The Rise and Fall of Gathoth Gatkuoth and the Politics of Political Merger

BY: Simon Yel Yel, Wau, South Sudan, SEPT/05/2018, SSN;

Exactly, it’s less than a month since the Khartoum Peace Agreement was signed and also less than six months since the First Vice President, Gen. Stephen Taban Deng, ordered the abolition and amalgamation of his SPLM/A-IO faction with the SPLM Mainstream party.

Unfortunately, the once-time strong house of Gen. Stephen Taban is now wobbling on the brink of political precipice as Riek Machar’s comeback reality caught the political elites with their pants down.

His coming back is inevitable as baby steps are seriously taken towards Juba.

Divided loyalty, regrets for joining with Taban; political conundrum; anxiety over losing positions; political harlotry and bankruptcy; are the executive summaries of the current state of affairs of Taban’s camp that once appears united.

Make no mistake about it. The Taban’s camp is a collection of military desperados, butchers, tribalists and political opportunists that were only united under the altar of political expediency masquerading as peace lovers and leaders.

They are unpredictable and tumbocrats with narrow self-interests. They fundamentally and principally subscribe to the politics of full-belly and tribe. That is because they are tribalists and opportunists.

Historically, SPLM/IO mainstream didn’t emerge on ideological ground. It was born out of dangerous lust for power, indiscipline and opportunism. It leaders are ideologically impotent creatures.

And that is why SPLM/IO, whether Riek or Taban’s faction, will never cohere into a real political party with any political ideology.

It is a den of thieves who are determined to get rich quick by all means and it will always remain like that come back Jesus Christ again.

Beneath that house (SPLM\IO), is the history of treacherous betrayals, coups, defections, indiscipline, opportunism, and massacres.

As historians always say, no one can rig history and history always repeats itself. The abolished SPLM/IO of Taban has the curse of the original sin.

That is because the SPLM/IO mainstream was conceived in a rape. I mean it was conceived in 2013 failed coup attempt. Similarly, Taban’s faction was again conceived in another rape in 2016.

I thought Taban’s faction could redeem itself from this curse of the original sin; unfortunately, the ghost is still chasing it.

And that is why there is now a budding feud pitting the FVP Gen Stephen Taban with his erstwhile friend and the partner in crime, Gen. Gatthoth Gatkuoth.

Their political merger (Taban’s SPLA/IO and Gathoth’s FDF/SSAF) in the Crown Hotel in July 2016 was nonsense on the stilts (anarchical Fallacies). That’s because you can’t mix immiscible elements like water and oil.

Though some people touted this merger as the foundation of Taban’s formidable political hegemony in Nuerland which successfully saw his enthronement as a Nuer kingpin in Crown hotel in 2016, I was not delusional that this marriage will last long before collapsing into a heap.

In perverse logic, the merger was a Machiavellian tactic deployed to lock out Riek Machar in the battle for Nuer political kingpin and indeed in the government.

Unfortunately, things are falling apart now into public quarrel between the two leaders. However, don’t get surprised, that’s how the marriage consummated in a hotel always turned out to be especially when the partners are divorcing themselves.

In actual sense, this weird merger was neither meant to deny Riek a say in Nuerland/Nuer nation nor a political optical fusion to conjoin them (Taban and Gathoth) at the hips like Siamese twins forever.

The merger was only a Hail Mary to bargain for government positions in the name of Nuer unity under Gen. Taban. That is why most of the SPLM\IO leaders are position leaders and nothing more.

With the current readings on the wall of Taban’s camp, it’s crystal clear to those with eyes and ears that there is a trouble in paradise.

The SPLM/IO which was hurriedly and opportunistically conceived in a rape in Crown Hotel is now threatening to scramble. No, it has already scrambled when Taban ordered its merger with the President Kiir’s SPLM Mainstream.

But its poles were still strong, you know! However, now, they are falling apart and breaking down. The dismissal of Gathoth from the cabinet and the sudden eruption of the war of words between the foot soldiers of the two leaders (Taban and Gathoth) exhibits all.

However, don’t forget also to read something out of his replacement with Gen. James Hoi Mai. His replacement with Gen. James Hoi sends some serious messages about the state of affairs of the government to whoever cares to read this situation logically, not mechanically.

There is no other enough confirmation of the rift between two leaders (Taban and Gathoth) than this. “General Gathoth Gatkuoth likes to create chaos to satisfy his lust for power and resources. In 2013 and 2014, Gathoth Gatkuoth Hothnyang mobilized us the Youth of Nasir to go to Malakal and killed all the Dinka and loot whatever we can grab and use as our own.

