South Sudan needs a national constitution, not Ten Commandments of Gordon Buay

Posted: January 26, 2018 by PaanLuel Wël in Adut Naar, Commentary, Contributing Writers, Junub Sudan, Opinion Articles, Opinion Writers

South Sudan needs a National Constitution, not Ten Commandments: A Response to Gordon Buay Malek’s letter

By Adut Naar, Melbourne, Australia

john garang with David Majur amuor

Dr. John Garang with veteran journalist David Majur Amuor

January 26, 2018 (SSB) — In recent times, both the social media and the mainstream media have reported that Gen. Paul Malong Awan has turned against South Sudan’s current government in an active rebellion aimed at ousting president Kiir from power. Of these reports, however, it has been hard to verify or confirm these reports; neither Gen. Malong affirms his rebellion; nor President Salva Kiir making it official to the public that Malong has indeed rebelled. The question is: why does the Dinka most popular military leader choose to exile himself and leaves Juba?

I argue that what South Sudan needs is a codified National Constitution, not Ten Commandments or strong Loyalty to the country’s president as Amb. Malek claims. Secondly, if Malong chooses to depose Gen. Kiir from the country’s leadership, it is not because of him being power-hungry; nor should he fly abroad and to seek international community’s approval—from the U.S. or other Troika member-countries. Analysts both inside and outside South Sudan describe Gen. Malong “as the true power behind the Salva Kiir’s presidential throne”.

Also, Malong currently enjoys unrivalled support from the members of his ethnic Dinka community, the unrivalled majority made up of about: 8-10 million people, more than two-thirds of the country’s total population according to the 2010’s Census results. “The current war of South Sudan is symptomatic of the failure of the internationally sponsored state-building project” experts observe. South Sudan’s war is described as a war or conflict with both external and internal factors: and whose solution must come from the outside.

The international community is arguably largely responsible for allowing the elite to plunder the new state to sustain their businesses and their own military bases within and outside of the army. To a certain extent, the liberal peace-making vision that concentrated on the political realm rather than on the economic empowerment of ‘ordinary’ people during the CPA negotiations facilitated dominant class consolidation.

As did “state building” – a crucial component of international peace-making practice incurring massive spending and presence in South Sudan. The new state’s resources were captured by the elite who used them to irrigate and to broaden its lower strata with post-war benefits, partly financed by the international community. The state being the instrument of social differentiation, its formation and most importantly its very nature, were equally at stake”

Gen. Malong, I would suggest, should he really intend to usurp the country’s leadership and re-direct its political future, the following strategy is the key. First, he must first and foremost mobilize the Dinka community’s support, these times, though, through “press” and not through waging “armed” oppositions like others before him have done. Secondly, Malong’s foreign policy approach in relations to the on-going conflict in South Sudan: should come second rather than being the first front in the efforts to deposing Gen. Salva Kiir from power.

This is possible and it can be done. The present paper is a response to Amb. Gordon Buay Malek’s letter on the current rumour that Gen. Paul Malong Awan, formerly a Northern Bahr el Ghazal’s inaugural governor and Army Chief of Staff, has rebelled, that this means the General’s active opposition against the country’s leadership abroad.

This on-going rumour or reality has actually been in its making for quite sometimes now.  In 2016, journalist Clémence Pinaud Writes:

“There are rumours that Malong intends to wreak havoc and maybe even take control of Juba. He may also split from Kiir, but either way he will retain control over his Dinka militias, who are spread all over the Equatorias, as well as over some of the Bul Nuer fighters, who are based in Unity and have close ties with Khartoum. Malong will also continue cultivating his popularity with Dinka communities who do not want to relinquish their desire for their own state, especially after Kiir opened Pandora’s Box with his unilateral decree in October 2015 to replace South Sudan’s ten states with 28. If Malong does intend to take Juba but fails to do so in the coming days, he may open up a new front, most likely from Northern Bahr El Ghazal. If such a war were to begin, Kiir might break with Malong and be forced to mend fences with Machar’s IO as well as with the Shilluk, Fertit, Balanda, Zande, Moru and other victimised ethnic groups. However, one cannot rule out the possibility that Kiir permits to Malong’s control of the SPLA but then sacrifices him if he has to yield to international pressure” (see: Who’s behind South Sudan’s return to fighting?”.

Having presented the contrast between Gen. Malong and Salva Kiir, it doesn’t matter whether or not you are an ethnic Nuer or a Dinka to see between them as to who is worthy of the Dinka community’s political support in relations to the on-going political crisis in the country. At any rates, however, the current rift between the two leaders must be exploited. There is nothing wrong with this. It is not the opposition that can exploit the political rift between Malong and Kiir.

The Jieng Council (JC) ought to swiftly exploit the situation: By imposing, should such, and the needs be, its nationalistic political ideology of a political majority and a popular culture in South Sudan. Doing so would quieten the multi-ethnic pluralism which currently defines the nation of South Sudan; as such, the Dinka must become a political society and an ethnic identity in the African newest nation. Having stated this, however, Gen. Malong fits the JC’s perfect bill.

Therefore Amb. Malek’s claim of Malong not worthy of the Dinka community’s support is invalid. However, as typical of Kiir’s officials, Mr. Malek mocks Gen. Malong’s decision characterizing it as suicidal, whence it becomes laughable: “To see a man you have known since 1985 to hang[ing] himself [through] fighting the government in 2018 is something psychologically painful. I don’t want to see Malong ending up like George Athor or Gabriel Tanginya”, Amb. Malek says. Amb. Malek says that only his family can be able to save him. Malong’s: ‘family needs to get him a psychiatrist if they really care for him”; that the General is sick; and that a “normal person cannot rebel in 2018 and expect the international community not to kill him”.

