Home | Comment & Analysis    Friday 3 May 2019

The $3.7m contract between South Sudan and U.S. lobbyists

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By Duop Chak Wuol

When South Sudan’s President, Salva Kiir, began planning a civil war in the name of a bogus coup in 2013, he did not mobilize Americans to help him wage such a brutal campaign against South Sudanese he sees as his political opponents. What he did was to turn to the Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni who has a history of killing ethnic Acholi under the cover that the Acholi people are destabilizing his government. Kiir has proven himself to be a master of deception and a man who knows how to bribe people, including foreign nationals. There are many foreign governments, entities, and individuals that have been investing in South Sudan’s atrocities by supplying Kiir’s government with lethal weapons, ammunition, and money, despite arms embargos imposed on the young nation by both the United States and the United Nations. The $3.7 million two-year deal that was signed by South Sudan’s government and a California-based lobbying firm, Gainful Solutions, Inc., on April 18, 2019, is irrefutably dreadful; this agreement is not just wrong, it is morally despicable.

The company that signed the agreement with South Sudan’s government is run by former U.S. ambassador to Kenya Michael Ranneberger, his managing partner and lobbyist Soheil Nazari-Kangarlou, and former assistant secretary of state for African Affairs Constance Berry Newman. In the contract, Kiir shamelessly wants these three Americans to encourage President Donald Trump’s administration to lift sanctions imposed on his regime, delay formation of a hybrid court stipulated in the September 2018 peace agreement, improve bilateral relations between Juba and Washington, expand political, military, and economic relations between the two governments, and open direct communication between the South Sudanese and the U.S. governments. For those who do not know Ranneberger, he worked in Kenya as the U.S. Ambassador from August 2006 to May 2011, meaning he served under Former Presidents George W. Bush – a Republican and Barack Obama – a Democrat.

Does greed compromise Ranneberger’s thinking by doing business with Kiir while disregarding his appalling crimes? Do Ranneberger and his fellow lobbyists know they are doing business with a tyrant who kills with impunity? What happened to American moral ideals, where a person or leader who kills people without any justification rarely gets any support?

These questions are for you to draw your own conclusions.

South Sudan’s civil war has exposed greed in a way that is rather stunning. This conflict is a disaster for the people of South Sudan, but some greedy people like these three American lobbyists exploit it by signing a shameful contract with a murderous regime that has killed almost 400,000 people. One wonders where in the world a conscionable person would sign a contract like this with a person who has a documented history of burning people alive, raping women, mutilating helpless civilians, burning down homes, torturing critics, and killing anyone he sees a threat to his tyrannical regime. Any thinking human being would have a hard time comprehending the rationale behind this seemingly greedy act.

There is no doubt that Kiir’s atrocious regime is marred with corruption, ethnic politics, greed, deception, bribery, regional and international illicit dealings, hidden interests, complicity, and lack of impartiality.

It would be a mistake for me not to remind the people of South Sudan that the recent pact signed between Kiir and Ranneberger is legal under the United States laws. However, the legality of this scenario cannot be used by heartless Americans who seem to prefer money over lives of innocent South Sudanese. This latest deal is monumentally disgusting given the fact that the war has been going on for nearly six years and war crimes and crimes against humanity have been documented. This is not the first time some American money-hunting individuals tried to influence the United States government to accept Kiir’s atrocious regime as a trusted partner.

From 2014 through the end of 2015, South Sudan’s government spent at least $2.1 million dollars on U.S. public relations and lobbying firms. The beneficiaries of these disgraceful deals were former Republican Representative J. C. Watts, R&R Partners, KRL International LLC, and Podesta group actions. There are similarities between the past and the recent contracts. The common similarity between these deals is the fact that Kiir’s main purpose is to make the United States turn a blind eye on his atrocities. Kiir’s deals with these firms failed to produce the result he wanted under former President Obama.

There are many countries that deserve credit for holding the highest ethical standards and one of these nations is the United States. The U.S. cares more about the people of South Sudan than any other country on the planet. South Sudan is a country today because of United States foreign policy. If it were not for the U.S.-engineered 2005 Sudan Compressive Peace agreement, South Sudan would still be a part of Sudan today. I understand there are people who do not want to hear this fact. But these people have no case to defend because they are defending an indefensible argument. The fact is that the Republic of South Sudan was born on July 9, 2011, because the U.S. planned it.

The people of South Sudan want a hybrid court to be formed to try those who committed war crimes and crimes against humanity. Kiir and Gainful Solutions must know that they are playing with fire. The blood of South Sudanese cannot be traded with money. It does not make any moral sense for Gainful Solutions to get in bed with Salva Kiir’s regime simply because it wants money. But this American lobbying firm must know that the South Sudanese who want justice for Kiir’s war victims will never forget its seemingly outrageous act. The three Americans who want to protect Kiir from justice must know that the United States stands with the South Sudanese. If Ranneberger, Nazari-Kangarlou, and Newman are not convinced by my words, then they should contact the United States government because I know for a fact that the U.S. donated $4.6 million in 2016 through the African Union—this money was purely for setting up a hybrid court. This despicable contract between Kiir and the American lobbying firm in question deserves to be condemned by any conscionable person in the strongest terms possible. The people of South Sudan have had enough of foreign greed. Those who think South Sudan’s war crimes are for sale should consult with their consciences.

Duop Chak Wuol is the editor-in-chief of the South Sudan News Agency (https://southsudannewsagency.org/. He can be reached at duop282@gmail.com. Note: The views expressed in this article are his and should not be attributed to the South Sudan News Agency.



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