By PaanLuel Wel,
Reports from Juba have it that the head of military intelligence, Gen. Mac Paul Kuol Awar, has rubbished the alleged coup attempt of December 15, 2013. Mac Paul was called as a government witness to testify against the detained 4 political prisoners (Pagan, Oyai, Majak and Gatkuoth) who are arraigned in court, charged with treason.
Ironically, the Director of military intelligence, who was called to back up government’s assertion that there was a coup, came out strongly arguing that there was no such thing as a coup. Instead, he said, it was a misunderstanding among the soldiers of Tiger Battalion, which was then mishandled till it escalated into a countrywide rebellion.
“It’s unfortunate that things unfolded in the way they were within the Tiger unit. The situation could have been reverted but the escalation of the fight during that night prevented all the efforts“, Paul said.
According to the Citizen Newspaper report, Mach Paul told the court that the four political detainees have nothing to do with the alleged coup and the subsequent armed rebellions in Jonglei, Upper Nile and Unity states.
“The SPLA Director of Intelligence, Gen. Mac Paul, told the Court that he, as an intelligence officer, has no clue that the four suspects were behind the attack but pointed out that he believes there were some political problems within the SPLM party which started way back before the incident of December 15.”
Upper Nile Times, an online website, reports:
“In a major blow to the prosecution’s claim of ‘coup d’etat’ attempt by the four SPLM members currently being investigated for treason charges, Mac Paul the head of military intelligence testified that the event of December 15 2013 cannot be classified as a coup attempt, instead it can be viewed as dissatisfied individuals in the Tiger Unit trying to vent their frustrations on their counterparts.
If confirmed, the fact that a government witness and the director of South Sudan’s military intelligence would dare to stick out his neck and publicly contradict Government’s account of events–that there was an aborted coup–would be a turning point in the prosecution of the 4 political detainees.
Moreover, it compels one to wonder out aloud as to how things are done in Juba: what was the government thinking when they took Mac Paul to the witness box? What did the government expect that he would say? Was there a briefing?
It must be recalled that Mac Paul himself has been numerously accused in the past of planning to carry out a coup against President Kiir. Did the fact that he was falsely accused in the past played into his action of disparaging government’s account of December 15t events? Maybe, maybe not!
The news, which is yet to be verified, has unleashed a plethora of comments on social media in praise for and condemnation of Mac Paul’s action.
“Wow, Mac Paul doesn’t worry about his job like other folks in South Sudan. Telling the truth or speak your mind is always the best option. Why prosecutors want him to testify so bad for the last two weeks? If your witness turn against you in court, is it not a blow to your case? The people of South Sudan deserve to know what set our country ablaze? prosecutors have provided any tangible evidences to support coup claimed. Insulted a president or calling for a protest are not evidence for the coup claimed” writes Dengcol on Facebook.
And South Sudanese journalist, Mading Ng’oor, cautions and stresses that:
“Folks, get Mac Paul correctly on his recent court testimony. He said that he was alarmed by an incident on Dec. 13 when a Nuer officer tried to steal the key for an ammunition store in Giyada. Mac also said that he ordered the arrest of the officer. He also said that Taban Deng called him by phone to inquire about the whereabouts of the officer. Mac said that he was perturbed about ‘politicians’ interfering in military affairs. In response, Mac said he called a meeting of all security organs to discuss this issue which he deemed to be a threat to national security. Then the December 15 violence broke out. Mac further said that Taban Deng was the mastermind of the violence —but said nothing incriminating against the G4, as he said he personally didn’t have any evidence linking the four to the Dec. 15 unrest.”
In a swift reaction to the news, Reng’o Gyyw, a concerned citizen and a regular commentator on South Sudanese issues, argues that “we need to get away from this coup thing and focus on really issues.” And indeed, rather than focusing on a distractive and destructive speculation on a contested coup, we have tons of thorny real issues to occupy us forever!
It remains to be seen how (and what) Aleu Ayieny would testify on Monday against the four political detainees. It has been claimed, however, that Hon. Aleu Ayieny is part of the problem as he has a personal vendetta against Pagan Amum and should never have therefore been allowed to give testimony against the four prisoners.
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