In History: Retracing the Genesis of the Current South Sudanese Civil War

Posted: April 26, 2017 by PaanLuel Wël Media Ltd. in Commentary, Contributing Writers, Opinion Articles, Opinion Writers

By Junior William Deng, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania


SPLM/A Commander Majak Agot Atem, during the War of Liberation

April 26, 2017 (SSB) — In 2005, after the acrimonious death of our magnanimous freedom fighter and leader Dr. John Garang de Mabior in Uganda’s military helicopter, the shocks of his passing shoke and trembled all Sudanese particularly all marginalised people of the Sudan. In the build up to the succession, the SPLM/A leadership sat at Dr. Garang town of New Site and gave Gen. Salva Kiir a vote of confidence to take the mantle of leadership to follow the footsteps of the liberation struggle.

Gen. Kiir being the national deputy of the SPLM/A and having been loyal to the movement made him the first choice and undisputable successor. However, in the back of everyone’s mind Gen. Kiir has had a heck up with Dr. John in 2004 which almost broke the very foundation of the revolution and peace process in Naivasha, Kenya. Dr. Garang took it upon himself and provided leadership and nominate Dr. Riek Machar and other members of SPLM/A leadership to organize talks, conciliation and transformation of differences to build confidence and momentum to stop war and bring peace to the people of the Sudan, Southern Sudan, Korodufan, Abyei and Blue Nile.

This initiative, however, ended well with Dr. Garang assuring and reminding Gen. Salva of their good times, comradeship and cammanderie in the movement. He was insulted by Gen. Salva and cohorts who planned to entangle the leadership: accusing Garang of corruption, lack of coordination, sabotage against Bhar el gazal and having made movement as his personal property. Gen. Kiir was indeed bitter and succumbed to sectarian tone; that “the people of Bhar el gazal are suffering”(Rumbek minutes, 2004).

Dr. Garang didn’t think it was right to blame Gen. Kiir, he pleaded and accepted all the accusations as administrative, he kept his view about Gen.Kiir as legitimate and brotherly, he provided leadership. In order to make Gen. Kiir and SPLM/A leadership consolidate trust around Gen. Kiir he went to Rumbek in 2004 and held up hands of Gen. Kiir and Gen. Oyai, anointed and declared them as the nucleus of the leadership of the people of Southern Sudan.

Before he was killed, he promoted all those who were senior to Gen. Oyai and demobilized them into reserve. Gen. Oyai became the only Lt. General, the only military high ranking officer below Salva and himself and was made the Chief of Staff deputised by D/COGs. Dr. Garang dissolved SPLM/A Politico-military high command; National Liberation Council (NLC) and National Executive Council (NEC) and appointed majority of former high command members into civilian dockets as governors.

Garang wanted to create a lean cabinet with young, educated, energetic, focus and apolitical segment who would deliver the vision of the revolution. He didn’t want members of the high command who are ambitious, crude, corrupt and divisive to form a cabinet. He dispatched them to be close with civilian, so that he would judge them quickly based on their relationships with the civil populace. He knew many of them would disagree with civilians and would get a way to drop them forever because if you have issues with civilians, it is always difficult to resurrect into politics, Garang knew it.

Unfortunately he was killed and Gen. Salva took over, instead he recalled all the former high command members, reinstated them, revived SPLM national liberation council and all other structures that were dissolved by Dr. John Garang, giving himself a burden of who to appoint and whom he should not. The scramble for positions, wealth and security started immediately, while those whose ambitions were arrested at gubernatorial politics became free, exalted sterile ambitions for the top position (president Kiir position).

This, obviously, created political fear in president Kiir and his leadership circle. The top and the most seen to be ambitious was Dr. Riek. Struggles to remove Dr. Riek around 2006 ensured but security forces were aware of the dangers of removing Dr. Riek before referendum, so Kiir cooled his nerves and forged a trust – an accomplice trust where both of them competed for fame, riches and forces loyal to them.

This saw the presidency became the generous institution where financial assistances became the language. Those who would go to Kiir or Riek would not come back empty handed; there were those who would gain from both offices. This led to waste of money and financial sabotage.

This relationship didn’t last, it led to a new political fear rendering the whole cabinet fearful and unsafe. President Kiir picked a case against the so called Garang Boys and Dr. Riek never trusted them neither, so the whole thing became a cocktail of fear, mistrust, discontent and skirmishes. This degenerated further to ethnic mobilisation. Both Kiir and Riek started employing members of their tribes into their offices and the army allowing each of them to be a Warlord in transit.

On July 23, 2013, President Kiir announced an indiscriminate sacking of the cabinet and stayed in power without cabinet for 22 days with an exception of Dr. Marial who was appointed on the fourth day after reshuffling. As time goes, political fear accelerated Kiir and Riek to seek support from their tribesmen and finally led to the war on December 15, escalated on the 16 until today (……..)

The opinion expressed here is solely the view of the writer. The veracity of any claim made is the responsibility of the author, not PaanLuel Wël: South Sudanese Bloggers (SSB) website. If you want to submit an opinion article or news analysis, please email it to SSB do reserve the right to edit material before publication. Please include your full name, email address and the country you are writing from.

  1. SPLA OYEEE says:

    Brother William, what you said are facts, but our government don’t wants facts to be told, so take care of yourself.


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