“We were misled by him to kill everything including cows of Dinka and we extended the killing to Shilluk for supporting Dinka. This misleading will never happen again, Gathoth Gatkuoth Hothnyang.

“Dinka are our brothers and sisters and we are from one family. The same to Shilluk and other South Sudanese,” wrote the two representatives of Latjor state youth affiliated with Taban Deng on 25th August in their press release which was posted by Agel Ring Machar, the FVP spokesman on his Facebook timeline.

Before his sacking, it was reported by Sudan Tribune that he wrote a letter calling on the Youth of greater Nasir to support him in the war against Taban.

It was also reported that Gen. Gathoth wants Taban to step down from his position for someone from Barh EL Ghazal or Eastern Nuer.

Indeed, Gathoth is a butcher and tribalist who butchered many people in Malakal. One of the speaking evidence is the video filmed by two investigative journalists, Mr. Robert Young and Tim Freccia, in February 2014 in Malakal.

Owing to his rancorous betrayals and brutal carnage committed in Malakal, he brags in the interview, “Now you have seen the Nuer White army, Nuer SPLA, Nuer police; you know the Dinka; they don’t have white army, where is the Dinka white army of Salva Kiir Mayardit? It is now the Nuer White army that is fighting the SPLA.”

When asked by the journalist about Gelweng, (the Dinka Padang paramilitary group), he mockingly replied, “All Gelweng have been killed, they’re brought here and they’re all killed. Gelweng, or whatever it is, Gelweng, they are all killed. Yeah, Gelweng is not working,” he laughingly concluded.

It’s only in South Sudan where a butcher can be appointed into the government but not taken to court of law and held to account for all atrocities he has committed.

Though Gen. Gathoth is still now enjoying fresh air in Juba and moving freely in his V8, I am optimistic that no matter how long it will take, justice will be served and he will plead guilty in the court of law for all these crimes he has committed. He will never get away it!

As things stand, I can analyze the sacking of Gathoth in two days: Firstly, if Gatkhoth has died of a natural death from the President Kiir’s epidemic and unsympathetic Presidential decrees without the knowledge of Stephen Taban, then it means that the abolished SPLM\IO of Taban has really died and buried six feet underground and therefore, President Kiir remains the sole principal of the SPLM party as well as this Transitional Government of National Unity.

Hence, in the meantime (before the KPA comes to effect), President Kiir can dismiss and appoint any minister from Taban’s faction including the First Vice President on his own will.

In other words, the sacking of Gathoth and his replacement with Gen. James Hoi Mai also confirms the death of equal co-leadership at the pinnacle of the executive branch of the government and the end of Gen. Taban’s half share of title deed to the executive.

As things stand now, President Kiir sits only on the head of the government with no one else!

Secondly, if his death was sanctioned by Gen. Taban, then it confirms that the merger of Taban’s SPLM\IO and Gahoth’s SSAF\FDP, is dead and Gathoth is bound to rebel again anytime from now or join his former bosses, Riek Machar or Gabriel Changson Chang.

I am not privy to what is going on inside the tukul of Taban. But the decision by the Presidency to kill one of central midfielders of 2016 coup against Riek and his replacement with the President Kiir’s ally is something that left a lot to be desired.

In conclusion: what prompted President Kiir to bring back James Hoi Mai after five bitter years in political Siberia is something that we are all longing for to know.

Could it be for his recent election as the Nuer community leader or the death of Taban’s half share of title deed to the executive?

I will leave it for you to investigate and report it back to us.

Simon Yel Yel is reachable via


  1. simon peter says:

    Such a Dinka, why you didn’t touch your first criminals who tribalize the whole country and created tribalised council which represents only one tribe. If you are really sincere, the time is coming when we will kill Kiir Mayardit, and then peace will come.

    • Mor-Amook says:

      Dear Simon Peter,

      killing of Kiir cannot bring peace in South Sudan. No killing of any senior figure like that can bring peace my brother.
      Why are we always defensive of personalities? We should speak our minds, but that does not mean a tribal target.
      This article talks of personalities but not tribes, likewise, you can do the same to any politician in south Sudan regardless of his/her tribe, don’t touch tribe because tribe is bigger than individual.

  2. mading says:

    Simon Peter.
    Killing Kiir is like pouring gas in the already burning fire, my country man, it will be the beginning of indescribable situation in our country.
    Also you need to know that there is Nuer Supreme Council, and Equatoria Community Association. Why is Jieng Council of Elders giving you people sleepless nights?

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