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INTERVIEW: Top official from Juba university joins South Sudan rebels

March 27, 2014 (ADDIS ABABA) – A top official of the University of Juba has defected to the South Sudanese rebels led by the former vice president, Riek Machar, vowing to work for the removal of president Salva Kiir whom he accused of being a “terrible dictator and fascist.”

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A member of South Sudan’s rebel SPLM-In-Opposition patrols the streets of Upper Nile state capital Malakal, on 4 March 2014 (Photo: AFP /Andrei Pungovschi)

Oyet Nathaniel Pierino, who heads the Department of Political Science in the University of Juba, in an exclusive interview in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, said he and his group from the Greater Equatoria region had now joined Machar’s opposition group to topple Kiir’s regime either at the negotiation table or in the battle fields.

“I join SPLM/A In Opposition not just as an individual but as a group from Equatoria under my leadership because of the failure of leadership of president Salva Kiir. He has become terrible dictator and fascist,” he declared.

He accused Kiir of planting tribalism, corruption, nepotism and dictatorship in the new nation as well as handing over the country’s sovereignty to the foreign countries such as Uganda.

Pierino holds president Kiir accountable for what he said was the genocide his “tribal private militias” committed against unarmed civilians of the Nuer ethnic group in Juba in December last year and continued to commit.

He called on the international community to sanction individuals in the Juba regime that are responsible for the “mess” in the country, beginning with president Salva Kiir and his mentor, the Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni.

The senior academician also condemned the proposed deployment of IGAD troops to the region, warning this will regionalize the internal conflict where each side will look for allies to fight on its side.

He further warned that the SPLM In Opposition may seek another neutral mediator should some IGAD member states continue to meddle in the internal conflict by militarily supporting president Kiir.

Pierino envisioned an interim government without Salva Kiir prior to elections as a resolution to the conflict, adding that during the interim period Machar would establish a new constitution based on federalism which would give answers for the shortcomings in the system as well as under which Machar would seek additional mandate as president.

“Whether through military triumph in Juba, there will be an interim administration and we will hold elections in the shortest time possible to seek mandate and consent of the people of South Sudan, and if the people will not give Dr. Riek mandate, he will go home and the nation continues…,” he concluded.

Below is the full text of the interview…

Q: Why did you decide to join SPLM in opposition?

A: I join SPLM/A in opposition not just as an individual but as a group from Equatoria under my leadership because of the failure of leadership of president Salva Kiir. He has become terrible dictator and fascist. Kiir has failed first of all to provide peace dividend to South Sudanese. South Sudanese expected development, prosperity in social political and economic aspect of the society. President Kiir instead promoted corruption, tribalism and nepotism which resulted into his tribe-mates becoming masters of others. They are the ones who had access to wealth and resources in the country. He stocked his government mostly with Dinka tribe-mates and appointed close relatives to positions of authority. President Kiir abused his powers by breaking the constitutions by interfering with independence of judiciary. In 2011 he dismissed the chief justice and appointed another one. He dismissed three governors and appointed new ones thought they were elected. He encouraged the arbitrary use of power such that national and state constitutions, legislature and judiciary were nonfunctional. President Kiir dissolved the historical SPLM party and planned to assassinate its members. He arrested most of the historical leaders. He now rules the government and the party whom he dissolved the structures single-handedly by decrees. He raised another army of 13,000 soldiers only from Dinka Bar el Gazel only. He used them to commit genocide in the country. I cannot be ruled by a blood thirsty president. He further promoted sectarianism within the SPLA ranks and file. With his unfair promotion and appointment he marginalized other people especially those from Greater Equatoria. He compromised the sovereignty of the republic by inviting foreign forces composed of UPDF, JEM, SPLM-N, et,c to protect his regime. He is now pursuing a path of isolating South Sudan from the international community by attacking international community especially the UN, AU, EU, etc, calling them to leave the country. Nobody organized coup in South Sudan. If president Kiir says coup has taken place in South Sudan, he is the one who organized it by attempting to disarm his bodyguards who were Nuer, dissolving SPLM party and arresting the leaders. He has now effectively placed the country under state of emergency and suspended the operation of the constitution and placed the country under foreign military rule and dictatorship.

Q: Will you have any roles on the peace talks?

A: Definitely, directly or indirectly I will have a role in the peace talks. First of all, as one of the leaders of a popular resistance and a freedom fighter, I will use my force to ensure that president Salva Kiir negotiates not just an end to the war but also an end to his leadership and the system he has created which people do not want. He has committed genocide; he has lost his legitimacy. I fight to hold him accountable whether through peace talks or at the battle field. War and negotiation to me serve the same purpose. The forces we have at our background is a deterrent to president Kiir further perpetuation of Dinkaism ideology and fascism and will effectively put the system he created to a quick end. People should not panic, the war will not last long because we have the capability to end it on a just term. We need good peace not just [any] peace. It is not about ending the war but addressing the fundamental causes that triggered the war. Which of course overhaul of fragility he created in the State.

Q: What do you think will resolve the crises in South Sudan?

A: If president Kiir steps down today we will stop fighting and begin an inclusive negotiation of a complete overhaul of the system he created for the last 9 years. We need new government with new and a federal constitution, in which power shall be vested in the people, not a single man who used it arbitrarily through senseless decrees. And if president Kiir insists to remain in power against people’s will, him and his group will not only be pushed out by force but also pursue them anywhere they will be. We cannot return to the status quo, never! That will mean people who lost their lives in struggle since 1955-1972, 1975-1982, 1983-2005, and now from 2013 up to date would have died amiss. He has committed genocide, he should account for it.

