Kiir and Malong are two sides of the same coin

BY: Dr. LAKO Jada Kwajok, APR/18/2016, SSN;

As much as peace in South Sudan is within reach, resumption of war and descent into chaos is much closer than you think. The return of the opposition leaders to Juba would have naturally filled every heart with optimism. However, this is not exactly the case in the current environment engulfing the country.

What accurately depicts the situation is what I call as a state of cautious optimism. The Agreement on the Resolution of Conflict in South Sudan (ARCISS) is an opportunity for the regime to allow the country to climb out of the hole dug by its catastrophic policies. Squandering this precious chance for achieving a lasting peace would lead to one thing only which is a definite and rapid fall into the abyss.

A common theme among the regime’s supporters is the scapegoating of the President’s aides and colleagues in the cabinet for all the shortcomings of the government. Some would even say that the President was let down by people he trusted but failed to deliver.

What they neglected to explain is – why did he keep all his cronies despite mounting failures? And why no one was dismissed for good or ended up in jail? Those who were relieved from ministerial posts were made Presidential Advisors, Ambassadors with or without portfolios or just allowed to go into hibernation in the SPLM party at taxpayers expense.

Moreover, no one among them seems to have the courage of questioning the President’s personal responsibility regarding the dire situation in the country. It’s a misleading notion aimed at presenting the President favourably and rendering him the false image of being a fair-minded person.

The fact of the matter is that President Kiir is no different from his cronies.

Last week, the media outlets circulated troubling remarks from the Chief of General Staff, General Paul Malong, I quote, “I will wait to see how he would be the president in our presence. He would be a president in my absence.” He was referring to the expected arrival of Dr. Riek Machar in Juba to kick start the formation of the Transitional Government of National Unity (TGoNU).

The word “absence” in his remarks could mean one of two things – either he would resign his post or that Dr Riek Machar can only be President over his dead body. The former is less likely than the latter as there is no way that he would leave his post without being fired. His words displayed a massive ego and implied authority over the regime’s decision-making process.

In a democratic government or indeed any government, such remarks would have cost him his job. A couple of weeks ago, Dr. Barnaba Marial Benjamin, the former Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation was sacked by President Kiir with a decree read over SSTV.

The reasons for dismissal were not given. However, many observers have attributed it to a document signed by him and sent to the UN High Commission for Human Rights, in which he referred to Dr. Luka Biong, who hails from Abyei, as a Sudanese national.

It was a lie meant to mislead that UN organisation. The former Minister indeed made a mistake, but it’s quite trivial in comparison to what other members of the cabinet did but allowed to keep their positions. The said document affected one citizen and not the whole Abyei community – it did not point out that Abyei belongs to Sudan.

Furthermore, the regime did join the Sudanese government in rejecting the unilateral referendum conducted by the Abyei civil society in 2013 that overwhelmingly supported joining South Sudan. That decision by our government though met with dismay from the general public was not perceived as an admission that Abyei is part of Sudan. What the former minister signed did not mean a change in policy or that our government has forsaken Abyei to the Jallaba government.

Therefore, it’s reasonable to believe that there are ulterior motives and a double-standard policy behind the dismissal of the former minister. With that being said, I am not by any means defending the former minister – he is an integral part of the corrupt and failed regime that has destroyed the country.

Coming back to my main topic, those remarks by Malong, should have led to immediate dismissal from his post. It’s a problem because what he said is very antagonistic to the single most important policy benchmark required to be adhered to by the government which is full implementation of ARCISS.

The problem with those utterances is two-fold. Firstly, there is nothing in the agreement that would prevent Dr. Riek Machar from becoming President of South Sudan should the position become vacant for whatever reason during the transition. Also he is entitled to be the Acting President While President Kiir is outside the country or in the event of being incarcerated by illness.

Secondly, Malong’s job description does not give him the right to wade into matters related to government policy. His job is purely non-political, and we have an example of his predecessor, General James Hoth Mai, who had run the military by the book.

Needless to say, Malong has overstepped his authority on several occasions. His outrageous statement in August 2015 that the regime would rather follow the footsteps of the likes of Al Qaeda and Boko Haram than to sign the peace agreement hasn’t been forgotten. That statement alone should have resulted in a swift dismissal because of its enormous implications.

