Sunday, January 16, 2022

Sudan Tribune

Plural news and views on Sudan

South Sudan Nuer forgotten genocide

 

Deng Vanang

 

‘’On December 15, 2013, South Sudanese President Salva Kiir Mayardit, a Dinka by tribe, ordered Dinka members of his Presidential Guard to disarm their Nuer counterparts. The ethnic militia soldiers went house-to-house killing thousands of Dr Riek Machar’s Nuers and raping women and children.

Unlucky victims attempting to escape were taken to houses to be doused with kerosene and set alight. Others were forced to drink each other’s blood. Parents are forced to kill their children before getting killed. Women and children had limbs cut off and repeatedly gang-raped with sharper objects. The UK identified these killings and rapes as genocide an early and simple international outcry that could have probably been prevented.

Nuer response to Juba massacres US  government did nothing to prevent with heavy UNMISS {United Nations Mission In South Sudan} presence in the capital met with United States {US} warning of dire consequences should they match on Juba and kill Dinka in revenge, an act that leaves no any guest work on the supremacy of Dinka lives over the Nuers’ from the perspective of President Barack Obama US administration which failed to condemn the ugly episode to at least relieve a bit of pain in the memory of the lucky survivors and terribly distraught Nuer people.

Public expectation of the U.S. to respond fatherly as a world leader and custodian of South Sudan independence to the crisis got finally dashed when Uncle Sam instructed Uganda People Defense Force {UPDF} to use at its disposal internationally banned cluster bomb on innocent armed civilians on a rescue mission to salvage whatever little they could fine alive of their kith and kin in Juba, then reduced to a ghost town.

Tones of mind-boggling questions remain unanswered to date as to why only Nuers got singled out for an alleged fault committed by politicians from different ethnic groups including Dinka.

Through such cruelty, South Sudan had its rollercoaster ride back to its old past, suffering and death, many mistakenly thought was all water under the bridge in an emotionally charged independence proclamation on 9th July, 2011 from Sudan after 55 years’ bloody civil war which claimed more than 2 million lives. The folly of running away from a problem thinking it is the panacea came knocking hard and loud on the revolving door of stubborn history.

No surprise what happened had happened. Frightening warning signs were all over the place for every curious mind to read but got no attention of a hopeful nation airband to rise above its bleakest past.

Particularly, when Kiir from the onset of his Presidency in September 2005 and against normal South Sudanese tradition adopted kleptocracy as an economic model predicated on wealth distribution among individual elite elements closer and loyal to him.

The central bank and other public financial institutions collapsed into his clutching grips in the State Palace. The private sector succumbed to fate as it lacks a feeding lifeline. The only existing and inaccessible institution is President Kiir, the Almighty everybody in the country hopelessly looks up to for survival as his shrewd strategy to exert undue loyalty.

He warned those daring to protest worsening economic conditions with elimination, claiming he has only lived bullets. He made good his threats as kidnappings and extra-judicial killings of his vocal opponents are the shell-shocking daily morning news.

Kiir’s republic harsh conditions are a fool-proof of prophetic revelations stated earlier by a couple of Sudanese sages disqualifying the former autonomous region’s quest for statehood in the community of nations.

Among them was Sudanese renowned Lawyer and philosopher turned prominent Islamist politician in Sudan, Dr Hassan Al-Turabi who before the independence declaration made a bleak projection of South Sudan that won’t be stable due to the Dinka tribe’s ego to rule without development.

In state-engineered exile in Khartoum, veteran South Sudanese opposition leader and once fierce proponent of self-determination for the independence of marginalized Southern region, Dr Lam Akol Ajawin shifted gear in alikening then-upcoming independence to a suicide pact under Kiir’s divisive, corruption-ridden leadership.

Their prophecies pointed to what would have been a freedom feast for all 64 tribes that proudly, collectively and successfully fought for what has now become the preserve of a handful of ethnic overlords.

 

Poor governance

In the run-up to the independence plebiscite in 2011, President Kiir indulged himself in state of the art contradictions. He used an interim constitution-making process to arrogate himself excessive state powers, giving him unchallenged rights to whimsically rule the country, including the sacking of elected government officials with whom he personally disagreed. Declared state of emergency in some states without recourse to his own laws.

From within, ruling Sudan People’s Liberation Movement {SPLM} glaring failures to govern attracted blistering criticism from its very own First Deputy Chairman and Vice President Dr Riek Machar whom President Kiir later sacked on 23rd July 2013. Machar swang into action following an SPLM commissioned investigation’s report which found the former liberation movement highly unpopular at the grassroots with the likelihood of losing the slated 2015 general election.

