Your Afro-Negro Weekly Newsletter
What’s going on in the world’s youngest nation?
On Thursday; May 16th, 40 overseas diplomats were abruptly relieved of their postings after multiple futile attempts at convincing them to return to work in Juba.
The foreign ministry in Juba, the capital & South Sudan’s largest city, said they tried in vain “to engage with these diplomats who went Absent Without Appointed Leave (AWOL) over the past few months and years” some diplomats included were posted in the United States & United Kingdom.
- None of the emissaries responded or returned home after completing their postings.
- They were fired in a curt memo issused by the foreign ministry.
Mawien Makol, a spokeperson for the Foreign Ministry addressed AFP on Thursday; May 16th. Stating the whereabouts of the fleeing diplomats remain unclear.
- The disappearing emissaries full government names were printed in a table titled “Dismissed/Terminated Diplomat“.
- The emissaries listed have been removed from the payroll & formally discharged of their duties effective immediately.
- They have also been ordered to return their diplomatic passport including those of their family members to the nearest South Sudan mission.
Meanwhile, the implementation of South Sudan’s shaky peace agreement has reached yet another prolonged delay.
President Silva Kiir intially asked for a 12-month extention to implement the peace agreement he signed seemly willing.
A whole year??!
However, it was officially delayed for a half-year. 6 months. Naturally, this has been demoralizing, sucking out the optisiming of mediators who are ready to quell the 5-year-long conflict that has claimed the lives of up to 400,000 South Sudanese. Displacing millions & leaving alot of the population ravenous.
One would think the sense of urgency would be apparent to the Main characters.
- The initial agreement stipulated in a peace treaty agreement signed last September to set in place a transitional power-sharing government.
- The delay now means main opposition leader; Riek Machar would be returning to Juba in November, serving as President Salva Kiir’s deputy.
- The international community commended both parties for their ability to reach a consensus over the delay, however they warn against futher extending it. Progress must be made in 6 months & another delay is out of the question.
South Sudanese aren’t too keen on this though. They’re worried the longer the wait, the less likely the fragile deal would actually be implemented.
“I am not comfortable with the extension,” said William Magok, who is eager to leave his UN-protected displaced persons camp in Juba, where he has been living since 2013. “Now I am afraid to leave because if I go, maybe something bad will happen… I do not trust the government.”
- It doesn’t help that it’s considered an open secret that Kenya, Uganda & Khartoum are safe havens for whatever has been looted from South Sudan by its leaders.
- A report by a panel of experts appointed by the UN Security Council stated the delays are due to a government “reluctant to share control of key parts of the political, security and economic landscape,”
- There has been delays in the creation of a unified army, no progress on security arrangements & setting state boundaries.
Angelina Teny the wife of Riek Machar insisted it would be a “recipe for disaster” if Dr. Riek Machar returned to the capital; Juba without adequate provisions already made for his safety.
- The nonsuccess of a previous peace deal in August 2015 is largely attributed to the inadequate security arrangements.
- Dr. Riek Machar arrived at the capital in April 2016, with over 1,000 heavily armed bodyguards as part of a power-sharing deal, unfortunately chaos ensued only 3 months later, leaving Machar fleeing the country on foot.
- Recently, Machar has been hiding out in Khartoum; Sudan’s capital.
- According to the 2018 peace agreement; oppostion & government forces alike where supposed to be reined in & trained to be unified into a national army.
- Barely any progress has been made on this front.
“Kiir’s army ignored provisions to demilitarise cities,” the International Crisis Group report stated.
“There was no advance toward cantonment: Machar did not send his soldiers to camp.”
- In January, according to a letter sent from community leaders to the governor, 1,200 men in Twic State were forciblly enlisted into the government army.
- All sides are now being accused of increasing recruitement.
- South Sudan is yet to settle the issue of internal boundaries. Intially starting with 10 states at independence in 2011. However,after signing the failed 2015 peace treaty, Kiir increased the number to 28. South Sudan now has 32 states.
