Tribalism in South Sudan is an infectious deadly disease that charred and burns the nation to ashes.
By Lul Gatkuoth Gatluak,
November 22, 2018(Nyamilepedia) —- Tribalism in South Sudan is a chronic and contagious infectious disease, which claims the most lives of South Sudanese people than any other causes of death. Reality shows that, the cure and civilized way forward of nation building is far from reach. The cycle will keep occurring again and again and take centuries or millennium years before future generations, leave alone present generation, will be able to quell, sensitize and tackle its escalation and worse connotations. Webster dictionary, define tribalism as a “behavior and attitudes that stem from strong loyalty to one’s own tribe or other social group.” Profoundly, tribalism is not a new term or subject to deal with, it has been around since the beginning of humankind. Year after year, numerous scholars and authors have documented multitude problems associated with tribalism. Unfortunately, clear way of stopping problems associating with tribalism from happening again is unreachable. Although many nations had learned how to live together as brothers and sisters, South Sudan will keep inflicting pain on itself, bellows are some of the known facts that charred the country to ashes.
Initially, the stigma of tribalism in South Sudan is not a new development. The practice has been around for centuries before South Sudanese people have had direct contact with foreign intruders in 1820. Before that occasion and beyond, cattle rustler and land grabbing were an immediate issues that spoil harmony among ethnic groups in many parts of South Sudan. In those years, not only Southern Sudan was segmented, the whole Sudan was a collection of mostly autonomous, non-cohesive kingdoms and tribes until (1820-1885), when Turkey-Egyptian forces took control of the territory and created a colonial administration challenged by Mahdi. However, neither the original invaders nor the religious leader Muhammad Ahmad, the self-proclaimed Mahdi, were able to bring South Sudan under their control. Though Mahdi did unify some of the central and western tribes with what now is northern Sudan, South Sudan remained a loose of confederation of kingdoms and tribes.
When Anglo-Egyptian condominium took over in the period of (1898-1956), South Sudan was ruled in the remote capital Khartoum. At that time, different Europeans powers who established their control over some South Sudanese territories, did not do anything to unify indigenous natives. British which gained upper-hand later established weak administration with the policies of divide and ruled, a policy Arab later adopted when British left Sudan in 1955. In that regard, South Sudanese natives, had all been segmented groups who see things in favor of their own ethnic-background. Hence, ethnicity provide a lens through which power struggle have been framed throughout most of Southern Sudan, not only recent history, but ancient history as well.
Ironically, there has never been a single era South Sudanese people are totally united, tribalism always surfaced in their affairs. During 1947 Juba conference, 13 South Sudanese delegations who were handpicked and forced to represent South Sudan, had no prior commonality other than seeing themselves through the lens of their tribes. Each one of them was carrying a banner of his tribe affiliation in heart. Federal system they were demanding was a collective of lip agreements following influence from South Sudan British administrators.
When Anya-nya-I was established following the mutiny in Torit on August 18, 1955, the movement was so complex, segmented and most importantly fragile. There was no single chain of command or operation, each self-made commanders were allied with their tribesmen and operate primarily in their tribe-territories. Up to 1968, there were many independent movements in the South with the same objectives to fight the war. They remain separated until, when international community sought to end the war in 1969. Before they could take any major step, South Sudanese movements were required to unite under one movement. That is when South Sudanese who joint Anyanya movement came together. This road toward unity among the various Southern groups had been tried many times by then Southern Sudanese politicians and could not workout. However, 1969 was difference, because international community peace builders, had started looking for well qualify individual to throw their support behind. That is when, Joseph Lagu who was a former Sudan army officer and had a military camp in Owiny-Ki-Bul in Equatoria region was persuaded to unite various segmented forces in the South as disunity was not benefiting anyone.
When 1972 Addis Ababa Peace Agreement was signed promising South Sudan with self-autonomous government with only two branches, legislative branch known as the “ People’s Regional Assembly” and an executive branch known as the “High Executive Council”, thing turned uglier when Nimeiri bypassed Joseph Lagu, the leader of the Anyanya-I movement who had been expected to hold that position. Such an act caused political rivalry between Abel Allier and Joseph Lagu. When Abel Allier put together his administration, ethnic tension began to grow in Juba, Equatorians became suspicious of the growing number of Dinka in civil services. The argument made by the Dinka at the time was that they were well educated under British colonial government, and that their growth in government positions was simply a result of increased access to education since the end of the colonial period. Such argument was not welcome by Equatorians who also had access to education opportunity under colonial rulers. Their response to Dinka domination increase rivaling tension. That ethnic tensions further increased when Joseph Lagu welcomed Ugandan supporters of Idi Amin seeking exile in Southern Sudan. Amin had used harsh anti-Nilotic propaganda, and this move stimulated racism towards South Sudan’s Nilotic tribes, including Dinka, Nuer and Shilluk. Instead of doing anything to ease the tension, Dinka responded by solidifying their alliances with the Arab through Nimeiri. Then, Nimeiri saw it as a window of opportunity to exploit and stimulate the divisions in the South and incite rivalry between Abel Alier and Joseph Lagu. He appointed Abel Alier as President of HEC in 1972 and in 1978, he supported Lagu candidacy and pressured Alier to withdraw, making Lagu the only candidate. Lagu’s presidency was also plagued by corruption scandals, and at the suggestion of opposition leaders including Abel Alier, Nimeiri removed Lagu in 1979 and replaced him with Peter Gatkuoth Gual. After the subsequent elections in 1980, Abel Allier returned for the second time as the President of High Executive Council. That time around, half of his cabinet ministers comprised by Dinka. This again raised fears of Dinka-domination by non-Dinka and in particular Equatorians. Opposition leaders started to accuse Alier’s government of corruption and nepotism. Another point of tension was the large herds of Dinka cattle that had moved to Equatoria since the 1960s, causing conflicts between pastoralists Dinka and agrarian Equatorians over the use of land and destruction of crops and other goodies. Equatorians began to advocate that non-Equatorians have to leaved and go back to their regions. We can argue here that, the division of the South Sudan was initiated primarily by equatorians who felt excluded from power by Dinka. To them, efforts to promote decentralization of the South and transferred the authority from central to local government is no longer necessary. The only solution is total division of the South into small sub-regions. Equatorians hoped division will help them to maintain or gain influence in administrative affairs given that in 1970s, when your ethnic kin is heading a demanding position, you have more chance to get employment and others are discriminated.
When former Anyanya-I officers were doubtful about how the Addis Ababa accord of 1972 implementation was going, they reacted to the point where those who dissatisfied return to bush in 1975. Defectors established army bases in Ethiopia at Gambella region and later join by the rest in 1983. During that maneuvering, tribalism card did not disappear. Kokora began to tear Southern Sudanese apart. In many notes, Kokora is often mentioned as a cause of the civil war that started in the same year of 1983. Some Equatorians believe they are hated because of Kokora. They think the reason why SPLA was established, people felt they were chased away from Juba and that notion kept them from joining the rebellion in its early days. Although Kokora was not the root causes of the civil war, Kokora policy was linked to the breakdown of power and autonomy of the Southern region. Khartoum, used it as an abolition of the Addis Ababa Peace Agreement. It began to show during the establishment and the arrangement of the leadership of the SPLM/A in Ethiopia in 1983.
Tribalism epidermis during the SPLM/A formation in Ethiopia in 1983:
During SPLM/A establishment in Ethiopia, rivaling emerged right away. In that early stage, there were meeting after meeting among Southerners and sometimes with the Ethiopian authority on the formation of the new movement. The talks were aiming to form a new organization, which would include the 1975 and 1983 mutineers. However, the situation had soon become uglier when different ideologies regarding the objective of the movement emerged. One group wanted to fight for independence South Sudan while the second group wanted to liberate the whole country and replace the old Sudan with the new Sudan within the context of a United Sudan under Socialist system that affords democracy and human rights to all nationalities, guarantees freedom to all religious believes, and cultures. The organization general enemies was stated to be reactionaries and imperialists but most importantly, the number one enemy was listed as those in the North and South Sudanese elites who were primarily concerned with their jobs, religious fundamentalists and local warlords such as Anya-nya two defectors who were resisting incorporation into the SPLA.
