By David Deng Chapath, Kampala, Uganda
February 13, 2017 (SSB) —- On 11/02/2017 Gen. Thomas Cirillo Swaka, resigned from his post as the SPLA Deputy Chief of General Staff for Logistics. In a six-page letter of resignation that was punished on the Website of PaanluelWel.com, on the same date of resignation as mentioned above, Gen. Cirillo cited the reasons for his resignation of which he claimed to be the following—
That the country has been dominated by Dinka tribe of President Kiir and the army has been turned to tribal militia that targets non-Dinka ethnicities. He further accused the South Sudanese President Salva Kiir, the Chief of Staff General Paul Malong of “deliberately orchestrated planned violations” of the August 2015 peace agreement” which led to fighting in Juba in July last year.
He, in addition said, “The President and these SPLA officers have systematically frustrated the implementations of the peace agreement and pursued the agenda of Jieng Council of Elders (JCE) of ethnic cleansing, forceful displacement of people from the their ancestral lands and ethnic domination,”.
General Cirillo, also accused the President Kiir and Jieng Council of Eiders, that he termed to be “the real cabinet of the Government…pursuing a strategy of turning the SPLA and other organized forces into brutal tribal forces” dominated by Dinkas hailing from Bahr el Ghazal region, the home area of the President and the Army Chief of Staff, Lt. Gen Paul Malong Awan, are now systematically recruited and “promoted to officer ranks have been assigned as commanders of most SPLA units”.
He further stated out that the Mathiang Anyoor tribal militias, “deliberately applied policy of scorch earth by burning whole villages, grabbing land, especially in Equatoria, Chollo land and Western Bahr el Ghazal”. He said he had tried to convince the president and “members of Dinka ruling clique” to promote nationalism stop tribal policies but his efforts went in vain and fallen on deaf ears. He said that “This type of inhuman treatment and the human agony it entails has never happened before, even during the time when Khartoum was ruling South Sudan,”
In summary, in that resignation letter, the general painted dark the image of the SPLA/M of the poor treatment of Equatorian military elements in the army saying they have been kept out of Equatoria since the signing of the CPA in 2005. However, he admitted that this “discrimination and crimes against humanity” are committed on the Dinkas “who are opposed to the policy of discrimination on ethnic bases and destruction of the country”.
After citing the above reasons and some that I have not mentioned here, he then resigned by declaring that at that juncture he could no longer continue to be part of the ongoing destruction of the country by the army.
After resigning many enemies of the SPLM government rejoiced and celebrated that the SPLM is going to collapse which is not true. The Government of South Sudan headed by the SPLM is an independent Government and cannot collapse just because one of the generals in the army has resigned.
The fact that General Cirillo who was in big position in the army has resigned does not mean that neither the army nor the government will collapse. How many generals have been not only resigning from the SPLA since 2013 but also have resigned and staged the war against South Sudan but South Sudan still strong? This means that the rebels or the enemies of South Sudan are rejoicing for nothing. Otherwise, the resignation of general Cirillo will have no major impact on the army and the government of South Sudan.
Coming to his allegation that the army is dominated by the Dinka which is not true, because the fact that he held that position from which he resigned showed that the government was balancing the positions in the army.
In regard to the army in general, the people from Equatoria and other regions of South Sudan he cited in his resignation letter that they have been left out in the army, they were not left out deliberately but they did not want to join the army. The clear example is that of Mathiang Anyoor he cited as one of the reasons he resigned.
During the recruitment of the group that was later trained to be called Mathiang Anyoor all South Sudanese from all regions were invited to join training but the people from Equatoria and other regions as he stated in his letter refused and Dinka youth only heeded to the call for national service. So it was not that Mathiang Anyoor was intended to destroy the other non-Dinka groups but they were the only people who heeded to the national call for service in the army.
General Cirillo in his resignation letter also said that he did not want to be part of the inhuman treatments and crime against humanity being committed by the army and the Government of South Sudan. According to the law he is also responsible for the crimes committed by the army because he is part of the command which is responsible for the killings as he alleged and if he wanted to absolve himself, he would have resigned in 2013 when the war and killings started. He should have not waited until this time, which is too late.
