South Sudan’s Peter Bair and Prof. Akec Clash Over Recent Dismissal: Fundamental Issues with the government in Juba
A social media debate between Peter Bair Ajak and John Akec regarding the dismissal of the wife of South Sudan’s first vice president has been ongoing. The recent firing has sparked controversy and raised concerns about the current state of the government in Juba.
In a tweet, the Vice Chancellor of the University of Juba stated that a nation cannot grow without acknowledging its flaws, including dredging in the Sudd, money printing by BoSS, and an arrangement that provides equal casting votes for both president and vice president. He argued that these issues are detrimental to the viability of South Sudan as a sovereign state.
Petr Ajak publicly questioned the Vice Chancellor’s silence during the deal’s negotiation. Many critics have pointed out it looks as if Prof. Akec’s is fighting for relevance, particularly his argument against the President’s unilateral dismissal of the SPLM-IO minister of military and veterans’ affairs, which was met with universal opposition.
There is speculation that Prof. Akec is vying for a cabinet post while as his tenure as the VC of the University of Juba is winding up. One critic questioned why Prof. Akec is only now concerned about Kiir and Machar having almost equal authority, arguing that political legitimacy is negotiated rather than elected.
Despite Kiir’s reservations about the revised pact he made with his arch foe, Machar, in 2018, he vowed that it would “not collapse” since it was not imposed by foreign forces.
Kiir is completely aware that the agreement would restore Machar to the position of vice-president, which he had forfeited when Kiir accused him of preparing a coup in 2013. And not only that, Machar would be the most senior of Kiir’s five vice presidents. So SPLM-IG cannot play by their own rules when they know that the exact agreement they criticize is the source of their legitimacy.
The fact that these two academics are on opposing sides indicates that something is fundamentally wrong with the administration in Juba. The sooner this mistake is corrected, the better it will be for the people of South Sudan.
It is crucial that Kiir keeps his promise to operate by the book, and Machar’s side does not allow personal interests to supersede the interests of ordinary South Sudanese.