Contributor's Opinion

Couldn’t What Transpired in J1 HAve Been Saved Before Worse Turned Out of it?

By Kon Joseph Leek,

President Salva Kiir, FVP Dr. Riek Machar Teny, VP Wani Igga, Amb. Lol Gatkuoth and Gen. Alfred Lado Gore at State House(Photo: file)
President Salva Kiir, FVP Dr. Riek Machar Teny, VP Wani Igga, Amb. Lol Gatkuoth and Gen. Alfred Lado Gore at State House(Photo: file)

July 25, 2016(Nyamilepedia) —– The report by the government stated that the same Lt. Col. David Rieu who started the incident of Thursday evening (7th, July) which led to the death of five people at Gudele was the one who started 8th of July’s incident.

He arrived at the palace besides not being a member of the first vice president’s escort team and provoked the situation and immediately shot dead a presidential guard hence resulting to that fatal incident of Friday which led to the lost of over 300 soldiers all combined (according to the same report).

Both president Kiir and FVP. Riek all claimed to have no knowledge of it

It was separately reported that before Lt. Col. David came, the guards (president Kiir and Dr. Riek’s guards) were discussing and even exchanging cigarettes before the Lt. Col. Suddenly arrived and disturbed the peace

Minutes later, Dr. Riek’s spokesman, James Gatdet Dak rushed to hi s facebook page and wrote this and I paraphrased it

“Fighting erupted inside J1, president Kiir’s palace in the National capital Juba. The president and his commanders attempted to arrest the FVP. Dr. Riek Machar Teny. This came after the president called for a meeting of the presidency in his office with Dr. Machar and VP. James Wani Igga. This turned out to be a setup to arrest and possibly harm Dr. Machar. Fortunately, Dr. Machar’s bodyguards have managed to fight vigorously and rescued Machar. He is now safe! Meanwhile the fighting has continued”. End of quote (facebook post).

The same Dak posted on his facebook page on Gudele incident that the SPLA forces attacked their Gudele base and therefore have deterred them after they have killed five of the SPLA soldiers and only two were wounded from their side(he deleted it a day later)

He advised his side (IO) to remain vigilant on the activities of the SPLA and warned the SPLA to stop provocative actions

On the other hand, the head of information and Public Relations of the IO Mabior Garang is having a slightly different version of what transpired before the shootout in Gudele, on his facebook page, he stated that, the SPLA soldiers who were on duty checking had tried to check the vehicle that had taken food to their base and instead of doing that, they started shooting at the IO soldiers which resulted to the death of four SPLA soldiers

Here, you get to wonder how the attackers get losses than the attacked?!

The SPLA on the other hand said that they didn’t do anything instead; they were shot by the IOs’ elements headed by David Rieu while on duty.

Since we are in peace, the question is not about who started what before hundreds of soldiers died the next day in J1. It is generally about ‘what’ was started by ‘who’ on Thursday could have been relaxed by Friday before it all busted out and suddenly sends many souls into graves.

What happened was imminent and its imminence was visible enough that it didn’t need one to put on lense’ glasses to see; it was just crystal clear!

Regarding what happened a night before (Thursday) at Gudele were IO forces were generally accused to have started the shooting, Juba was not in its proper mood, tension was high and any optimism about the fight was deemed possible anytime

Passing around J1 shortly after 4pm, it was totally apparent that those bodyguards would not disperse without any shooting; the only dividing line was the road (shahr’mudiriya), the situation was tense and the people were moving pretending to be fine. Could you throw a stone between them or step on an empty bottle of water, you would not need somebody to tell you were to run.

Ministers gladly in their meeting, I believe that it never crossed their minds that the situation was not as they expected

So, the question is, couldn’t this have been saved before worse turned out of it?

Were Dr. Riek’s guards not advised by their bosses about the way to behave regarding the Thursday incident that ignited tension the next day?

Soldiers’ behaviors everywhere are moderated by the orders from their commanders unless they are not trained soldiers

If there was some advices given to them (IO) by their bosses that the other side (SPLA) may not be happy because of last night (Thursday) incident and so ‘behave’ in a proper way, SPLA couldn’t have done anything. And if this Lt. Col. David Rieu guy didn’t come and caused havoc, nothing could have happened.

And if this bandwagon, impetuous, reckless talking Dak didn’t rush to his post and claimed that they are winners for killing five of the SPLA soldiers which he claimed to have attacked them, tension could have been minimal because this Dak guy is the FVP’S president’s spokesman . And whatever he says cannot be taken lightly. It can be considered to represent them.

And the SPLA on the other side can of course be too itchy because of Dak’s statement for they can simply wonder about where the IOs can brag about the power when they didn’t come to Juba by force but peace. And what proves it is their absence in any of the important towns prior to the peace agreement.

If such tensions can arise and the generals pretends to be okay by not taking any actions then what happened cannot be stopped from the soldiers themselves

Unless it was a coupe as said by the government’s spokesman, Michael Makuei Lueth

The writer is a commentator on South Sudan’s contemporary issues. He can be reached on j.konleek@gmail.com

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