The people of South Sudan doubt their leaders


Juba (South Sudan)

From our special correspondent

In an alley preserved from the hustle and bustle of the Konyo Konyo market, the largest in Juba, the waitresses of a canteen transfer the still smoking charcoal onto a metal tray to cool it. Then, Anyango Rose, 28, and Esta Pone, 33, each grab a pestle to crush the meat that will be simmered in sauce.

Anyango Rose’s husband never returned from the civil war that devastated the world’s youngest nation from 2013, just two years after gaining independence. The 2,000 South Sudanese pounds (almost €4) that she earns daily does not allow her to send her four children to school.

« After the elections, the situationimprove and I can send them to school. Because the international community will financially support our country. For now, political instability still frightens foreign states,” analyzes the young woman with the indigo apron. In reality, like most South Sudanese, the two sisters doubt the holding of the first national poll scheduled for December, according to the peace agreement signed in 2018.

A few stalls further, Simon Yai Akol sells SIM cards. His meager salary is enough to feed his six children, but not to pay their school fees. “Our leaders signed the peace, but they are working for their own interests. We don’t trust them. All are corrupt he complains. How can we vote while the militias are fighting, the population is hungry and there are no roads? » For this imposing thirties, the only solution would be to oust the president, Salva Kiir, and his first vice-president, Riek Machar. However, since their reconciliation, the two protagonists of the armed conflict do not seem in a hurry to hand over. Observers describe a rosy relationship, cemented by their respective children’s stranglehold on the country’s vast oil resources.

A political science professor, speaking anonymously for the sake of safety, calls former enemy brothers and their allies « mafia » clinging to the helm of the state since 2005, the date of the pact with Khartoum paving the way for the secession of the South. The two leaders seem to be deliberately dragging out the census, the return of the four million refugees and internally displaced persons or the unification of armed groups. So many prerequisites supposed to precede the ballot. “The government could overrule and organize elections with the aim of establishing its legitimacy, emphasizes the researcher. But it is more likely to extend the transition period by two years. »

Unless the last fit of political fever does not waver the national union. Since May 31, the vice-president’s party has been boycotting Parliament in order to protest against the forced passage of a law aimed at keeping small parties out. “If the boycott continues, we will have no choice but to continue parliamentary work without him in order to go to the polls at the end of the transitional period, explains Eche Barri Wanji, a deputy from the presidential party. According to scientific data that assesses the popularity of our party, we will retain power for at least a hundred years. » However, he fears that the holding of elections without fulfilling the conditions set out in the agreement will rekindle the tensions, which are still latent.

This is also what worries Grace Garang, co-founder of an incubator targeting young entrepreneurs: “The citizens are tired and do not want a new war. On the other hand, political elites who benefit from the war could reignite the conflict. » The activist points to the lack of democratic space in a territory where more than seven out of ten adults are illiterate. “Our leaders willfully keep the people in the dark, accuses political opponent Bol Joseph Agau. The Dinkas (people of the president, Editor’s note) say nothing as long as their community remains in power. Same for the Nuers, who are content with the number two position of their leader, Riek Machar. »


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