The Jieng Council of Elders (JCE) on Friday penned a scathing letter, describing President Salva Kiir and his First Deputy, Riek Machar, as a symbol of failed leadership and demanding they step aside.
In a letter dated 19 February, the influential body of the Dinka traditional leader across South Sudan admitted that the leaders have contributed to achieving the independence of South Sudan but now they become an obstacle for democracy economic development, and human progress.
“Way Forward is for them to step aside because President Kiir and Dr Riek Machar symbolizes the failure of leadership and political deadlock,” stressed the JEC which was close to President in the past.
South Sudanese leaders have failed to implement the peace agreement they signed in 2018 as the country have to hold elections within two years. Observers point to the army unification process, the state boundaries, the legislative council which among others are not effective.
Also, the U.N. Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan said in a report to the U.N. Human Rights Council in September 2020 that the future of the country is compromised by the corruption of its political elite.
“South Sudan’s political elites are fighting for control of the country’s oil and mineral resources, in the process stealing their people’s future,” said the Commission chair Yasmin Sooka.
The letter entitled “Breaking the Silence” warned that the country was returning to war because the revitalized peace agreement is worse than the 2015 peace deal because it focuses on power-sharing and ignored building peace at the local level.
“In fact, the Agreement has fractured the country more, starting from the national, states, counties and payams levels to the level of communities,” they said.
Further, they said the 2018 peace pact established “a six co-presidents running mini cabinets”, in a way that no one feels responsible for running the affairs of the country.
The group, previously seen as allies of the president called for necessary actions to prepare for the elections to take place. They rejected an attempt to extend the lifespan of the government past the period specified in the agreement.
The JCE proposed to take a number of measures that include conducting a population census, revising the electoral law, reconstituting the Elections Commission, and registering political parties.
In the same vein, they said the constitution-making process should be launched now together with IDPs voluntary return to their areas of origin and the unification of the armed forces.