By: Biel Boutros Biel, SEPT/09/2016, SSN;
South Sudan, the world’s youngest nation has been going through a brutal civil war waged by former ‘liberation-comrades-turned-enemies.’ Former Vice-president Riek Machar, narrowly fled capital Juba on 16 December 2013. President Salva Kiir accused him of a ‘coup.’ Machar denied, terming it a ‘plot’ to eliminate him within the ruling Sudan People’s Liberation Movement(SPLM).
Machar then formed an armed faction; the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement or Army-In Opposition(SPLM/A-IO) to fight what he called ‘Kiir’s dictatorship’. A peace deal signed in 2015 by the two leaders, gave a break to violence. The deal also stipulates a power-sharing. The SPLM/A-IO takes the post of the First Vice-President for Machar.
After more than two years in the Jungles, Machar returned to Juba on 26 April 2016 to form with Kiir the Transitional Government of National Unity(TGoNU). On 8 July 2016, a deadly fight flared up at Presidential Palace in Juba between the guards of Kiir and Machar. In a respite of about three months after Machar’s return, South Sudan is docked in a theatre of flames.
Who pulled the trigger? Indiana University’s Professor Clemence Pinaud reveals that the one returning South Sudan to violence is Kiir’s Chief of Staff, General Paul Malong (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/the-conversation-africa/whos-behind-south-sudans_b_11008018.html).
Prof. Pinaud’s argument is right. Malong instigated the violence in alliance with South Sudan’s Minister of Defence General Kuol Manyang and other key leaders of the Jieng Council of Elders (JCE), a Dinka tribal think-tank that advises, initiates and influences Kiir’s public decisions.
The violence is further incited by hate speech propagated on South Sudan Broadcasting Corporation (SSBC) by Brigadier-General Malaak Ayuen, an ally to Malong. Part of the song is tuned by Minister of Information, Michael Makuei Lueth, through his hate and violent outbursts.
Why Malong instigated the violence again?
The first reason is Malong’s hatred of Machar as of Nuer ethnicity. Machar’s ambition for South Sudan’s Presidency, to Malong, is equivalent to robbing Dinka elites of power by a Nuer. Malong once stated; ‘I will wait to see how Riek Machar would be the president in this country in our presence. He would be a president in my absence.’ (http://sudantribune.com/spip.php?article58570).
Failure to kill Machar in July violence must have deeply wounded Malong’s conscience.
The second reason is Malong’s dislike of the Peace deal provision of a hybrid court to try perpetrators of genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and sexually related crimes.
Malong’s calculated violence is to, first, ensure the demise of the Agreement to save themselves from criminal trials. With absence of Machar in TGoNU, Malong is comfortable with Machar’s former Chief Negotiator General Taban Deng Gai whom they used to replace Machar as the First Vice-President. Malong knows that Taban is vulnerable for his own safety in Juba.
To end the deal, Malong’s security agents initiated provocations to the SPLM/A-IO forces in Juba including the killing of their security officers; Lieutenant Colonel George Gismala and Sergeant Domach Koat Pinyien at start of July 2016 as to set ground for war.
Secondly, is Malong’s assumed military defeat of the SPLM/A-IO which he believes as possible with military assistance from Uganda, Russia and China. Malong and JCE will remain a brain behind Kiir’s weakling leadership.
The third reason is impunity. In 1980’s, the SPLM/A under John Garang, killed Gajaak Nuer civilians. In 1991, Machar and Lam Akol’s SPLM/A Nasir Faction killed civilians in Garang’s Dinka Bor. The SPLM/A in retaliation killed civilians of Lou, Gawaar and Dok Nuer among others.
The army has been killing civilians; Lou-Nuer in 2006, Bul Nuer in 2011, Murle in 2011-2012, people of Wau(Fertit) in 2012, Nuer in Juba in 2013, Moro and Madi in 2014 to date. No one was held accountable. Absence of criminal justice warrants the generals a free ticket to constantly kill.
Is it Malong and JCE leaders alone causing Juba violence without SPLM/A-IO’s contribution? Taban Deng Gai’s hidden rivalry with Machar made him associate with Malong to ensure elimination of Machar in order to replace him. Apart from Taban’s alleged role, it seems the SPLM/A-IO forces never contributed to the July violence.
In March 2016, they were persuaded by President Festus Mogae and the world to come to Juba with a force of about 1500. Aware of the SPLA forces heavily deployed in Juba, the SPLM/A-IO forces would have been on suicidal mission if they were to cause violence in Juba.
The way forward for South Sudan:
A well equipped protection force should be deployed immediately in Juba under the United Nations to protect civilians, the Presidency alongside a limited and equal number of bodyguards of the two leaders. The same force should be deployed to any other conflict areas in South Sudan. The rest of SPLA and SPLA-IO forces must be deployed outside Juba in cantonment sites.
The Hybrid Court has to be set up to try all suspects of human rights abuses. The world should ensure that the TGoNU is reinstalled with Machar resuming as the First Vice-President. The protection force should ensure that the Peace deal is fully implemented.
Men like General Malaak Ayuen and Makuei Lueth of hate speech on SSBC must be stopped. Arms embargo be imposed on South Sudan. Countries providing arms to warring parties must be stopped as members of United Nations that promotes peace and security.
Finally, the world has to face Malong and JCE if South Sudan is to hold.
The author BB Biel is the Executive Director of the South Sudan Human Rights Society for Advocacy(SSHURSA); a nonpolitical and nonprofit-making national human rights organisation founded in 2007. He is 2013 Human Rights Advocate at the Institute for Study of Human Rights, Columbia University’s School of Law, New York City, USA. Biel is also a former co-chair of the National Human Rights Forum with the Chair of South Sudan Human Rights Commission and too recently served as a Technical Member of the South Sudan’s National Constitutional Amendment Committee. The views expressed here are his own and NOT attributed to any of the institutions he is associated with.