By Jon Pen
When I received the ‘Position Paper of SSSAK on the IGAD-LED HLRF’ process, I was filled with pride and eagerness to publish it as a positive move by a student body ever!
Wait a minute! The content turned out to be actually not a student’s position but a Kenya-based South Sudanese students leader’s complaint on why one of his association members was invited (illegally) to attend the National Youth Agenda conference in Entebbe in March 2018. The South Sudanese youth conference went simultaneously with Africa Young Leaders’ Forum conference at Entebbe but different venues.
From the misleading heading, I thought the student leader had heeded to my appeal during the inauguration ceremony of South Sudanese Students Association in the University of Nairobi on February 26, 2018, just a week after my return from the HLRF’s Phase II negotiations in Addis Ababa. I had asked the students to participate in the peace process by studying the documents and making their own interpretations out of which they generate their position papers to IGAD and parties. Alas, they have done the opposite under the rightful headline.
Their ‘position’, which is attached below, is akin to the letter released by the SPLM-IG’s Youth League chairman, Emmanuel Lubari, challenging the same youth consultative meeting on the HLRF Process. Instead of generating their own position papers as independent national organizations, our youths resort to elbowing their fellow youth just the same way the seniors are doing in their government and various opposition parties. And we are boasting of the future.
While my rebuttal is purely on personal grounds, not AFTABOSS’s, PECOSS or Youth Coalition’s, I am concerned because I chanced to be the one ‘nominating’ the ‘exclusively licensed member’ of SSSAK (South Sudanese Students’ Association in Kenya). I actually did not nominate or appoint that student (name withheld as I have not yet consulted with her) but I just asked Amati Maker to attend the National Youth Consultation on HLRF at Entebbe in her position as the chairperson for Bahr al Ghazal Youth Union. Unfortunately, she was already invited to attend the said Young Africa Leaders’ Forum at the same place, same time, so I requested her again to pass on the button. She nominated a lady in her association since South Sudan Peace Coalition 9PECOSS) and AFTABOSS Internet’ional in Kenya were already represented by male invitees. The fact that Amati’s substitute was a lady and also a student is a bonus to my delegation.
Besides, the delegate attended on her own as a competent South Sudanese youth member. We had to only inform the family through Amati as she is already an independent adult. As to why we did not seek written permission from her leader of students’ association, H.E. Ayuel Taupiny, that is not my business. I was inviting a willing South Sudanese youth on the civil society ticket, not through students’ union or so. I had not even fathomed that such a young citizen would be claimed by a public association!
I also thought I had done enough sensitization during the swearing-in ceremony of Gai Mayen Luk when I told the students’ leaders that they were by law a civil society, not under the Ministry of Education, just as the Education Attache was demanding their written reports to the embassy during the function. Of course, the SSSAK’s headed paper has South Sudan coat of arms on it, making it look like a state institution. I also added that they could get funding and representations in various CSOs undertakings within the country and region as practiced by similar bodies. Alas, SSSAK is doing just the opposite!
This ‘position paper’ does not address the issue at hand (peace consultation) but very unfortunate in that it addresses individuals. It has also come as a confirmation to the Information Minister’s warning to the youth to copy their ways of doing things in Juba and then wait for their turn until the current leadership of the country is out of power.
It is my humble request that the students accept the fact that they are registered under the NGO acts in all the countries of their studies, including South Sudan, and that it is their moral duty as citizens to know the current status of their country and participate in its decision making process as provided for by the constitution. They should not listen to Michael Makuei and other politicians’ unconstitutional threats on the citizens’ rights to speech, expression, assembly and association.
Besides, the IGAD-led peace process has a space for public participation through the civil society and other avenues. Therefore, instead of the students taking on positions of parties through second-hand information, they better claim their rightful position. Recently in their Entebbe meeting, civil society organizations under the umbrella of South Sudan Civil Society Forum (SSCSF) on HLRF resolved to involve the public participation through consultative meetings and events, the ‘E-Delegates Forum’ (online delegates to the talks) and Media engagement. The students associations qualify to use these avenues for their participation in determining the future of their country.