General Cirillo clearly pointed out that all people including Dinka people who oppose the government are being targeted which shows that the Government of Kiir is not tribal government as he claimed. A tribal government would have protected all Dinka people irrespective of their attitudes towards the government. This shows that his claim that the government of South Sudan is tribal government is not true.
Contrary to his claim, the government of South Sudan is acting like any other governments which control any group of people who show dissenting attitudes towards the government. in that respect, the role of the government is to ensure that its policies are obeyed and if no one obeys them then it has to impose them by all means including the use of force where necessary.
General Cirillo further pointed out that the Government is using Mathiang Anyoor which deliberately applied policy of scorch earth by burning whole villages, grabbing land, especially in Equatoria, Chollo land and Western Bahr el Ghazal. I did not expect General like Cirillo to make this generalization especially about what is going on in Upper Nile and Western Bahr el Ghazal.
There is nothing like Chollo land in Upper Nile as Chollo people are taking advantage of the current crisis to grab the land of the Dinka Ngok. The only way they can prove that it is their land is to wait for land arbitration body or tribunal and then present their evidence to prove that the land was theirs.
But using force to take the land is grabbing and those on the land have all rights to defend their land. This is why I said that the Chollo people are taking advantage of the current situation which the people who use force are favoured so they are using force thinking that the government will allow them to take land. They must understand that under the law no one is allowed to fight for the land which he or she does not have clear evidence that shows that he or she is the true owner.
What general Cirillo should have asked is: why the army fights the people of Equatoria or uses the police as he terms as “scorch earth policy”? In my understanding based on the facts on the ground the army has never used such policy but the politicians and intellectuals from Equatoria who are against the government and Dinka in general have invented such a term which they are using as a political tool to destroy the image of the government.
Of course, though the government might have used heavy hand in Equatoria, the people from the Equatoria have themselves partly to blame because they conspired to destroy innocent people of South Sudan from the Dinka ethnic group just because they are Dinka. For example, the people of Equatoria have been targeting innocent civilians travelling along the road thinking that the government would keep quiet from such terrorists’ act. Those who killed civilians along the road are terrorists and that is all there is no need for politics in such cases.
To make it clear, no any Dinka person has ever taken arms deliberately to go and search or wait along the road for any innocent people from Equatoria with intention of killing them. The army always fights in self-defense or in defense of national interest.
In summary, Cirillo did not resign because of the Government failure, if that were the case, he would have resigned long time ago. There must be a specific reason for his resignation and the reason might be that he has stolen enough money and he no longer wants to work in the army as many former generals who left South Sudan now did.
The above assertion is proved by the emerging news from the SPLA General Headquarters, in the aftermath of his disappearance and eventual defection from the government, the news is that he stole more than $9 million US dollars from SPLA Logistics Department where he was the Deputy Chief of Staff for Logistics (see; southsudancable.wordpress.com).
In that news it is reported that the General Cirillo shipped the money out of the country one and half month before his trip abroad that ended up in defection. ” the money was taken out on the pretext that it was going to purchase spare parts for vehicles, tanks and other movable military assets plus that part of the money was for food and medical supplies” said an officer with the knowledge within Logistics department and who did not want to be named.
That news has higher value because he was on government mission and since he is in the business of the government he must stolen such money and that is why he did not want to come back to South Sudan. This is because resignation is normal and the person cannot be mistreated or arrested for resigning unless he or she resigns without accounting for the government resources he or she was in charge.
As seen above, the resignation has nothing to do with the bad governance but he got the pretext of leaving of the army to go to abroad or joins rebels without worries.
For the reasons so far discussed I would like to tell the rebels or enemies of the government that resignation of General Cirillo is like any other normal resignation and will not have any impact on neither the army nor the government of South Sudan. There should be no panic on the part of the government and the army and rebels must know that there is no need for rejoicing because his resignation will have no impact on the government.
NB//: the author is South Sudanese Students staying in Uganda and can be reached through: firstname.lastname@example.org
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