In tow his ally with whom he was shown an exit door, former Higher Education Minister and Author of Politics of Liberation in South Sudan, an Insider’s View, Dr Peter Adwok Nyaba cracked jokes of a cabal – isolated President Kiir not oblivious of ravages his rule has caused to the country in saying ‘’when a president’s motorcade cruises swiftly pass you know that the cabal doesn’t want the president to witness or see the effects or impact of his bad policies. The cabal he eloquently alluded to is the shadowy Jieng Council of Elders, a cult of personality pitched around President Kiir.

Nimeri, the deposed President of Sudan, Adwok went on, was quoted in April 1985 to have quipped ‘the real prison is the wall of silence erected around you by your colleagues, which prevents you from seeing or hearing the truth… until I arrived this place [Bastille station in Paris], I didn’t know I have been overthrown in Khartoum, end of quote.

Cabinet dissolution closely followed President Kiir convening of the ruling party liberation council between 14th and 15th December 2013 to discuss matters dividing the leadership and the party. In the conference he warned Machar against the repeat of the 1991 incident when the latter attempted a bloody ouster of late SPLM/A’s Chairman and Commander-In-Chief, Dr John Garang de Mabior, forcing Machar and his allies to leave the conference hall at Nyakuron Cultural Centre.

From then on tension rose up to the boiling point leading to the heated exchange of gunfire between two rival Presidential guards units President Kiir quickly termed as an opposition coup to overthrow him from power. On the contrary, Dr Peter Adwok Nyaba under house arrest termed “a cover-up story” concocted by President Kiir to give him an excuse to round up his political adversaries.

Machar, wife Angelina Teny – current Defense Minister and former oil-rich Unity State Governor and now one of five Vice Presidents – Taban Deng Gai escaped the tightening noose to the neighbouring stronghold of Jonglei as their allies stampeded to the nearest security facilities in the capital Juba, fearing the danger of getting nabbed in the privacy of their homes.

Lacking evidence to nail them, the accused coup plotters regained freedom several months later having been found innocent by one daring high court judge, James Alala Deng who in a brutal dictatorship went against the grain.

Kiir’s convoluted theory of a coup d’etat much earlier on suffered severe body blows on several fronts. International media investigations couldn’t find any resembling sign of a coup summarily dismissed even by his trusted Military Intelligence Chief, Mach Paul.

Nigerian ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo’s led African Union Commission of inquiry whose report went public in October 2015 accused Kiir and his ethnic Dinka politico-military allies of an ethnic Nuer extermination plan and rubbished the coup as a fabrication. It recommended a raft of punitive measures including, but not limited to the establishment of a hybrid court in Arusha, Tanzania to put on trial all the accused perpetrators of human rights abuses in the conflict President Kiir stonewalls against taking off, being conscious of his direct criminal role.

The sickly slow and selective implementation of the 2018 revitalized peace agreement reached in Khartoum, Sudan between the government and a coterie of rebel movements including Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army-In Opposition {SPLM/A-IO} led by main rival Riek Machar in neighbouring Khartoum is not an exception of his bare-knuckle anti-peace efforts.

The accord failed on arrival as was literally imposed on the parties to the conflict by an IGAD, the East African regional bloc, with root causes to the conflict largely ignored to be ironed out.

The undercooked peace deal has been up to no good. Its sole aim is to lure back to Juba a more than willing Dr Riek Machar to leave South Africa for 2 years’ incarceration. Vulnerable to remain in the wild West were splintered factions of SPLM former detainees{FDs} and a chunk of South Sudan Opposition Alliance {SSOA}.

After losing the plot to sell its agenda of regime change via the takeover of South Sudan for not less than 5 years by the UN, FDs split into two factions. One led by Vice President Rebecca Nyandeng de Mabior fully supportive of the peace agreement and another under former SPLM Secretary-General, Pagan Amum Okiech who still holds out.

Out of SSOA four factions later to be popularly known as SSOMA {South Sudan Opposition Movements Alliance} bolted alongside Troika, a grouping of US, UK and Norway that in an afterthought turned around to support peace agreement implementation hoping it would save lives.

2018 faltering peace deal is the second attempt to give peace a chance after the 2015 peace agreement signed in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia derailed into a second bout of conflict christened Juba palace dogfight on 8th July 2016 due to President Kiir’s similar lack of political will to implement peace accord whose key protocols he either derails or manipulates to further consolidate his unbearable hold on power. Juba Palace dogfight followed forced SPLM/A-IO return to Juba by the U.S. without enough precautionary defence mechanisms in case of manpower and protective artillery weapons to ward off already planned breach of 2015 peace accord by Kiir regime.

