Gabriel Changson GOSS Minister of Information and Broadcasting By James Okuk

GOSS Minister of Information and Broadcasting, Gabriel Changson, told reporters on Friday 8th August, 2008 in Juba that the Governments of National Unity (GoNU) and Southern Sudan (GoSS) have agreed to give GOSS Liaison Offices abroad the same diplomatic status as Embassies. He said this agreement will improve the working relations between Sudan's Embassies and GOSS Liaison Missions around the world.


He said the change in status will permit GOSS Liaison Offices the authority to issue visas to foreigners traveling to Southern Sudan. The GOSS missions will also have authority to promote social, economic and cultural ties between Southern Sudan and other countries. Further, the Minister said GOSS Liaison Officials will be granted diplomatic immunity and their cars will bear diplomatic registration plate numbers as part of the deal.


Without a doubt, this is a wishful thinking from H.E. Gabriel Changson. It shows how he is ignorant about the nature of Embassies and the international status of diplomats. It shows also how he is less informed - as the Information and Broadcasting Minister - about the residual powers and linkages mentioned in the CPA and the Sudan Interim Constitution as well as Southern Sudan Interim Constitution. Also Mr. Changson should have read and understood articles about Diplomatic and Consular relations stipulated in Vienna Conventions of 1961, 1963 and 1969 before he rush to make those who understand International Relations laugh at his politics of ignorance about how countries relate with each other legally.


I wonder who went from GoNU to fool the GoSS Information Minister with a ‘wishful thinking agreement; and a ‘public relation exercise' about according GoSS Liaison Offices diplomatic status. The GoSS should have asked those who went to hoodwink them the following questions:

Firstly: why continue to call them GoSS Liaison Offices if they have to be given the same status as Embassies? (It would have looked better if these missions were renamed ‘Embassies of Southern Sudan', so that Vienna Conventions allow them to have diplomatic or consular status like the Embassies or Consulates of independent countries).

Secondly: which country will accept to give GoSS Liaison Offices (and their officials) diplomatic status when South Sudan is not yet an independent State with its own Foreign Ministry?

Thirdly: why are GoSS Liaison Missions not in good working relations with Sudan Embassies around the World (as the Minister said it) if their purpose of being posted abroad is the same within the partnership context of the CPA, i.e., creating good relations with foreigners to bring benefits to Sudan, be it South or North?


Let the GoSS be realistic about the limits of its mandate within the context of the CPA and interim constitutions. What the Minister and his likes should know is that the GoSS Liaison Offices abroad will never get diplomatic status and immunities unless they are made part of the Sudan Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Without this connection, there will not be any international legal basis to accord GoSS Liaison Offices diplomatic immunities and privileges. The Officials who hold these offices will never be issued diplomatic passports unless they become employed as diplomats of the Sudan in accordance with the dictates of diplomatic system of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Their cars will never be allowed to bear diplomatic number plates (CD or MDC) unless they are purchased in the name of Sudan Embassies in the countries of representations.


Let me not be hesitant to state it clearly that the GoSS Liaison Missions abroad will continue to issue ‘illegal Entry Permits' and SPLM IDs of Southern Sudan Relief and Rehabilitation Commission (SSRRC) to their foreign friends who wish to come to Southern Sudan without knowledge of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. They will never give out Sudan Entry Visas because they will not have it! Visas can only be issued by Embassies or Consulates under the mandate of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and in collaboration with the Ministry of Interior (in the section of Immigration and Passports). Let me also be clear that the GoSS Regional Cooperation Ministry will not have any legal basis to issue visas because it is not and will not be a parallel Foreign Ministry in the South. The work of this Ministry is similar to that of the Ministry of International Cooperation in the GoNU, which cooperate with other countries only through the linkage of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The Interim Constitution of the Sudan is not going to allow two Ministries doing the same work!


Even after 2011, I have no doubt that GoSS Regional Cooperation will only be renamed to become Ministry of International Cooperation of the African Republic of South Sudan. ‘Regional Cooperation' will only be a Department within it. It is obvious that South Sudan will establish a new Ministry called South Sudan Ministry of Foreign Affairs to be run by trained and experienced South Sudan diplomats; and not by wishful thinkers of South Sudan Liaison Missions. It is this Foreign Ministry which will issue visas and send South Sudan diplomats and Ambassadors abroad with diplomatic immunities and privileges. H.E. Gabriel Changson should get this information into his head very well before he comes to the public to embarrass himself!


James Okuk is a concerned Southerner and a PhD student in University of Nairobi.