Another issue that the rebels had to deal with was the leadership of the movement. Many people including Garang wanted Samuel Gai Tut to be the leader of the movement. Gai rejected the suggestion, saying; “the movement should be led by Akuot Atem Demayin” pointing at his age seniority, experience and expertise over all people present during the discussion. He believed Akuot was the most capable person to lead the revolutionary struggle. Garang and many other officers rejected Gai’s suggestion, arguing that “Akuot was too old to lead a revolutionary armed struggle; young leaders like Gai and him are needed to run the movement. John Garang who became the leader of the SPLA/SPLM had reported to favor Gai leading the political wing, where he himself would lead the military wing of the movement, a situation that would have been solved very easily if the two groups had favored the rule of voting where the leader is elected democratically.
Unfortunately, the two groups found no easy solution. They were deadlock! Their struggle continues until when the government of Ethiopia offers its intervention to help in resolving the leadership issue. In order to meet with the Ethiopian authority to help solve their differences, the rebel selected delegates comprising with Akuot Atem, Joseph Oduho, Colonel John Garang, Samuel Gai Tut, Kerubino Kuanyin Bol, Abdullah Chuol Deng, and Salva Kiir Mayardit among others. The purpose of the selection is to meet with the Ethiopian chief of Staff General Mesfin and accompany who would subsequently arrange for the group to meet with Chairman Mengistu Haile Mariam to determine the launch of the new movement. General Mesfin asked the group to write its position paper as a precondition of meeting Mengistu. The group came back and the chairperson Akuot Atem was asks to write the position paper, which he did. Akuot’s paper contained the following conditions: that the movement was a socialist oriented movement fighting for total liberation of the Southern Sudan. When Akuot’s paper had presented to General Mesfin, it was turn down. The group was frankly told in an uncertain term that, “the socialist Ethiopia would never favor the breakup of a sisterly State as stipulated in the Organization of African Unity and the United Nation charters.”
Then the authority told the delegate to go back to Itang refugee camp until farther notices. They were unable to comprehend what the Ethiopian authority exactly wanted. While in Itang, another elder in the group Joseph Oduho made an appeal to Colonel John Garang to write a position paper that would be acceptable to the Ethiopian authority. Garang accepted the offer and wrote the paper that later became the SPLM manifesto. Garang’s paper stated that the Sudanese movement about to be launch should fight for the creation of a socialist oriented united secular Sudan and the entire scattered rebel forces including the Anya-nya 2 must have to be incorporate to the new movement structure. After Garang has done with the paper, they made consultation again to meet with the Ethiopian authority. When the document was presented to the chairperson Mengistu, it was accepted but the question of the leadership remains unresolved. Hence, a meeting had convened again regarding the question of the leadership.
It is good to notice that Ethiopia was a military communist and socialist government; led by Dictator Colonel Megistu Haile Mariam. This made it clear that the government would only favor a military man not politicians like Samuel Gai Tut and Akuot Atem. While the meeting was in session, the separatist group suspected that Ethiopian government is in process to choose John Garang as the leader of the movement. Their suspicion became meaningful when the meeting was at its closing stage, Ethiopian began to dialogue among themselves for a while pointing at Garang as the best leader despite his being a military colonel. Among the delegates, was one separatist member who spoke Amharic and overheard the Ethiopian officials talking about choosing Garang as the leader of the revolutionary movement. The Ethiopians did not know that somebody heard their secret. Base on this rhetoric, all the separatist delegations retreated to Itang and Bilpam where they stationed for a while waiting to see what going to happen next.
As the separatists had indeed suspected, John Garang return to Itang accompanied by the Ethiopian army. Then, separatists who were at Bilpam were re-invited to come to Itang for a farther meeting with unionist, they definitely refused to go for the fear that Garang and Ethiopian forces must capture and detain them. Here, the question of the leadership chapter had closed. Garang had imposed on southern defectors to lead the movement. Then, the process that would have been resulted into a smooth launching of one movement; end up with that disagreement, which led to the formation of two different movements instead of one. One movement remains in Itang and the second one matched to Bilpam joining 1975 mutineers who have lived in the camp for eight years.
Although leadership disagreement among southerners in Ethiopia was ideological, given that Akuot Atom sided with Gai Tut and Chuol Deng, Nyuon Bany and John Kolang sided with John Garang, tribalism interfered right away. The new organization and the Ethiopian forces began to attack Bilpam where separatists had stationed. The separatists were defeated in a heavy flood autumn and took their way back to Sudan; then, the rest were re-integrated into the SPLM/A; that attack triggered the war between the Anyanya two forces and the SPLM/A. The fighting between the SPLA and the Akuot Atem and Gai Tut remnants of the Anya-nya 2 soon attracted Sudan government attention. As quickly as possible, Nimeri begin to pronounce the fighting between the two groups as a war between the Nuer and the Dinka, which was true in the sense.
In the beginning of 1984, Gai tried to negotiate with the SPLM. He led his group to match to Itang aiming to meet with the members of the SPLM/A, eager to see if it would be possible to reunite their forces. Unfortunately, Ethiopian troops did not allow him and his group to enter Itang, where dialogue between him and Garang could possibly take place. Gai left with no other option, other than returning to his base and make a move to re-ally his movement with the Sudanese government if necessary.
Up on returning from Ethiopia headed toward Sudan-Ethiopia border, Gai stationed in Thiajak and Bukteng two places they previously occupied following their defection from the government. Then in April 1984, Gai tried again to move back to negotiate with the SPLM/A; unfortunately, his forces had clashed with the SPLA forces, where he was killed in the battlefield. After his death, Akuot Atem and Chuol Deng continue to lead Anya-nya 2: until when the members of their Anya-nya two army killed Akuot and the SPLA forces under John Kolang Puot: killed Chuol Deng later. The whole struggle became a nightmare! Many separatists retreated to their ethnic group villages seeking their native tribe backing. After the death of Chuol Deng, Gordon Koang Chuol became overall ringleader operating in Nasir District, getting his recruit from Jikany and Lou Nuer; Paulino Matip Nhial went to Bentiu and drew his support mainly from Bul Nuer. In Equatoria, the Equatorian Regional government armed the Kabora Mundri and the Toposa around Kapoeta, against the Dinka and Nuer respectively.
During that time, SPLM/A began to be seen as the Dinka movement despite Dinka domination of High Political Command. Thus, Dinka domination and the SPLM/A culture of destruction to brutalized civilians, turn the movement from being a genuine national liberation movement of all South Sudanese into a Dinka creed.
The strong link between being a soldier in a national liberation movement and the solidarity with the people was completely absent. Non-Dinka soldiers are often marginalized and usually kept on frontline to die. This militarization of ethnic identity contributed to the split in 1991. In the aftermath of 1991 split, armed violence between the two SPLA factions became increasingly ethicized, leading to indiscriminate targeting of civilians on both sides. As the result, ethnic identities became more pronounced and exclusive, as well as more relevant for the ordinary South Sudanese, both inside and outside of armed forces. All short comings during bush days, culminated into South Sudan current crisis.
