By Dr James Okuk
September 24, 2010 (SSNA) — As much as I admired the speech that was delivered by H.E. Salva Kiir in the UN sideline Meeting on the Sudan’s Current Situation, and the support that was promised by the world leaders and the countries represented in the meeting, especially that of the US President Obama, yet I was unhappy that H.E. Kiir was marginalized and belittled protocol wise in the meeting hall.
Instead, H.E. Vice President Ali Osman Taha was given the honour because his status was always acknowledged before that of H.E. Kiir through out the session, except for the South African former President, Mr. Thabo Mbeki, the Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni and very few others.
Even in the seating at the high table, H.E. Kiir was put after H.E.Taha who was seated right next to the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon to take the hounor of the second highest protocol in the hall. This was so bad because according to the protocol, the First Vice President of the Sudan should come first before the Vice President unless the First Vice President is absent. If the UN protocol officials did not know this hierarchy of honour, it would have been Mr. Ezekiel Lol Gatkuoth, the Chief of the GoSS Mission in US, to remind them to correct the wrong protocol that is vilificating to the honour of Southern Sudan and its highest leader.
Why should all this marginalization and belittling have to happen if Mr. Gatkuoth is keen to protect the honour that H.E. Kiir’s leadership status holds, especially at the international level and with the whole world watching? Really, I felt mortified to see my First Vice President of the Sudan and President of the Government of Southern Sudan being humiliated simply in that manner.
How can Mr. Ezekiel allow the President of nearly an independent country in the waiting with all privileges and immunities be marginalized and humiliated that way? Alas! I wish he was a patriotic Southerner (not Ethiopian with Nuer identity representing the GoSS in US) and nothing of that shameful kind of belittling in the face of the whole world would have been allowed to happen. If I were H.E. Salva Kiir Mayardit, I will call back Mr. Ezekiel Lol to Southern Sudan immediately for this unforgivable mistake and replace him with a real professional Southerner!
I am tearing for the marginalization and humiliation of my GoSS President at the UN Headquarters today on 24th September 2010. I wish something of that kind will not repeat itself again. That is why we need professionals and real Southerners to take care of the honour that is attached to the top most important high offices that are held by leaders in Southern Sudan, especially when it comes to international exposure and representation.
What happened today is a shameful history that has been recorded and it is really painful and heartbreaking for those who want to see their leaders being valued and acknowledged for the protocols weight they hold. This humiliation (even if unintended) is so bad although the purpose of H.E. Kiir’s attendance at that high level UN meeting is noble with promising outcome of the international support for the independent of South Sudan in time and with credibility for its legitimacy when the eligible people go for it overwhelmingly.
God bless South Sudan with its land, people and government, and also God bless the friends and well-wishers of this rich African land.
Dr. James Okuk is reachable at firstname.lastname@example.org