By James Okuk
“Men will cease to commit atrocities only when they cease to believe in absurdities” – Voltaire.
March 3, 2014 - What does the attempted coup d’etat and the rebellion of Dr. Riek Machar and his group mean for South Sudan (the people, the government, the territory and the sovereignty) and the world at large? This is the essential question whose attempted answers attract many connections and conclusions, including this article.
However, the question of the failed coup in Juba does not any longer make sense even if we travel all over the world on expensive costs to sell it to the skeptics. It is a gone case because the coup has already failed.
What we should deal with now in a realistic manner is the on-going devastating Nuer rebellion against what they call Dinka government. This rebellion has been declared and is pursued under leadership of Dr. Riek and his allies who are now operating at large. It is being funded and defended by a good number of Nuer in Diaspora and with the help of their foreign friends. The rebellion will have slim chances to succeed on ‘defeat-victory’ premise since the Nuer and Dinka ethnic groups, in their anthropologies, are known of rejecting defeat and glorying victory only.
Beginning at the start:
But before getting into the substance, let me make sense of my previous prophetic opinion articles published on 8th July 2011 under the title “South Sudan Paradox: Joyful Independence, Sorry Leadership!” (http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article39483), on 10th October 2012 under the title: “To Office Managers of VP Dr. Riek Machar” (http://www.southsudannewsagency.com/opinion/columnists/to-office-managers-of-vp-dr-riek-machar), on 27th November 2013 under the title “Sudan and South Sudan: Tough Year Ahead in Politics of Power Monopoly” (http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article48971), and on 10th December 2013 under the title “Analysis of SPLM Rivalry Press Statements: Tough Choices Between History and Future” (http://www.southsudannation.com/analysis-of-splm-rivalry-press-statements-tough-choices-between-history-and-future/)
The first core quote: “with the good news of the declaration of the independence of the Republic of South Sudan kicking off on 9th July 2011, yet bad news of bad leadership from the SPLM and its military wing (the SPLA) remains the greatest concern locally, nationally, regionally and internationally…God have mercy on the poor people of South Sudan since their leaders are failing to protect them from harms!!!”
The second lead quote: “Everybody within the SPLM seems to be touched and you could see black signs of reactions written clearly on the grey wall. But for how long is this strange political culture going to continue before the SPLM split and splinter officially? Again, absurdity and uncertainty seems to have the reign, hence fear of resultant atrocities!”
The third main quote: “Pres. Salva Kiir knows that Dr. Riek has never helped but been working against him by not advising him well in many critical occasions... He was afraid to run in 2010 elections against Pres. Salva Kiir Mayardit, perhaps, because he has realized that democracy is higher than his (Dr. Riek’s) despotic and tribally magical mentality. Now it is too late for him and nothing but home is going to be the best place for him soon.”
The fourth essential quote: “Spilling the milk on dry sand and telling your leader to cry over it does not show sincerity and maturity in political statesmanship. The end result of such irresponsible culture and erratic behavior will be bitter divisions and ungrateful departures on toxic politics of lies, denials, fear, rage, retribution and malice …The solution is to give each rivaling Group of the SPLM a big mirror so that they can reflect on themselves from top to toe. Do they desire the common good of South Sudan or they love only power and wealth for themselves? Can somebody who loves his country wish it a bad luck of chaos, disorder, instability and abyss? ...Time for the SPLM is gone. It is the moment for South Sudan! End quotes.
The consequences of independence with bush mentality:
Indeed and with the evils that have engulfed the Republic of South Sudan due to the SPLM coup attempt on itself, it could be seen that my worries were not in vain. The fact that the SPLM and its SPLA military wing wanted to continue running South Sudan on bush and guerrilla mentality became the mother of all atrocious absurdities.
South Sudanese, especially Nuer, Dinka and Shilluk tribes, became preys of these unjustifiable atrocities that have never been witnessed in the known history of South Sudan. Akobo, Bentieu, Parieng, Bor, Leer, Malakal and many historical ethnic villages around them (Doleib Hill, Baliet, etc.,) got ruined to ashes and became ghosts and inhumane habitats within a shortest time unprecedented.
