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General Paulino Matip: facts and a short biography

General Paulino Matip Nhial (File/Supplied/Nyamilepedia)

August 22nd 2019 (Nyamilepedia) – On this day, August 22 2012, South Sudan lost a very important figure in the country’s military hierarchy. That man is 1st Lt. Gen. Paulino Matip Nhial Nhah, the deputy commander-in-chief of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA).

Here is what you need to know about General Paulino Matip!

SPLA deputy commander in chief
Gen. Paulino Matip Nhial, was born in Tooy village, Mayom Bentiu, Upper Nile around 1942. Although Matip Nhial, had no opportunity to attend school, he was enlighten, became a Catholic and was baptised Paulino.

As a young man he joined the Any nya movement in 1971. With the Any nya of 1972, he was absorbed into the SAF as an NCO. Gen. Paulino Matip, was one of the former Any nya officer who were discontent with the peace agreement. He defected to the bush in 1975, and established himself as the main Any nya II commander in western upper Nile. Cdr Paulino Matip, coordinated guerilla activities with other Any nya groups in upper Nile and Bhar el Ghazal.

The Any nya II forces under his command joined the SPLA as oil battalion in 1984, and he reintegrated as a captain. It was the combination of the oil battalion and Tiger and Tumsah battalions, under Major Salva Kiir Mayardit and Major Arok Thon Arok, that prevented the Khartoum regime from exploiting the oil in unity province. In fact as Jonglei canal, by 1984, the SPLA forces compelled Chevron to stop it Operations in Southern Sudan.

Cdr Paulino Matip, was one of the key SPLA commanders who joined the Nasir group in August 1991, and in fact some people suggested that his Bull Nuer constituted the main fighting forces in Bentiu area.

Following the Khartoum peace agreement of 1997, Cdr Paulino Matip Nhial, appointed major general, played a central role in the transformation of the SSIM/A forces into the SSDF.

With the sudden demise of Elijah Hon Tap, the chief of staff of the SSIM/A Cdr Paulino Matip Nhial, became the chief of staff of South Sudan Defence Forces (SSDF) in 2002. In the same year he survived serious political peril when Cdr Peter Gatdet, a fellow Bull Nuer and one of his key commanders, defected to the SPLA.

With the re-defection to the SPLM/A of Dr. Riek Machar, the leader of the UDSF and the commander in chief of the SSDF, Gen. Paulino Matip Nhial, took the mantle of the South Sudan Defence Forces (SSDF) and emerged as the de facto leader of all the milita forces in Khartoum. Through cooperation with SSDF militia group, the Sudan government was able to successfully exploit the oil in Southern Sudan.

Between 2000 to 2001, the SAF and SSDF attacked the civilian population in an effort to clear the area for the oil production. The human rights situation forced Talisman to sign a deal in 2002, with the Indian Parastatal Oil and Natural Gas Cooperation (ONGC) CNPC (the Chinese Parastatal), Petronas and ONGC now account for over 90 per cent of Sudan’s total output.

NIF regimes conduct of war proved yet again that the North was primarily interested in the control of the Southern Sudan’s natural resources. Sudan government used the income from the oil production to finance its war efforts.

Perhaps due to his negative Experience with the absorption of Any nya forces in SAF in 1972, he worked to maintain in the separate identity of the Southern Sudanese forces, known friendly forces. Unlikely several others commanders of the friendly forces, although others described him as a figurehead, Cdr Paulino Matip Nhial, maintained his headquarters for his forces in Bentiu as a ploy to maintain his identity throughout the 1990’s and 2000’s.

The period of the following CPA revealed Gen. Paulino Matip Nhial, astute leadership qualities. First he played a constructive national role in the aftermath of the sudden death of Dr. John Garang, in August 2005, preventing bloodshed Reminiscent of the 1960’s scene in Khartoum.

Second, as the leader of the SSDF, he painstakingly negotiated the agreement with General Salva Kiir Mayardit, the current president of the Republic of South Sudan and leader of the SPLM , he signed the Juba declarations with president Salva Kiir Mayardit, on 8 January 2006.

On the basis of this agreement, 15,000 SSDF men and officers were reintegrated into the SPLA, and he was appointed as Lt. Gen and deputy commander in chief of the SPLA. Although he was dogged by illness since 2007, despite persistent agitations from some of his closet political associates, he kept to the letter and spirit of the accord.

Lt. Gen Paulino Matip Nhial, remained a stabilizing factor in the fragile South Sudanese politics and his leadership prevented an intra SPLA fissure. This stability had a positive impact on the political situation that preceded the referendum and subsequently independence in July 2011.

Lt. Gen Paulino Matip Nhial, held this position until his death on this day August 22, 2012, in Nairobi Kenya. In recognition of his national stature, he was accorded a state burial supervised by General Salva Kiir Mayardit, the president of the Republic of South Sudan.

His remains were laid to rest in his hometown of Mayom. His full name was Paulino Matip Nhial Nyak Majok, of Bull Nuer chiengreel sub-clan.

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