Q: What do you think about the IGAD’s decision to deploy regional forces in South Sudan?

A: What is being called PDF [Protection and Deterrent Force] will never work. This is unacceptable development in the mediation process. First of all agreement should never be imposed on parties. Mutual agreement would be implemented voluntarily by parties. Instead of being seen as part of the problem, IGAD should concentrate on building trust, confidence among the warring parties. If they insist on this force, we are ready to protract the war by hibernating into the bushes of South Sudan and we will also invite our friends in the region and let IGAD come and fight us. IGAD now is fast losing its neutrality. We have been giving IGAD benefit of doubt but the decision now they have taken will have ramifications and we will not hesitate to look for a neutral mediator if that becomes necessary so that IGAD member states can join the war on the side they want.

Q: How do you see Uganda’s role in South Sudan considering it also is member state of the regional bloc?

A: First of all we are fully aware that in 2010, president Kiir and president Museveni met in Kampala and discussed how to protect their regimes. In 2012, they again met in Entebbe State House in Uganda and drew a master-plan of eliminating their political opponents by having joint security system. The first casualty was late Gen. George Athor who was murdered in his hotel room in Entebbe road in Uganda; his body was later flown and dumped in Morobo County of Central Equatoria state. The two presidents opened up a training camp in the suburb of Juba called Kampala one. This was where they raised and trained 13,000 private army for president Kiir. It was this militia who were not part of the main SPLA command that was part of the forces that committed genocide in Juba and other parts of the country in the name of protecting the regime of president Salva Kiir. It is Uganda who is running the show. Uganda’s president planted the mess in our country. They also compromised the neutrality of IGAD. In fact some of the texts in IGAD communiqués are direct copy and paste from Uganda government press releases. They actually undermined almost every effort not only by IGAD but also Ethiopia to mediate the peace and Uganda will pay the price, am telling you. They destroyed Bor town, Bentiu, Malakal, etc. Uganda, JEM and SPLM/A-N are now being paid by dollars that comes from the oil in Bentiu. Uganda is a war merchant in the region, they are in DRC Congo, in Central African Republic, Somalia etc, and would not want to see an end to this conflict soon and we are ready to battle it out with them. They are not immortal and an highland in the ocean that cannot be reached.

Q: How is the humanitarian situation at the UN camps?

A: We have dire humanitarian situations especially with those displaced in bushes and UNMISS camps. People live in squalid conditions as if they are stateless. President Kiir’s forces continue to pursue them there and calling them rebels. He even wants the IDPs released in his hand so that he can finish them. That is why he is calling for UNMISS to leave the country and he has now put them under target by inciting the armed forces and his militias as well as the general public against the UNMISS. We condemn this act in strongest terms possible. Any loss or casualties suffered by UNMISS, president Kiir should be held responsible. He is very comfortable with the suffering of the Nuer women and children in the UNMISS camps. There is a need for food supply, medicine, clean water and shelter to the hundreds of thousands of displaced in the shortest run while in the long run they need to be relocated, resettled and reintegrated to their original lives in society.

Q: Is there any call you want to make to the international community?

A: Yes, they should stop the flow of the oil because it is being used for financing mercenaries and war. There is blood oil now flowing in South Sudan. Another option is to allow the oil to flow but the money should not be used by the government or us until such a time just peace comes. If they want structural changes in the government of South Sudan, they should add incentives for the government to adhere to inclusive and comprehensive negotiations on all aspects. Incentives should include; targeted sanctions on government’s officials beginning with President Museveni, and then; President Salva Kiir, minister of Defense; Gen. Kuol Manyang Juuk, Minister of Security; Mobutu Mamur Mete, Governor of Northern Bar el Gazel State; Malong Awan, Commander of presidential Guards Division; Marial Chanuong, Director for SPLA Military Intelligence; Mac Paul, Minister of Cabinet Affairs; Elia Lomuro, Vice president Gen. James Wani Igga, SPLA DCOGS for Administration Gen. Malual Ayom, Director for Internal Security Brig. Gen. Akol Koor, Director for External Security; Brig Gen. Thomas Duoth,former deputy speaker SSLA, Awet Akot, Chief presidential advisorTelar Riing, presidential spokesperson and government chief propagandist; Ateny Wek Ateny, Minister of Foreign Affairs; Marial Benjamin etc. These individuals we will always hold them accountable for what happened in the country.

Q: What do you say about forming an interim government in South Sudan?

A: It is a must. If negotiations should be conclusive, president Kiir should step aside immediately. It is non-negotiable. President Kiir is the symbol of the status quo; those who want peace in South Sudan should advise him to step down. President Kiir and his government have squandered their legitimacy; mandate of protecting the people and committed genocide. They have also lost control of the entire Upper Nile region and part of Equatoria region. Why should they continue ruling and imposing their will on the people of South Sudan without their consent? We need interim neutral administration without Kiir. Of course we will negotiate the mechanism and modality of interim administration which shall include anybody who will participate in the interim administration [but] will not take part in any elections in the country.

Q: Do you suggest the interim government excludes Salva and Riek?

A: President Kiir can never be part of the interim government. He had enough time to display his leadership but he proved himself incapable. He now rules under the direct order and command of president Museveni. Of course Dr. Riek and I believe in democracy. Whether through military triumph in Juba, there will be an interim administration and we will hold elections in the shortest time possible to seek mandate and consent of the people of South Sudan, and if the people will not give Dr. Riek mandate, he will go home and the nation continues. As simple as that!