Home | News    Saturday 25 August 2012

South Sudan lays to rest top SPLA General Paulino Matip


August 24, 2012 (JUBA/BENTIU) – The body of the deputy commander-in-chief of the South Sudan army, General Paulino Matip Nhial, who died in the early hours of Wednesday 22 August in Nairobi, Kenya was buried in his home county of Mayom in Unity State on Friday.

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South Sudan President Salva Kiir, his deputy, Riek Machar, ministers and SPLA generals pay their last respects to the late Gen. Paulino Matip at the miltary headquarters in Bilpam, near Juba. 24 August 2012 (ST)

Matip’s relatives confirmed that he died at 1.00 am local time in Mayo Clinic having long suffered from diabetes and high blood pressure. His coffin was met at Juba International Airport on Friday, by thousands of mourners, Army Generals, Ministers and Members of Parliament.

Senior figures, including President Salva Kiir and his deputy Riek Machar accompanied Matip’s body to the general headquarters of the South Sudanese army (SPLA) in Bilpam where the military’s top generals had the chance to pay their last respects.


Speaking at the army headquarters Kiir said the late General had unified South Sudan’s armed groups. After the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement between Kiir’s SPLA and the Khartoum government, which ended decades of civil war, Matip was the first leader of one of South Sudan’s other armed group to integrate his forces into the SPLA, which, under the CPA, had become the country’s official military.

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South Sudanese troops salute the coffin of late Gen. Paulino Matip at the Juba International Airport shortly after its arrival from Nairobi, Kenya on 24 August 2012. (ST)

As part of the landmark 2006 Juba Agreement between the SPLA and Matip’s Sudan Sudan Defence Forces (SSDF) he assumed the second highest position in the South Sudanese Army (SPLA), only behind President Salva Kiir Mayardit, the country’s Commander-in-Chief.

Being appointed to such a high position was in recognition of Matip’s stature, commanding a force of around 50,000 men. Despite the SSDF receiving assistance from Khartoum as part of regimes divide and rule tactics, exploiting ethnic divisions in during the two-decade conflict, many feel that his lasting legacy was that he unified the two largest armed groups in South Sudan, and consequently severely weakened Khartoum’s control of the region.

In 2011 as part of the CPA South Sudan voted to secede from Sudan becoming the world’s newest nations and - considering its underdevelopment, proliferation of arms and tense relations with its northern neighbour - also one the world’s most fragile.

Unlike some other South Sudanese generals, such as the late General George Athor, and Matip’s long time deputy Peter Gadet, Matip did not rebel against the nascent government in Juba at any point after he joined the SPLA in 2006.

Athor began a rebellion after he failed to become Jonglei State governor in 2010 and was killed by the SPLA in late 2011. Gadet launched his own rebellion in April 2011 but rejoined the government in August the same year, but failed to convince all of those under his command to rejoin the SPLA.

These instances have reinforced the view held by some analysts that the SPLA has a long way to go to transform itself from a patchwork of self-interested militia’s into a professional, responsible and truly national army. Indeed Matip’s death led Sara Pantuliano, Head of the Humanitarian Policy Group (HPG) at the Overseas Development Institute and Sudan expert, to ask "Who will his troops be loyal to?" in a comment on the social networking site twitter, responding to the first reports of Matip’s death on Wednesday.


After a brief prayer ceremony at Matip’s house in Juba, organised by President Kiir, Matip’s coffin was flown to Mayom County, accompanied by Vice President Machar, Deputy Defence Minister, Majak Degout, as well as a number of senior high ranking SPLA officers.

Machar, who also hails from Unity State, which lies on the new international border with Sudan, urged the people of Unity State and Matip’s family to be calm despite the death of their son, adding that "we need to strengthen ourselves for the loss".

“It is God given and has return back his soul from us”, added Machar.

On Friday the Unity State government announced over state radio that a three day period of mourning would last until August 27 when all state employees would be asked to resume their normal duties.

Peter Dak Khan, an MP representing Mayom at the Unity State Legislative Assembly in Bentiu, told Sudan Tribune, the Matip’s death had been a sad day for South Sudan, particularly the Bul-Nuer clan. Matip had shown he was a man of peace over the last seven years, since he reunited his forces with the SPLA. For much of that period Matip was believed to be seriously ill and over the years there have been numerous rumours of his death.

However, Khan said that his death had come as a surprise to the people of South Sudan, despite his age and his well known health issues. Khan added that people of South Sudan will miss a man with a strong heart. Many Mayom citizens appeared visibly moved during the burial which was held in Mayom at the request of Matip’s family.

The local MP called on the Mayom community and all South Sudanese citizens to relieve the pain of loosing such an important man by re-energizing efforts to develop the young nation, which has some of the worst development indicators in the world.

Unresolved issues with neighbouring Sudan, and internal problems such as corruption inefficient institutions and insecurity have hampered the governments efforts to help the nation recover from the civil war, which devastated the region.


