- Ever since the very worrying announcement of Machar’s (constitutionally, legally) curtailed powers last week, there have been dozens of SPLA, heavily armed, stationed at each roundabout in the centre of Juba, and posted along the roads to the airport. Ominous or precautionary? Taxi drivers are advising staying in after 10pm, and I am.
- I am wrapping up my work with the Rift Valley Institute, and at the South Sudan National Archives, this coming Friday. I panicked, at 2am last night, that I hadn’t arranged for the handover of the RVI office in Wau; then I remembered, RVI in South Sudan is just me at the moment, and I don’t have an office in Wau.
Tag Archives: Machar
Juba politics is inscrutable at the best of times; the cabal around Kiir, the definite occasional torture and daily harassment of journalists and nosy people, and the general militarisation of the town over the last two years is notable and really forestalls any real understanding of inner politics when you’re not at the forefront of an embassy – or even then.
That’s not to say it’s impossible or unsafe to live here. I’ve arrived back in Juba after five days in Aweil (more later) and there are no signs of an impending coup as far as I can see, and frankly the airport is a good first place to look for that kind of thing. Everyone is drinking their beers at 4pm like usual.
But the key thing is, my last post is redundant; now that Kiir has stripped Machar’s powers back to the constitutional limits for a vice-president, he has also cancelled the ‘reconciliation’ conference. So that’s one fewer trips to Juba for me, when I leave for Aweil in five weeks.
The Sudan Council of Churches, Riek Machar and ‘a journey of national healing’: thoughts on peace and reconciliation in South Sudan
Peace, national healing and reconciliation have been discussed as fundamentally necessary agenda items for South Sudan since independence nearly two years ago. These ideas are steeped in South African post-apartheid and Rwanda post-genocide legacies, and there is no shortage of people and organisations wanting a piece of this psychological restitution game – or proposing ways (or more often, the problems) of doing it.
The key issue for a while has seemed to be a lack of political will for such a huge and complex project. If anything, government understandings of the war have been going the other way: there is a well established, government propagated single historical narrative. ‘We’ fought together, died together, bound by the same united ideological desire for an independent ‘South’; internal divisions were the product of machinations from the evil North; the war, peace and finally independence were all won by ‘bullet and ballot,’ and nobody voted against independence in 2011.
This is really worrying – not the division between Kiir and Machar, which is pretty clear, but the language used to talk about legitimate debate. There is, legitimately, an uproar going on over the proposed interim constitution – including the postponement of elections after independence, the changes to presidential terms, the unequivocal declaration of Abyei as southern, and a host of other issues. And it seems that most people think Kiir won’t make any changes, something he confirms in the Tribune piece.
Nobody can give any definite idea of what will happen after the vote. The more I look for commentary from what I think of as solid political or academic sources, the more I wonder how large the difference really is at the moment between considered opinion and speculative rumours.
This sounds obvious, but it’s rare that there’s such a historical turning point that you really feel that there’s no clear idea of what will happen. This is definitely reflected in the rumours that I’ve heard and read in circulation.