OPEN LETTER TO: H.E. SALVA KIIR PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF SOUTH SUDAN STATE HOUSE.
Subject: WE CANNOT HOLD IT ANYMORE.
We the Patriotic Officers of the mother SPLA, who now serve in various units of the SSPDF, National Security Service, the Police, and on Reserve, wish to raise our voices and comment on current affairs in South Sudan. Particularly, as nationalists and patriotic citizens, we have keenly observed growing frustrations among ordinary South Sudanese people, and we cannot sit and turn a blind eye on these frustrations as if they are none of our concerns. Before we get to those issues, we want to, above all else, to publicly acknowledge your leadership.
Your Excellency. We all witnessed how you legitimately became President of our young nation and no one among us can question your ascendancy to power. You fought heroically for this country and when many men abandoned the Movement and colluded with the enemy, you stood by the SPLM and its Leader, Dr. John Garang, until his death. You were a loyal servant of the people of South Sudan, and they loved you for it.
After Dr. Garang’s death, you were the only heir to the SPLM throne and although there were many who would have challenged you for the SPLM leadership, no one did, and you took the helm of power unopposed because you deserved it. Ascending to power unchallenged speaks volumes about how organized and disciplined our Movement was and the respect you had among the SPLM/A cadres who paved your path to power without problems.
Your Excellency. We have observed your leadership since you inherited power in 2005 and while we are extremely dismayed by your failures, we must also give you credit for your patience and perseverance. You managed the Interim Period well and thanks to your leadership, international and regional support, we conducted the Southern Sudan Referendum successfully. Despite many obstacles, you stayed the course until you declared the birth of our beloved country, the Republic of South Sudan on the 9th of July 2011. You became the first president of our independent country. This is a great honor, which you must cherish and honor. History will treat you favorably up to this point and you have built a legacy worthy of recognition and record.
Your Excellency, You have departed way too far from the established path and vision. You are technically drifting alone in the sea and you have no idea how to get the ship back ashore in safety. This is what pressed us to write this open letter. This letter came after a sad realization that you are no longer the man, we followed and sacrificed lives under his command. If Salva Kiir of 2005 meets the present day Salva Kiir, he would execute him by a fire squad for betraying people’s cause and for strangling democratic progress and peace. Even the National Dialogue process, which brought unity among the people of South Sudan, and it was a national endeavor you commissioned, you have now shelved it because it asks for your exit with Dr. Riek Machar from power. You have betrayed the people of South Sudan who spoke in no uncertain terms during the dialogue about what they want for their country.
We are, therefore, horrified by how quickly you have turned your back on your people and your comrades, and you sold your soul so cheaply to our erstwhile enemies. We are aware of the fact that you are seduced by women, who are used as access points by our enemies and by international criminals, pretending to be businessmen. You gave in effortlessly and the Jalaba now controls you fully. You have used domestic challenges such as the war to essentially evade responsibility and to prey on ordinary South Sudanese. You have mortgaged the country with your chosen clique to our enemies by borrowing money outside the confines of the law and siphoning public resources for personal pleasure and appeasement of men who betrayed our liberation struggle. We successfully defended you and your government from attempts by internal and external enemies to use unconstitutional means to take power, yet you turned around to betray us by signing an Agreement that considers a national army a militia.
You brought Omer Al Bashir’s stooge as your security adviser, a man who was busy buying our comrades to abandon the Movement and to destroy our cause. He now sits at the helm of power and we have to go beg him for scrums under his table. Our sense of pride is greatly insulted by such appointments which are deeply regrettable. We urge you to untangle yourself from these elements before it is too late. You have a binary choice of keeping them and losing us.
Your Excellency, Since you have become inaccessible, we can only talk to you in the air and we are ashamed to do this, but we have been patient enough and we have long run out of patience. By this letter we want to bring to your attention a number of critical issues arising out of citizens growing frustrations with the government. These are the very people for whom we took enemy bullets to liberate, and we are duty bound to protect them and to speak for them when it becomes absolutely necessary. Since you are averse to the truth and many of those who spoke the truth are now your victims, we want to add ourselves to the long list of your victims, those who desire to speak the truth about the state of affairs in our country. What follows is an outline of issues of concern to us and to all citizens.
The first, Your Excellency, you have miserably failed in your leadership and as a consequence of your failure, both the government and the state have failed. Apparently, no one has the guts to tell you and we blame the senior SPLM leaders: James Wani Iga, Daniel Awet Akot, and Gen. Kuol Manyang Juuk for allowing you to destroy the party and the government for years. While we appreciate recent outbursts by CDR Kuol and CDR Awet, more is needed to reverse the despicable damage done to the country.
Your Excellency, we recall your famous accusation against the Late SPLM Chairman, Dr. Garang, that he was carrying the Movement in his briefcase. You have gone above and beyond this, you have actually put the whole country into your briefcase. You now behave as if South Sudan is your personal property, and your family is visibly seen in the looting schemes and in politics. We have suffered the humiliation of our comrades being dishonorably dismissed in the army and placed on reserve list without justification and benefits. These generals are experienced senior commanders in the army, and you have replaced them with militias.
These patriotic comrades are now languishing in poverty and some of them have to resort to humiliating efforts to stay alive. Why do you do this? Whose interest are you serving by sidelining your own comrades? We are also concerned about the fact that wounded heroes are begging on the streets of a country they gave their lives for. Most of them are now dying in droves because they are hopeless, and they regret having sacrificed their limbs. The widows and orphans of our fallen comrades are now the famous street children and there is no program for them. They have to loiter on streets of a country for which their fathers and husbands gave ultimate sacrifices.
