Open letter to Chief of Staff on the so-called Special Forces in Unity State 

Opinion,

By Dak Buoth,

South Sudan army chief, General Gabriel Jok Riak speaking during a press conference in the Sudanese capital Khartoum (Photo credit: Sudan News Agency)

May 02, 2020 (Nyamilepedia)Before I draw your attention to my message, let me at the onset wish you a happy International Labour Day. I stand to address you on the issue that you brought to the public attention the other day. Normally, when one brings an issue to the open, he should expect some comments and compliments from the members of the General public, simply because communication is deemed to be two ways traffic. Although the matter was not subjected to discussion, its appearance on social media attracts reactions. Perhaps some of the comments could be out to congratulate or condemn the action taken. However, mine is not to congratulate nor condemn the decision you made in your capacity as chief of General staff, i am only giving an opinion which i think contains an advice on what ought to be done.

ORDERS

On 24th April, 2020, you authored one page letter containing two Orders. First, you declared the dismissal of the Special Forces commander, Major General Mathew Puljang Top, saying he should report to army Headquarters in Pilpham with immediate effect. Secondly, you aver that the Special Forces under the command of Puljang are directed to joint Division Four in Unity State.

I welcome your order relieving him from the command of Special Forces in Unity State. This particular order was long overdue. I guessed the reasons for your decision are that, you want to amalgamate your forces now that the country is implementing peace accord, and that Puljang must now give way for peace to prevail in Unity State. This is because his present there would continue to terrify the residents making them to fear legitimately. If these are your intentions, I would say they are good ones. Nonetheless, you need to consider certain critical aspects to enable us reached the desired objective, which is to achieve permanent ceasefire.

This so-called Special Forces locally known as Ter chuong in Nuer language is a brutal militia akin to the dreaded forces called ‘Dut-kubeny’ which means protects the President in Dinka dialect. These two militia groups specialized in Human Rights abuses in South Sudan. I believe the Pioneer officers of Dut-kubeny already got extinct around 2014 to 2015, and later the Special Forces inherited their roles.

In the report by the AU Commission of Inquiry chaired by former Nigerian President, Olusegan Obasanjo, Dut-kubeny was created and financed by then Chief of Staff with the knowledge of President Kiir. It was established when President Kiir made his intentions clear that he objected the SPLM Party National Convention and the subsequent Presidential elections that was due in 2015.

By refusing an election, President kiir knew he was opening Pandora box. And the aim of it was to unleashed violence on the citizenry should there be public outcry. It is public knowledge that Dut-beny has huge hand in the infamous ‘Nuer Massacre’ which occurred after the violence erupted on 15th December 2013. Unlike Dut-kubeny which was made up of Dinka men from Northern Bahr El ghazal, the Special Forces comprised of men from Bul Nuer clan in our Mayom county of Unity State.

Initially, Ter Chuong was created and armed to protect the puppet and unpopular unity state Government of their clan’s man, Governor Dr. Nguen Monytuil, and by extend to fight the Opposition Forces. The government hires and uses them as scapegoats. At times, they could be directed to commit serious crimes against other Nuer communities perceived to be anti-government, and later the government would say they are not liable.

In Nuer Language, the phrase ‘‘Ter Chuong’’ means fighting for justice. They did fight for justice against the previous Unity State regime at the time they were under the command of General Peter Gatdet. Unfortunately, they later sold their souls and became forces for hire. It is indisputable that Ter Chuong like Dut-kubeny is responsible for numerous Human Rights abuses in our region. They terrified the residents of Unity State in a way that we would hardly forget. They are behind rampant cases of killing, raping and looting in Unity State. In a country where rule of law prevails, their leaders won’t be allowed to go scot-free for these heinous crimes they committed. 

WRONGS

Dr. Adwok Nyaba, in his book titled ‘the politics of liberation in South Sudan’ says ‘‘many of the SPLM/A problems, which later developed into serious crisis, resulted from the attitude of postponing solutions, of forging ahead, of not talking about the mistakes.’’. It was a big mistake in the first place to create and armed single clan and called it Special Forces in an independent country. To add salt injury, you decided to integrate them into Division Four when they are still untrained. These two wrongs cannot make one right. Therefore, you need to rectify the first wrong by screening and sending those who are willing to go to the cantonment training sites. Now the government under your department should order that the Special Forces be disarmed and sent to training camps first before they could join division four. But if they are sent to division four so that they could be trained altogether that is fine. I believe even those in division four require thorough training for them to become professional soldiers in the national army.

I presumed majority of them became part of Special Forces by force. You would find dozen were connived and conscripted to join that group by the leaders. If today they are offered a choice to stay or leave Special Forces, many would opt to leave and return to their respective homes.

NATIONAL ARMY

We don’t have single national army that controls all our national territories, and we cannot continue to runs the country through militias. As of now, we don’t have a functioning security organ that has public confidence. We require a competent National police and National Army. The police and the army forces should be selected from among South Sudanese men and women who are retrained and reoriented to enforce law and order effectively.

The peace agreement dubbed ARCISS provides for an establishment of new National army sooner than later. The existing forces in the country are tribal forces loyal to their tribe men only. We all know this peace agreement does not end with the formation of the Presidency and the appointment of the cabinet ministers. These are just the flesh of the agreement; the back bone of this agreement is on pending security arrangement. We now want to speedily reform and reinvigorate the security sectors. By the recommendation of IGAD brokered peace accord, all soldiers should be taken to cantonment sites as soon as we are done in the combat against covid-19 pandemic.

The Writer is the Chairman of Liech Community Association in Kenya, the views expressed here are his own, and he can be reached for comments via eligodakb@yahoo.com


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