Tribalism in current ethnic violence in South Sudan
Since its eruption on December 15, 2015, current South Sudan civil unrest has been corned as a power struggle between two top leaders Salva Kiir and Riek Machar. These pronouncements could not be discarded given the rhetoric that led to the storm and tongue advocacy that followed. Succinctly, the genesis of the party power struggle that led to this current crisis is not just an occurrence that came by surprise out in blue. The agony has been expected since the death of the late SPLM founder Dr. John Garang. However, the transition from the death of John Garang was very smooth due to the fear of Arab threats. It was not necessarily emerging out of the fact that people had agreed on the leadership. The differences that existed within the government of Southern Sudan then and now in the Republic of the South Sudan government after the referendum, had brought this setback conflict. At the political level, they split the vision of the party with first group derogatorily referred to as “Garang Boys” which consisted mainly of the close cadres that were the lieutenants of the late Garang and those who were very active in articulating Garang’s vision of the new Sudan. The northern government labeled this group as the former communist and those who are still supporting the Northern SPLA of Abdel Aziz and Malik Agar of the then northern sector of the united SPLM party. That group currently shrink.
The second group is mutually base on those who challenged the leadership of the late Garang in the infamous Rumbek conference in December of 2004, where commander Salva stated his displeasure with his boss over the changes to the structure of the SPLM movement. Several individuals who spoke out against Dr. Garang at that time still today consider themselves as Kirr Boys. Although Kiir does not seem to accept these people or their perception, this has been the trend in his two administrations both during the interim period of the CPA and now in the post CPA after the referendum. Some of these differences manifested themselves in the highest body of the political bureau activity. As the result, the group that was far behind in the hierarchy of the party before the peace has signed were appointed into the political bureau. These include Telar Deng, Awut Deng Acuil, and Aleu Anyeny—who were critical of the late Garang. Yet, some of the senior members of the party during Garang’s reign were left out from the leadership body during the interim period for unexplained reasons; Nhial Deng was one of those individuals.
In early days of Southern Sudan self-autonomous government formation, tribalism was not surfaced as a stumbling block, instead, the formation of the first Southern Sudan interim government and the government of National Unity met only with a number of SPLM turncoats appointed into sensitive positions that had been given to the party. These appointments cemented the element of doubt in the mind of many SPLM cadres about the direction of Kiir’s administration. Those who are call “Garang Boys” believe Salva had somehow turn his back on them and pay great attention to those who are being termed as “Salva Boys”. In the form of retaliatory manner, those who are suspecting to be Kiir Boys were somehow targeted in the party machinations led by Secretary General Pagan Amum and they were subjected to some internal disciplinary actions for their alleged diversions from party guidelines especially on party policy issues as well as foreign policy issues.
The change from SPLM/A liberator’s rule to one ethnic group rule
When South Sudan was declared independence in 2011, President Salva Kiir twisted the game. The appointment of ministerial posts that had usually concentrated at the hand of the SPLM/A cadres both Kiir and Garang boys, had shifted. The color of one ethnic domination emerged; more ministries were filled with one tribes, the Dinka. The rests that was located to other ethnic groups were directed to more confident loyalist individuals who can always remain with the President no matter what change availed itself. From that point, kitchen cabinet members who had always been loyalists, turned to Jieng Council of Elders (JCE).
The nature of nepotism generate tribal mistrust among politicians. However, the internal rivalry increased when the SPLM leadership dispatched members of the political bureau to ten South Sudan states—-to thank masses of South Sudanese people for their unwavering overwhelming support rendered throughout the years of liberation struggle and for leading a successful referendum that subsequently bring the unquestionable overdue independence. While in the States, these political leaders had quickly found out that, what was planned to be a congratulatory interaction between them and ordinary citizen–turned out largely to be a condemnation of the party. In the view of ordinary grassroots citizen, the ruling party (SPLM) had lost vision and direction, because it had not been able to deliver badly needed essential basic services such as roads networks, health facilities, security, education and clean drinking water. The grassroots’ message of disapproval disturbed the leadership. Upon the return of the dispatched leaders from the field, figure pointing has emerged as to who should be blamed for this apparent failure. The blaming issue did not just stop at figure pointing, declaration of contest or intentions to unseat the president from chairpersonship of the party engulf the political arena as previously indicated. Dr. Riek among ambitious contenders, had highlighted six critical issues including herein “rampant corruption, rising tribalism, overwhelming insecurity, dwindling economy, poor international relations and that the country’s ruling party (SPLM) is losing vision and direction.” He believes he could tackle these tough challenges once he is given a chance to hold the country’s number one job. Meanwhile, party secretary general Pagan Amum Okiech, accused both President Salva Kiir and vice president Riek Machar for failing the country. Instead, he wants himself to lead the party and subsequently run for presidency comes 2015. Rebecca Nyandeng who is the window of the late Dr. John Garang the founder of the SPLM/A and a presidential advisor on gender and human rights: has the same ambition to contest for the top seat, saying, both Salva and Riek have not kept the promises her husband made. She argues that SPLM party has departed from the ideals her husband had fought and died for since the inception of the movement. Besides Riek, Pagan, and Rebecca, second deputy chairperson and the speaker of the SPLM dominated South Sudan national Legislative Assembly (SSLA) James Wani Igga issued a double standard declaration that, if Salva Kiir is not running for re-election, he will seek the position of the chairpersonship of the party. If Salva still seeking re-election in the upcoming national convention, he (Igga) would continue to be deputy. The meeting was adjourned without setting the date to convene this would be supposedly third SPLM national convention.
Rather than quelling an emerging situation as the SPLM party chairperson, Salva Kiir allowed matters to take different turns until when the country find itself being ruled by more presidential decrees. Hence, on April 15, 2013, Salva Kiir issued a presidential decree to withdraw powers delegated to the vice president which include stopping him from conducting the “National Reconciliation” that was stipulated in the Comprehensive Peace Agreement to be carried out in order to heal the bitter hatred that had built among Sudanese communities during the wartime mainly between South Sudanese. A week later, Salva Kiir has sugarcoated the move he had taken by delegating Dr. Riek to lead a team of delegations to Khartoum to iron out some outstanding issues between South Sudan and Sudan especially oil reproduction and Abyei demarcation. After the delegation had returned, there was no signaling changes of the party internal agony; only rumors had heavily occupied Juba from end to end and masses were bragging on implications new political development will bring. It was an anxious political development waiting to be resolved once convention is ultimately convened. Promptly, the month of May 2013 that party elections supposed to be conducted had arrived and Salva Kiir tactically delayed the function. Instead, he had decided to “influence” inner circle confidential individuals to conduct regional conferences. Urgently, Equatorians and Bahr el Ghazalians begun to conduct conferences and declare their support to Salva Kiir. A move Riek Machar had rejected.
He discouraged Upper Nile conference conduction, saying, “Conferences should be conducted on political parties’ bases rather than regional bases” which sound so logical to those who understand democratic functioning process. In that particular period, negative accusations are interchanged and the atmosphere in Juba was cracking sluggishly. While the issue of party rivaling dominated the media, suddenly on June 18-19, 2013 Salva Kiir had decided to sack two political bureaus members—-Kosti Manibe and Deng Alor Kuol. Through another presidential decree and order, them to appear before an investigation committee to answer questions relating to the transfer of nearly 8 million dollars to a firm called “Daffy Investment Group Limited.” According to the report, the money allegedly said to have been transferred to buy special fireproof materials for the government offices. While the two men investigation process were pending, Dr. Riek and Pagan Amum continue to be vocal, criticizing Kiir’s arbitrary actions. Sooner thereafter, on July 23, 2013 Salva Kiir issued another presidential decree dismissing Dr. Riek Machar from vice presidency, dissolving the whole cabinet and suspending the SPLM party Secretary General Pagan Amum and subjected him to criminal investigation over corruption charges.
Pagan suspension came as the result of his outspokenness against the dismissal of Manibe and Alor in addition to many remarks he previously made about the ruling party’s failure attributed to kiir mismanagement and dictatorial tendency. Ultimately, the party had sharply divided with majority members siding with Riek demanding the reforms.
