External Affairs, and with his diplomatic experience and connections at the White House, Kiir had better think twice.

‘I introduced him to the world,’ Mr Lol jeered. ‘I introduced him to Obama once, to Ban Ki Moon…I took him to the White House eight times.’

He recalled how he persuaded ‘my friend’ Susan Rice over a period of six months for a twenty minutes meeting between Kiir and Obama only for Kiir to later ruin it.

Asked on what strategies the SPLM [IO] has tabled for the way forward, he stated that ‘for this country to reunite, reconcile and heal, Salva doesn’t need to be the head of the transitional government. This is the position of the SPLM [IO].’ He assured.

Mr Ezekiel and his delegates from the SPLM [IO] would need to know that they are in for a long shot on reuniting the country. Reconciling Nuer and Dinka and facilitating the two communities through the healing process is not a three-year talk show.

It needs to be noted that the conflict took on a tribal discourse and as a result, the leadership of the SPLM in Opposition must campaign and inform the Nuer community that SPLM in Opposition is not an Ethnic Nuer Party. It’s obvious the tribal rhetoric is more likely to mask the political ideology that the SPLM in Opposition would like to sell to other non-Nuer members. On the other hand, if Kiir has what it takes to bring back Riek to Juba and peacefully settle their scores, then he needs to change his rules of engagement. South Sudan will stay on when these warring parties are gone. It’s bigger than them, hence the need for an objective solution.

It’s reasonable to argue that for unity, reconciliation and healing to take place, both Nuer and Dinka communities would need to accept and acknowledge their share of atrocities committed during the conflict. It’s not a matter of who acted and who reacted or who aggressed and who self-defenced. Those are argument to be dealt with in courts not in the community.

Mr Gatkuoth and his team also added that the SPLM [IO] in Addis Ababa in addition to their lion share power sharing deals, they also demands Total Restructuring of the National Security, Constitutional [Federal] and Institutional Reforms, Good governance, Peace with justice and accountability and National Healing and Reconciliation Commission amongst others.

While it has been reported that the Transitional Government of National Unity could run for at least three years after which an election could be convened, the SPLM [IO] seems to have failed to explain how drafting a new Federal Constitution could be accomplished within a three year period nor is Kiir’s government in a position to debate the question of Federalism.

Federalism as it is known is a great system. It would suit the geopolitical aspect of South Sudan, but it’s a system that functions efficiently through effective institutions and robust regulatory mechanisms. Drafting such a constitution would need time to research and consult. It would need to be a document that enumerates powers of the States and Federal government.

Determining such powers that may be granted to the states or federal government requires consultation and institutional establishment. The separation of powers needs to be vividly clear. Judiciary, Legislature and Executive bodies would need to function separately. Not a system where the invisible hands of the president is evident in judicial decisions.

The Parliament needs to work and enact real legislations that translate the Constitution into Statutes – real laws that the courts would be in a position to interpret without encountering difficulties in determining what the parliament actually intended to be the purpose of such laws.

It has to be a Constitution that clearly defines the jurisdictions of the Customary Laws, the Statutes and the Common Law. Issues such as Taxations, Trade Practices Laws, Defence, Immigration, Marriages and perhaps Land Laws are very complicated areas that need to be critically debated.

Freedom of Movement, of Political Communications and Expression and of Association needs to be enshrined in the Constitution followed by Clear and effective Legislations that reflects their purpose. If the SPLM [IO] has taken up that role, they had better start selling their policies.

It’s evident that the current Constitution failed to meet the requirement of a competent supreme document of the land. The president has taken the lion share of the powers. We have seen how it has turned out. John Luk Jok might fill us in on how it happened.

All the political parties in Addis Ababa owe the citizens of South Sudan a duty of care. They need to think outside the box and find a common ground on how to achieve a practical and sustainable peace. Most of us in the West are lost with our knowledge and papers. A few who came to gain such knowledge had hopes that one day they will go back home and serve their people. Unfortunately, that country is almost alleged to be failing as a nation. We are lost because we are guest in foreign lands and Lord knows we may be foreigners in our own land. This is because a few unscrupulous men have muddled it up for the next generation whose hope had always been to inherit the land from their forefathers.

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