Are Makuei Lueth & Ateny Wek the Devil’s advocates?

Are Makuei Lueth & Ateny Wek the Devil’s advocates?

Heading for the gallows?

By Mac Akol Marialdit

‘Counsel’ Ateny Wek Ateny and his learned friend ‘Justice’ MakueiLueth are at it again. This time the two men who speak for President Salva Kiir Mayardiit’s disintegrating edifice are sermonizing the Troika/international community and the Civil Servants of South Sudan respectively.

The Hon. ‘Justice’ Makuei Lueth over the weekend attacked civil servants who are striking and those threatening to go on strike over unpaid salaries-some running up to six months-for being agents of regime change. That the striking civil servants are working with foreign forces, the minister did not name, to effect regime change in South Sudan.

Doesn’t the Horrible, sorry Honourable, Information minister realize that a hungry man is an angry man? How can we work when we and our families have not had a meaningful meal in months and our children’s feeble disease infested bodies and hungry blank stares constantly remind us of our failure as parents to provide? All this when we have funky fancy government titles appended to our names. We can’t even go to work because the fuel guzzling governmental vehicles we drive are devoid of fuel just like the fuel stations. Makuei is lucky that he can afford fuel from the black market as a minister-the only privileged class that now sees money. He can also afford food unlike the rest of the citizenry.

But do not insult our intelligence Mr. Minister, by blackmailing us-in your usual unthoughtful callous way-and referring to us civil servants as agents of regime change. We have soldiered on meekly as we saw you messing up our country. I must also tell you and your ilk that we have seen and overtime documented your class corruption, nepotism, embezzlement etc. All this time we have been quiet.

Now you have touched a raw nerve by trying to shut us up when we demand our rightful wages. We will not allow it. News came today that a soldier shot himself-suicide by government AK-47-because his children had starved to death at the New Site barracks and he was unable to do anything about it. I must warn you that this is just one of many similar cases that has made it to the media. On Monday this week aJuba Secondary School teacher, Ustaz Michael Khamis, who earns a paltry 300 SSP collapsed and succumbed to hunger induced severe hypotension while teaching pupils.Did you and your cabinet colleagues even hear about this Mr. Makuei? What have you done about it?

Horrible Minister Makuei, who is going to stand with you and your fat cronies at the ministerial buffet when we the civil servants are starving to death? Can you please answer my question! Who is going to fight your wars for you when soldiers, their wives and children are dying of hunger? Not us. We have had it.

And yes, we are now agents of regime change. We have sought our enemy so long but we were blind and could not identify them because we were full, satisfied and satiated. Lack of money, hunger, endemic war, disease and now death have opened our eyes wide and we the South Sudanese people have woken up. TarauMakuei Lueth, yes you, and your fat sweaty suit draped cabinet colleagues have always been the problem of our people and now our country for time immemorial. Now we know the real enemy. And Riek Machar is and has always been with your lot-he is no better so do not think we see him as a substitute. No.

Now I ask you Mr. Makuei! How do you think those bodyguards of yours feel when they have left their wives and children home hungry and then they see you enjoying sumptuous meals? Tell your bosses and colleagues that there is an imminent unplanned and uncoordinated coup in the making and ask them who will fight for them this time since the soldiers and the other organized armed forces are hungry and now disenchanted with your regime? Lest you forget, let me remind you that before being soldiers they are part of the masses. And now you and your sortare inadvertently orchestrating a popular mass uprising against your greedy selves-without even your knowledge or collective ‘wisdom’. There will be nowhere to run this time. Just you wait and see.

Like the judges and magistrates who have also now gone on strike aptly put it, “how do you expect us to go broke and hungry yet we rule on million dollar graft cases?” The teachers and nurses who are among the least paid civil servants are already striking. The doctors at Juba Teaching Hospital downed their tools (which they say do not exist) months ago. The army, police and other armed services went on strike even before independence when they started using government equipment to rob the very people they were supposed to protect. So let me kindly ask you Mr. Information Minister: When are you and your cabinet colleagues going on strike in solidarity with the government workers in the rest of the country? I do not expect a reply for the above rhetorical question after all you are in the belly-full class although not for long.