While observing this SPLM party political maneuvering, one could analyze that, there was no united front to challenge Salva Kiir among SPLM Political Bureau members. Had the vote been conducted, voters would have been split between these aspirants, given that they all have different political motives in seeking the leadership of the party. The only common factor in their aspiration to replace Kiir is the poor performance by Kiir’s administration since he resumes office in 2005. Although these contenders try to distance themselves from Kiir, public opinion see them in the same category with Kiir: saying, “all of them have failed the country from moving forward.” With exception of Dr. Riek Machar, the rest of these contenders have no political basis in the party. For instance, Rebecca Nyandeng De Mabior widow of John Garang, has only the name of John Garang, she has no political program. Pagan Amum Okeich has some popularity at the international level for his oratory ability and articulation but he has no enough grassroots support. James Wani Igga has some support among Dinka community but fewer followers among Equartorians and the rest of South Sudanese. Dr. Riek has acquired diverse followers in the ten States of South Sudan, but 1991 incident haunting him negatively.
Although his association with Rebecca Nyandeng has added more weight to his aspiration, yet, Madam Rebecca declaration to contest for the party leadership had added some sort of confusion as well. In that regard, one would like to state that, the contenders’ call for change of the party leadership was weak, given that they were not have the unify voice. Their segmentation would have given Salva Kiir a chance to remain the chairperson of the party. He could have had enough vote to defeat the above contenders because they could split voters among themselves. However, not all these political aspirations had implemented because Salva Kiir had failed to allow democratic dialogue within the party and seek different avenues to get rid of his challengers.
As power struggle was continuing, the nation became deeply concern and worried that this political maneuvering might result into something uglier. Some elders particularly the church group, made many attempts to persuade both leaders to raise beyond their differences. Thus, efforts to reconcile the differences between the two rivaling groups were ignored especially from the members of the faith groups who made many attempts—urging leaders to sort out their differences.
As the situation was turning here and there unbearably, Salva travel to Khartoum on august 2, 2013 and reportedly promises Omar El Bashir that, he will have suspended all aid to the SPLM-North, which he always denied providing. In South Sudan, he began touring Bahr el Ghazal region preparing for worse days ahead. In Akon his hometown, where he addresses a large group of people in Dinka language, which was aired on SSTV. He had the following words to say. “Look, this power which I have belongs to you. You fought and died for it, now some people want to snatch it from me, will you accept that?’ The whole crow reply by saying “ace be gam” meaning we will not accept. That trip lasted by him requesting 15,000 militias he has secretly trained under the watchful eye of Paul Malong Awan to be deployed to Juba. The move caused shape disagreements between Salva and James Hoth Mai. Hoth opposed the nature of illegal recruitment of tribal militias without his knowledge as a chief of general staff and urged the army to stay away from political influence. Then the two men remain at odd and Kiir kept his new militias separate from the country main army near Juba. Day after day, rivaling kept widening and the voices that were clamoring for change of the attitudes went through deaf ears. Kiir proceed ahead with his presidential decrees and sometimes threaten to dissolve the parliament if the later fail to approve his appointees. This warning of dissolving the parliament came after a vetting committee chaired by Hon. Abuk Payiti Ayiik, wife of dismissed minister of education peter Adwok Nyaba. Abuk has reported concerns to the national legislature about the qualifications of the president’s appointee for minister of justice, his close ally Telar Ring Deng. The committee also highlights Telar’s role in a proposed deal to purchase land for the Bank of South Sudan. In a closed secret ballot, Parliament had voted to reject Telar’s appointment. All other cabinet ministers were approved. On august 23, 2013 Kiir issues a decree appointing James Wani Igga, speaker of the national legislative Assembly, as vice-president. After many Nuer refuse to occupied the office. He is confirmed three days later by the parliament.
Then, on September 2, 2013, he appointed Magok Rundial as the new speaker of the parliament; he nominated him while there were many voices favoring Dr. Riek Machar for the position. After Salva has done with nominations, his sacked former ministers and the vice president still wanted him to call the SPLM party meeting since they all are still senior members in the party. Yet, Salva kept avoiding calling a meeting. While officially opening the new offices of the SPLM Secretariat on November 15, 2013 in Juba, Kiir announced he is dissolving all political structures of the SPLM, which include the highest executive organ, the political Bureau and the National Liberation Council (NLC). Salva declared SPLM had dissolved itself except his position as the chairperson despite the fact that the dateline in which SPLM convention supposed to be held has passed, forgetting that he was the one who opposed the convening of the convention. The sacked seating SPLM members were not happy about that tone.
They responded by calling a press conference on December 6, 2013 at the new premises of the SPLM Secretariat Kiir had just opened while Kiir was on an official visit to Paris. The group is led by the former vice president and the deputy chairperson Dr. Riek Machar in present of Rebecca Nyandeng (widow of the late John Garang), Pagan Amum Okiech, Deng Allor Kuol, Alfred Ladu Gore, Oyay Deng Ajak, Majak D’Agoot Atem, Madut Biar Yel, Gier Chuong Aluong, Peter Adwok Nyaba, Chol Tong Mayay, Taban Deng Gai, Ezekiel Lol Gatkuoth, John Luk Jock, Kosti Manibe Ngai, and Cirino Hiteng Ofuho. They call on Kiir to hold a meeting of the SPLM Political Bureau—which he declined calling since March meeting—to discuss differences over the management of the party. They accuse Kiir of dictatorial tendency. They also announced a public rally would be held on December 14, 2013 in Juba, at the site of John Garang’s mausoleum. By hearing that a rally is going to be held on the 14th, Salva Kiir and his group had subsequently announced that, the SPLM’s long-awaited Political Bureau meeting has to be conducted on the same day. The fact that Salva had conflicting the days by scheduling the meeting on the day Riek group scheduled their rally, Riek issued a statement on December 13, 2013 declaring that the planned rally by his group will be postpone until 20 December, aiming to allow more time for the dialogue. He did this for two reasons. Once, he does not want to conduct rally while Salva is convening a parallel meeting and second, he was responding to calls by the elders and religious leaders who were demanding more dialogue between the two groups.
Then, on December 14, 2013 Salva convened a meeting despite the calls for delays, Riek, Rebecca Nyandeng and some members in their camp attended the meeting. In the opening remarks, Kiir gave a combative speech referencing every word to 1991 split in the SPLM, which had been led by Dr. Riek Machar. Instead of taking time to discuss internal tensions, Kiir deviating from the spirit of dialogue and leave the good gesture for dialogue on democracy in the party rendered by senior leaders of the SPLM party and dwell on the negative aspect of the situation.
His tone was so hostile leaving no room for political dialogue. Beside Salva Kiir combative speech, some basic documents such as manifesto and the constitution were passed without any objection. In the next day that is December 15, 2013, National Liberation Council (NLC) reconvened the meeting. Dr. Riek and his group did not attend the function and justify their decision by saying, “they don’t want to participate in the dismissal process of the party’s suspended secretary-general,” Pagan Amum who the president suspended and form a committee of investigation team headed by the 2nd Deputy Chairman of the SPLM and the Speaker of SSLA James Wani Igga in membership with three other members of the politburo. He was tried in absentia by the above-mentioned handpicked committee appointed by Kiir.
