By Sabrino Majok Majok
January 22, 2014---In my article entitled, “UNMISS on Microscope in South Sudan,” posted on many networks and email lists globally on January 16, 2014, I confidently said that UNMISS hasn’t been supportive of the Government of South Sudan neither has it being neutral as expected. Specifically, I alerted people that UNMISS Armour Personnel Carriers (APCs) were in possession of and used by rebels for more than two weeks while the world’s body was silence about the issue.
After an alarm was raised, the UNMISS spokesperson in Juba finally spoke of 20 vehicles of UNMISS that were “commandeered” in Bentiu and Bor. This shocking revelation was made public two good weeks later! Because who in his or her right mind could report a theft or disappearance of something after more than two weeks’ period and hopes to be taken seriously? Yes, no civilized person would wait for more than two weeks to report a missing property, even a pet and UNMISS should know it better due to its structural sophistication. I truly believe that Ms. Hilde Johnson and team were blindfolded by their personal relation with rebel leader, Dr. Riek Machar. The UNMISS decision to keep quiet for two weeks without making any statement about the missing vehicles clearly justify the claim that they handed over their vehicles to the rebels to fight national army (SPLA) with.
Moreover, it has been reported that Ms. Hilde Johnson changed her phone contacts right after a failed coup. If she had nothing to hid, what necessitated her action? In my opinion, Ms. Hilde Johnson did so in a futile attempt to dissociate herself from her friends on the rebels’ camp. Otherwise, she should inform citizens of South Sudan about her underlying motive or objective.
I concluded the cited article by saying that it was only a matter of time to unearth all conspiracies in play against people and government of South Sudan, “especially when SPLA recaptures the town of Bor and piece together its findings or possibly showcase pictures of or vehicles in question.” This assessment was arrived at due to the fact that UNMISS didn’t report any of their looted or missing vehicles at the time of posting the quoted article which later compelled them to confess publicly, fortunately.
As I correctly predicted, South Sudan’s army, the SPLA, has uncovered what UNMISS was hiding from people of South Sudan when it recaptured Bor town from Dr. Reik Machar’s rebels.
Inside and around Bor town, the SPLA found the armour personnel carriers and other vehicles belonging to UNMISS which were used by rebels for more than two weeks. This is in addition to Ms. Hilde Johnson’s continued denial that what happened in Juba was not a coup but mere political differences within SPLM Party. What’s more, since mid-December failed coup engineered by Dr. Riek Macher, Ms. Hilde Johnson has embarked on smearing campaign against the government and people of South Sudan in a futile attempt to discredit the new nation and its leadership for reasons known to her and Dr. Riek Macher’s rebels. A case in point is her insistence that atrocities were committed by both parties to the conflict when the available evidence clearly proves otherwise. The massacres of civil population (including patients in hospital beds and churches) in Bor, Makal, and Bentiu as well as looting and destruction of property were carried out by rebels. Unfortunately, Ms Hilde is yet to condemn the rebels for these atrocities.
Likewise, the UN Secretary General Mr. Ban Ki-Moon, on many occasions, refused to accept what happened in Juba was a coup, and instead has been calling and pressuring the Government for “immediate” release of coup plotters without going through established legal processes as per the laws of the Republic of South Sudan. By so doing, Mr. Secretary General is clearly helping the rebels to conceal genesis and evidence of failed coup. This is why UNMISS and rebels’ western allies are rejecting legal proceeding against the coup plotters. Otherwise, there is no any good reason why coup suspects should be prematurely freed before they are proven innocent in the court of law. For peace to prevail in South Sudan, justice must be served. Any attempt to side step legal processes by those who committed heinous act of crimes against the people of South Sudan can only lead to further destabilization of the country. In order to prevent similar situation arising in the future, those who instigated any senseless bloodletting acts must face full force of law. In this regard, I urge the President to never succumb to internal and external pressures whatsoever.
Indeed, UNMISS support of rebels became clearer after the town of Bor fell to SPLA. Besides capturing of APCS, which were used by the rebels, the National Minister of Information, Hon. Michael Makuei Lueth, was harassed, embarrassed, manhandled and prevented entry to UNMISS Bor compound which is a home to many rebels who committed heinous crimes in many locations, including hospitals, churches, markets and homes. Furthermore, SSTV video footage around UNMISS compound in Bor was awash with military uniforms from rebels who sought protection from UNMISS compound after they carried out mass killings and rapes in full view of UNMISS military and police personnel.
The questions worth asking are: why did UNMISS allow rebels to enter into their compound while denying the same privilege to a Nation Minister of Information? Where are rebels’ weapons now? Did prevention of Information to enter UNMISS compounds amount to lack of recognition of the government of South Sudan by UNMISS?
UNMISS must provide convincing answers to Government and people of South Sudan for their inappropriate actions in South Sudan in general, and Bor UNMISS compound in particular.
Finally, Mr. Ban Ki-Moon and UNMISS should be reminded that the 21 years of liberation struggle claimed millions of lives while displacing million others. And so, they must mind their business and not to meddle in affairs of South Sudan.
To this end, Mr. Ban Ki-Moon and UNMISS are encouraged to strictly adhere to their mandate by playing a positive and impartial role in an ongoing crisis in the country otherwise the people of South Sudan will continue to lose respect for the world body.
(1) Government of Republic of South Sudan and UN to form a Joint Assessment Committee to assess conditions of those who sought protection in UNMISS camps across South Sudan, particularly in Juba, Bor, Bentinu, Malakal, Akobo, and Nasir compounds. This exercise will help the government to retrieve weapons taken to UNMISS compounds by rebels.
(2) The detained coup suspects should face full force of law for instigating senseless bloodshed in the country.
(3) UNMISS and International Community should admit that what happened in Juba on December 15th, 2013 was a well-coordinated attempted coup and condemn it accordingly.
(4) UNMISS and International community should play an impartial role in the ongoing conflict in the country.
(5) Government should identify suitable and secure IDP camps in the country to relocate those who are currently in UNMISS compounds across the country until security situation improves for them to go back to their respective communities.
(6) Creation of Peace and Reconciliation Commission to spearhead intensive awareness campaign across the country to promote forgiveness and restore peace and confidence amongst communities.
(7) Any future Government peace deal with the rebels should not include reintegration of rebel forces into National Army, SPLA.
(8) AU, UN, and International Community should pressure rebel leader, Dr. Riek Machar, to accept cessation of hostilities without preconditions.
I extend my sincere condolences to families whose love ones have fallen in the aftermath of a failed coup ignited by the rebel leader Dr. Riek Machar.
Sabrino Majok Majok can be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org.