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  • Guest - James Okuk

    That ‘GOSS Liaison Offices abroad are not Diplomatic Missions’ is a falsehood!!! I've just read Okuku’s piece. To my consternation but not a surprise, I find disgusting that somebody like PhD Student James Okuku Solomon projects his own ignorance on Mr. Gabriel Changson Chang, the GOSS Minister of Information and Broadcasting about the alleged Memorandum of Understanding between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and GOSS Ministry of Regional Co-operation. What is ‘wishful thinking’ in announcing that an agreement has been reached between the two entities? James’s piece smacks of deep-seated envy not fashionable in public affairs.Vienna Conventions apart and notwithstanding, states and governments give diplomatic recognition to governments, states and political organizations [parties, liberation movements, etc] out of its national strategic interest sometimes informed by its political and ideological orientation. For instance, before becoming a state, the Arab countries gave diplomatic recognition and permitted the Palestinian Liberation organization- PLO to run embassies in their capitals. The United Nations and so many other countries recognized ANC before it became the bona fide government party in South Africa. There is no fast rule that GOSS can’t operate a diplomatic mission if that particular country recognizes it has cultural, political and economic interest with Southern Sudan.
    The truth is that GOSS and GNU have agreed to the arrangement that GOSS will operate Liaison Offices where there are or no Sudan Diplomatic Mission and that does not constitute a contradiction. Why should Mr. Okuk, who works with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs besides being a PhD student in Nairobi, feel diminished that GOSS will operate Liaison offices with some form of diplomatic accreditation? As a southerner, I thought Mr. Okuku should have been more upbeat that as somebody working as a diplomat it will be easy for them latter to sell the case of Southern Sudan as an independent state.
    This culture of criticizing a Government Minister ostensibly to self advertise one’s erudition can easily backfire particularly when one does not have the command of the English language. In fact Okuku is a bore because his ideas are wobbly, unscientific and don’t reflect the standard of an aspiring PhD student. I would advise him to polish his language before posting on the web or publishing in the Newspapers. He should also learn the etiquette of a serving public servant that you don’t make political statements or criticize your government ministers.
    Regards. Peter Adwok Nyaba, Sudan.

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  • Guest - James Okuk

    Dear (--edited--) Hon. Dr. Peter Adwok Nyaba: Where will I advertise my erudition if I do not do it on issues that concern my destiny as Southern Sudanese, who is passionately aspiring for realization of independent African Republic of South Sudan with a good neighborhood to the Islamic and Arab Republic of North Sudan, comes 2011? Your reaction to my article “GOSS Liaison Offices abroad are not Diplomatic Missions” shows how your thinking pattern is crooked if not contradictory. If my ideas are bore, wobbly and unscientific why on hell should you waste your time and disturb your computer keyboard to comment on them with ‘consternation’?

    In my comparative study of International Relations, I did not come across any fact that Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) runs Embassies in the capitals of the countries that recognize them. What I came across is the fact that there are ‘Palestine Offices’ in a form of quasi-diplomatic missions with limited diplomatic privileges that represent Palestinians abroad. Nevertheless, this comparison is irrelevant to the current case of Southern Sudan whose government is known constitutionally as part of the whole Government of the Sudan at the regional level in the decentralized new democratic system that was ushered in by the CPA. That was why the Interim Constitution of Southern Sudan has to be read and approved with reference to the general Interim Constitution of the Sudan. Also it is known constitutionally that GoSS is accountable to President of the Sudan and its budget is sent from GoNU Ministry of Finance. Further, let me disqualify Dr. Nyaba’s comparison of the case of South Africa ANC with that of the GoSS Liaison Offices abroad. The ANC was recognized internationally during the time of anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa but not after it. The ANC Foreign Offices were dissolved immediately after South African eliminated the apartheid. Given this fact, the ANC case is relevant only to the case of SPLM/A during the time of war (1983 – 2005) but not after the war (2005 – …..).

    Please Hon. Geologist, Dr. Peter Adwok Nyaba, get it into your (--cens--) that I write according to the rules of my game, which I play in my own way. Do not attempt to dictate me to write according to what you want because I am not you, and I will never be you! If learning public serving etiquette is to write what pleases you and what does not criticize a government Minister when he says something questionable to the public, I object entering that class of your dictatorship. I love to be free in stating my opinion because I am enthusiastically convinced that truth is freedom.

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  • Why you bother Collo with GOSS & its Ministers? since we are not part of that government. Don't disturb Collo peace of mind,take your fight to GOSS media.

    The issue you're discussing is the concern of individuals who particiaptes and runs that government "GOSS" and there is fight should be among them the people who have interest.

    Collo is not for fight,the notion that "When it comes to fight or advocate ideas, collo has to it, and when it comes to benefits Collo is not there" that has to change if is not changed.

    I don't understand your interests in this discussion, netheir collo interest.
    What Collo is concern about now is how to develop our state State and its peopele? This web shouldn't be turned to experimental lab for the old politics, rather than plans, project, and development schemes etc for our people.

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