No good scenes any more in these territories accept apocalyptic memories of mass shootings, mass killings, mass graves, mass lootings, mass blazing, and mass displacement of the survivals by the trigger-happy illiterate youth hailing from Nuer and Dinka tribes. Unimaginable savagery destruction!
It has been observed that Dr. Riek and his allies within the SPLM wanted to push President Salva Kiir out of power for the reasons that he is too weak to handle the rampant corruption, recurrent insecurity, bad governance, inexistent foreign policy, Dutch-diseased economy and deformed SPLM political party. They have been preparing themselves to become the alternatives to the extent that President Kiir has been accusing them of running a parallel government within his government. What betrayed them is impatience and improper planning to oust Salva Kiir at the right time and without using wrong means of transfer of power.
Now Dr. Riek and his allies have missed the opportunity so badly that they have to disgracefully descend from governance palaces to the rebellion bushes of South Sudan. They have cultivated more seeds of hatred that will take longer time to weed out. I don’t know if they know that coming back from bush to presidency is not an easy ride under normal governance situation. In the rebellion wars the unlucky usually perish and the lucky take longer time to get back to civility.
Dr. Riek and his allies lost the sympathy of many of those who might have been supporting them if they did not resort to violence. They failed to understand that whoever kills and displaces innocent civilians in the name of power gains and victory is supposed to lose respect and legitimacy in politics immediately.
Comparatively, Mr. Salva Kiir is not losing much because he has already been recorded by history as the first President of the Republic of South Sudan. Even if he is out of power (alive or not) that known history shall remain in his advantage.
Given the well known fact-sheets about the SPLM’s top leadership conspiracies and rivalries for power monopoly, it could be concluded that Dr. Riek and his allies were the ones who put President Kiir into the catty corner he operated in. They wanted democracy within the SPLM but only after the resignation of their Chairman Kiir. If democracy is about open and free competition for leadership through elections why Dr. Riek and his allies did attempt to be dictators on resignation of Kiir while they claim to champion democracy?
Is it not negligence and senselessness when the SPLM/SPLA in government runs from the SPLM/A in opposition in the theatre of operation and leave the civilians alone to suffer in hospitals, churches, UNMISS compounds, etc.
Also is it not the height of hypocrisy from the so-called international friends of South Sudan (especially USA) to care more for the few political detainees, who are under protection rather than worrying about the suffering innocent civilians who are left alone to perish as victims?
It is known that the rebels are outlaws and are never accountable to the people; but what about the government? Who is really governing the government of South Sudan in this crisis, especially in Upper Nile State?
I think South Sudan is lucky to be South Sudan. Otherwise, resignations and dismissals would have been the order of the days since the time things fell apart within the SPLM ruling party!
Despite the crisis, President Kiir wants to maintain power based on the following roadmap: cessation of hostilities, humanitarian assistance, grand national political dialogue, investigation of aborted coup crimes and accountability, presidential pardons and amnesty to the guilty, national peace and reconciliation, government review and reforms, preparation for 2015 elections and re-organization of the SPLM ruling party. Will he be victorious or he shall be defeated in all these?
Cessation of hostilities that has never ceased the hostilities:
The peace talks in Addis Ababa between the Government of South Sudan and the rebels’ leaders have superseded SPLM internalization and localization, yet the SPLM is still sleeping in hangovers of a lost glory. Regional and international interests have already sneaked in with more sophisticated complications than simplifications.
The international community intensively pressured the two warring sides to sign initial agreement on secession of hostilities in terms of military confrontations (including progressive withdrawal of allied forces invited to the theatre of operations), negative media and propaganda campaigns, ethnic hatred propagation, killings and displacement of civilians (especially children, girls, women and elderly), human rights abuses, destruction of properties, attacking of civilians aircrafts and other means of transport, recruitment of child soldiers, humanitarian assistance access, burial of the dead and memorization, reunion of families and movements of the civilians and their goods. The other complimentary agreement acknowledged the role that the detainees can play (together with other political actors, civil society organizations, traditional and religious leaders) in the process of dialogue for peace and reconciliation in South Sudan after the war has been stooped.