During his opening speech at NLC meeting, Kiir said the committee that investigated Pagan, had recommended his dismissal and urged the members to act on the report. In that regard, Dr. Riek called on other members of the NLC to withdraw from the meeting due to its undemocratic process. They consult each other and plan to review the party’s current situation in light of Kiir’s lack of enthusiasm for political dialogue within the party to resolve some contentious issues on democracy in the party. Due to Dr. Riek and his group absent in the next day session on December 15, 2013, Kiir get mad and began to instruct Major-general Marial Chanuong; the commander of the Presidential Guards, to disarm the Guards who are Nuer within his residency. During the disarmament that evening, fighting breaks out in Giyada between Dinka and Nuer elements within the presidential Guards. The fighting later on spreads very quickly to new site and Bilpam Headquarters until the morning when the SPLA’s 2nd division recaptured areas captured by Nuer the night before. Within that morning on December 16, 2013, a combination of Dinka Army, security personnel and Salva Kiir private militia or Gelweng whom he called presidential-republican guards heavily armed with tanks and amours roaming on streets of Juba, begin to arrest, abuse and kill Nuer soldiers, politicians, and civilians in every street corners of Juba town. The fact that they know South Sudanese somehow physically resemble each other, these Dinka murderers instructed one another to ask first if the identity of targeted Nuer is not clear. They asked their prey in Dinka language, “E yin nga?” which simply translates as “who are you?” or “Yin choldi” which is, what is your name? Whenever you are unable to answer them in fluent clear Dinka language, risked being identify as Nuer. Sometimes, they just base their recognition on Nuer facial marks (scarification) from the rest of South Sudanese communities in Juba. Even Dinka who bear the same traditional marks as Nuer had somehow lost their lives in those dark days. They were mistakenly kill as Nuer. After the Dinka who lost loved ones claimed their relatives are also mistakenly kill. Gelweng and Mathiang-Anyor begun the door-to-door search directed to the areas that are populating by Nuer. Hunter-soldiers contemplated and demand to see your ID in order to verify whether you are a Nuer or not, because Dinka and Nuer names are somehow different although there are many names that are the same
Although Salva Kiir had commanded only his native Dinka to kill Nuer, their fellow Nuer initiated some Nuer deaths. For instant, the chief of General staff James Hoth Mai who is a Nuer by ethnicity planned the death of 35 Riek’s bodyguards. According to Rebecca Nyandeng De Mabior, interview, aired in Nairobi and published on Sudan tribune website. Hoth came to Dr. Riek residency early in the morning and found Riek’s guards guarding the house. He told the bodyguards that, he has to disarm them in order for him to serve their lives. After he disarmed them, he later notified Tiger battalion soldiers to enter Dr. Riek’s house in order to kill the guards. Those who try to flee either were pursue with tanks or shot at if they are still in close range. Whenever the killers had done searching on one location, they go to the next location where they believe Nuer must be hiding. Base on that hunt, many Nuer people lost their lives. After two days, various international news agencies cited a death toll of 500 and 800 wounded. Majority of the wounded individuals also died given that Gelweng militias followed and killed them on their hospital beds as per order of some Salva Kiir sycophants. In Juba massacre, about 20,000 to 30, 000 Nuer are believed to have died. Many of these innocent Nuer civilians lost their lives simply because Dr. Riek Machar trace from Nuer. Some of the Nuer were shot at as they were running to the United Nations Mission in South Sudan basses. Some were round up in Gudele and nearby neighborhoods and taken to the Gudele police station. In one documented case, about 200-300 or 400 Nuer civilians who were imprisoned before being executed in the following evening of December 16, 2013. The killing had continued for four days until when some survivors were rescued by the UNMISS security personnel adding to those who survive because they covered themselves with dead bodies and get away after their killers’ retreat thinking they killed every one of those they clustered in ghost buildings. As the week wore on, the bodies of slain began to pile up and fresh reports of atrocities dissimilated by NGOs had increased, the government order soldiers to remove bodies out of the scene. Hence, there were reports by NGOs that trucks were loaded with dead bodies carrying them to be dumped in mass grave burials. Many people were dismembering or burn. Women and girls were rape and men were force to eat the body parts of dead relatives or face death if they try to refuse. All these atrocities were carrying out by Salva private militias.
When Salva Kiir appeared on SSTV dress up in complete military attires, accompanied by senior officials and began to declare that a coup had been attempt against him by former vice President Dr. Riek Machar and that forces loyal to him had crushed and pursuing coup plotters. He failed to mention how his guards were also hunting innocent Nuer civilians on any street corners or door to door in Juba. In his remark, he had totally lied! Instead of telling the truth about how fighting broke out, Salva describe the incident as that, “an unidentified person near Nyakuron Cultural Center released gunshot in the air and escaped. This was followed later by an attack at the SPLA general headquarters near Juba University by a group of soldiers allied to the former vice president, Dr. Riek Machar Teny, and his group,” Kiir said “the attacks continued until the morning.” He described Dr. Riek as a “prophet of doom who continues to persistently pursue his actions of the past,” referring to the 1991 split. Salva continue to say that, “these people are criminals, this is not the first time they attempted a coup. We don’t want a country of lawlessness,” he acknowledged! In addition, he announced the arrest of all politicians who he accused of masterminding the coup. After Salva announcement was completed, security forces loyal to him begin to arrest a series of senior high-ranking SPLM members in Juba. Initially, those who have been detained include: Oyay Deng Ajak, former head of national security; Majak De Agoot Atem, former deputy of defense minister, Gier Chuang Aluong, former roads minister; Cirino Hiteng Ofuho, former sports minister; John Luk Jock, former justice minister; Deng Alor Kuol, former minister of cabinet affairs; Madut Biar, one-time telecommunication minister; Pagan Amum, ex-SPLM secretary general and former chief negotiator in talks with Sudan; Ezekiel Lol Gatkuoth, former South Sudan head of mission to the United States of America; Kosti Manibe Ngai, former minister of finance and Economic Planning; and finally Chol Tong Mayai, former Governor of Lakes State; Dr. Riek Machar, former vice president; Afred Lado Gore, former minister of environment; and Taban Deng Gai, former Governor of Unity State; slip away and were on the run. Then, Rebecca Nyandeng De Mabior, advisor to the president and Dr. Adwork Nyaba, former minister of education had been confined in their residential homes. Nyandeng was later allow to leave Juba for Kenya but Peter Adword was prevented from moving anywhere; his passports were confiscated and was made to remain in Juba even when all detainees are later released. How does he leave Juba? The author will address how he left Juba when he is addressing the release of all detainees.
On December 18, 2013 Dr. Riek Machar, exclusively spoke to news media outlet for the first time since the violence erupted on Sunday December 15, 2013. He had denied involvement in an alleged coup attempt in Juba, saying, “It was another undemocratic attempt by Salva Kiir to get rid of his political critics in the party and the government.” He further stated that, “there was no coup” and described what had taken place in Juba as “misunderstanding between presidential guards within their division, no official from ruling SPLM party had any connection with alleged coup.” He insisted that “Salva Kiir is simply looking for a way to falsely accuse his detractors in order to frustrate the democratic processes he and his colleagues has persistently been calling for within the party but, Salva Kiir doesn’t want that. He wanted to use the alleged coup attempt to get rid of his political opponents so that he will control the government and the party.” Dr. Riek has also condemned Kiir’s action for encouraging or condoning the massacre of Nuer citizens.
On the same date, Dr. Riek, some of his family members, General Taban Deng and those who slip away with them arrives Bor by boat. That was also the same day, when the SPLA division 8th under Commander Peter Gatdet Yaka, seized the key military sites of Panpandier and Malual Chaat in Bor Jonglei State. After Peter Gatdet had secured significant military hardware, he declared that he had rebelled against the government. A move that was widely supported by those whose relatives were slaughter in Juba. Profoundly, many soldiers had defected with Gatdet and seized the control of Bor town, overcoming some resistance from security forces who are still loyal to the government. That evening, an unidentified Nuer gunmen attack group of Dinka soldiers who left their station and reported to the (UNMISS) in Akobo in the form of retaliation regarding the ongoing massacre in Juba. In that attack, six Dinka soldiers and two Indian peacekeeper officers were reportedly, kill. On the next day, which is December 19, 2013, an ethnic fighting breaks out between staffs at a base camp of the Greater Pioneer Operating Company in Unity State oil field late in the evening. At that fighting, five people were report to have been kill. Later in the day, eleven more people were also reported to have been killed as fighting was spreading between workers at the Tharjiath oil field. Furthermore, another fighting broke out in 4th Division Headquarters in Rupkone which mean (jungle of tamarind trees) involving Tanks and other sophisticated machine guns before spreading to surrounding civilian areas. Following that heavy fighting in Bentiu and neighboring Rupkone in Unity State, James Koang Chuol announces that he has defected with his division and has deposed Joseph Monytuel as the governor of Unity State after his tank Unit commander had attempted to assassinate him under instruction from Monytuel and senior military figures in Juba. Koang has been reported to instruct his forces to respect diversity and not engage in revenge killings.
