By John Adoor Deng, Australia, JUL/27/2016, SSN;
Having read through the lines, in and out, about the current conflict in South Sudan, I have come to the conclusion that at least the best way out of this serious situation is for Dr. Riek Machar Teny to sacrifice his political ambition and temporarily quit politics altogether.
This may sound odd to many hardliners on both sides of the political divide, especially the SPLM-IO supporters and presumably the FDs (former detainees) whose lifeline depends on IO victory. The following paragraphs shall illustrate why I came to this conclusion.
Indeed after thorough debates in my mind and after having seen and read the trends on which the conflict continues to turn each day in South Sudan, the following elucidations helped inform my inherent conclusions:
Firstly, the war is unwinnable in all aspects especially on the side of SPLA/M-IO and to some extent on the SPLA/M- IG as well. It is a baseless war, aims to achieve nothing but to notoriously kill, maim civilians, destroy properties and rob generations once again from gaining literacy and early childhood education.
Previously, we had lost generations into extreme illiteracy in civil wars; the war kills education opportunities, destroy infrastructure and germinate obnoxious hatred and mistrust among the elite themselves.
Recent wars have taught us to believe this, former enemies never in totality live in complete harmony. For instance, the atrocities of 1991 conflict are being sung and used as intimidation against those believed to have engineered them.
Although the bygones are gone through reconciliation, it is still the case in South Sudan.
Secondly, in the African context, conflicts are not won between brothers; the only winning point for each of the protagonists is reconciliation.
The war between Dinka and Nuer plus their acquaintances will only in my view be won by reconciliation and not in effect through the barrel of the gun as some generals may want to believe. The usage of artillery and bombing usage against each group in this conflict only serves to depopulate our country and leave unredeemed scars on our future generations.
Thirdly, the nature of contemporary Nuer people is rigorously characterized by defections and non-stick-ability on the perceived collective goal. This is true on how Dr. Riek Machar in most of his founded rebellions suffered rapid re-defections.
The data is replete with his followers changing allegiances at each of the critical time of his rebellion. For example, in the 1991 rebellion engineered by Dr Lam Akol and led by Dr Riek Machar, many officers from the Nuer tribe deserted their man to the mercy of SPLA/SPLM led by Dr John Garang De Mabior but were so kind to fully forgive him, and embrace him as his brother through true reconciliation.
History has repeated itself in the 2013 crisis, although many analysts believed that there wasn’t a planned coup at all but instead a mismanaged mutiny in the presidential guards unit.
Dr. Machar, for the second time, found himself exposed to a mounting another rebellion, which he had indeed led since 2013 to Aug 2016, that ended with IGAD brokered Agreement in what later became a short-lived and dishonored peace deal.
Again, for the third time, in July 2016, Dr. Machar has found himself exiled from the capital, Juba. Less than a month later, his close associate, Mr. Taban Deng Gai (his close relative) has taken up his position in a bloodless coup although some people are calling it a survival strategy by barricaded ministers at the wrath of roaring SPLA/M-IG.
Nevertheless, it true that some Machar’s appointed ministers in the Transitional Government of National Unity (TGNU) have turned against him with the view that it is business as usual without Dr. Machar.
His contemporary acquired the spirit of a non-shameless notion of re-defection referred to earlier s has fallen on those of Taban Deng Gai and Ambassador Ezekiel Lol Garkuoth, who were until the recent days the very men at Dr. Machar‘s left hand (Machar is left-handed).
Fourthly, Dr. Machar forces may not at this stage win this third conflict given the sound realities; i.e. the government forces have considerable numbers and are well resourced with the backup from Uganda People Defence Force (UPDF).
He is likely to fight three enemies; SPLA-IG, SPLA-IO-Juba and external force in the form of UPDF. Thus for his own safety and for the safety of his remaining loyal Nuer members, he must quit politics temporarily as a matter of a long time strategy.
This pull back in my view may help spare innocent lives of Nuer people who might, if this war continues, be killed, bombed and displaced.
Ironically, the trust based on International Bodies (AU, IGADD, and UN) is certainly not a guarantee in for Dr. Machar’s survival and his factions. The Rwanda case is a good example of the profound failure of International Community.
Therefore, I believe that a decision to rescue this conflict and bring it to an end once and all rests with Machar relinquishing of his quest for power in South Sudan.
Although it is his democratic right, the prevailing situation in our young nation makes it fervently difficult to apply conventional realities.
The Dinka people who rarely change allegiances have at this point rallied around President Kiir, whether through the influence of the recent known politically notorious group referred to as Jieng Council of Elders (JCE) or through tribal bonds.
It is hard at this juncture and in the near future to think of taking leadership by opposition to the Dinka governing elites (this may sound tribal but these are the facts on the surface).
It may sound like giving up or surrendering position but in essence, it is the best option out of the mess. Dr. Machar has engendered enemies both within IO Juba faction, FDs and obviously SPLA Juba who all really want him buried.
The Taban’s faction may be more dangerous to Dr. Machar’s survival than SPLA-IG. There may be a plan of a close proximity assassination of Machar filtering through in the SPLA-IO-in-the-Bush.
Thus, there is a high possibility for the resumption of Nuer against Nuer conflict emerging as it has always been.
Finally, sometimes when rams fight, they pull back to gain momentum, consolidate power and later on apply the power.
To give Dr. Riek Machar the benefit of the doubt, he appeared to have learned his lessons from the past; he too is seen as a leader who can take the nation forward in terms of development. He is fairer in power distribution as illustrated in the allocation of his 10 ministries.
All regions of South Sudan were well equitably represented in his IO part of the government, unlike president Salva who in most of his appointments appreciates seeing his giant Dinka community equitably represented first plus pockets of other communities.
Significant contrast may be drawn between these two leaders. The circumstance as I had alluded to in previous paragraphs dictates Dr. Machar to defer his quest for leadership until when the dust settled and that there is peace and tranquility in the country. END
Mr. John Adoor Deng is the author of the book entitled: Politics of Ethnicity and Governance in South Sudan: Understanding the Complexity of the World’s Newest Country.
He is a student studying a Doctor of Philosophy at Torrens University of Australia (TUA). He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org