Juba, October 8, 2019 (SSNA) — The controversial Jieng Council of Elders (JCE) told President Salva Kiir that he must keep the 32 states or reduce them to a number that will only benefit the Dinka, an assistant to one of the elders who requested that his name be hidden for fear of reprisal told the South Sudan News Agency (SSNA) today in Juba.
The aide who prefers to be called “Mr. S. Paul,” first contacted the SSNA through a third party. He told the third part he wants to talk to a media agency and that he has urgent information that needs to be exposed. The third part then contacted the SSNA on Monday evening which led to today’s interview.
During the interview, “Mr. S. Paul” first appeared nervous. We promised him that we are an independent news organization and that his identity is safe. He agreed.
“Mr. S. Paul” who voluntarily said he from Bor Dinka started the interview by saying that “We South Sudanese have a problem, a secret meeting was held on [last] Saturday].”
Below is the transcript of the interview:
SSNA: “What is the problem?”
“Mr. S. Paul”: JCE and Salva Kiir had a meeting last Saturday. First of all, I am one of the aides to one of these people [JCE]. JCE called a meeting with Kiir and demanded that he keeps the current states, or he can reduce the number of states that can only benefit Dinka.”
SSNA: “Will Kiir agree with their demand?”
“Mr. S. Paul”: “Yes, he will one way or another. There is no way around it. Kiir follows whatever this group says.”
SSNA: “What if the president refuses to accept their demand?”
“Mr. S. Paul”: “I don’t think he will. Maybe he can do it by reducing the number of states but make it in a way that satisfies JCE’s idea.”
SSNA: “Were you at the meeting venue?”
“Mr. S. Paul”: “Yes.”
SSNA: “What makes you tell this story to media?”
“Mr. S. Paul”: “I am tired of war. I think what they are doing is to let this peace fail again. This war devastated our country. I have brothers and relatives who were killed in January 2014. This war must stop.”
SSNA: “Do you have anything else that you need to add?”
“Mr. S. Paul”: “No, no. What I want you to do is to spread this news and tell our people and East Africa what the JCE and the president are doing. Their plan is to keep 32 states or reduce them while keeping the majority of states in the hands of Dinka.”
“Mr. S. Paul” also revealed to the SSNA that the JCE told Kiir he must either reject some provisions of the security arrangements or return to war. The SSNA cannot independently verify the authenticity of the claims.
This is not the first time the Jieng Council of Elders is accused of wrongdoing. It is widely assumed in South Sudan that the JCE is the real president of South Sudan. The group has previously been accused of working only for the interests of Dinka and that president Kiir agrees with whatever they recommend.
The JCE is a tribal group run by old men who most other South Sudanese tribes see as a threat to the unity of the people of South Sudan. The South Sudan News Agency understands that at least half of the current 32 states are held by Dinka. Most people from non-Dinka tribe also accused president Kiir of land grab.