I was amazed that in a world where a war is being vigorously waged against international terrorism that includes the above infamous terrorist organisations, Malong’s statement drew negligible or no reaction at all from the international community. Perhaps the formidable powers that are engaged in the global war on terror, regarded Malong’s utterances as empty threats from the Military Chief of a government that was saved from collapse by a foreign force.

Lack of action does not mean what Malong has said was entirely ignored. It has already tarnished the regime’s image as a government harbouring elements with terrorist inclination. The consequences may come in the form of difficulties in securing loans from the international monetary institutions, problems with admission into international organisations and plenty of others.

However, the most bizarre situation though was Kiir’s refusal to sign the peace agreement in Addis Ababa on 17/08/2015. The reason he gave was that he needed to go back to Juba for consultation with his colleagues in the cabinet. It was a move unheard of in what is known as state protocols.

The typical approach is for the head of the negotiating team to travel to Juba for consultation with the President in the event of a stalemate during the negotiation. The president only attends the negotiation venue at the final stage prior to signing the deal.

The whole thing was unprecedented because he is the top man in the government and as people say “the buck stops at his desk.” That leaves one to conclude that the president does not have total control over the decision-making process and that other strong players have to be brought on board before a final decision could be made.

The above scenarios have led to speculations about who runs the country. If Dr. Barnaba Marial Benjamin could be relieved of his duties as stated above, why not Malong who has apparently committed much graver mistakes? The fact that he gets away with any destructive statement and remark indicates one of two things.

Either that President Kiir totally agrees with him, or he is the real centre of power in South Sudan backed by the Jieng Council of Elders (JCE). In either case the prospects for a lasting peace is quite grim. South Sudan would be better off with the likes of Paul Malong kept out of office.

Unfortunately ARCISS does not prescribe removing those who are overtly anti-peace from their positions. Nonetheless, the formation of the TGoNU should offer the tools to tame Malong and his cohorts. It will be inexcusable and detrimental for the opposition to allow Kiir and Malong to do business as usual.

Dr Lako Jada Kwajok

16 Comments

  1. Elhag Paul says:

    Dear Dr Kwajok
    Thank you for your informative piece. Three things to note:
    First, Paul Malong Awan is not a trained military man. He is a samashi from Suk Al Arabi of Khartoum. Remember he was parachuted to the job because he was instrumental in recruiting the militia who committed ethnic cleansing of the Nuer in Juba in 2013.
    Secondly, Malong being a thug and illiterate the JCE love to use him to do their dirty job. So the JCE is behind him.
    Thirdly, President Kiir being a baffoon is also loved by the JCE who play around with him like a toy to achieve their narrow minded Jieng interest. So the JCE keeps the thug and the buffoon for their own interest which means the party with real power in South Sudan is the JCE and it will not sack the thug.
    South Sudan can only free itself from the claws of this tribal gang through regime change.

  2. alex says:

    Laku we were waiting you in Rajab. Are you still fighting in the Internet. Tell Paul El Hag that the boys are well prepared for you war mongers. Do not wast time in the net. Just come down here to play the ball

  3. Francis mangok says:

    Dr. Lako,

    Thank you for your article it is much appreciate. Leadership is about people, but not about yourself. John C. Maxwell said ” it is true that people do not care how much you know until they know how much you care.” I agree with him because our leaders do not care about people who they lead. Truthfully, I do not want to generalize there are many leaders who care for people. For example, Dr. Riek Gai Minister of Health is effectively leader who care for the health of people and his leadership can be effectively consider. Dr. Lako, without strong military leader the country would collapsed. Kuol Manyang and Paul Malong leadership in military help the goverment to stay in power today. Also do not forget their being military leaders improve the situation since their being in military power.

    I am not talking about politicians, however, the failure of our country is because of them. In 1991 Dr. Riek masscared in Bor and I witnessed that mass killing. It was blood massacred of innocent civilians life lost same happened in 2013. In your article, you are trying to blame only government,but many South Sudanese leaders do not care about citizens and that is a serious failure of their leadership. Leadership is about care for people, but not killing them. I have been hearing them talking prosperity and future of the country, but never see any state of being successful. People expect to see Dr. Riek’s coming to join the government. What is Dr. Reik visions and dreams you think?

