Dear Bor Community members in the United States and around the globe,
With heavy heart, due diligence, and clear conscience, we are informing you that we have decided to suspend our membership from Greater Bor Community in the United States. Before divulging any information which led to why we suspended our membership from Greater Bor Community in the United States, we would like to give a little perspective on the formation of GBC-USA.
- History of the formation of the Greater Bor Community-USA
Back in 2010 when this union was formed, we need to recall that there were voices from three then counties (now communities) who were opposed to the idea of the union but the will to come together as one community called Bor serving the interest of its people here in diaspora and back home in South Sudan prevailed and thus the formation of the organization. Indeed, Bor County was able to convince its opposed voices to throw their support behind the new organization and as a result, nobody from Bor County walked out of the conference on the elections day even though the leaderships of Twic East and Duk at the time boycotted the elections and walked out of the conference but most of their members in attendance opted to support the formation of the organization. Overall, the voice of reason prevailed and the organization was formed leading to the election of its current leadership.
Over the past 6 years, Bor County has been the leading pillar and supporter of the organization and the union’s continued existence until September 3, 2016 cannot be explained without the enthusiastic support from Bor County at both national, state, and city levels as well as through its members (now recalled by Bor County leadership) who served at various capacities in GBC-USA leadership structure.
- What has Caused Bor Community to Suspend its Membership from the “Union”
The issue worth revisiting in order to explain Bor County’s decision has to do with what transpired prior to and during the failed elections that resulted in our suspension of Bor County’s membership from GBC-USA. This whole fiasco has to be traced back to Duk’s pull out from the union in May, 2016 following the dispute resulting from parliamentary seats allocation back home in Jonglei State, South Sudan. At the same time, the term for the current GBC-USA leadership was expiring over the Labor Day weekend, September 3, 2016. The question that GBC-USA leadership put forward to Bor and Twic East county leaders namely Akol Aguek Ngong (Bor) and Kuol Anyieth Kuol (Twic) was what should be done with elections without Duk’s participation. In addition to that question was the proposal from the GBC-USA leadership to suspend campaign for a few months with the hope that Duk’s issue might be addressed in an ample time that would allow Duk to return to the union before elections are held in September, 2016. In answering that question, both Bor and Twic East leaderships agreed with the suspension of the campaigns as proposed by the GBC-USA leadership. And thus the campaigns were suspended in order to give Duk time to have its issue resolved so that it returned to the union and all the candidates were informed accordingly and they complied with the resolution.
As the clock was ticking toward the elections day in September, 2016 while the resolution of Duk’s issue was not in sight, the GBC-USA leadership once again made a decision to allow the elections to go forward to which the active county leaders from Bor and Twic East agreed and the candidates were informed to resume their campaigns and they willingly welcomed the decision and jumped at the opportunity to empty their pockets campaigning for Greater Bor leadership across the United States. It is worth recalling that during this time the leadership of Twic East changed from Kuol Anyieth Kuol to Bul Thuc Dut. Meanwhile Bor County continued to believe that the issue resolved by the GBC-USA leadership with advice and consent from Bor and Twic East county leaders before the new Twic East leadership took over that the elections would go forward was not subject to renegotiation given the time and treasure that the candidates have put into this endeavor in their bids to win Greater Bor leadership during elections in September, 2016.
As it turned out, in August, 2016, the GBC-USA leadership convened a conference call in which all three county leaders were asked to attend and put forward two agendas: (1) That each of three counties nominated two election observers; (2) And that the organization’s name GBC-USA needed to be changed to Jieng Jonglei in the United States. As has been belabored through social media discussions: (1) Duk abstained to answer the first question invoking its suspended membership from the union arguing to the effect that the issue that led Duk down that road has not been resolved and Duk couldn’t take on an issue especially patterning to elections being debated at the time out of principle but also added that since the name change is such a new issue that it is worth being run by Duk members in case they might want to take it on or not and would get back with the answer; (2) Twic East leadership opted out of answering the election observers question and instead capitalized on discussing the second agenda on the name change promising to bring it back to Twic East members for further deliberations; (3) As for Bor County, we responded with yes to the first agenda promising to bring two members any time they are needed by Greater Bor leadership and with a need for further consultations with Bor County members with regard to the second agenda on the organization’s name change also promising to bring back the answer once Bor has had a chance to have an opinion on it.
Fast forward as a follow up to the name change question, on August 26, 2016 one week before September 3, 2016 when the elections were supposedly to take place, the GBC-USA leadership held another conference call with all three county leaders to find out the outcomes of the deliberations with each county members on the aforementioned question: (1) Duk leadership came back with abstention to answer both questions invoking the continued non-resolution to the issue that caused it to pull out from the union; (2) As for Bor County leadership, we presented the verdict of our people with the resounding NO (100%) to the name change from GBC-USA to Jieng Jonglei in the United States and also continued to throw our support behind elections and promised that our two election observers were ready to be reported any time Greater Bor leadership needed them; (3) Finally, the Twic East leadership was muted on the elections question but presented its findings on the name change question that it has consulted with 3 out of its 5 Payams and those three Payams have voted for the name change to Jieng Jonglei and that it would follow up with the remaining two Payams committing to bring the results before elections. The Twic East leadership also went on record that 3 out of 5 Payams voting for name change is basically 60% in favor of the name change meaning the remaining 2 Payams’ verdict wouldn’t change anything but added that it was important to bring their voices to this important decision.
