How South Sudan President And Rebel Leader Profit From Civil War

How South Sudan President And Rebel Leader Profit From Civil War

South Sudan President Salva Kiir and Riek Machar, his warring rival and former Deputy President, alongside several top-ranking military generals, have amassed huge amount of wealth in the ongoing civil war that started in December 2013, an investigative report released by a George Clooney-led team has said.

Their families lead lavish lives in posh suburbs of Nairobi and Mombasa in Kenya and Uganda.

Kiir’s wife and several of his sons have shares in several lucrative businesses in the nation. His 12-year old son has 25 percent ownership in a business venture in Africa’s newest state that is on the brink of devastation by war, according to a report by The Sentry that was released on Monday.

Machar’s family lives in Lavington, a posh suburb in Nairobi, where homes cost an average of $1 million. They are neighbors to Kiir’s family, living barely five kilometers away from each other.

Other military generals in both Kiir’s and Machar’s warring sides, who earn less than $40,000 annually, have luxurious villas in Kampala, Uganda, where homes cost $2 million on average, read the report.

“What money has come in to the government has gone to fueling the war. What it hasn’t gone to is education, health services and the welfare of the people,” Brian Adeba one of the investigators said.

Since 2005, the nation has lost $4 billion. According to The Sentry report, Kiir, Machar and the generals have used the money to fund militias. Much of the money is from oil revenues.

Oil revenue

The leaders who should otherwise be held responsible for the war that has devastated South Sudan have benefitted while the rest of the nation suffers from the consequences of a brutal war, faced with starvation and a fast falling economy.

The report also pointed accusing figures at international banks, arms brokers, real estate firms and lawyers who have aided the leaders in fleecing the young nation.

The investigation took nearly two years and was undertaken by the investigative organization’s co-founders, including George Clooney, a Hollywood actor, and John Prendergast, a human rights activist, The Guardian reported.

It also included undercover investigators from Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) and the US departments of state and treasury.

South Sudan’s government has threatened to sue the organization over the report, saying that it was politically biased and intended to taint the president’s leadership.

“Their (Sentry) statement is a mere recipe for fueling gross misconception about the leadership of South Sudan. We will take them to court; we will hire the law firm in the US and we will sue them because they have relied on evidence that is completely rubbish,” Ateny Wek Ateny, the president’s spokesperson told Al Jazeera.

However, Machar and the military generals implicated in the report are yet to issue statements following the damning report.

South Sudan plunged into civil war in December 2013 after Kiir sacked his entire cabinet and accused Machar of trying to overthrow him.

A ceasefire brokered by Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) in Ethiopia this year briefly saw stability in the nation after Machar was re-appointed the vice-president.

However, violence erupted in July after rebels loyal to Machar attacked government forces in Juba. The presidential palace was attacked while Machar was inside. He was not injured.

The violence has taken ethnic lines between Kiir’s Dinka tribe and Machar’s Nuer tribe, the two biggest ethnic groups in the oil-rich nation.

Thousands of people have been killed, more than 2.5 million displaced from their homes and at least 11 million are in need of food aid, Reuters reported in Jukly.