By Benny Gudo
June 7th 2018 (Nyamilepedia) – Reports from East Africa postulate that two rival leaders, Salva Kiir and his former deputy Riek Machar are heading for a face-to-face dialogue, the first of its kind since the July 2016 J1 blood fighting which led to the death of hundreds of soldiers from each side. Since then, the two had not see eye to eye as the fighting spawned Machar into hiding for several days up until he reappeared in neighboring DRC with few comrades where he was airlifted by MUNISCO combatants serving in that conflict ridden neighbor. There, Machar stayed for few days to allow recuperation for he allegedly claimed that the foot journey to DRC took him 40 days and 40 nights, though it might not be exactly, he looked dejected, frail with swollen legs. His recovery path took him to former colonizers Sudan where he was again chucked and latterly emerged in confinement here in our neighboring South Africa.
Our understanding was that detaining Machar was engineered by some IGAD leaders buttressed by US. To them, the purpose(s) and aim(s) was to pacify peace in South Sudan. This clearly means that the presence of Machar, to them, was the source and sphere of the war in this young nation thus obliterating him was the only remedy. And it’s beyond reasonable doubt that IGAD undertook this decision after thorough assessment that I’m quite sure proved Riek Machar as the chief peace barrier within the country. So, fishing him out would save the country from further conflict despite the fact that it was fictitious, a fallacy thinking as the situation on the ground right now tells a different story as the war that started only at J1 explodes across almost all counties.
From the day Riek was forcibly placed in confinement things got worse. Hundreds of South Sudanese died from time to time, from place to place and somewhat a genocidal war took the horizon whilst the purported troublemaker was in detention.
Many would ask how Riek Machar was commanding the frontlines in all those war zones whilst in detention? Here, IGAD was caught naked. They bite the dust. I think it’s of paramount importance for the agitators to come out public and apologize because from the look of things they are chiefly to blame for all the ongoings in South Sudan. Should they censured bearded Salva in time, surely that could save many lives.
As of now IGAD wants to save face by imposing a Kiir-Machar meeting in Mauritania on the 31st of June for/to whose benefit. To me, its a two fold aim: 1. As Kiir’s legitimacy is near end, they want to use Machar’s signature to further his tenure as president. 2. They want to give Kiir another chance to eliminate his longtime foe. These are my propositions and I bet the opposition to take that offer with great caution because once bitten twice shy. Even history repeats itself, here in Zimbabwe former president Robert Gabriel Mugabe conned the late prominent opposition leader Morgan Richard Tsvangirai of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) to accept a coalition administration in which the incumbent became president following a clear poll defeat. Amid blood bath succumbed by hundreds of opposition supporters Tsvangirai submitted for the sake of peace and love of his people he accepted the post of Prime minister despite being the winner. But barely a few years after this arrangement, Tsvangirai succumbed to colon cancer which was blamed on food poisoning, as claimed by his personal doctors. This led to his death.
Similarly, Kiir a Mugabe stun ally may perhaps do a replica of the aforesaid with the intention of protecting his throne against the enemy called Machar. He can copy and paste the smear tactics of next door comrade Yoweri Museveni who of late was fingered in various scams of this nature that involved the death of former Kiir’s boss John Garang deMabior who mysteriously died in a horrific helicopter crash in Uganda. Can they do it on the life of democratic Nuer fighter Dr Reik Machar? The answer is very simple and straight forward that the likelihood of that happen is there and history espouse my claims.
In the contrary, some would argue and question my supposition based on the view that whether Kiir might think of eliminating Machar, how then can peace descend on South Sudan soil without the two? Firstly, I’m not throwing spanners to the mooted peace meeting between the two but rather I urge the rebel side and other right minded negotiators to enforce peace guarantees to the envisaged unity arrangement because chances are that Kiir may violate the same way he did during the July 2016 turmoil. He openly violated it and went away without any repercussions felt on his personal side, only to hear a talk-show of condemnations without any bearing. But did that forced him to rescind his barbarisms on defenseless Nuer tribe? The answer is NO – SPLM IG perpetuates tribal hunt mirrored on all perceived Machar supporters, to that end the nation explodes into total hullabaloo.
The Role of Uganda and Kenya.
Of late, Kenya was a neutral player in this war at its primitive, however president Uhuru Kenyatta’s volte face from the time war resumed in 2016 shocked many. Kenya became an extension of the Juba regime as many SPLM-IO sympathizers were abducted in her soil and thrown back to the custody of their killers. As I write SPLM-IO spokesperson James Gagdet, a prisoner of Kenyan support, is wallowing in prison awating the hangman to take away his life following a death sentence by a Kiir remote-controlled court. If effected, Kenyan authorities are clearly liable to his death hence can SPLM-IO trust their role in all these mediation efforts? I doubt.
The same applies on Uganda’s participation on the ongoing peace building. We heard of SPLM reunification and the like but all those initiatives brought nothing instead war persists across the entire nation.
Yoweri Museveni, a self proclaimed God-father to the liberation of South Sudan, exposed himself by siding with Kiir especially when he(Kiir) was massacring the Nuer tribe. At one time he ordered Uganda Defence Forces to provide combat support and armoury to thwart and incinerate anything associated to Riek. And even up to this day, Uganda provides haven and route for all imported weapons sneaked inside war torn South Sudan and that has been done against UN arms embargo. This therefore means that the rebel side must take this offer with great skepticism to avoid a repeat of the past, of particular importance is the security of its leader who will be targeted this time more than as before.
No doubt, let’s put the interest of the people ahead of anything else but we can’t rubberstamp it to please a certain clique – murders and rapists whose antics has not changed. Whichever way, the Jieng Council of Elders, an extension of Kiir’s administration wants to retain its fair share and voice in this anticipated new dispensation and they will fight at all cost to make sure that their influence is well protected. Doing so, simply means that the envisaged face-to-face meeting aims to legitimatize Kiir rule, nothing else. If it is meant for peace then we must see an overall change of government, its establishment, composition and functions further it shouldn’t favour or maintain the status quo.
The Author is a scholar, mentor and human rights defender based in Zimbabwe: firstname.lastname@example.org
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