I kind of feel sorry and sad for you Mr. Makuei. You might arrogantly ask why. Well, you see I dreamt that you met a fate like that of former Iraqi Information Minister Tariq Aziz who was hanged by the neck till he died, although after his sphincter giving way and terribly soiling his lower body in the process. But we will pray for better circumstances in your case.

PS: Now that the Judiciary has gone on strike, Mr. Makuei, let me draw you the detailed picture of events as they will unfold. The Police cells are going to be clogged in less than two days due to the hunger induced crime that is rocking Juba City and its environs at the moment. Then the police is going to get overwhelmed in exactly one week and then some will take over the role of the courts with varying degrees of success and failure. The new police courts will be corrupt because they naturally are forced to play the tune of the highest paying side in a row. The aggrieved parties and respondents will then take the law in their hands and start gunning down each other all over Juba. The corrupt police ‘judges’ will not be spared because they will have eaten from sides. The army will come in for their share of this ‘judicial enterprise’ and start fighting the police for their fair share the new ‘judicial’ loot. In the meantime time the police cells will be so congested that some jail birds will have to be transferred to an already full Juba Government Prison which cannot even afford to feed inmates. Inmates, backed by relatives on the outside, will soon overrun their guards and take over the facilities. Now armed with guns grabbed from the police and prisons services they walk out and start terrorizing thee masses. Sounds familiar Mr. Makuei? Just wait and see.

 

 

Ateny Wek on his part on Monday castigated the international community-particularly the Troika (UK, USA & Norway) of interference in matters sovereign to the infant nation of South Sudan. Do not forget that he had just come out of another blooper hardly a fortnight ago when he penned, or rather authorized the penning of after all we know he does not have the brains, the now controversial op-ed in the New York Times. It has since been established that he and his allies in the Presidency and the Jieng Council of Elders thought that the op-ed was the most brilliant idea of the year. It miserably backfired. Discerning South Sudanese citizens worldwide are still in shock that Mr. Ateny Wek still has his day job. It only means that his contentious op-ed had the blessing of the big man himself. Such matters make people ask a lot of questions which end up unearthing lots of facts-especially unpleasant ones or those that would rather be hidden away. In the fracas that ensued after the NYT op-ed and as citizens waited and anticipated the news of Ateny’s sacking, news (for those who were not aware) emerged that President Kiir and Ateny are in fact in-laws. Ateny being President Kiir’s father-in-law because the latter sired a child with Ateny’s beautiful daughter. This is a very serious relationship in our Dinka culture and can’t and should never be rocked by matters of a mere letter which was put out with the noblest of intentions anyway-protecting the status quo and skirting imminent prosecution for a dear son-in-law who has ensured that there is bread on the table overtime. Anyway, back to the issue at hand.

Our dear but dippy voice of Kiir, Ateny Wek, revealed earlier in the week to Eye Radio that the Troika had sent a joint letter to President Kiir demanding the rescinding of the 28 States and reverting to the known 10 States and the removal of Finance Minister David Deng Athorbei and the Central Bank Governor Kornelio Koriom Mayik from heading those fundamental institutions they respectively head before monetary aid can even be considered for the South Sudan Government. This of course comes after the two gentlemen have successfully run those vital government departments aground and the country miserably with them.

Ateny then accused the donors of interfering in “matters of sovereignty” and called on them to simply help the country unconditionally from economic collapse. Power seems to have gotten into the head of our formerly humble Ateny who back in the day-albeit in atrocious English-used to criticize Kiir and his entire government in his column in Nhial Bol’s Citizen Newspaper which has since been forced to close. Ateny has forgotten the English saying “a beggar has no choice” too soon because I remember before he fell upon better times he used to beg CSOs and NGOs to be included in civil society activities if only for the free lunch served or the per diems provided. Those were tough times indeed but it has now emerged that Ateny was just practicing for a better role in high office. Those were the days he used to masquerade as an English trained lawyer until the bubble burst and it came to light that he had never seen the inside of a law class room nor a university precinct while in London. Law seems to be so prestigious a calling that two ‘lawyers’ have been exposed as masqueraders in South Sudan in the recent past. Ateny being one and the other being the President’s immediate former Legal Advisor and now Ambassador to Russia.

Ateny ranted, “They (decisions of government) are not imposed by a foreign power simply because they would support or they would be giving money here or there.” Sorry to burst your bubble Ateny, but they are. Your entire administration has been begging for money from whoever has cared to listen. These are the results of running down the country, now deal with it.