Since April 2011, just months before South Sudan’s independence, Mayom County has been the base of a rebellion against the Juba government known as the South Sudan Liberation Movement/Army (SSLM/SSLA). The rebel group was launched by Major General Peter Gadet Yak, who had served under Matip in the SSDF before the 2006 Juba Agreement with the SPLA.

According the Small Arms Survey research group, Gadet had “a leading role in the South Sudan Unity Movement/Army (SSUM/A), a militia founded and led by Paulino Matiep in Bentiu that merged with the Khartoum-supported South Sudan Defense Forces (SSDF) following the Khartoum Peace Agreement of 1997.”

In his "Mayom Declaration" Gadet described the Juba government, which is dominated by the SPLA’s political wing the SPLM, as a group of "corrupt gangs". Citing corruption and tribalism, especially against the Nuer tribe, he called for ‘national broad-based government agreed upon by all the South Sudan political parties.’

Considering Gadet and Matip’s previous ties with Khartoum - when the CPA was signed in January 2005 Matip, Gadet, and a large number of their forces were based on the outskirts of Khartoum - and the location of Mayom on the border of Sudan’s South Kordofan State, inevitably Southern officials were quick to accuse the Khartoum government of supporting the SSLA in a bid to destabilise oil-rich Unity State ahead of independence.

Sudan lost 75% of the country’s oil-production when South Sudan seceded.

South Sudanese officials have alleged that Gadet’s Mayom Declaration was in fact drafted in Khartoum with the help of the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF). Khartoum denies backing the SSLA or any other rebel military group in South Sudan.

In April 2012 the Geneva-based Small Arms Survey reported that Sudan and Eritrea were the “likely source” of arms seized from militia groups, such as Gadet’s SSLA.

Evidence from interviews conducted and rifles seized from rebels of Athor’s South Sudan Democratic Movement (SSDM) and Gadet’s South Sudan Liberation Army (SSLA) in Jonglei, Upper Nile and Unity states matched those in the hands of SAF, the Survey claimed.

The SSLA continues to deny claims it is supported by Khartoum, as does the Sudanese government, which is keen to emphasise Juba’s alleged backing of rebels groups in it’s Darfur, South Kordofan, and Blue Nile territories.

Gadet’s involvement in the SSLA rebellion lasted only five months, as he rejoined the SPLA in August 2011 shortly after South Sudan’s independence but the insurrection has caused significant political and social upheaval and continued insecurity, especially in Mayom County.

In June last year the County’s Commissioner, Charles Machieng Kuol, was sacked after he refused to apologise for telling Sudan Tribune in May 2011 that the SPLA had burnt down 7,800 homes while pursuing the SSLA.

The SPLA disputed the figure and said that any damage was inadvertently caused while engaging with the militia group. Governor Taban Deng Gai replaced Machieng with his son-in-law John Madeng Gatduel on 7 March 2011. The Bull Nuer community of Mayom County, from which the late Matip hails, criticised the appointment complaining that they had not been consulted.


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  • 25 August 2012 06:43, by Mi diit

    Rest in eternal peace courageous general. Your legacy as fighter, unifier and peacemaker will live on forever and ever. Amen!

    repondre message

    • 25 August 2012 06:59, by omoni jr.

      we lost important man in south sudan,
      RIP HERO

      repondre message

    • 25 August 2012 07:06, by Chol A.

      Matip, death it sad and we all wish him to rest in peace he was aiming to be among southern sudanses he was first traitor to them. Those Nuer sons and sisters that dead before him might be one calling him to come sinec he accepted peace with SPLA. but it could be Gatdate’s turn now.

      repondre message

    • 25 August 2012 07:34, by Dinkawarrior

      We forgive your respasses as God is always forgive us! Rest in peace and we wish your family a best of hope and comfort!

      repondre message

      • 25 August 2012 08:33, by Dinkawarrior

        We forgive your Trespasses as God is always forgive us! Rest in peace and we wish your family a best of hope and comfort!

        repondre message

    • 25 August 2012 14:16, by DANDHEL

      Why NO thumb up in this Sudan tribune websites so that people can give thumbs up and thumbs down to people who say good and bad stuff in the post ????
      can you hear me please?
      R.I.P gen.Matip

      repondre message

    • 25 August 2012 19:04, by panchol

      Really we lost great son of south Sudan General: Paulino Matip Nhial, may Almighty God rest his soul in peace!!!!!!!!!

      repondre message

  • 25 August 2012 07:25, by panda

    How old he was matip

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    • 25 August 2012 07:34, by Aarai Baka

      To Panda
      Matip was born in the village n nobody have his birth certificate record.

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  • 25 August 2012 07:38, by George Bol

    Too bad for Matip Nhial. After payroll was cut off no other way other to join mother/father SPLM/A. SPLM/A is a train that no one can push it down.Those who stab us at the back will be remember in history for their parasitical move.

