By Steve Paterno
April 19, 2007 — One of the SPLA fiercest combatants with unwavering zealotry fighting Khartoum army, Cdr. Isaac Obuto Mamur has been under SPLA detention for about a month now. Cdr. Mamur was put under house arrest on a charge among other framed bogus charges that he continuously signs food contracts for SSDF force of Cdr. Paulino Matip way after his mandate to do so had expired. Cdr. Paulino Matip is a SSDF Cdr. an acronym standing for South Sudan Defense Force or South Sudan Democratic Front or even South Sudan Democratic Forum, confusing this may sound given that there are a lot of these entities under such names in South Sudan and even in North America nowadays. So, it is not you the readers who are confused but it is perhaps those individuals running these organizations with such confusing acronym are the ones who are trying to confuse you. They called it diversion tactics in the world of counter-intelligence, and maybe someone is trying to pull the trick of diversion tactics by coming with these acronyms.
Anyway, this whole issue is more interesting, because Cdr. Paulino Matip joined SPLA more than a year ago and he is ostensibly the second man in command of the entire SPLA forces as he is holding the SPLA title of Deputy Chief of Staff. Nonetheless, it is apparent that his forces of SSDF have never joined the SPLA even though they were supposed to be integrated into SPLA and also the fact that there are a good number of them stationed in Juba , supposedly the stronghold of SPLA. According to news reports, Cdr. Mamur was mandated by the Vice President of the government of South Sudan , Dr. Riak Machar to assist the SSDF integration into SPLA, but it seems the integration process never went anywhere. This is evident by the fact that Cdr. Mamur is detained in part for allegedly providing assistance to the SSDF who are supposed to be assisted in the integration process by the very Cdr. Mamur. Contradicting, huh! It seems as if that is how things work in South Sudan.
The reported incident that took place in Juba on Tuesday of scuffles between the SSDF forces and SPLA security agents clearly vindicated Cdr. Mamur of such unjustifiable charges against him of offering assistance to the SSDF. According to the news reports, SPLA security agents at a dock in Juba detained on arrival a cargo containing food and probably uniform supplies belonging to SSDF of Cdr. Paulino Matip on a suspicious of corruption linked to Cdr. Mamur. That is because there is corruption anywhere and everywhere even in heaven, according to some officials in the government of South Sudan . The report went on to say that because the SPLA security agents could not release the cargo, it resulted into confrontation between the SPLA and the SSDF forces to the point that it almost caused carnage in Juba town. The Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) would have been reversed sixteen years back to the old reminiscing times of the 1990s SPLA set backs, infamously known as “the split” with a capital letter s.
But thanks to the intervention and wisdom of Vice President Dr. Riak Machar and President Salva Kiir that the catastrophe that was about to happen was immediately averted. Dr. Riak Machar should be getting a lot of credits nowadays for his interventions, which include even saving a suicidal unemployed man who was about to plunge himself to death from several feet high radio station tower. That is two weeks in a row for Dr. Riak Machar’s interventions. Good for him, but perhaps it is only the victims of the Lord’s Resistant Army (LRA) who are still wondering on when Dr. Machar will intervene on their behalf to at least consul the victims during their grieves or intervene for the released of those abducted by the LRA.
For President Kiir, in his part, he is reported to have supported the stand of the SSDF during the confrontation, and that defused the whole situation. Interestingly, President Kiir’s coming out in support of SSDF automatically vindicates Cdr. Isaac Mamur from the charge that he was continuously issuing food supplies to the SSDF. Now it is President Salva Kiir who implicated himself and Cdr. Paulino Matip who directly involve in the very activity that Cdr. Mamur is detained of base only on allegations.
Something is fundamentally wrong with GOSS or SPLA system, and this case here clearly exposes such flaw system. The first thing is that Cdr. Paulino Matip and his forces were all supposed to be integrated into SPLA, but unfortunately, to this day none of that is achieved. Now you have someone like Cdr. Matip who is sort of SPLA boss but operating separately and independently within or without the SPLA. Cdr. Matip can command his own forces, supply them, and deploy them as he wishes without fear of repercussions or being held accountable. But the most interesting and unfortunate thing is, how can someone like Cdr. Mamur who is SPLA high ranking officer implicated to becoming a victim of Paulino Matip’s affairs? Well, by now President Salva Kiir must be feeling guilty for playing double standard as he can detain Cdr. Mamur for allegation of things that he openly supports. With the feeling of guilt, let President Kiir act honorably like that American police officer who handcuffed and gave himself citation for traffic violation after realizing that he failed to stop while the school bus was flashing stop signals.
The best President Kiir could do in this scenario is to drop the charge against Cdr. Mamur or forever he will leave with the guilt of playing double standard. Another thing President Kiir can do is by putting himself under house arrest because he openly supports the release of supplies to SSDF, which came from Khartoum . But the question is, how can he feel under house arrest? Terrible, one will guess. And another thing, President Kiir can do is to issue judgment on Cdr. Paulino Matip as in this case the evidence are already there handy, and in Cdr. Mamur’s case, it is still an allegation, which have to be proven that is why there is no judgment yet. And for the ill equipped, SPLA security agents, they better fine a job to do rather than embarking on a wild ghost chase of Cdr. Mamur shadow as they were about to cause the entire South Sudan the peace agreement in their scuffles with the SSDF at a Juba dock.
Whatever President Kiir will decide to do, the options are entirely his, but he should not ignore the fundamental fact of fixing this broken system in both GOSS and SPLA where things are just moving in the wrong directions. By now there should have been no any other armed forces in the South Sudan besides the SPLA, the joint Integrated Unit (JIU), and the contingent of the United Nations Peacekeeping. The militias would have been longed integrated into SPLA, demobilized or destroyed. Those militias with tendencies of joining the Khartoum armed forces and joining the Janjaweed should have been lured into SPLA through efforts like the one Cdr. Mamur is accused of, which is issuing supplies to them to make the option of joining Khartoum unattractive. The bandits and murderous LRA should have been flashed out of the country not through the declarations made in Arabic language but by the sheer bravery of SPLA gallant forces. Insecurity should have been the vocabulary of the past to the people of South Sudan as they are midway through the interim period.
Now, what are the guarantees that the SSDF forces will not have confrontation with SPLA again or that the LRA will not continue with their atrocious activities? Well, let the Vice President Dr. Riak Machar and President Salva Kiir get to work, I mean real work, which will amount to not just saving those with suicidal tendencies but creating conducive atmosphere where people cannot even think of committing suicides. Let them get to real work where they don’t just have to intervene in averting situations but creating an atmosphere where there is an everlasting security without any situation occurring here and there. It is then, and only then, and is until then…the South Sudan must prevail.
* Steve Paterno is a Sudanese residing in the U.S.A., and he can be reached at [email protected]