On December 20, 2013, there was a report that opposition forces had taken Torit and are marching toward Juba. That report turns out to be untrue, given that, the whole of Eastern Equatoria State remains calm and in government hands. However, the report brought panic to Juba and caused more evacuation among civilians in Juba. In the same day, Salva Kiir has issued a decree to reinstate five SPLA officers whom he already detained and later placed on reserve after they were release. These officers are Peter Bol Kong, Simon Gatwech Dual, Thiep Gatluak, Garang Mabil Deng and Bol Akot. Salva was in a mood to use these officers in a fight against Riek Machar forces. He also announced the appointment of 22 individuals whom he said would be a Crisis Management Committee (CMC) chaired by Vice-president James Wani Igga to assess the impact of the crisis. Also on that day, Ugandan Special Forces were deployed to South Sudan out of Salva Kiir request. Then, on December 21, 2013, Ugandan-fighting jets began to bomb rebel positions in Bor. Out of that bombardment, rebels made themselves ready to take down any fighting jet that flight above their control areas, assuming that they are all Ugandan military fighting jets. Unfortunately, on the same day, rebel had mistakenly hit U.S Air Force V-22 Osprey aircraft– thinking that it was Ugandan fighting aircraft and four American personnel were wounded in that incident. As bombing continued on rebels from Ugandan air fighting jets, Peter Gatdet ordered a tactical withdrawal from the town and stationed in outskirt peripheries. Then, on December 24, 2013, heavy fighting broke out in Malakal. The army elements of SPLA Division 7th defected and captured Malakal—the capital of Upper Nile State. People were devastated and drastically contemplated to choose where their support is going to be. Those who chose to remain with the government decided to seek refuge in UNMISS base, meanwhile those who want to join the rebellion remain with defectors, planning to slip away to the bush with the rebels once they later fail to maintain the town. Among those who sought UNMISS protection was Simon Kun Puoch the governor of the Upper Nile State, after the capture of Malakal on 24 December. In the next day, which is December 25, 2013, the same defection occurred in the State, SPLA Division 7th in Fashoda splits peacefully between forces loyal to the government and those who chose to join the resistance rebellion. Among those who decided to join the government was Johnson Olony, Olony was newly reintegrated into the mother SPLA out of Dr. Lam Akol influent when the later decided to accept the pardon Salva Kiir offered to him. Dr. Lam fell out with Salva Kiir in 2007 that led him to break away from the SPLM party in 2008 and formed the SPLM-DC. However, the fact that Salva this time around fell out with Pagan Amum, Dr. Adwork Nyaba and Oyay Deng Ajak the top three Shilluk politicians in addition to Dr. Lam himself, Salva felt that, he could lose support of Shilluk as he was planning for the war. While observing the done deal between Kiir and Lam, one began to conclude the move had affirmed the political phrases that “yesterday enemy are today mutual friends or there are no permanent friends in politics.” On the same day December 25, during Christmas day celebration, Salva address the Christians at St. Theresa’s Cathedral in Juba, in his message to Christians, Salva acknowledged the Nuer massacre in Juba by stating that, “those perpetrators who kept murdering Nuer in Juba are in fact destroying him rather than doing him any favor”.
On Thursday December 26, 2013, Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta far right and Ethiopian Prime Minister Haile Mariam Desalegn left; flew to Juba to visit 11 former officials who had been detained out of alleged coup plot. These East African leaders were also wanted to consults with Salva Kiir as the region was making itself ready to find ways to mediate peace among the divided SPLM party. In the previous week after Sunday December 15 when the war broke out, envoys from Ethiopia, Kenya, Djibouti, Somalia and Uganda converged in Juba trying to find ways to help tackled the new nation crisis. This is indicating that, Uhuru and Haile Mariam’s visit the week after, was to add more weight to the already mediation efforts their respective foreign ministers together with regional delegations that went to Juba earlier had started.
After the end of their visit to political detainees and consultation with Kiir, Kiir assured them that, he is willing to negotiate peace with former vice president Dr. Riek Machar; however, it has to be an unconditional negotiation. Upon their return, the whole region contemplated to assemble in Kenya on December 27, 2013 to deliberate on South Sudan instability. On that day, all IGAD members States held an extraordinary heads of State meeting in Nairobi-Kenya on South Sudan emerged conflict. The communique had stated that IGAD had condemned and rejected any attempt of changing the government of the Republic of South Sudan with the use of force. In another word, the summit condemned Dr. Riek Machar and his group for their move to overthrow an elected President through a military coup, but Riek simultaneously denied such an accusation, saying, “he had never have thought in any single day about planning a coup against South Sudan government.”
Although some IGAD member nations did not pick side to support on yet to be civil war, the summit on 27 was conducted under the influent of Yoweri Museveni commands who want other East African nations to go along with him to destroy Riek Machar and his backers. The meeting has praised the effort of the Uganda government, which military had already entered South Sudan and put forth an allegation that it interfered and entered South Sudan to secure critical infrastructures and installations. Hence, the organization pledges its support to such an effort. The resolution was in favor of Museveni influence that, If Riek Machar refuses to cease hostilities and does not surrendered within four days of this communique; the region will consider taking further measure actions against him. Also during the gathering, Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta stated, “We in IGAD will not accept the unconstitutional overthrow of a dully and democratically elected government in South Sudan.” He further illustrated that, “violence must have to be stopped immediately” saying, “violence has never provided optimum solutions, it only begot more violence.” Lastly, the conference ended up by appointing three peace envoys to jumpstart peace talks between Salva Kiir and Riek Machar. The three envoys headed by the former foreign minister of The Republic of Ethiopia Seyoum Mesfin, deputized by Kenyan General Lazaro Sumbeiywo who helped broker the 2005 Sudan peace deal that led to the South Sudan’s independence in 2011and with the membership of the Sudanese General Mohamed Ahmed al-Dabi.
Beside Ethiopia, Kenya, Sudan and all regional bloc members’ involvement to find ways of bringing about peace in South Sudan, the triumvirate (Troika) that is, the United States, Great Britain and Norway were also among the leading nations that were making efforts to open peace talks between Salva Kiir and Riek Machar. These three country envoys were making contact with South Sudan government and rebels as well. Therefore, on Tuesday December 23, 2013, the United States envoy to South Sudan Donald Booth, met with Salva Kiir and later reported that he has had a great discussion with him. Booth said “Salva is willing to begin talks with his former deputy Dr. Riek Machar” who has been in hiding since violence broke out in the newest nation. After Booth and Kiir meeting, Booth made a phone call to Dr. Riek Machar urging him to meet with Salva Kiir. In his respond, Dr. Riek has insisted that, in order for talk to take place, “the government has to free the political detainees, otherwise the talk would not be possible.”
Other voices who were calling for peace talks was that of the United Nations Secretary-General who called on South Sudanese leaders to find a political means to address the conflict otherwise continued violence will pose a very dangerous threat to the future of the young nation. In response to those voices calling for peaceful get together, Salva Kiir acted coolly, as if he was proposing a unilateral ceasefire but at the same time, he was ordering the troops to attack rebel strongholds in Bor, Bentiu and Malakal. However, SPLM-IO accept the peace talks with the hope that foreign fighters Salva Kiir had brought to South Sudan to fight on his behave must be order to return to their native countries by the IGAD mediators. On the same day, 28 December, James Koang Chol accused Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) of supporting the government in Juba by moving to Pariang County in Unity State from Nuba Mountains. Immediately, JEM issued a respond statement denying the accusation, saying, it would not interfere with South Sudan internal conflict. This claim had later turned out to be untrue given that aids workers in the area reported they have seen JEM vehicles moving to Unity State in armoring convoys. Therefore, JEM leaders were lying when they denied their involvement in South Sudan conflict.