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    • 25 August 2012 08:01, by Dinka Dominated SPLA/M

      The dead man was abundant to the country, the rest are helpless gang who can be bribe with money,
      Matip knew so well that if he make complain in the SPLA/M, he would have get crush like piece of shit, in his live so he was just shutting up because he would have vanish in pain like his sickness who punish him to death, now some of you are orphans by Matip, what are you going to do?

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      • 25 August 2012 08:34, by Dinkawarrior

        Midiiit or Mitoot!
        Those falses statement you made here about Paulino Matip and Peter Gatdet Yak as his Successor had introduce your mind to us that you’re dumbass. This is not a right time for Nuer Community to be rally behnd Traitor men while everybody is ready to protect his names and his identity. I know there are good Nuer who never turned their back against their own people. Shame on you!

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      • 25 August 2012 12:18, by Ruach

        Matip Nhial Nyak,you are a great Hero that will be ever missed in South Sudan.You are not dead and the source of your DNA is still existing and hence has not degenerated.Death to all your Haters and we will walk on them and hide them under our feet!!!!

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    • 25 August 2012 12:12, by Ruach

      General Tipyang Nhial Nyak.You are a great Hero that will be ever missed in South Sudan.Your Genetic character has its specific source and hence it is still existing!!Death to all your Haters and we will walk on them and hide them under our feet!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      repondre message

      • 25 August 2012 21:09, by panom lualbil

        He was an hero by ncp against ANYANYA ONE and then against SPLA untill then when spla won, he joined us back through amnesty. But certain bastard here cann’t sympathizes of what kind of govn’t is SPLM than to retort!!! MATIP, was dreaming of defecting 2 khartom unfortunately, we missed him. Condolence 2 his son ruach, though.

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  • 25 August 2012 08:40, by Madina Tonj

    Matip Nhial did not go back and forth like many others Nuers do. Since he saw CPA was been achieved then, he immediately distancing himself from his master which is Khartoum and back to his people South Sudan. Even though he had loots many cows of Bahr al Ghazal communities for many years in Unity clearly, I give him a credit and forgiveness and may God put him on his left side

    repondre message

    • 26 August 2012 06:48, by Dhalaluaak

      Madina tonj,
      Matip did not joint the SPLA/SPLM during the CPA but came in after the CpA.He joint juba government in 2006.a year after the CPA.I cannot disgrace the dead man but he became the hero of peace beginning in 2006 till he die but wasn’t a hero from 2005 backward.He gave our oil to Khartuom and then khartuom bought sophisticated weapons used against us.He was confused in between Khartuom/S

      repondre message

  • 25 August 2012 09:19, by allan

    guys guys lets act like grow up man not talking like a child paulino is our general spla not nuer , im not happy of his death lets put our hand together n pray for him so God can rest his soul in peace
    who ever have problem wit him pls put it aside lets forget what happen b4 n work as s sudan

    repondre message

    • 25 August 2012 13:36, by Land-of-Cush

      Might Almighty God rest his soul in eternal life?
      No one is every friend to the death of any human being even if they seem to be your enemy. But some individual do enjoys it as they are the winners, God forgive them because they don’t know what they’re doing.

      repondre message

    • 25 August 2012 21:15, by panom lualbil

      Nobody wont ever celebrates the death of anybody unreasonably, but when certain fools comment here, they provoke others, So hell there we go.

      repondre message

  • 25 August 2012 11:53, by DANDHEL

    why NO thumb up in this Sudantribune websites so that peope can give thumbs up and thumbs down to people who say good and bad stuff in the post ????
    can you hear please?
    R.I.P gen.Matip

    repondre message

  • 25 August 2012 15:01, by thok chuni yok

    The dead of Deputy cammander-in-chief of the south sudan army, general Pualino Matip Nhial no body liked, but in this forum there is some people send a bad messages against general,please if it’s you kill him you can see, but not you God kill him.

    repondre message

    • 25 August 2012 22:17, by panom lualbil

      According to prophet [URNYANG] Mr. Matip wasnnt died for good, he will rise to life very soon. Becos in nuerology about URNYANG, there is death to live again unless when you’re none nuer.

      repondre message

  • 26 August 2012 11:18, by Dengka

    May the heavenly father welcome you in his kingdom and enjoy the everlasting life. Father paulino rest in peace. Your words and actions shall be remember forever more. Rest in peace.

    repondre message

  • 27 August 2012 09:08, by Boyone

    This man calls Matip will not be miss by any southerners except his alike Nuer community, there is nothing good he ever done to our cause of struggle in South. The only people who suppose to remember him are the Northerns Sudan people he helps steal our oils , there is no way we can remember him as hero for burning our Homes for the sak of money. he only joined SPLA because SPLA were getting pay.

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