Court of public opinion upholds JCE’s guilty verdict, rubbishes futile attempt to dissociate from Kiir and pretend innocence
Shortly after the publication their press statement entitled ‘Breaking the Silence’, the Jieng Council of Elders (JCE) do not appear to have convinced many as South Sudanese and international observers alike overwhelmingly responded with evidence suggesting the JCE is as guilty as the current regime in the detrimental decisions that have pushed the country to the brink of collapse.
On January 26th 2021, the JCE – a self-proclaim Jieng (Dinka) lobby group – published a letter in which they said they “wish to break [their] long silence,” and wanted to “speak about the state of affairs in our country.” The letter tried to explain that the council – which was formed, in their own words, to “oversee the interest of the Jieng people”, has been widely misunderstood and they have are “a force for good of the country, not its destruction,” although they have been constantly “accused of pursuing a parochial interest to establish a state that only serves the interest of the Jieng people.”
They went on to list a series of systematic problems facing the country and concluded that “…the crisis in the country, as diagnosed perfectly by the National Dialogue, is a result of state and leadership failure and has nothing to do with the Council.”
But South Sudanese and international observers across the world were quick to rubbish the letter as nothing more rubbing salt on a wound that is still too fresh.
According to one former university lecturer residing in a Protection of Civilians (POC) camp in Malakal, “these JCE members think the South Sudanese do not read or have very short memories. Most of us who are still in camps still know very well and still remember the many decisions engineered and supported by the JCE that has led the country to where we are today”.
On July 31, 2015 the JCE wrote a strongly worded letter to IGAD voicing their disagreement to the then 2015 IGAD-Plus Compromise Agreement which according to them “is likely to breed a much bitter war, considering the proposal to handover Upper Nile region to the opposition,” because the proposed agreement “makes Riek Machar co-president, not just a vice president and the agreement essentially renders the sitting president powerless and more ceremonial.” The JCE went on to threaten that “this glaring appeasement of hell-bend coup plotters actually provides incentives for violent usurpation of power”
That agreement did not last, and exactly like they threatened, another devastating war broke out in 2016 that left thousands more dead, burned or destroyed what was left of the agreement that gave too much to the Nuer and Riek Machar.
Similarly, in what they termed the “survival of the Jieng”, the JCE in a letter dated December 28, 2015 had nothing but praises for Salva Kiir for implementing what many now know were JCE plans.
One observer noted that “It is this same Salva Kiir that they are blaming who they used in the past to push their tribal agenda. The war took a devastating tribal and ethnic element thanks to the interferences of the JCE. The JCE has something planned as they know Kiir is now unpopular, but the people of South Sudan can not forget or can not be deceived so easily.”
Another commentator said “…the JCE should first start by apologising to the people of South Sudan for their role in the genocides and targetted killing of people who they saw went against the Jieng interest. They claim to be breaking the silence while they have been loud and clear all this time about what is best for the Jieng people – first and foremost – versus what is best for the entire nation.”
Emmanual Ajawin, the leader of National Democratic Movement Patriotic Front (NDM/PF) and senior member of the South Sudan Opposition Movement (SSOMA) dedicated a full 2 hour 24 minute Facebook Live session on January 27, 2021 to discuss the document.
He tries to address some contradictions in the press release and present counter-arguments. He also addresses questions like “Has the JCE really reformed? Why are they ‘breaking the silence’ now? Has the honeymoon between Salva Kiir and the JCE come to an end? Has the JCE failed in their project of political domination, ethnic domination of South Sudan? Why is the JCE arguing Kiir and Machar to implement the resolution of the Nation Dialogue? What is the interest of the JCE in this National Dialogue…
“The court of public opinion has heard their statement but still upholds all previous verdicts that the JCE is guilty of meddling the affairs of the state; war crimes; conspirators in the economic down fall; using state resources to mobilise and arm their armed wing; using state resources to target other communities; using their influence to threaten and manipulate government officials; destroying the SPLM and so on…”
Another popular Facebook Live stream by Voice of the People Forum hosted by Edward also had a session on the same and presented his own evidence.
Also, Aldo Ajo, a prominent JCE member posted on his Facebook page on the release of the statement that “The JCE is no longer going to get evolved in politics. Any member of the JCE interested in politics can join any political party he/she chooses. But, as citizens of this country, we remain committed to the Revitalized Agreement on Resolution of Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan (R-ARCSS)….”. However the press release was not so kind to the Agreement (or any agreement for that matter) saying “..the 2018 R-ARCSS is far worse than the 2015 ARCSS and so the JCE does not believe it will bring permanent peace in South Sudan”. As you will recall, in 2015, the JCE came out openly to oppose the Agreement on the Resolution of Conflict in South Sudan (ARCSS), so which agreement are they committed to?
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