    • Dr Lako Jada Kwajok says:

      Francis Mangok,

      Thanks for your comments but I do differ with you on several points. All the prosperous and powerful countries are ruled by non-military leaders. And even if a military man comes to power, he will have to relinquish his military position before being elected to office. The reason is obvious, which is prevention of usurpation of power by military force. Who is the ” strong ” military leader without him the country would collapse? Do you think the country hasn’t collapsed yet?! I don’t understand you calling some bogus Generals as strong military leaders when the whole world saw them being saved by President Museveni of Uganda. You did mention the responsibility of Dr. Riek Machar for the 1991 Bor massacre but failed to mention who was responsible for the 2013 Juba massacre. Why are you afraid to say that President Kiir was responsible for the December 2013 Juba massacre of the Nuer civilians?
      As for Dr. Riek Machar’s visionary leadership – it’s yet to be proven by none other than himself. Remember he has never led South Sudan hitherto. Thus the South Sudanese People may be willing to give him a chance and the benefit of the doubt since he has been vocal about reforms. As for Kiir whom you seem to support blindly – he has got no vision whatsoever. A decade in power has proven beyond doubt that he has been a total failure and a disgrace to the country.

    • Chol Wani says:

      Well written peace Dr. Lako.

      Francis Mangok,
      Dr. Lako’s article is titled “Kiir and Malong are two sides of the same coin”. If you want something written about Dr. Riek and other, maybe you can do that.

  4. Gatdarwich says:

    Dr. Lako,

    Malong and killer NyanKiir are both presidents in South Sudan, and are the chief obstrustionists to the full implementation of the August 2015 peace agreement period

  5. Hoiloom says:

    Dr. Lako,

    thanks for a great article. Some people are so naive to believe that peace will prevail by arrival of Machar but I beg to disagree. Like you rightly concluded, peace will remain an illusive as long as Paul Malong is in military. However, the fact that IO comes to Juba is also a blessing as this will bring a quick end to the conflict, let whatever happen. JCE do not believe in peace and we must counter their plan.

    Hoiloom

  6. abai okwahu says:

    folks, it is worth repeating that riek machar signed a weak peace, and he has been begging the likes of igad and the troika to persuade salva kiir to honour the august 2015 peace deal. kiir is in complete control of affairs in the country right now and he would do as he pleases. a dictator is hard to displace once he entrenches his position, just take a look at museveni, mugabe, afeworki, etc., expect 10 more years of kiir.

    • info@southsudannation says:

      Abai okwahu,
      You are absolutely right, Machar horribly blundered into and by signing this peace accord under the duress of the IGAD who are obviously for Kiir since all the hidden stolen monies from the South are helping their economies.
      More seriously, those of Kiir are pushing Machar to be the first to overtly dishonor the peace accord so that the jieeng terror can be unleashed on the poor citizens.
      God save our nation and people.
      Editor

    • alex says:

      Abai

      We will relegate Machar to lecturing in the university. He should know no two cocks can stay in one house. He have to know there is a big cock and he should not crow without permission or he risk to be cheesed out.

  7. Latio Lo-Kaku says:

    Dear all,
    The message is loud and clear, whether it from Kiir, Malong or the ICE. This ruling TRIANGLE is sending all the South Sudanese masses a message that it has an agenda, and that it will implement it by all means regardless of what would happen to the country, as such you could see how hard they are working to ensure their dream come to existence.
    What you didn’t mention Dr. Laku is deployment of General Malong’s army all over the country exercising terror, the diplomacy carried around the world by Bona Malwal and the Secretary of the JCE and the securing of top country positions including economic sectors being monopolized by the same click.
    As one of the commentators mentioned the only we can counteract this regime is by becoming stronger than they are and this can’t be using pen alone.

  8. Kiir has voluntarily ended his term in office and perhaps probably the end to anything called Dinka to surface as president of the Republic of South Sudan based on the reign of terror they have collectively exhibited.
    The Machar before August 2015 is no more but the Machar of April 2016 with enough to summarily reduce the JCE reign in to pitiful end. Kick start any violence now the whole south sudan will be in gaseous flame. Your airforce dominance, battle tanks dominance and artillery has not only been neutralizedoing but has been surpased. No country will think of funding the corrupt government they witnessed in the world history and above all no more money to acquire arms. You must either choose to cooperate or otherwise.

