Is South Sudan President Promoting Nepotism and Tribalism?

Salva Kiir and the two men that are sustaining him in power, Paul Malong Awan and Kuol Manyang Juuk(Photo: file)
Salva Kiir and the two men that are sustaining him in power, Paul Malong Awan and Kuol Manyang Juuk(Photo: file)

Jan 16, 2017(Nyamilepedia) —– President Salva Kiir, a man who sneaked into position of influence and presidency following a controversial death of former SPLM/A leader, Dr. John Garang de Mabior, could have been seen as a symbol of unity in his country but his appointments over the years and rampant conflicts in the South since 2005 speaks contrary.

Since he climbed to power in 2005, Mr. Kiir distanced himself from his late chairman, Dr. John Garang, and that gap has been widening since 2005 as Kiir embarks on promoting Garang’s rivals, who fled SPLM/SPLA during the war while at the same time demoting Garang’s camp, famously known as Garang’s boys including top generals in the SPLA army.

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Instead President Salva Kiir embarked on training a new army and recruiting new politicians to replace the SPLM/SPLA of Dr. John Garang with an exception of a few who remained in SPLM/SPLA but felt marginalized from within during the time of liberation.

With the outbreak of a full scale war in 2013, caused by this internal power wrangle between the camps of late Dr. John Garang combined with Dr. Riek Machar’s camp against that of Salva Kiir, Kiir strengthen his hold on power and while fighting the brutal war, he continued to implement some of the policies which could have been sharply criticized in a democratic state.

Backed by a self-endorsed tribal council of elders known as the Jieng Council of Elders, President Salva Kiir has passed many infamous resolutions in form of decrees.

The core interest of these decrees has been to promote regional or tribal hegemony as Bhar el Ghazal, a region denominated by the Dinka tribe, is trying to consolidate power to rule the country for the next many years. Supporting these policies are a few pockets of Dinka Jonglei, a few Equatorians and a few Nuer, who are fighting for smaller interests within the big conflict.

Leading toward the outbreak of the conflict in 2013, President Kiir had concluded appointments of ambassadors between March 2012 to July 2013. More than 75% of the appointments were all from one tribe, the Dinka which forms less than 25% of the country’s population.

While training a new tribal army, Kiir hired Ugandan People Defense Force(UPDF) to fight on his behave to overthrow the national army that was dominated by the minority tribes especially the Nuer, Chollo and Murle who repeatedly defected from the SPLM/A mainstream due to internal pressures.

To fully indoctrinate the newly trained trible militias, which would soon be the national army, Kiir replaced his Chief of Staff Gen. James Hoth Mai, a Nuer, with a fellow Dinka, Gen. Paul Malong Awan, who recruited and trained militias from his home town.

As Kiir continue to gain more powers and confident, he continues to appoint very close relatives and sons of the Jieng Councils Elders(JCE) to some of the most lucrative positions.

Within the last few days, Kiir appointed his brother-in-law, Gen. Gregory Vassilli Dmitry, who has appeared in Sentry report on charges of corruption, as the governor of Gokrial State.

Although this decision was sharply criticized by the people who should have elected their governors, Kiir has absolute powers to appoint the governors, denying the voters their civil rights.

In another decree passed this weekend, President Kiir removed Mary Jervas Yak from the position of first deputy finance minister and appointed Mou Thiik as deputy Minister of Finance.

Mou is a son of Ambrose Riny Thik, the Co-Chiarman of the Jieng Council of Elders. In previous appointments, Kiir sent Akuei Bona Malwal to represent South Sudan as its ambassador in New York.

Although some of these appointments are somehow deserved, the involvement of the Jieng Council of elders in South Sudan politics overshadows qualifications of their sons and relatives.

Akuei Bona Malwal, for example, has served as South Sudan ambassador to Ethiopia and Djibouti, and also as South Sudan representative to IGAD and African Union but all these influential positions were served within one and half year between 2014 and 2016.

Prior to these appointments, Akuei only served as Director of Protocols in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs( 2011-2012) and Director General of Protocol in the same ministry from 2012 to 2014.

President Salva Kiir has also made many appointments and promotions to friends and relatives, and also diverted wealth to family members including under age children who are holding lucrative stakes in multi-millions dollar companies in the country.

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