Then on December 30, 2013, Ugandan president Yoweri K. Museveni paid a visit to Juba and pledged his full support to tyranny regime of Salva Kiir. When Museveni and Kiir held a press conference, Museveni told the assembled press conference attendees that, “IGAD gave Riek Machar only four days to respond and if he doesn’t, we all shall have to go for him, all of us.” When Museveni was asked and pressed by the reporter on what he meant to “go for him” he responded: “to defeat him” referring to Dr. Riek Machar. This call to go for him all of us, was later executed by Museveni alone, all other IGAD member countries that would have gone for him later have decided to stay neutral and chose to pursue the end of South Sudan conflict through dialogue rather than direct military confrontation. If any other IGAD member’s nation had contributed army to fight Riek Machar, they may have done so secretly.
The region, international community and South Sudanese call for peaceful solution and remorse from tribalism that charred their nation:
Since the outbreak of physical confrontation in Juba, thousands of people have been killed and millions were driven out from their homes to either United Nations peacekeeper bases or neighboring countries, IGAD, international community and some South Sudanese natives took it upon themselves to advocate for the peaceful solution to the conflict. In that early stage of conflict ignition, millions were faced by food shortages that force humanitarian donors around the world to pure in food aid in order to prevent famine or humanitarian catastrophe. In order to block such manmade crisis, South Sudanese and friends of South Sudan alike, took it upon themselves and frequently communed between their respective residencies and government centers around the globe to request world’s powerful leaders to act accordingly on solving South Sudan matter. Some prominent outstanding calls for action were made by forming rallies in Australia, Canada, the United States of America and many other countries. The tone was, “We need Peace in South Sudan”. One outstanding contribution was made by a patriotic South Sudanese named Simon Deng, who led a hungry strike to White House for one month asking President Obama to act now. His call coincided with Obama scheduled official visit to Africa, which subsequently corresponded with fourth anniversary of South Sudan independence. In his Address to African Union, Obama called on South Sudanese leaders to sign already proposed IGAD-Plus compromise proposal to resolute South Sudan’s conflict one and for all otherwise the warring parties will face sanction if they are not going to meet the dateline. Behind the scene, he also met with important individuals urging them to play positive role come scheduled date of August 17, 2015.
As the day was drawing near, South Sudanese both in government and rebels, in addition to IGAD mediators had congregated to sensitize the document. Some IGAD heads of State shuttled to Uganda to see how President Museveni stand on proposed compromise document. Mr. Museveni was not only rigid, he also came up with a parallel proposal that erased provisions which give rebels 53% upper hand in Greater Upper Nile region. A move that rebels’ chief responded by written an accusation letter to IGAD-Plus mediators; saying, “the outcome of the Kampala summit not only contradicts but also completely undermine the IGAD-Plus Proposal that was presented to the stakeholders in July as basis to negotiate upon.”
On Thursday and Friday August 13 and 14 respectively, voices to persuade Salva Kiir to attend Peace talks were roaring given that the later ruled out he will not attend the peace talks, he only aimed to delegate his Vice President James Wani Igga to represent him in Addis Ababa. Instead of boarding the shuttle, Salva resorted of calling a special Council of Ministers’ meeting on Friday August 14, 2015 which have been attended by Presidential Advisors, Members of the SPLM Political Bureau, some heads of South Sudan Political Parties he has confidence in, South Sudan ten (10) States governors, Heads of independent Commissions, Chief Administrators of Abyei & Pibor, Senior members of the National Legislative Assembly and members of the Council of States. Their meeting resolute that, all government negotiating team must be called back to Juba, Salva Kiir must not travel to Ethiopia and delegate James Wani; they also wanted to know whether Yoweri Museveni proposal of discarding IGAD-Plus proposal has been accepted and finally, the argument that Peace could not be signed while the rift occurred in rebel camp. Out of all these five points, the prominent of all is that, the tyranny regime developed a nil hope propagating that above mentioned rift is a heck of a bigger deal.
Finally on Sunday August 16, Salva Kiir gave in, out of regional presidents’ intense diplomatic pressure especially the voice of Yoweri Museveni who have a great linkage with him than the rest; and flew to Addis Ababa to join already overcrowded compatriots and the international community observers who had hoped South Sudan’s rival factions would finally reach political settlement to result almost two years conflict that torn the country desperately. Hence, early on Monday August 17, 2015 at 9:00 A.M, all delegates congregated in Sheraton Hotel in Addis Ababa Ethiopia full with euphoric expectation to chant after the peace is signed. Unfortunately, such an expectation fade away when Salva Kiir refused to broker a deal, citing looming rift in the rebel camp one had previously stated. He warned the function that, it would not be possible to sign a lasting peace while other opposition factions are excluded. While discussions were underway, and signatures were expected, Museveni pullout from the venue of the peace talks in Addis Ababa and the media reasoning that he has had clashes with other regional leaders which get in his nerve and expelled him before Dr. Riek, Pagan Amum and the rest of signatories signed their part on the peace document.
It has been stipulated the chairperson of IGAD regional body Prime Minister Haile Mariam Desalegn told Museveni Uganda’s support to Salva Kiir was complicating regional efforts to persuade Salva to sign the peace and angered Museveni to walk out before the peace agreement is worked out by the IGAD-Plus mediators and South Sudan parties to the conflict. When Kiir saw Museveni retreated, he as well made an attempt to evacuate the talks. Such move prompted Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta to engage him in the hallway. President Kenyatta’s gesture tell it all. He was verbally telling Kiir to come back and sign the document. After Salva Kiir settled to asked for 15 more days to consult with his sycophantic masses in Juba and only initialed the document, Madam Rebecca Nyandeng De Mabior widow of the SPLM/A founder Dr. John Garang, broke down and shed tears, which she later reasoned in an interview that, she cried for all people of South Sudan, whose suffering is being extended by Salva Kiir. To her, people of South Sudan do not need more consultations, they need peace and delaying peace may have serious consequences for the civilians who have suffered for 20 months of a brutal civil war. By the end of all these cycle, Riek went to press and declared that “he was surprised by Kiir’s decision.” “I didn’t know that he was not going to sign,” he said. “I couldn’t find any explanation for this because he had it all. There is no reason why he requested for more time. We had already been given enough time to consult our entities, this is a good agreement—–he had a lion’s share on many areas.” Then, the United States’ envoy to Sudan and South Sudan, described Kiir’s decision as “unexpected,” saying, he hope the president will sign the agreement soon.
What are some of the reasons Salva Kiir refused to sign the August 2015 peace agreement for?
According to the IGAD-Plus Compromise Peace Agreement Proposal (CPAP) President Kiir is required to consult First Vice President on most security issues, Salva and his cronies are not pleased with that provision. They also have substantial disagreement over number of other contentious issues ranging from power sharing, demilitarization of Juba during the transitional period, system of governance, having separate armies during the interim period until when a full amalgamation and transformation of the army is finalized. These above issues threaten Kiir and preventing him from running the country as his own property through so-called Presidential decrees.
What are some provisions SPLM/A-IO and former detainees signed on Monday August 17, 2015?
Although there had been changes, the agreement that was signed on Monday August 17, pretty much originated from July 24 Compromise Peace Proposal IGAD-Plus had availed to the parties to the conflict for further study. During reconvening of the negotiation after parties were called back from Pagak and Juba, IGAD mediators saw some changes when the parties engaged in a dialogue. Base on new IGAD observations, President Kiir’s government will no longer control 100% on power sharing of seven States. The new arrangement give Kiir 85% while SPLM/A-IO will get away with 15% share in each of the seven States. On the other hand, SPLM/A-IO will no longer control 53% as the proposal suggested from the first place. In the three States, government will take 46% while SPLM/A-IO will take 40%, then, former detainees and other political parties will get 7% each.
