Contributor's Opinion

The Man on the Throne in Juba is between a Rock and a Hard Place

By Y. Z. Nyak,

President Salva Kiir wiping his face with no handkerchief during a hard talk on Al Jazeera in Juba, South Sudan(Photo: extracted from youtube)
President Salva Kiir wiping his face with no handkerchief during a hard talk on Al Jazeera in Juba, South Sudan(Photo: extracted from youtube)

Jan 16, 2017(Nyamilepedia) —— Ever since the war started on December 15, 2013, the leadership of Salva Kiir has been shaking and shaking, not knowing exactly what to do. Salva has done everything in his power to bring the war that he had irrationally started to an end in his favor. He has enlisted the help of the region militarily, diplomatically and economically, but to no avail. He has been in the world market trying to buy every military equipment that he can afford to buy so that he can use it in trying to terminate the war in his own favor. He has been telling the people of South Sudan one thing after another as to the nature of the war. But each time that he tries to say something, he only end up incriminating himself. All of these attempts have failed.

Peace has never been an option to him due to the fact that peace comes together with a number of things—including accountability for the atrocities which have been committed since the beginning of the war, democracy, nationalism, etc. Now he wants to continue the war because he has reached the point of no return. But he does not have what it takes to win it.

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When Salva started the war, he was of the idea that the undertaking would be a short-term one—possibly for a day or two, then it would be all over with right within Juba. He had planned only for Juba, without seeing the possibility of a war that would engulf the whole country. He had overestimated his own power. It is only now—after the fact—that he has come to learn that the will of the people to survive in the face of a brutal dictatorship is more powerful than tanks, gunships and money.

The goal that Salva was planning to achieve was to remain in power for life as he accidentally uttered on May 9, 2014 that “I must always remain the leader of that country.” He knew that he did not have what it would take to always remain as the leader of South Sudan. He did not have and still does not have the competency to lead South Sudan as he has not had the vision or the ability to acquire one. He simply never prepared himself for such a project. He has all along been occupying the position, making one excuse after another for his failure to serve the people. He has simply failed to lead. He came to power accidentally. He never had any ambition to lead South Sudan. He only saw himself as representing Bahr al-Ghazal as he clearly expressed during the 2004 Rumbek meeting. Now that he accidentally found himself in the top leadership position in the land, he wants to keep it forever for himself regardless of his inabilities. Without the leadership ability needed to remain as a leader for life, he had to come up with a strategy to achieve such a goal.

The strategy that Salva Kiir and his tribal strategists, the members of the Jieng Council of Elders (JCE), have been able to come up with is to use Dictatorship and Sectarianism. They conceived that these two principles would bring them blind supporters who would give their support based on tribal and regional associations with the president. For the rest who do not have those two associations with him, they are to give their support based on coercion.

As a dictator, Salva could and can rule South Sudan without opposition. He uses this dictatorship to cover up his leadership failure. He believes that democracy would expose him to embarrassing challenges that would result in power being taken away from him. It is a thing that he does not want to happen. Power helps to enhance his low confidence. To him being president is an assurance that he is worthy of something. He wants to use fear to silence both his political rivals and the general public. While using force to coerce others into supporting him, he also uses divide-and-rule tactics at the same time, pitting sections of the South Sudanese society against the others.

Salva’s sectarian ideology is based on tribes and regions. He presents himself to the Dinka, especially the Dinka of Bahr al-Ghazal, as a Dinka man who has a program of keeping the Dinka in power for at least two centuries to come. He convinces them that his being the President means Dinka being in power, and that his removal would mean removal of the Dinka from power. No wonder that he and the JCE have come up with a 200-year Dinka Development Plan. This is what they are trying to sell to the ordinary Dinka men and women in the villages to get their blind support for the President’s program. One has to be a smart and a nationalist Dinka to go against that.

Sometimes, Salva removes the tribal hat when he sees an opportunity to speak to the people of Bahr al-Ghazal in general. He preaches to them that Bahr al-Ghazal is in power when he (Salva) is in power. He asks them to defend the power that Bahr al-Ghazal singlehandedly won from the North (The Republic of the Sudan). He makes them believe that they could use that power to develop Bahr al-Ghazal at the expense of the other regions. So far, he has only succeeded in using that power to destroy lives in the other two regions plus Western Bahr al-Ghazal. No development in Greater Bahr al-Ghazal for the last three years has emerged.