Interestingly the Troika, through a junior local US embassy staffer in Juba have denied ever penning such a letter and reiterated their commitment to work with the TGNU and its cabinet. Well. This denial of the letter is by no means a reprieve for Kiir and his heavies because the said letter was actually written. The only problem is that President Kiir did not have the minerals to come out and address his rejection of the suggestion in it personally but rather used his rabid attack dog-Ateny Wek. In diplomacy this amounts to the deliberate leakage of confidential information by a ‘trusted’ ally hence the denial of such a communication by the Troika. Another egg in our governments face. So sad.

Ateny Wek and Makuei Lueth should by now know that they have cast the dice and it can’t be recalled. We the masses now know that Kiir and his allies are solely responsible for the rot in the financial system, the economic collapse and the causers of our destitution and suffering. That we are going hungry because of them is now undisputable. And you want us to die in a sinking ship? No way. We are going to throw the captain and his crew overboard, take over the ship and attempt, to the best of our limited individual abilities, to sail it to safety instead to safety instead of the dangerous course they have set which is heading for a deserted rock in the middle of stormy seas.

As a Dinka and South Sudanese I am utterly ashamed to belong to the same ethnicity as Makuei Lueth and Ateny Wek. The two gentlemen have cast away important Jieng values like truth telling, being straight and not appropriating that which does not belong to you. They have mischievously and stupidly tried to defend the indefensible by creating ‘true lies’. They have woven tales and situations so thick that they can’t now separate fact from fiction.

The most disturbing thing with the two gentlemen is that they escalated a war and killed thousands of people with their words and yet feel safe in thinking that all they did was talk. The effects of their loose talk they can’t even fathom. Worst of all they have driven a wedge so deep among the Dinka, the other Southern Sudanese tribes, the region and the entire world that will take generations to heal. We can only pray and educate the people that we are all not cut from the same cloth as Makuei, Ateny  and their ilk and pray they understand and treat us differently. Only we can rid ourselves of these rotten apples otherwise we are doomed.

Makuei and Ateny, former American President Thomas Jefferson said, “A wise and frugal government shall refrain men from injuring one another, shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the labour the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government.” So I beg you two gentlemen to take this message to President Kiir and the JCE who are your puppet masters. Since you always convey their messages to us the starving civil servants and the masses of this our beloved country, for once let us ask you to take the above message from us to them. Please deliver it otherwise we will hold you accountable. And know ye thee that we now have people power and are mightier than you all in your cozy little cabinet.

The writer is a South Sudanese refugee living in Nairobi-Kenya and can be reached at mcmarialdit@gmail.com.

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South Sudan Needs Trials, Convictions and Justice. — southsudandilema

By Mac Akol Marialdit I was horrorstruck when I read the op-ed written by President Salva Kiir and his erstwhile rival and now Vice President Riek Machar titled ‘South Sudan Needs Truth, Not Trials’ in the June 7, 2016 issue The New York Times newspaper. In their article they have, as the principals in the […]

via South Sudan Needs Trials, Convictions and Justice. — southsudandilema

South Sudan Needs Trials, Convictions and Justice.

By Mac Akol Marialdit

I was horrorstruck when I read the op-ed written by President Salva Kiir and his erstwhile rival and now Vice President Riek Machar titled ‘South Sudan Needs Truth, Not Trials’ in the June 7, 2016 issue The New York Times newspaper. In their article they have, as the principals in the South Sudan peace agreement, announced their disapproval to the implementation of Chapter 5, Article 3 of the Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan, which mandates the establishment of a Hybrid Court to try war criminals and instead prefer a truth and reconciliation approach.

Their editorial appealed to the international community and particularly the USA and United Kingdom to allow for alternative justice that is non punitive as compared to the formation of a hybrid court to try the culprits of war crimes in South Sudan.

“That is why we call on the international community, and the United States and Britain in particular, to reconsider one element of the peace agreement to which they are cosignatories: support for a planned international tribunal, the Hybrid Court for South Sudan. We call on them instead to commit to global backing for a mediated peace, truth and reconciliation process.” They stress.