The dislodged SPLM/A-IO from Juba was forced into Chinese Communist Party-style long march in 1934 stretching well over a thousand miles in forty days into the Democratic Republic of the Congo while breaking through government troops’ encirclements one after another, with US’ Blackwater {company} fighter aircrafts’ aerial bombardment constantly overhead and government troops’ ground assault hot on the heels of hundreds of rebel fighters most of whom perished. There is still no condemnation of Kiir’s government on breach of trust from the U.S. successive administrations up to date.

President Kiir in a public address and short of detailed explanation was at it again in pointedly confessing early this year that September 2018 peace deal was difficult to implement owing to lack of political will on the part of his opposition partners only encourages a growing list of civil mass action groups from within and from without the belligerent armed and political factions like South Sudan Opposition Movements Alliance {SSOMA} and SPLM/A-IO splinter faction led by Ist Lt. General Simon Gatwech Dual baying for higher stakes in the ouster of totalitarian dictatorship that laughs off Western-imposed arms embargo as nothing short of a mosquito bite.

 

Counting the cost

The UN estimated 20 thousand Nuers had died only in Juba in the span of three days. More than four hundred thousand South Sudanese including Nuers are said to have died indirect and related to gun violence since the time war kicked off 8 years ago.  Material destruction remains immensely unaccounted for, with nearly half of 12.5 million of South Sudan’s total population displaced and malnourished both internally and externally.

The desire to contain rebellion pushed the government to financial borrowing spree, mortgaging the country in hundreds of billions of US dollars of unpaid Chinese advanced loans, with cash crunch hitting public coffers and forcing the government to siphon humanitarian aid billions into its war chest against mushrooming armed groups. While regularly paying East African regional leaders millions of US Dollars in monthly salaries and visiting foreign diplomats bribes against any attempted quick-fix solution to South Sudan’s grinding conflict.

Neutralized with cash, the regional leaders and foreign diplomats argued Kiir could only be removed via another Presidential election due in 2023 to invalidate his controversial 2010 election. When on the contrary the world toppled Adolf Hitler as an evil dictator and terminator of Jews in 1945, though a duly elected German Chancellor on January, 30th 1933.

Even still, it is an election he already declared himself its winner two years away, having placed under house arrest his main challenger, Dr Riek Machar and other leading signatories to the 2018 Khartoum Peace Agreement he frightened into exile including Dr Lam Akol of the National Democratic Movement {NDM}, when quoted by a South Sudanese online newspaper, Sudanspost on October 25th as saying ruling SPLM faction he leads has no significant challenger in 2023 election whose key remaining tasks to make it possible are security arrangement to unify and deploy armies of rival factions into one national army, legislation promoting financial and judicial reforms and constitutional-making to pave way for a constitutional referendum, delimitation of constituencies and voter registration exercise.

Responding to the tacit support of the US, UNMISS’ ill-intention to renew President Kiir’s licence of legitimacy to kill more through the election it plans to organize in 2023 with pre-rigged outcome makes the incumbent’s 16 years imperial Presidency look set to override his crimes against humanity.

It is the same rogue legitimacy and pre-failed history of impunity, arrogant SPLM successive, U.S. administrations will unapologetically swear to defend and promote to the hilt at the expense of the suffering South Sudanese people.

 

An honour-bound US

US is unequivocally honour-bound to an irredeemably failed SPLM as a ruling party that won independence for South Sudan is anyone’s guest. US which previously fought on the side of the Sudanese government for the sake of being a capitalist and former unity district’s rich oil concessions adopted the orphaned SPLM/A up on the demise of its biological mother Soviet Union in 1991 to become a government it is proud of today.

Changing SPLM with another party to govern makes the U.S. acknowledge its policy failure in SPLM in particular and South Sudan in general, a risk it thinks is not worth taking.

Similarly, the U.S. by accepting a regime change that transplants SPLM makes it feel susceptible to losing the history it cultivated in South Sudan through the former.

Such characterized dilemma resultantly forced the hand of the United States to take a Herculean task of reforming an irreparably deformed SPLM to reform with verbal threats and smart sanctions that have entangled it into its own self-destructive catch-22 situation that serves to undermine its global crusade for democracy and from which it is finding it difficult to break free.

Ridding itself of troubling guilty conscience in the face of global spotlight mocking its so obvious policy bias on South Sudan’s internal affairs requires the U.S. to understand democracy is far bigger than the little SPLM and in due course master necessary courage to choose humanity over pride and integrity over reproach.

Deng Vanang can be reached at [email protected]