At the national level, the power sharing ratio remained as the original proposal indicated with government controlling 53%, SPLM/A-IO will get 33%, then, former detainees and other political parties will again get 7% each.
The document has further indicated that, the current 325 members of the national parliament in Juba will be maintained and those who defected to rebel during the crisis will be reinstated to their previous parliamentary positions like it was before December 15, 2013. Then, SPLM/A-IO will appoint 50 additional members to the national parliament while the former detainees will appoint one additional member and political parties will appoint 17 additional parliamentarians. The fact that some stakeholders had signed the document, IGAD-Plus officials said, the peace deal signed by the two leaders on the August 17 was the final document, there will be no more discussion; when Kiir makeup his mind, he will sign it without further renegotiation to the deal.
What’s made Kiir agree to sign the agreement he refused to sign in 2015?
Many factors attributed in forcing Kiir to sign. First, following his refusal to sign on Monday August 17, many important world leaders persuaded him to reverse his decision. Second, his godfather—- Yoweri Museveni’s influence in the region had faded away. Regional leaders had back down and start to oppose his rigid stand on South Sudan. He decided to urge Kiir on August 18, 2015 to sign peace, saying “he will not be able to reverse worldwide popular call of peace.” At that juncture, Salva Kiir who was in limbo and set himself on the boiling pot by refusing to sign is left with no choice other than agreeing to sign the peace with all provisions he refused to sign on Monday August 17. If Salva would have kept his word of opposing the signature, sanction would have been imposed on his rotten murderous regime. Then he and his godfather Museveni could have been cornered from mainstream world order, despite the fact that the world would withdraw its neutrality stand and throw their support on opposition.
The failure of 2015 Compromise Peace Agreement.
The failure of 2015 South Sudan Peace Agreement was somehow expected given that Salva Kiir attached reservations to the peace document during his signature on August 26, 2015 in Juba. His rhetoric following his signature indicated, he was just bypassing the sanction United Nations, USA, and whole international community wanted to impose on whatever party that oppose the peace. His nullification of the peace started when he issued a decree on October 3, 2015 by creating 28 States. When Dr. Riek was pressured to go to Juba after a little bit hesitation over 28 States issue, signs of cracking the deal emerged right away. Paul Malong Awan began to shuttle to Bhar el Ghazal to bring seven thousand additional fighters to already over-militarized Juba as a signal of preparing for an anticipated war. The violation started slowly when the government made it a habit to look for ways to harass SPLM/A-IO members wanting them to be furious and react negatively so that they would be seen as peace violators. The first violation was when Dr. Riek motorcade were stopped by Salva Kiir security personnel while going to work in the morning. During the first Council of Ministers’ meeting, Mabior Garang was expelled out of the meeting for the reason that he dressed inappropriately. The third incident was when Dr. Riek guards’ motorcade were shoot at and tension began to increase. Those violations repeatedly occurred until when two of Dr. Riek bodyguards were cold-bloody murdered. Their demise culminated into the exchange of gun shoot on July 7, 2016 around 8:00PM. Then the next day, Salva called Riek to join him in Presidential palace. The reason was that, he wanted the war start while Riek is in a known place. Then, the fighting broke out while they all were in the same building. Such skirmishes ended up with Riek being chased away with his bodyguards for 40 days all the way to DRC. After Riek survived the chase and was rescued to Khartoum, he reorganized his forces and declared to resist Salva Kiir aggression, that declaration was widely condemned and Dr. Riek ended up being detained in South Africa after he went there for medical treatment. While in South Africa, many movements emerged rivaling politically with the SPLM/A-IO. Among these movements are the “National Democratic Movement” (NDM) of Lam Akol who thought Dr. Riek was not going to survive the ordeal. He felt he would be better alternative to lead rebellion against Salva Kiir regime. All segmented movements like “Federal Democratic Party” of Lew Chang, National Salvation Front” of Thomas Cirillio, “South Sudan Liberation Movement” of Bapiny Monytuil” “National Movement for change” of Joseph Bakosoro; “South Sudan Patriotic Movement” of Costello Garang Ring; “South Sudan United Movement of Peter Gatdet Yak: and former FDs led by Pagan Amum; plus “South Sudan United Front” of Paul Malong; are the product of the tribalism in the country. Why would many rebel movements that are fighting for the same objective to topple the government should operate separately? The same confusion usually occurred among South Sudanese in diaspora. Whenever someone from your tribe rebelled against the government, their tribesmen in diaspora joint them amicably, the practice is ridiculous to be swallow.
The current peace deal
The new peace deal has created five Vice Presidents, 35 ministers, and 550 members of the parliament. The Vice Presidents shall be distributed as first Vice President for IO, second Vice President be nominated by the government, third Vice president must be SSOA, the fourth Vice President be nominated by the government and the fifth Vice President will be nominated by the FDs and that has to be a women. Moreover, council of ministers shall comprise of 35 ministers: government will have 20 ministers, SPLM/A-IO will take 09 ministers, SSOA: 03 ministers, FDs take 02 ministers and OPP will take 01 minister. There shall also be 550 transitional national legislative Assembly. The government will have 332, SPLM/A-IO will have 128, SSOA 5o members, OPP: 30 members and FDs 10members. There shall be ten (10) deputy ministers which will be divided as follow: government will have five deputy ministers, IO will take three SSOA will take one, and other political parties will take one. No fewer than three deputy ministers shall be women. There shall also be an Independent Boundaries Commission (IBC) which will comprise with 15 members and shall be appointed as follow: government will take five, and all opposition groups will take five. They will divide their share as two from the SPLM/A-IO, one from SSOA, one from FDs, and one from OPP. Then the other five will be divided by South Africa, Nigeria, Tanzania, Algeria and Chad. The IBC shall be chaired by one of its non-South Sudanese members who shall recognized standing and integrity of the importance of boundaries issues. On States and local governments, government will have 55%, SPLM/-IO 27%, SSOA 10% and OPP 08%. At the beginning of the Transitional Period, State and local governments shall be dissolved and reconstituted as per the responsibility sharing formula stated in above ratio. In that regard, Governors, Speakers State Legislatures, State Councils of ministers, State legislatures, County Commissioners, and County Councils shall be reconstituted. At the beginning of the pre-transitional period, the parties shall issue a solemn commitment to their people and the international community to affirm that, they will not return to war. The parties shall pledge to use the resources of the country wisely and transparently for the best interest of South Sudanese people. The above explanation pretty much is what had been made in Khartoum Sudan on July 25, 2018. Currently, South Sudanese people are waiting to see whether all parties to the agreement are actually longing for peace. This is something that remain to be seen as people have loss trust among themselves.
In summing, tribalism in South Sudan is an infectious disease which cure is hard to be found. The ongoing civil unrest in the country is fulfilling generational rivalry between indigenous South Sudanese people. There is no particular citizen of South Sudan who is immune from tribalism disease, they all are infected. Even South Sudanese who ran away from the war of liberation to Western countries, have not changed, back home political differences always keep them away from one another. Whenever they try to come together and form abroad inclusive community for all South Sudanese, once political differences emerged in South Sudan, people who are affected pull themselves out from such rubber stamp organization and form their own entity. For example, when Nuer were killed in 2013, Nuer abroad withdrew their membership from SPLM chapters and formed their own chapters similar to one back home. And when Equatorians were killed in 2016, they withdrew their membership and formed their own organization similar to the one back home. Base on one’s experience, tribalism in South Sudan will not diminish soon, it will take centuries or millennium years before future generation will be able to tackle its worse escalation. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!
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