Finally, from the SSSAK document shared below, it is claimed that the civil society forum held in Kampala reflected the students’ body as partisan, yet nothing about students or organizations was discussed in all the HLRF consultation conferences that I have attended either in Kampala or Entebbe. It is also advisable that the students understand the difference between a ‘position paper’ and a complaint letter. They should also consult with the party with which they are aggrieved before latching out on wrong targets as such. Serious leadership should begin in the universities, not thereafter according to the minister.
Position Paper of SSSAK on the IGAD-Led High-Level Revitalization Forum (HLRF)
The officially letterheaded PDF paper is linked here… file:///C:/Users/user/Downloads/SSSAK-Position-Paper-2018.pdf
March 26, 2018 (SSB) — In the recent wake, following the suspension of peace talks in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), be regional body responsible for conflict mitigation, management and resolution proposed more inclusive consultative fora among the South Sudanese communities. In particular, the civil society groups namely, the church, intellectual think tanks, women bloc to mention but a few.
This is a very noble suggestion the IGAD and its partners have made so far in their tireless effort to bring about a durable peace in our young, nation. We applaud this move and give it our full support. It is our collective belief that for any meaningful peace to happen, having an inclusive, transparent and wide consultation is of significance.
The object of this paper however, is to explain our position as a vibrant students’ community in one of the most strategic places in our country’s history. It was here that the birth of our Great Nation was mediated and subsequently agreed upon through the unified will of our population 13 years ago.
Kenya thus, remains a critical location in our collective memory. In recent years, the students’ community in Kenya had been portrayed as anti-government, that we are hostile to the regime in Juba. The then perception had over years tarnished our position and in the process, compromised the good intentions we have for the country.
In recent memory, the civil society forum that was held in Kampala, Uganda, the African Young Leaders Forum leadership training held at the same location have confirmed these unfortunate allegations that we are a partisan body.
On a lighter note, we want to inform the public that African Young Leaders Forum seminar that was held in Kampala, Uganda last week did not have anything to do with the ongoing peace consultations. It was a completely different initiative that was conducted to train upcoming South Sudanese young leaders. We want to also make it clear that the individuals who attended the seminar did so without our approval. In short, they participated in their own respective capacities.
In that regards however, we want to register our profound disappointment with some South Sudanese civil societies in Kenya who took it upon themselves to nominate some of our members to take part in the recent consultative fora without prior notice to our office.
As much as we support and approve of an open society of a strong, independent civil society, we find it very disturbing for certain individuals to conduct nomination of duly registered students in our office without our informed consent. In the soonest future, we will take legal actions against any individual engaging in such matters.
We want to make it absolutely clear that we are not anti-government neither are we anti oppositions. We do not, contrary to the public thinking advocate for any regime change or whatsoever; we are only against the negative activities that are going on in the country. Our position has been very clear since day one. We want a prosperous progress for the country. The change we advocate for is developmental and it should be noted that a change does not necessarily means a regime change. We have always stood collectively for a positive change.
Our country requires fundamental reforms. We need a paradigm shift in the way things are moving. As a student body, we do not subscribe to any political making. Our urge is that we fix the mess together. We believe this is a collective concern. The amount of suffering we have had in the past five years is enough.
In conclusion, we want to emphasize that the students’ community in Kenya does not take any side in the ongoing conflict in the country. We are not an anti-government group or a pro-opposition association.
Our position is that the country needs some changes. We also appeal to all the civil societies here and beyond to remain adamant and relentless in their call for fundamental reforms in the country. However, we will not entertain some civil societies that are using our students to advance a certain political interest or individual objective. Our students are suffering from the full brunt of this conflict and they need honest brokers so that a durable peace is achieved.
Finally, we appeal to the government of South Sudan and the opposition political forces in and outside the country to be accommodative enough to positive criticisms and listen to the calls of vulnerable citizens.
Ayuel Taupiny Malek, President of SSSAK
Gatluak Sambul Chan, Secretary General of SSSAK
Kuir Mayen Kuir, Secretary of information and publicity
Nancy Ayite, Secretary for student affairs
DISCLAIMER: This and other documents from the public are by no means reflective of the official position of AFTABOSS Internet’ional.