BY: MOHA THABO, SOUTH AFRICAN, JUL/19/2014, SSN;
As an expert in South Sudanese and Sudan’s affairs, and someone who has worked in the Sudan for more than 30 years, and after interviewing so many South Sudanese citizens, community leaders, intellectuals, academia and political and civil society groups outside and inside south Sudan, the result of the interview indicated a very strong support for SPLM/A in opposition under Dr. Riek Machar.
An estimated 80 percent of south Sudanese said there was no coup, but there was a clear plan by the ruling clique under president Salva Kiir to assassinate opponents within the SPLM to keep themselves in power and that plan was premeditated a long time ago.
Private army were illegally trained, graduated and armed and paid by tax payers’ money, reshuffling of those who want reform within the SPLM party so that it became democratic immediately took place.
I have also interviewed a good number of members of Parliament, ministers, officials in state and county levels about their opinion on the current crisis. Majority of them said they are just taking their time; they don’t like the government but because they are being bribed with lots of money, they want to continue getting paid for a certain amount of time before they could join opposition under Dr. Riek Machar.
I could not publish their names for security reason and as requested by them. The first thing they ask me was assurance that I would keep their names secret. This is quite telling that those against the government are above the estimated 80 percent.
It appears to me that no one wants to be associated with the government but because money is being poured to bribe many to act as if they are with the government while at heart they are with SPLM/A in opposition.
“THE 1991 Bor Massacre”
I have come to understanding that majority of South Sudanese are not interested in hearing the incident of 1991 Bor massacre because they believe Juba is using it as a way of garnering support from South Sudanese and that is the only think they could think of to make Dr. Riek Machar look bad.
The world was surprised to see that the majority of south Sudanese including Dr. Garang’s family and officials from Bor in the area are not interested in hearing about the massacre as they consider it as past history.
Instead they accused and threatened to take legal action against those who are using the incident to score their political goal which according to public opinion will not succeed.
When we look at the history of the Sudanese people liberation movement since 1983, we notice lots of horrible things happened, rape, killing, looting, force marriage and so many unbearable acts. All these were against international law.
When Garang was interviewed about those horrible acts done by soldiers under him, he said whatever destruction that his soldiers have done is unacceptable but it is part of a war; that is the reason he reconciled with Dr. Riek in 2002 because he believes whatever happened in Bor was part of war and in war anything is possible.
I was in Western Equatoria in 1992 and Eastern Equatoria, Ikotos, 1993, I have witnessed soldiers from Nuer and other tribes being slaughtered in large numbers because they are suspected of being associated or supporters of Dr. Riek and Lam Akol group.
When South Sudanese leaders reconciled in 2002 and said in a document that we will never scratch old wounds but move forward. Just like the Bible says, if you make mistake and you reconcile with your brother, God will forgive you and your brother will not judge you on the past knowing that any human being is capable of making mistakes but should be judged on the present and not on the past.
Dr. Riek Machar according to international public opinion is now recognized as a legitimate leader of South Sudan and Salva Kiir is seen as a trouble-maker who just wants to stay in power and a promoter of tribalism, nepotism, corruption and you name them.
Dr. Riek is seen as someone who can bring democracy to the people of South Sudan; he is seen as someone who can uplift the lives of the suffering and bring them to the level of world stage through implementation of justice, democracy, equality, peace, development and prosperity.
People don’t see him as a Nuer but people see him as someone who can improve the lives of all including those with the president.
The main disagreement between Dr. Riek Machar and President Salva Kiir were:
*Dr. Riek wanted SPLM to be transformed into a democratic party: leaders should be elected and it should be a universally acceptable secret voting: President Salva Kiir was against and called for a show of hands which allows intimidation.
*Dr. Riek wants term limit in the constitution, a term limit allows you to stand for 2 terms and leave the chair to the new blood: President Salva Kiir is against and called it a red line.
*Dr. Riek calls for a democratic federal system so that services can be taken closer to the people but president Kiir is against because he is interested in keeping the power in the hands of one man:
*Dr. Riek was against removing elected governors and officials unless there are serious issues, Salva Kiir removed without consultation and called himself a democratically elected and yet remove democratically elected official.
In addition, the survey of the SPLM secretariats in South Sudan and abroad said SPLM under president Salva Kiir has lost vision and direction and those who try to correct it were intimidated or killed.
It is also worth mentioning that Pagan Amum, former secretary general of the SPLM was removed because he had requested for a meeting of the political bureau to be held to set the agenda for the convention as stipulated in the SPLM constitution and has requested for it more than 30 times but Salva did not respond to it.
Ann Itto tried few times, no one listens until December 2013 when Salva illegally by-passed the political bureau and went direct to convene the convention. The speech was very hostile.
The opening speech said there are people here who want to divide the party and are traitors. They have stabbed the movement in 1991.
Many south Sudanese told me, Is this the way a leader can talk? Given that SPLA have done horrible crimes and including Salva himself, all were forgiven by the various tribes for the sake of peace, why would anyone scratch old wounds.
Is South Sudan to be ruled by one person without challenge? These are some of the questions I got from angry south Sudanese who said they are preparing and mobilizing to join rebels should peace fail.
The strong impression I got from people is that, they want Salva Kiir to go in order for the country to be in peace. World opinion also indicates that Dr. Riek if peace fails will take over the country by military means.
My colleagues with the BBC who have been walking and driving with the government army in towns of Bor, Malakal, Bentiu and other areas told me, the government troops have very low morale, some are escaping to their states saying they have no reason to fight the rebels after understanding the cause of the conflict.
Lots of soldiers from Equatoria are saying why should we fight against rebels; they are calling for a federal state and that is what Equatorians wants. I talk to one General from Equatoria and he told me that; he is not motivated to fight because he feels that he is fighting against his interest; he is cutting the hand that feeds him.
Implying that Dr. Riek is calling for a federal system and Salva is against and as an Equatorian, he is for a federal state and he is defending those who are against his interest.
He told me, the rebels will take over easily if the peace fails and that he has sent a lot of soldiers back home as there is no reason to fight.
I ask why he is still with the government, he said he is getting big money though the government is tribal but he is waiting for his time.
In conclusion, I think the people of South Sudan should sit down and try to sort out things by themselves and come to a definite conclusion if they want to end the suffering.
Millions have been displaced, thousands have been killed and properties lost in massive numbers. Researchers like me feel bad. Though am South African, the war hurts me a lot because I am an African and I don’t want to see my fellow brothers and sisters killing each other.
As in South Sudan, we had undergone a very horrible moment due to apartheid and seeing people being killed, displaced… it’s jut unimaginable. I wish South Sudanese good luck. God bless.