What New York Times article says about South Sudan

It’s been called the article “that wasn’t” and it offers an unexpected insight into the ongoing tensions in South Sudan.
The New York Times published a piece on June 7 with a striking byline, the writers were apparently South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir and First Vice-President Riek Machar – until recently bitter enemies, now working together in a national unity government.
The article argued that the country needed a truth and reconciliation commission, in which those who revealed the truth about abuses committed during the civil war would be exempt from prosecution.
It suggested Western countries, and in particular the US and the UK, should put aside their support for a hybrid international-local court which was mandated by a peace agreement to try those accused of committing the worst abuses.
“Disciplinary justice,” the article argued, “would destabilise efforts to unite our nation by keeping alive anger and hatred among the people of South Sudan.”
There was an immediate backlash in the country, many people felt powerful leaders whose troops were accused of mass atrocities were attempting to escape justice.
As David Deng of the South Sudan Law Society put it, if the hybrid court is bypassed “the governance culture that rewards those who wield violence to achieve their political [or personal] objectives while leaving the victims of those abuses to suffer in silence will continue unabated”.
This is where the story gets more complicated and perhaps more revealing about the state of affairs in South Sudan.
Mr Machar’s office denied that the first vice-president had co-written the article, and said he had no intention of dropping the court.
The New York Times reportedly said it had received the article from government officials, and it should have sought direct confirmation from both camps that the article was written by them.
Suddenly, the picture had changed quite dramatically.
Instead of a rare statement of common purpose by Mr Kiir and Mr Machar, the two old enemies, the article seems to reveal the ongoing distrust between the two men.
Mr Machar’s refusal to endorse it is presumably linked to the strong desire of many of his supporters to see those accused of killing their family members face justice.
In the first few days of the war in December 2013, many people from the Nuer ethnic group were killed in Juba, based on their supposed support for Mr Machar, who is a Nuer.
Nuers all over the country went into rebellion in response to this.
Mr Machar’s supporters want those responsible for the killings to face trial, and it would be politically difficult for Mr Machar to backtrack on his proclaimed support for the court – even if his own troops also carried out a number of massacres, often also on ethnic lines.
Mr Machar has also tried to position himself as a supporter of democracy and the rule of law – even if his enemies accuse him of unbridled ambition and responsibility for widespread atrocities.
So who actually wrote the article?
Juba-based journalist Jason Patinkin has been doing some digging.
His research seems to suggest it came from the office of the president’s press secretary, with some help from foreign consultants.
Did Mr Machar sign off on the letter? His camp says no, but Mr Kiir’s team insists he did.
Someone is lying – and it’s painfully clear that Mr Machar’s return to government does not mean he and the president are on the same page.

South Sudan: The world’s youngest country

  • Split from Sudan in July 2011 after an independence referendum
  • One of Africa’s least-developed economies. Highly oil-dependent
  • Relations with Sudan strained by disputes over oil revenue sharing and borders
  • A power struggle brought about civil war in December 2013
  • An estimated 2.2 million fled their homes during conflict
  • A tentative, internationally mediated, peace agreement signed in August 2015
  • Riek Machar sworn in as vice-president in April 2016

2 thoughts on “What New York Times article says about South Sudan

  1. “What New York Times article says about South Sudan”

    Mr.James Copnall,

    The op-ed article by the New York Times was a piece of propaganda by the New York Times. No one wrote that piece of rubbish Mr. James Copnall. Why New York Times of all papers thousands of miles away from South Sudan and the South Sudanese people, who want justice serve to them.

    Was their quest for justice be taken to New York and the quest for justice be published by the New York Times of ole papers? South Sudanese people need justice done, but by the South Sudanese people, and in South Sudan. And not by some criminals in New York, London, Nairobi, Adis Ababa or Brussels.

    The US, the UK and their UN are noisily and rashly clamoring for their so-called “hybrid court” for South Sudan for their UN buddies and some of their criminals in between. And not the justice for the South Sudanese people.

    Mr. James Copnall, when Riek Machar made a coup for the second time against the South Sudanese people with the advise of your Country, the US and the UN. But when their coup failed, then the US, your country UK and their UN. Then nudged their Riek Machar puppet/stooge to go to Adis Ababa and the same US, your UK country and their UN then went to Adis Ababa and dictated their whole rubbish into the South Sudanese people throats with their so-called IGAD-PLUS. In which some countries like Algeria, Chad, Burundi and South Africa were invited by the US, your country and their UN.

    For goodness sake, what do Algeria, Chad, Burundi and South Africa have to do with South Sudan and the South Sudanese people? These countries don’t share any border with South Sudan. But some criminals in the US, your country UK and their UN thought they can play games with South Sudan and the South Sudanese people.

    The so-called compromise peace agreement (CPA) was not nothing to do with the South Sudan and the South Sudanese people, it was a piece are rubbish for the US, your country UK and their UN to crawl their evil selves into our country. Good luck to them.

    There has never been a peace negotiated in the history of the world were the mediators with their own interests would drafted and crafted their own document and pushed it into the warring parties throats to sign. It has never happened and some low lives in the US, your country’s UK, their UN and their so-called IGAD-PLUS thought they were doing a god work. What do the evil corporate America, your country’s UK, their UN and their so-called IGAD-PLUS think they are to South Sudan and the South Sudanese people?

    The so-called compromise peace agreement (CPA) was not a peace at all, but a war with the South Sudanese people. We are here Mr. James Copnall, we have informed the evil corporate America, your country’s UK and their UN to get their arses out of our country.

    We are going to bomb you.

  2. New York time was the Really time that has no scalloped that to post propaganda speech of none desired person will off in case to be creative and clear publications back based upon to mastermind behind the scenes with what to do is getback de propaganda lied to de owner who thought that these will be mindful by de people inside south Sudan that you have done de right think about it and not to create different among mr actors and to let himself know that he deserves to be fire

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