- South Sudan critics say this strategy is placed purposefully to gerrymander boundaries along ethnic lines. Neither side can seem to agree on exactly how many states should exist.
One thing South Sudanese can agree on is without more engagement outside mediation between Riek Machar & President Silva Kirr “we are likely to be in much the same spot six months from now,” said Alan Boswell, senior analyst with the International Crisis Group.
For its part, the government has pledged $100 million towards the deal’s initial implementation & will also attempt to fund “the whole peace process”, said Information Minister, Michael Makuei.
Suppression of the media 101.
On April 30th the country’s “communications regulator”; Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) ordered that 13 media establishments suspend 39 producers, editors & head of news.
Many of Uganda’s media groups are disputing this decision. Critics believe it to be a symptom of Ugandan’s oppressive government, reprimanding journalist for covering popular music star turned politican Kyagulanyi Ssentamu A.K.A Bobi Wine. Futher servicing President-Dictator Yoweri Museveni’s 33-year-old regime.
It doesn’t help that the directive was signed on the same day the media house covered the unlawful arrrest of Bobi Wine.
“On that day, Honorable Kyagulanyi was arrested, charged and taken to Luzira prison and media houses got those problems because of covering that,” said Charles James Ssenkubuge, one of the journalists suspended by the order.
The UCC ordered a 30-day-long suspension of the journalist as it investigates them for any breach of broadcasting standards.
Charles Ssenkubuge was the head of progammes at Salt Media in Kampala up on till May 1st.
- Intially suspended for a week. However after a meeting between broadcasting executives & UCC he was recalled as a general manger.
The ordered directive also includes that the media organisations submit all news & live-streamed content aired the day before.
On Thursday, May 16th, a high court in Kampala; the capital heard the arguments of Uganda Journalists Association & two private lawyers seeking to stop the suspension or reassign the targeted journalists.
Uganda’s constitution includes the right to freedom of expression “shall include freedom of the press and other media”. However, the media laws of the land have been said to favour the control of media platforms.
Many Ugandans have noticed the result of commications regulator weilding all that power.
“The president of the Uganda Law Society confirmed that the regulator has a lot of powers and that, perhaps, these powers need to be adjusted or reduced. It is a fact that the law gives us a lot of powers,” Ibrahim Bbossa a spokerperson for the UCC told Al Jazeera on Wednesday; May 15th.
Bbossa argued it a necessary evil authorities needed to regulate the industry effectively.
“Regulating” the media but freedom of speech being in the consitution??
Tensions continue to rise in the political atmosphere of Uganda as the country prepares itself for the upcoming 2021 national elections, where Kyagulanyi Ssentamu; Bobo Wine & President- Dictator Yoweri Museveni would run against each other.
The National Association of Broadcasters also sought a meeting with the UCC a week after the directive was passed. Daniel Kalinaki; an executive who attended the meeting wrote in his weekly column “despite a lengthy and, at one point rather heated debate, the meeting only achieved semantics: the journalists would not be suspended, but would only be asked to ‘step aside’ to allow investigations to continue”
Some known activitist like Mweisge still think the media groups & journalists aren’t being assertive enough in resisting restricitions.
“The media owners are complicit in this state of affairs. They didn’t challenge the authority of UCC in suggesting suspensions for their staff. Instead, they sought to find some sort of common ground. As soon as you start such negotiations, you are on a slippery road to hell,” he said.
President- Dictator Yoweri Museveni has finally addressed the closure of the border by neighbouring country; Rwanda in late February.
Dismissing it as minor ‘hiccup’ that the people would find an alternative way around.
“Even if the border is closed, trade will go on, only that it will be through smuggling. You can’t stop trade through border administration. People resort to smuggling. Others have resorted to export a lot of things to South Sudan, DR Congo, Kenya and Tanzania,” he said, while addressing high ranking military offficials from 11 countries at Masindi State Lodge in western Uganda.
- In late February, Kigali; the capital of Rwanda, unexpectedly blocked vehicles from Uganda seeking entery to Rwanda through Katuna.
- The cited reason was said to be due to construction works.