  9. David Lokosang says:

    Hi folks, believe me or not the reform that the SPLM IO has been assigned would never be achieved if the opposition’s war arsenal are not brought into Juba town. The regime in Juba is not prepared for reforms that is why it insist that the opposition troops should be deployed to Juba with light weapons. The main aim behind is, if they differ on contentious issues then it gives them the upper hand to crash the opposition army. But with the presence of the heavy war arsenal in Juba, they will thing twice before they thought of any criminal actions because Juba will not be a safe heaven for them. It has become apparent that it is the regime that is making obstacle for peace implementation because if the agreement is implemented as it is stipulated, the JCE will vanish, the dictatorial leadership style that Kiir enjoys will be objected, the domination of power by one ethnic group will disappear, the dream of 28 states to give one tribe 50% membership in the parliament and 50% of ministerial position will not be there. The dream of ruling the country for the next 100 years will not be attainable. I said before that peace does not only meant silence of guns but it encompass so many issues. It means security of every one, freedom of expression without intimidation as a fundamental right of every citizen, rule of law, socio-economic development, good governance, food security, good education, good health system
    and so forth. If they are really for peace why Juba is not demilitarised? Why Malong brought more militias to Juba? These are some of the questions that we should answer.
    May God bless South Sudan

    • alex says:

      Lokosang, the game is over.

      Either Riac k comes to Juba or he risk fleeing to his mentor Omer El Bashir. Whether they bring their heavy arsional to Juba, if the government want to destroy splm in opp it can do just in one day. How will they bring animation to sustain the fighting or how will they bring in reinforcement to Juba. The thing which is bothering Riack Machar and his supporters is shame after being used by Bashir for two consecutive times. He has many enemies now among the Nuer people. It is wishful thinking that splm in opp can mount any war in Juba without getting crushed. The government needs real peace. This time no dodging, fear, marveling, lies, no playing and no argument. Riack must come to Juba. The game is over. Long live SPLA long live SPLM. Riack should not be afraid of us because he is our brother. No one intend to harm him despite his wrongs. He is forgiven and he has been humiliated enough with the shame. Let his just come home and stop being used by Arabs. We will control his dealings with Bashir now. No way whether he jump up and down or he enters into the cave we will pull him out to implement the peace. Why is he afraid of death while he has been killing innocent civilians. The curse is on him to eat blood money after misleading thousand innocent children to die for no reason.

  10. alex says:

    Lokosang read THIS TO OPEN YOUR EYESIGAD, Troika insist Machar return by Saturday

    JUBA (21 Apr.)

    Supporters of the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (JMEC) including the East African bloc IGAD and the Troika countries of the USA, Norway and the UK have made a proposal insisting that SPLM-IO Chairman Riek Machar return to Juba by Saturday latest.

    In a statement circulated to press today, diplomats stated that adequate security arrangements for Riek Machar’s return have already been in place since 10 April.

    In spite of this, Machar made additional demands shortly before his scheduled flight from Gambella to Juba this Monday.

    “The partners express our profound disappoinment in the decision by Dr. Machar on 17 April to impose new conditions on his return to Juba, including the demand that his Chief of the General Staff, General Simon Gatwich Dual, as well as additional forces and light and heavy weapons, precede his arrival,” reads the statement.

    According to the statement, which was endorsed by diplomats of ten countries plus the African Union and European Union, Machar’s decision places the country at risk of further conflict.

    They also regretted that Machar’s decision caused inconvenience to the government, which had scheduled his reception and inauguration.

    However, the diplomats noted that the government has “overwhelming military force and superiority in Juba.” In light of this, they encouraged the government to show flexibility in regard to the size and composition of Machar’s delegation.

    The diplomats requested the JMEC Chairman Festus Mogae to convey a proposal to the government and SPLM-IO to ensure Machar’s imminent return.

    The proposal limits the composition of forces accompanying Machar on arrival to 195 men, 20 PKMs, and 20 RPG-7s. Ceasefire monitors shall verify these weapons in Gambella and on arrival in Juba.

    “The regional and international partners underscore our strong objection to the introduction of any new conditions to the security arangements in Juba.”

    “We also share our expectation that Dr. Machar will return as soon as the necessary logistical and security arrangements can be put in place, but no later than 23 April,” adds the statement.

    If the parties do not agree to this proposal, then JMEC’s chairman will request that the East African regional bloc IGAD hold an emergency summit, where he would report to the leaders of those countries that the parties have failed to abide by the peace deal.

    The statement also threatens that Festus Mogae would report the failure of the parties to abide by the peace agreement to the UN Security Council and “request consideration of an appropriate response.”

    The statement was endorsed by Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda, Sudan, African Union, China, European Union, Norway, United Kingdom, United States, Canada, Netherlands and UNMISS.

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