The two principals are both directly and indirectly culpable for killing tens of thousands of people and fuelling the war that has lasted over two years and is yet to come to a decisive end.

Their choice of medium to launch their disapproval of a hybrid court and appeal for a reconciliation process, an international newspaper of repute-The New York Times-is even uncanny. The South Sudanese government has a despicable human rights record and has in the past, and presently continues to harass the media and journalists, both foreign and domestic, in South Sudan. Capricious arrests and unlawful long detention of media practitioners, without due process, for airing divergent opinion is the order of the day. It is thus surprising that they can use the international (American) media (The New York Times) to launch an appeal to the international community to seek alternative forms of justice yet President Kiir’s government continues to hound the media, arbitrarily arrest and detain journalists, curtail press freedoms and limit freedom of expression all together back at home. It did not even cross their minds that they can resort to American media because freedoms and rights are enshrined in tested democratic legislation unlike back home.

More so for the case of President Kiir who has in the past threatened to kill Journalists and two days after he issued the threat at a press conference a Juba based South Sudanese journalist, Julius Moi, was shot dead in cold blood. Does he now want to reconcile with the slain journalists family using this ‘novel’ approach?

As far as the December 2013 Juba pogrom is concerned, President Kiir should be held wholly responsible, arraigned alongside his cohorts and minions and charged with crimes against humanity, war crimes, mass murder, rape and more because he was in charge of the force that carried out the targeted killings in Juba and eventually in the Country’s Upper Nile region.

Hundreds of South Sudanese were killed and an estimated two million displaced internally and externally in the ensuing senseless war that is still ongoing albeit on a muted scale. The economy of the nascent country has collapsed and investments and livelihoods have been laid to waste. Hunger, pestilence, disease, starvation, destitution and death now rule a land that was so hopeful at independence in 2011, just five years ago. The euphoria and the joy that was abundant at independence has been replaced by interminable despair and hopelessness.

 

How can President Kiir and his new ally in this scheme to evade justice, his erstwhile nemesis Riek Machar, expect the people and nation of South Sudan to forgive and forget the man-made disasters that have been visited upon them by their fellow countrymen who swore to God to uphold the constitution and protect the lives of the very South Sudanese they killed and continue to kill presently? That people should look the other side and sit down and make peace with the person who raped their mother and sister, killed their father and brothers? And this in a land where revenge killings are the order of the day in this age due to lack of recourse to justice, even before the commencement of the war two years ago. A land where revenge killings are still traditionally carried out to avenge the death of family at the hands of another clan and where pubescent girls are given as compensation, against their will, to the family or clan of  a deceased by the family or clan of the killer? Now put into perspective the tens of thousands who have been killed and an equal number of their relatives vying to revenge their deaths as things stand now. Their thirst for revenge might just be quenched and they mollified, if justice through the hybrid court is carried out as stipulated in the agreement.

What example will this justice evasive tactic prescribed by Kiir and Machar set in a country where an aggrieved people just pick up their guns and go to a nearby bush, form a loose confederation of disgruntled people and start fighting real and imagined enemies, rustling cattle, raping women and defiling young girls, looting and pillaging villages and towns and cutting off roads that deliver much needed medical and other aid, let alone development?

This smooth attempt to evade justice must be categorically rejected by the international community-particularly USA and Britain (co-signatories to the agreement) – and the people of South Sudan who have borne the brunt of the senseless fratricidal war of attrition that was visited upon them by avaricious and power hungry leaders who have in the past demonstrated that they are only good at looting the resources of their country and her anguished stoic people.

The African Union report is clear on the horrific atrocities that were committed and even documents some of the leading perpetrators of these gruesome crimes against the long suffering people of South Sudan. In their report, the UN Panel of Experts categorically stated that Kiir bears “command responsibility” for forces that attacked civilians in Juba, Unity State and elsewhere. Similarly, the African Union Commission of Inquiry concluded that killings of unarmed Nuer civilians in Juba in December 2013 were carried out “pursuant to or in furtherance of a State policy.”

These verified reports should be the starting point for bringing the perpetrators to book so that what happened in South Sudan never repeats itself in that country or any other country. Those who are interested in knowing how the pogrom in Juba was planned and executed should read Tim K. Edwards book ‘A bloody Nile-How South Sudan imploded two years after independence’, an expose about the leadership of South Sudan and how they successfully run the nascent country aground. It documents the corruption, murder, intrigue that characterized the country’s elite and military class.