Looking at that final conference call on August 26, 2016 (and before the scheduled elections date, September 3, 2016), there was no indication that there would be another debate on elections because it was agreed then that the elections should take place and that the issue of Duk’s pull out would be resolved in due course while Greater Bor continued to lead our community during this time. There was never an argument from Twic East new leadership that elections shouldn’t take place during these pre-election deliberations.
Fast forward to the Friday night before elections, September 2, 2016, when candidates, and members would have made their plans and were traveling to Michigan, this was when it became clear that Twic East wasn’t for elections without Duk and lo and behold, Greater Bor leadership switched side and opted against elections it had approved to go forward even up to the day of that meeting. Moreover, the shocking revelation was the majority of Twic East members (let alone Duk members who were asked by their leadership to not participate in the elections due to Duk’s pull out from the union) did not show up for elections. It was only Bor County members who have shown up in large numbers because they came for elections and it was them being told that elections would not take place. We had to wonder if there was a meeting held between the GBC-USA and Twic East leaderships during which Twic East’s reversal of its decision in support of elections was discussed that Bor County leadership was not privy to. We couldn’t find an answer to that question at the time. We now know Twic East leadership met with GBC-USA leadership on Wednesday, August 31, 2016 and formally present their opposition to elections giving ultimatum that unless the name was changed to Jonglei Community in the United States, the Twic East was no longer party to the union and that information was withheld from us by GBC-USA leadership. And thus our people were allowed to waste their hard earned resources and vacation times when GBC-USA President knew both Duk and Twic East were gone and no elections would happen on September 3, 2016.
On September 3, 2016, the then leader of Greater Bor throwing his support behind elections suspension made a unilateral decision in front of the public to extend his mandate for three more months without people’s consent. And according to the bylaws, although in initial draft or not ratified, stipulated that elections are to be done every three years. And September 3, 2016 was the end of a three-year term for GBC-USA presidency. It was during this period when a good number of Bor County members who turned up for elections stormed the podium and demanded to speak directly to Greater Bor leadership. Being concerned about what might transpire as result of people crowding around the podium and demanding to speak at the same time, Bor County leadership made a quick decision and asked people to sit down and then called out any individual in Bor county leadership position at any capacity starting from the national office down to sections for a quick deliberation.
- Bor Community Outstanding Grievances that led to Its Membership Suspension from the “Union”
It was during this deliberation that Bor County leadership came up with the suspension of its membership until there is seriousness from the other two counties that this union is a worthwhile endeavor that should be preserved and supported moving forward. Bor County leadership did not make this decision lightly as this union has been unwaveringly supported by its leadership and members. Rather, it was out of realization that other sisterly counties and Greater Bor leadership needed to take their fair share of responsibility in supporting this organization. In reaching this decision, Bor County leadership realized the followings:
- That both Duk and Twic East counties have essentially withdrawn from the union (with Duk being explicit and Twic being implicit) as indicated by their members’ attendances in very negligible numbers while Bor County members attended the conference in high numbers. It begged the question, was there a deliberate annihilation of this organization while Bor County toiled every single day to keep it alive?;
- That Greater Bor leadership wasn’t sincere with Bor County leadership and its members because there was no apparent reason why the information leading to election suspension was withheld from Bor County members when Twic East reversal of its position was passed on to them in the period prior, actually on Wednesday, August 31, two days prior to the scheduled date for the failed elections. Following that logic, there was no indication that Mr. Deng Lueth Mayom was appreciative and concerned about Bor County’s commitment to the union as evidenced by our huge attendance and thus we as a community have expressed the loss of confidence in him;
- That if in fact the elections were to be postponed as contended by Twic East and GBC-USA, that the future of the union was to be put in the hands of those who attended the conference because the term of the GBC-USA leadership at the time had indeed expired and the people not Greater Bor President himself can extend the term for the sitting leadership for three months. The people themselves might have decided to give back the stewardship of the union to Mr. Deng Lueth Mayom had he indeed sought their advice and consent and that would have given him the mandate he needed to exercise leadership and bolster the support for the union during those three months. But he did not take that route. Instead, he ignored people and dictated the terms under which the union’s future might be decided and that did not sit well with our people who showed up in huge numbers. Our people kept asking, why was the GBCUSA leader not worried about those who wasted their resources to attend the conference but instead capitalized on securing the interest of those who opted out of attending the conference out of their own accords? Looking at this disrespect for those who attended the conference at the backdrop of the withheld election suspension information, Bor County leadership wasn’t clear on what Mr. Deng Lueth Mayom was up to because he could not have decided to hold on to leadership out of his own accord when the candidates willing to take over from him were ready to stand up in front of conference attendees to debate each other and be elected;
- That the idea of holding elections by the coalition of willing if none of the county players shows up in three months is a gimmick because who are these coalition of willing players and would they be answerable and accountable to whom? What makes the coalition of willing more credible to have the mandate of the people that those who legitimately attended the conference in September did not when they weren’t allowed to elect one of the candidates they wanted when they and three candidates have shown up for elections? Without answers to those question, Bor County leadership couldn’t have the wherewithal to continue to have confidence in the current GBC-USA leadership or its purported process moving forward;
- That the name change from GBC-USA agenda is what drove and continues to drive the will of the GBC-USA chairman to want to continue to hold on to leadership until that agenda is executed after which he would be happy to relinquish the leadership having accomplished what his home county of Twic East wanted so that he would be welcomed home as a hero having executed the wishes of his community.