We are utterly ashamed to witness this humiliation. You have abandoned the historical liberation party, the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM), you are now a member of the NCP whether knowingly or unknowingly. All the SPLM leaders are now orphans because you have abdicated your solemn duty to advance the ideals for which we fought and won. The SPLM is now a sidelined minority in a government it purports to lead. You are now working with NCP cadres and a throng of women bend on taking advantage of your weaknesses and used by corrupt national and international criminal syndicates to loot the country. Second, Your Excellency, the country is heading nowhere. You have no plans, no programs, no strategy, and certainly no dream. This is why you have gone quiet; you have no agenda to sell to the public.
We are ashamed of who you have become, a monster preying on his own people, the people you liberated. Your government is uncomfortable with high-capacity5 compatriots, and you are fond of appointing people with documented evidence of past failures. For years now, you have been hiding in Juba, you don’t visit your own soldiers in the field, and you pay no homage to citizens stricken by natural or human induced disasters. This is because you are afraid of being confronted by the reality of a country you have created, a country failing everywhere. Who are you leading if the soldiers and ordinary citizens are not your priority?
Third, Your Excellency, you have stymied democracy, and you are becoming more and more autocratic. We fought a courageous revolutionary war intending to establish a citizen-centered democratic country that embraces all ethnic groups, creed, race, gender, and political affiliations. The country you are presiding over now is a failed, dysfunctional authoritarian, predatory, corrupt, and anti-citizens. The people of South Sudan have never suffered the way they are now under your leadership. You have no plan or strategy to bring an end to ethnic feuds that are seriously engulfing our beloved country.
These ethnic conflicts epitomize the character of a failed state that is unable to bring power to bear on citizens. Weapons have left military armories and they have been distributed far and wide to ordinary citizens. Which other country does this? You have strangled all accountability institutions and you have squeezed life out of every opportunity to organize democratic elections. You rule by your much-feared presidential decrees. If we were to ask you what the difference between you and President Nimeri is, you would have difficulty distinguishing yourself. Some would even argue that Nimeri was a better dictator.
Nimeri was able to vaccinate our cattle, now under your government, cattle are dying in millions, and you are indifferent to this tragedy. You are using war and violence as your strategy to stay in power and by so doing, you have shattered the social glue that helds the nation together. The pervasive ethnic hatred is of your own making, and the failing traditional system is caving under severe pressure from your failed policies.
Fourth, Your Excellency, the country is starving under your watch. Those of us serving under your command in the organized forces and the men and women we command have lost purchasing power long time ago. Have you 6 ever asked how we are surviving? You may not be aware, but a private is paid 1,200 SSP per month. This is equivalent to $ 1.9 dollars a month, which can cannot even afford a decent breakfast. We are not complaining about the fact that months go by without pay. For example, our attaches have now gone for two years without being paid.
By international standard, Your Excellency, even if we pay this amount to a soldier each day, they will still fall under poverty line because you need more than $ 2 a day just to stay on the poverty line. Now, these are your soldiers, the men and women who are keeping you in power and keeping the country safe and secure. The entire country is essentially a humanitarian zone with everyone needing food aid in a country that is considered rich in natural resources. A country governed by a revolutionary party, the SPLM, a Movement praised for its strong vision and leadership during the struggle. What happened Your Excellency? How did we lose our revolutionary zeal to come to this?
Fifth, Your Excellency, our image is damaged internationally. Whenever we travel, we walk with our heads down because everyone feels so sorry for what we have become. We are all considered thieves, visionless, power hungry, unpatriotic, and considered failures. We are no longer the African heroic darlings who used to walk majestically, holding our chests high gloriously. Africans are ashamed of us; our American and European friends are ashamed of us and for what we have turned our country into. We must all admit, we have failed our country, our people, our friends, and we have even failed our unborn children. We have governed our own country as if we were forced to live here. Why did we get ourselves into this mess? How can we redeem ourselves and clean ourselves of this corruption surge?
Lastly, Your Excellency, the country you lead has been undergoing endless political and military transitions since 2005. The country needs to settle politically and military and there is a need to end this revolving door of political militancy. You have presided over a very clumsy “Big Tent” policy which rewards rebellions and political militancy. The amount of money spent on rewarding warlords could have built highways, railroads, power plants, and working river transport system. This policy has been deleterious to the 7 future of our country because it promotes hatred, tribalism, militancy, and sedition. This is why your own national army is now considered a tribal militia.
The country has grown so weak even armed cattle herders can obliterate the national army. You have also invested in parallel militia groups masquerading to be part of the national army. You have poured tremendous number of resources into these militias at the expense of your official army. The revolving door of warlords coming into the army and out has diluted the military ranks and now former bodyguards of our commanders are coming back senior in ranks to their own commanders. Which army can be compared with South Sudan’s army? Everyone decides to give themselves ranks of their choice and the national army is forced to recognize this, where is this country going?
Your Excellency, We want to conclude this letter as follows: • Your Excellency, we have critically read the situation and the citizens of this country are ready for a popular democratic political transition. Our advice is that you should preempt this impending uprising with the available limited window of opportunity to manage your political exit from power, otherwise a chaotic transition is imminent, and we are afraid this may be harmful to your person and the country.
• Your Excellency, one step is for you to delink yourself from the NCP operatives with immediate effect. Failing to do this may precipitate a violent desire for change which clearly will not be in your favor. Along with the NCP spies are the businessmen who surround you who should be asked to leave the corridors of state power or face the wrath of this country.
• Finally, Your Excellency, we want to be honest with you, we will not raise a hand to threaten our people if they decide to take popular uprising as a last resort.