 

No to Kiir and Machar’s escapism. For The Republic of South Sudan (RSS) and her people to rise again and be equal among nations, Justice has to prevail and be seen to be done by the suffering and aggrieved peoples of the country. For sanity, rule of law and a semblance of democracy to prevail in confidence, the perpetrators of violence, massive graft and misrule should be brought to book in an independent but fair judicial process by the hybrid court for South Sudan.

The distracting and short term alternative that Mr. Kiir and Mr. Machar propose is not only criminal but will only lead to more people taking up arms to avenge their dead and possibly even culminate in the forceful removal of the status quo the two former adversaries seem to be hell-bent on perpetuating. Already militia commanders like the notoriously efficient and infamous Major General Peter Gadet Yak, who is already under UN sanctions, and his ilk broke ranks with Riek Machar’s SPLM-IO because they claim the latter has sold out the Nuer people for the sake of high office and personal benefit. They have vowed to fight to the death for justice and to avenge their dead. Numerous armed militia groups have taken up arms and sprang up in Upper Nile region, particularly in Unity State and the Shilluk Kingdom, Bahr el Ghazal region and in the vast Equatoria region. The wobbly peace agreement between Kiir and Machar means nothing to these armed groups after all they consider the two principals the main culprits in the new country’s relapse into chaos.

Perhaps the two new found ‘friends’ are dreading the clause in the peace deal that says, “No one shall be exempted from criminal responsibility on account of their official capacity as a government official.”

In the event President Kiir and Vice President Machar get their way, circumvent the Hybrid Court and justice is not carried out, then the political and military architects of the massacres and the war that ensued will only strengthen their strangle hold onto positions of power so as to protect themselves from other forms of justice by aggrieved victims and also use political and military might to protect their embezzled wealth. Planned elections at various levels will be scuttled and only war lords will hold sway over vast territories of the poor country leading to a vicious circle of violence.

 

Stimulatingly VP Machar, hardly a couple of weeks ago, gave the Foreign Policy Magazine an interview at his base in Juba in which he admitted that war crimes and crimes against humanity were committed during the last two years. He admitted that forces loyal to him also carried out war crimes and that he was willing to cooperate with the International Criminal Court (ICC) at The Hague or any other Court charged with tying war crimes in South Sudan during the recent war. Of course he blamed most of the war crimes on President Kiir and his minions. This was just a couple of weeks ago and now he co-pens an op-ed with his adversary President Kiir appealing for Justice to be not even put on hold but discarded all together. Little wonder they say even a single day is a long time in politics.

The two principals temporarily putting their differences aside and cutting a deal that amounts to a marriage of convenience-for their selfish interests and ultimately political survival-at the expense of millions of suffering South Sudanese only acts as a smokescreen and prolongs the problems afflicting the infant country. Assuming their deal holds till the thirty months of the Transitional Government of National Unity that they now lead comes to an end and the prescribed elections, in which both Kiir and Machar have declared intentions to run, then what will happen to the already polarized people of South Sudan? Fight some more on either side of the two protagonists?  Ultimately, justice should not be evaded and the world in its entirety must ensure that justice is done if they want South Sudan and her citizens to stop being a burden on the rest of the world in terms of high costs in humanitarian aid, relief, refugees and regional instability.

Us South Sudanese would rather justice is done and not only seen to be done. Then, only then, we can think of forgiveness and pardons for the sake of reconciliation and national unity. Without justice first and fast, South Sudan will be condemned to perpetual turmoil of an even greater scale and magnitude than has been witnessed these past two years. In fact there will be no Country to write home about called the Republic of South Sudan. Rather there will be a myriad of vicious tribal militia groups that will sow violence and reap only horror and mass death aplenty.

The vast majority of the common poor South Sudanese who have not been part of Kiir’s and Machar’s hegemony, patronage and belly politics pray that the two principals are promoted to the next level with  befitting tittles for the lot of them-Lords of War Emeritus. E meaning ex and meritus meaning they deserve it. This and a hybrid court will solve South Sudan’s spiraling problems decisively in the medium and long-term.

#Ends#

The writer is a South Sudanese refugee living in Nairobi-Kenya.