All these terms of the agreements shall be noted by the Monitoring and Verification Mechanism, advised by the Technical Committee under the leadership of the IGAD.
However, the cessation of hostilities has been signed on the paper only; it is not working on the ground. The reason is that majority of the people of South Sudan and their leaders are absurdly complicated in their being rather than reasonably sophisticated in their thinking.
They have not thought that they could go to war with one another one day, hence, they have not been preparing for war.
They did not think that the military training they were getting was for killing themselves so badly than a neighboring enemy elsewhere.
They did not think that they could burn down their own cities and towns. They did not think that they could displace themselves and becomes refugees in more numbers than they used to be during the war with Khartoum regimes.
They did not imagine that they could sit opposite to each others as opponents mediated by foreigners for negotiations.
Now they did all these but they still don’t believe it. They propagate that they are one nation when they are not. Their loyalty to the independent South Sudan has become questionable? They are loyal to their tribal leaders. What a people!
Irrationality of Dr. Riek’s rebellion:
Dr. Riek and his allies wanted to remove President Salva Kiir from power, yet they are harming and destroying innocent civilians and their livelihoods so evilly.
Is Salva Kiir Pariang Dinka? Is Salva Kiir Bor Dinka? Is Salva Kiir Bailiet Dinka, Is Salva Kiir Shilluk people and kingdom? Has Salva Kiir left J-One in Juba to go hiding in these places so that Dr. Riek forces would have been justifying of committing untold atrocities on innocent civilians who did not know what went wrong with SPLM politicians in Juba?
With all what has happened, the healing shall not be easy. It shall not be safer any more for the Nuer to cross to the Shilluk and Dinka areas and vise versa. The binding fabric of South Sudanese people has been loosed terribly. Perhaps, Greater Equatoria is the only region where a little neutrality is left. What an unlucky people!
Dr. Riek’s rebellion has really exposed the ugly tribal bigotry and savagery realities in South Sudan based on absurdities of deceitful politics mixed with black magic. The savagery deeds of the White Army in Jonglei and Upper Nile States speak louder. This betrays Dr. Riek and the cronies more than they would have thought.
The end of Addis Ababa peace talks:
The Addis Ababa peace talks should not come back with the SPLM glory because South Sudan shall for a longer time be held hostage for no noble reason apart from greed and malice. A democratically elected dictator and killer does not make any special meaning of genuine democracy!
The peace talks should bring home the dignity of the people of South Sudan where they will choose the leaders who have no blood of innocent people in their hands. No more power and wealth rewards to heartless warlords. Those who are fueling Dr. Riek’s rebellion and contributing money for killings and destruction in his name should not be allowed to govern South Sudan.
It is time to punish killings, atrocities and human rights abuses that have been committed with impunity in South Sudan. In the first place ‘peace-first’ has been tried and even bought with money and power but it did not work. It is now time to try ‘justice-first’ without any fear or favor.
These should come out clearly in the IGAD declaration of principles that would constitute the basis for resolution of the current crisis, unjustifiably created by the SPLM for South Sudan.
“Know thyself” is the Socrates’ philosophic command that the people of South Sudan need to notice keenly from the current crisis and after it is over.
Call it SPLM in opposition or SPLM in resistance or SPLM in detention or whatsoever absurdity, the fact is that this former liberation movement has brought greatest shame to the Republic of South Sudan than expected.
The SPLM, hitherto, doesn’t deserve any future credit of legitimacy and dignity. This outdated dinosaur and its military wing must be laid to the rest of historical archives.
The good future of South Sudan should transcend beyond the evils of the SPLM/A. It is then, and only from then, will the Republic of South Sudan see in reality values called peace, harmony, justice and prosperity.
Dr. James Okuk is reachable at email@example.com