Putting those underlying issues that have come up around the failed elections into context, Bor County couldn’t help but challenge the entire membership of the union to either choose to do the work needed to preserve the union or not after which we will continue to exist as sisterly counties stemming from the same state. The work at the center is how could we continue to be equally supportive members of the union and the answer from Bor County is the union can only be preserved if all the three counties have equal enthusiastic support for the union and only if all three counties can do their equal share of the work as we look into the future. We beg to put forward our outstanding issues that need to be addressed by whoever takes the leadership to revive this union.
- Bor Community Outstanding Issues to be Resolved Prior to Rejoining the Union
As we look into the future pondering on whether or not Bor County will return to this union (if indeed it still exists), here are our outstanding issues we lay down for anyone willing to engage Bor County as pertains to its suspended membership from the union:
- The body that claims to be the leadership of GBC-USA is not legitimate because its term has indeed expired on September 3, 2016 and does not have the mandate to call Bor County to engage in any discussion with it in any form whatsoever. This body can choose to claim legitimacy as it so wishes but Bor County neither recognizes its legitimacy nor continues to be a member of that body that is only left in the hands of few mostly from Twic East County. The question that needs to be answered is whether or not the body from which Bor and Duk are no longer members does in fact represent everyone or is just an entity that can merge with current Twic East leadership and move forward with serving Twic East agenda;
- That in order for Bor County leadership to engage with any entity as pertains to its suspended membership, the idea of name change must never be put on the table during those discussions and must never be put on the table at any point in future of the union because Bor County has unanimously rejected that idea and that issue is closed. The idea of name change is not negotiable from Bor County standpoint and must be treated as such;
- That the leadership of Twic East and Duk must embrace the idea of the union called Greater Bor can Bor County leadership be willing to engage in any discussion about this union knowing perfectly well that the other two sisterly counties would be equal partners in the union not to the point where Bor County is only left at the table begging for other members to be part of the union. The unity question as an idea is the aspiration of everyone the world over (let alone a small community called Bor) so much so that leaving that very idealism to a single member of that entity defeats the very idea to its core and thus Bor County can no longer continue to shoulder that responsibility;
- Finally, that the idea of coalition of willing holding elections in three months is something rejected by Bor County and should that happen then it needs to be known now rather than later that Bor County will not recognize that body and will not be a member of that union. This coalition of willing elections gimmick in essence adds more confusions than answers.
As we conclude this position paper, it is critically important that these underlying issues are addressed even before the idea of another election is tabled. We need to reiterate that Bor County will continue to work with both Twic East and Duk leaderships both at the national and state levels supporting their development initiatives they are working on to help their members here in the United States and back home in South Sudan. On the same token, Bor County leadership also commits to inviting both counties as well as other South Sudanese and American friends to its activities around the United States now and into the future. What Bor County is making abundantly clear is the idea of elusive union called Greater Bor has to be evaluated and Bor has put on the table the outstanding issues that those who continue to believe in this union can work on and we will respond accordingly.
We humbly salute you and look forward to getting your views and feedback as we ponder on this issue now and into the foreseeable future.
Mr. Akol Aguek Ngong, President
Mr. Ajok Atong Ajok, Vice President
For Bor Community National leadership (USA)
CC: Mr. Matier Mayom Mayen, Secretary General
Mr. Manyok Maluil Joh, Information Secretary
Mr. Majur Deng Nhial, Bor Press Secretary
CC: Bor Community Board of Directors
Mr. Chol Kuch Chol, Chairman
Mr. Dut Leek Deng (Dut-Agol), Vice Chairman
Mr. Mabil Ber Chol, Board Secretary
CC: Bor Community Sectional Leaders
Mr. Achuoth Deng Kur (Abang)
Mr. Dit Majok Akuch (Abii)
Mr. Abuoi Majok Akuak (Abuodit)
Mr. Nyiel Dot Duoi (Adol)
Mr. Chol Dhoor Riak (Adumwuor)
Mr. Johnson Biar Malual (Alian)
Mr. Ajak Gai Thiong (Angakuei)
Mr. Thon Aguek Aguto (Ater)
Mr. Manyok Lual Koch (Biong)
Mr. Riak Garang Mach (Der)
Mr. Mawut Ayor Riak (Gwalla)
Mr. Majur Kuany Anyieth (Juet)
Mr. Achiek Mabior Lueth (Koch)
Mr. Mach Chol Kuch (Pale)
Rev. Daniel Kuch Kuol (Pathuyith)