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SOUTH SUDAN CASE: Political Elite Master Mind Looting

The world’s newest state has continued to suffer and embroil in a horrific civil war. Ten of thousands have had loses in their lives of loved ones and assets. Displacement of people from their rightfully owned land has been the tune of the day. Human rights have been violated with highest order of impunity. An average of 2.3 million people have been displaced and about 5.1 million people are in need of food assistance. This has gone to the point of the U.N commissioner for human rights to identifying South Sudan as one of the most horrendous human right situation in the world. Children have been sent into war as cannon fodder into combat.

Who do we blame for this atrocity? While the rest of the country is suffering from homelessness, hunger, mass rape, genocide, physiological torture especially to the young, depression and even death, the “big fish” continue to amass significant amount of wealth.

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The fall out rivalry between president Salva kiir and his deputy Riek Machar is the prime cause of the suffering of the people of South Sudan. Nevertheless South Sudan civil war is not sorely the result of blood feud between the two men, conventional explanations point to a power play of the elite.

According to a report by the U.N panel of experts on South Sudan, Jan 2016, there is clear and convincing evidence presented below that most of the acts of violence committed during the war was by government or by government afflicted forces. This included the targeting of civilians and violation of international humanitarian law which were directed by or undertaken with the knowledge of senior individual at the highest level of the government, including Kiir. According to the sentry report, most powerful politicians and generals in South Sudan appear to have accumulated significant amount of wealth in the decade since the 2005 signing of the comprehensive peace agreement that ended the North Sudan war and laid the ground work for the self determination referendum   that resulted in South Sudan’s independence in 2011.

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The politicians have acquired much of their wealth in form of high end properties outside the country, extensive commercial holding and oil services contracting in South Sudan. Most of the elite families own luxurious homes all over East Africa.

It makes no sense that whilst the entire population is suffering; the war starters and initiators are swimming in pool of wealth. Kleptocrat is the best term I could give the hypocritical South Sudanese government which is filled with dishonest and greed at the expense of its citizens.

The violent kleptocrats have moved money with ease from one bank account to another. According to the research undertaken by the sentry, it is indicated that KCB processed large payment from multinational companies operating in South Sudan. It shows that $3.03 million moved through Gen Reuben Riak personal bank account, the document further reveals that Gen Jok Riak also received large financial transfers totaling to at least $0.367 million to his personal bank account at KCB.

Mark Goldman, an international actor also seems to be in support and a beneficiary of the instability. He acted as an intermediary between the president and his deputy. He owns a based defense firm called Nebo Ukrainy. He facilitated the importation of military equipment for the improvement of government military defense in return for crude oil .

President Kiir and other government officials have vast of assets ownership in Kenya, Uganda and across East Africa. They own lavish homes away from home, Kiir having a lavish Villa in Lavingtone. Their kids, as young as 12 years of age, own more than 15% shares in big companies. Salva Kiir Mayardit merely 28 own 35% of Nile link petroleum ,his 29 year old brother own half of oil line and hydrocarbon limited with three Kenyan businessmen. Other of the politicians who sit at the epicenter of a sprawling business empire are Gen Vasilli,  first lady’s brother, Dr Riek Machar the former deputy president and general Paul Malong’  Awan.

It has also been clear that China is one of the most useful supplier of arms; documents indicate that Gen Reuben Riak was involved in the procurement of 45 VT-2 main battle tank from China North Industries Group (NORINCO), one of the China’s largest owned arms manufacturer. These weapons are nevertheless clear that they have been used throughout the war.

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Rhetorically, during an interview with Jeff Koinange, Kiir was asked “What is the source of this war?” He said “The source of this war was that I chided the ministers to return what they have taken or else I’ll go and look for the banks that they have hidden the money in and I’ll take measures against them.” He continued, “Some of these ministers have bought apartments, beautiful houses and villas and are hiding in Kenya and refuse to reveal it.”

It’s clear he was referring to assets owned by his opponents. This is also true.

It’s clear that there are those that are immensely benefitting from the war and they will wish that the innocent citizens of South Sudan continue to fight against each other with knowledge that their leaders are delighted from the same and that’s where they gain from.

Kenya taking its troops out of South Sudan only causes more pain and disharmony increasing opportunity for the facilitators of the same to continue looting. It’s time Kenya decides what it should do with South Sudan. Majority of transactions are denominated in USD, therefore US has leverage to stop them by imposing sanctions on the perpetrators. The world at large should stand with the youngest nation if peace has to be restored, death, looting and kleptocracy stopped. The responsibility should not only be left to the East Africa community and the UN council but rather every nation in the world should stand against the masterminds of the anarchy.

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Posted by John Karani