The people of Bahr al-Ghazal in general and Salva’s tribesmen and women in that region in particular have been kept in the dark ever since Salva got to power in Juba. In this war, they have been used to the point whereby their fellow South Sudanese from other ethnicities see them as enemies. But they are not enemies; they are innocent victims of the regime that has been victimizing all South Sudanese. It is just that their victimization is a different kind. They are victimized by making them the instrument of victimization of the country. It is the system which is using them that is the enemy of the people of South Sudan. They have to be liberated from the darkness so that they see the light out there that other South Sudanese have been able to see. It has to be pointed out to them that they are actually victims, and not victors, of this war.

In his sectarian calculations, Salva started the war by massacring members of the Nuer ethnic group initially using members of his ethnicity in the Presidential Guards (the Tiger Battalions) and his tribal militia recruited from the ethnic Dinka of Bahr al-Ghazal. His initial thought was that a war of that nature would unite all ethnic Dinka behind him, as they would have no other choice. Such a unity, coupled with the state power and all the national resources at his disposal would quickly assure him victory. He thought that he would succeed in either convincing other South Sudanese to stay out of the conflict or coercing them into fighting for him. In addition, he enlisted the help of various foreign armies as his insurance policy in case of any situation unforeseen during the planning stage of the project.

Unfortunately, the first sectarian strategy and all of its insurance policies did not work the magic that had been anticipated. Consequently, the tyrant turned the war into one of regions. He worked hard enough to victimize Greater Upper Nile. However, his tribal feelings of chauvinism betrayed him. He did not want to finish with the Nuer and Upper Nile first before he could turn against anyone else. He had the urge not to wait before he could show perceived ethnic and regional superiority to other ethnic groups and regions. Therefore, at the same time that he was trying to victimize the Nuer in particular and Greater Upper Nile in general, he was also embarking on killing the people of Western Bahr al-Ghazal and the people of Greater Equatoria.

The result of all this is that the war that started as one against the ethnic Nuer has evolved to be one against Greater Upper Nile, then to one against the Fertit and Jur in Western Bahr al-Ghazal, and then to one against the peoples of Greater Equatoria. In short, the war that started on December 15, 2013 as a targeting of one ethnic group has quickly evolved to be a national people’s war that has galvanized the whole country against dictatorship and sectarianism.

Currently, the war is being fought in Bahr al-Ghazal (his home region); the same war is being fought in Equatoria (the seat of his regime); and the same war is being fought in Upper Nile (the source of his oil money). If he sends a bulk of his army to Upper Nile in order to protect the oil as he used to do for the last three years, he risks exposing the seat of his government in Equatoria; if he sends a bulk of his army to and around Juba in order to protect the seat of his government, he risks exposing oil in Upper Nile; and if he sends a bulk of his army to both Equatoria and Upper Nile in order to protect both the seat of the government and the oil, he risks exposing Bahr al-Ghazal to the people’s cadres for political mobilization, which will result in shattering of his twin sectarian ideological principles (Dinkaism and Bahr al-Ghazalism) in that region; and if he spreads his forces in all the three regions in order to protect all of those interests, his forces will be too thin in each region to resist the people led by the Freedom Fighters. With this situation being the reality on the ground, Salva is losing and the people are surely winning.

Salva does not want peace. He sees peace as a package that comes together with democracy and nationalism. He rightly sees the coming of the destruction of his two main destructive ideological principles (dictatorship and sectarianism). He sees peace as coming together with accountability for all the atrocities that he has been committing since the outbreak of the war up to now. He wants the war to continue as a matter of protection for himself. No wonder as to why he launched the July 2016 attacks. But he does not have what it takes to militarily win the war. The very war that he thinks can give him protection is mercilessly devouring him. No wonder that he has been jumping from one issue to another in the hope that he might run into some solution to the war. Recently, he announced the national dialogue as a mechanism to resolve the war in his favor. Before the ink could dry, he jumped to creating more states, especially in areas where resistance to his dictatorship and sectarianism is most acute. He hopes states would win him the support of the people in those areas. He will keep dancing, as the solution will never come from him. He has lost the people for good.

Salva is between a rock and a hard place. It is excruciatingly painful for him. He is deep into it. …………….It is sad! It is sad! It is sad! ………The man is reaping what he has sown.

The author is a concern South Sudanese. He can be reached at riangzuor@gmail.com

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