February 21, 2021 (JUBA) – The Jieng (Dinka) Council of Elders has demanded that South Sudan President Salva Kiir and First Vice President Riek Machar step aside for failing to lead to the country.
- South Sudan rebel leader Riek Machar (L) speaks to reporters after meeting President Salva Kiir in Juba, September 11, 2019 (JUBA)
The Jieng Council of Elders (JCE) is comprised of members of government, lawmakers and political supporters of President Kiir.
“Way Forward is for them to step aside because President Kiir and Dr. Riek Machar symbolizes failure of leadership and political deadlock. Addressing this dual problem demands that both of them step aside and give the country an opportunity to explore other options politically per the National Dialogue recommendations,” the JCE said in a February 19, 2021 letter signed by five of its members.
The letter, titled, “Breaking the silence-the way forward”, faults both president Kiir and Machar of blocking democracy, economic development and human progress in the East African country.
“Besides, we strongly believe that there is not much that is left for them to achieve more than the referendum and hoisting of our national flag on Independence Day”, it noted.
The elders warned that the world’s youngest nation risks returning to another civil war because the revitalized peace agreement is worse the 2015 peace deal, citing division caused by responsibility sharing that extends to areas in which the parties are not present.
“The country seems to be heading for another war and as elders and senior citizens, we do not want to witness another bloodshed in the country,” the letter noted.
The elders’ forum, initially viewed as allies of Kiir, called for necessary actions to prepare for conduct of a general election, while strongly opposing any attempt to extend the lifespan of the national unity government beyond the period specified in the peace agreement.
“The current Transitional Period cannot and must not be extended as the country needs a democratic transition to consolidate peace. Among the most important steps that need to be taken now, include conducting census, revising the electoral law, reconstituting the Elections Commission, and registering political parties,” the letter further stressed.
It further added, “The work on the permanent constitutions must also commence now because it is going to govern the next elections. It is imperative, therefore, that resources are made available for these processes. More importantly, the return of the displaced persons and refugees and the unification of the forces are prerequisites for both the census and credible elections”.
Meanwhile, the JCE distanced itself from allegations that it is responsible for the continued conflict in the country and instead accused the leadership of the ruling Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) for failure to amicably address their political differences when debating on the internal reforms within the party.
Edmund Yakani, an activist, said the JCE’s letter demonstrates change of political attitude towards public governance in South Sudan.
“The reality is that telling the truth is biter, but the truth can not be denied. In the past, the JCE was covering the truth and working towards oppression and marginalization of others across the country. They contributed effectively in massing the leadership of the country with wrong and selective advices,” he told Sudan Tribune Monday.
Yakani called for the peaceful transfer of power in the country from one party to another.
South Sudan descended into a civil war in mid-December 2013 when President Kiir accused his former deputy Machar of plotting a coup, allegations the latter denied.
In September last year, however, the country’s rival factions signed a revitalized peace deal to end the civil war that killed tens of thousands of people and displaced millions.