South Sudan: Is oil a blessing or curse commodity?

South Sudanese President Kiir speaks during a news conference with his Sudanese counterpart al-Bashir at Khartoum Airport

South Sudan President Salva Kiir

14 April 2014, Juba – It was in February 2005, following the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) in Nairobi, Kenya which concluded the 21 years civil war between North and South Sudan. A team of Norwegian experts from the giant oil company known as “STATOIL” conducted a one-day workshop in Rumbek, South Sudan in which the same author of this article was in attendance. The entire leadership of SPLM/A including the current President Salva Kiir Mayardit were present attending the workshop keenly. One of the experts who facilitated the workshop lamented that “the discovery of oil in South Sudan could mean both: blessing or curse”. His prediction has become true. Indeed the oil in South Sudan is rather a curse than blessing to its population.

With the current situation where tens of thousands of innocent civilians were mercilessly murdered in cold bloods in Juba, Bentiu, Leer, Bor and Malakal by their own government’s soldiers and more than one million others are driven into IDPs centres inside the country or into neighbouring countries of Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda as refugees. The Norwegian expert’s prediction is absolutely correct as the present condition is concerned. Both visible and invisible actors are already involved in the conflict – being oil companies or government sponsored mercenaries from the neighbouring countries of Uganda, Congo and Sudan.

They are killings indiscriminately South Sudanese civilians or massively displacing them in Greater Upper Nile in the name of protecting the government resources (oil) and not its population as the rest of the world is more concerned of. IGAD countries are also jumping on the same ban wagon singing the same tune. They are ready to send their combined troops to fight the SPLM/A-In Opposition alongside the weak and wicked government of President Salva Kiir in Juba. There is no moral obligations or humanity in this seemingly shopping business.

President Barack Obama’s Executive Order which he recently signed in Washington to impose sanction against South Sudanese leaders or any other perpetrator who is directly involved in killing innocent civilians is highly appreciated throughout the country. The killers must be brought to book where they should answer for their crimes. The death of more than ten thousand Nuer civilians or more, who were sadly massacred in Juba by the so-called Presidential Guards following the aftermath of fighting within the Presidential Guards on 15th December 2013, is the most gruesome and awful events that cannot be tolerated unpunished.

The said sanction proposed by US President should not be limited only to South Sudanese leaders and their followers alone, but the notorious Ugandan President Yoweri K. Museveni and his war-monger generals as well as the leaders of Sudanese oppositions from JEM & SPLM/A-N who were officially invited by President Salva Kiir should also be punished. Their forces have fully been engaged in combat operations against SPLM/A – Opposition and at the same time terrorizing innocent civilians in their settlements. Oil embargo and arms shipments must be imposed as well against the government of South Sudan, which is being regularly supplied by countries like Zimbabwe, Uganda and Egypt where banned weapons like cluster bombs have been supplied and used against civilian targets in Jonglei State.

As far as the current war situation is concerned, it is obviously shifting from civil war to regional conflict because the South Sudan government has openly invited some foreign troops from Uganda and Egypt to disturbalize the neighbouring countries of Sudan and Ethiopia by using South Sudan as a base on pretext to fight the rebellion. Uganda is deliberately supplying JEM and SPLA-N with weapons to topple the government in Khartoum through the government of South Sudan. While their action motives is to gain some grounds for their future military strategic interests against the two neighbouring countries of Ethiopia and Sudan, which are, viewed as potential threats to them. Egypt and Uganda want to depose the leaders of Sudan and Ethiopia and most likely replace them with their puppet leaders of choice.

President Salva Kiir ignorantly has put South Sudan in very dangerous game, which he cannot escape it. He is playing Tom & Jerry game against some African leaders who are more experts than him. Soon, he will dearly pay a very heavy price. For those African leaders they have nothing much to lose except South Sudanese people who will ultimately pay the price of their ignorant leader who sold their country in brought daylight to known African dictators for temporarily personal gains.

This war has nothing to do with either Dinka or Nuer as some short-sighted South Sudanese communities look at it in very narrow way. It is bigger than that and all of them are bound to suffer equally believe it or not. It is not a tribal war as some use to say, “One tribe cannot liberate the entire country alone”. But the question is: why one tribe is dominating the whole country alone? The war being waged by SPLM/A-In Opposition is a war between oppressed and oppressor? President Kiir Mayardit is an oppressor against the people of South Sudan and therefore Southerners need to liberate themselves from his dictatorship by all means.

The author, Daniel Wuoh Joak, is a former MP & Minister of Education, Science & Technology (UNS) and now Executive Director of African Centre for Human Advocacy (ACHA), which advocates for human rights throughout the continent.


– South Sudan News Agency

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