In 2011, Mr. Malek wrote a similar article demanding Gen. Salva Kiir “to be overthrown” emphasizing that the country’s Legislative Assembly (parliament) impeach the president (see: Gatgong Thany) before being appointed to his present duty. Mr. Malek is currently South Sudan’s deputy ambassador to the United State of America (USA): a key player in the ongoing conflict in South Sudan.  He writes in light of the current “rumour” that: Gen. Paul Malong Awan, a South Sudanese politician and military figure, has rebelled against the incumbent government, led by Gen. Salva Kiir.

Both President Kiir and Gen. Malong are ethnic Dinka men from Bahr el Ghazal region. Both men had always faced one enemy. But they have different perceptions of the same situation; as analysts observed: while Mr. Kiir remains “ignorance” of what is going on in the country. Malong, on the other hand, takes it seriously. “Malong established his authority over Northern Bahr El Ghazal and the SPLA during the civil war that spanned from 1983-2005. Through this period, Malong dominated the local war economy and used its proceeds to cement strategic allegiances. He did this through the practice of large-scale polygamy and by godfathering his supporters’ marriages”.

According to Amb. Malek, Malong’s departure from Juba represents the General’s active rebellion against the government. For him, this represents Gen. Malong’s disloyalty to South Sudan’s incumbent president; as a result, he the General must face harsh consequences including death. Mr. Malek warns of the Troika member countries and their allies’ plans to assassinate Gen. Malong.  As Malek remarks: “[…] what will kill Malong in this world is greed for power. Malong right now is mentally blind to accept the universal truth about the laws of power. He is not properly analyzing the dynamic of international politics in regard to rebellion in South Sudan”. Amb. Malek also goes on to say that:

“If you are not loyal to the President with [all] your spirit, soul and body, then, you cannot expect the President to keep you in a position that demands serious loyalty. …when [Malong] was the Chief of staff of the SPLA, […] had a belief that he was entitled to become the President of South Sudan via illegal means. He wanted President Kiir to hand him the power without any election”; Amb. Malek contrasts Malong’s rebellion with those of Dr. Riek Machar, Athor, and others –both of whom attempted to oust Gen. Kiir. In his view, “[there is no rebellion that will surpass that of Riek Machar who had 70% Nuer behind him in 2013”. He asks of: “Where is Riek Machar now? In prison” [or] “in South Africa”?

Amb. Malek also maintains that: “The Dinka will not fight [in relations to] position of Paul Malong, let alone Aweilians. […And also, that], the rest of South Sudan tribes see him as a war criminal. The U.S already indicted him and soon the UN will follow suit”. I want to say that: the first two sentences are erroneous and that the third and the last sentence is plausible. If Dr. Machar had a 70% ethnic Nuers being behind him during his coup attempt and the subsequent rebellion that he waged, then, how many ethnic Dinka that would Gen. Malong’s course, who had saved them from Machar’s violent onslaught in both the 1990s (Bor Massacre-where over 200,000 ethnic Dinka were killed by Machar forces during the SPLA split), 2013(during the coup attempt and rebellion), and 2016(J-1 Violence) respectively? Malong is not an Aweilian General. Rather, he is a South Sudanese ethnic nationalist and a hero.

Additionally, I strongly disagree with Amb. Malek’s sentiment; that Gen. Malong is just mad of ousting Gen. Kiir and to usurp the country’s political power. Rather, should the reports confirm the activity itself, it is plausible to claim that: Gen. is trying to save the Dinka nationalism after the Nuer’s nationalism fails to yield; and that the Gen. does not need the support of other tribes; nor an approval from the Troika member-countries in order to become the president of South Sudan. Besides, it is imperative to say that: he is not a war criminal as the UN and other destabilizing agencies claim.

Mr. Malek is a beneficiary of president Kiir’s integration policies and he undoubtedly needs another. Prior to becoming the country’s diplomat he was previously as a rebel army, the South Sudan Democratic Front (SSDF) spokesman, its secretary-general, and [the] chairman of its Canadian branch from: 2002-2007, [before] joining the National Census Commission in 2008; he was also a member of the “integration committee for an alliance of armed groups[firstly opposed to the SPLA, the country’s National army] that responded to [Mr. Kiir’s] presidential amnesty in 2012 after agreeing to lay down their arms and abandon rebellion in several parts of the country, including Unity, Upper Nile and Jonglei states”.

An expatriate South Sudanese with Canadian citizenship, Mr. Malek obtained: a “law degree[from]Canada’s Carleton University in 2004 and a doctorate [from] Saskatchewan College of Law in 2011” and returned to his native country of South Sudan.  On September 18th, 2014, barely a year after Dr. Machar’s failed coup on the leadership and his subsequent rebellion, President Gen. Salva Kiir, through a Presidential Decree, appointed him as a country’s ambassador and is currently amongst the “96” seating diplomats of the country.

Mr. Malek’s appointment, to South Sudan’s foreign affairs and international cooperation ministry, analysts believe, puts him in a position of a mere job-seeker rather than an opinionated and honest analyst. He is biased on Gen. Malong’s position and is trying to strip him of the Dinka support. Just because Gen. Malong does not have a U. S’s backing does not mean that he is a criminal.

Mr. Malek’s letter, I have observed, is seemingly hiding something: ethnic hatred directed against the Dinka and is seemingly a work of an evil criminal syndicate bent on global domination. The author’s political stances, as shown herein, depict him as an “anti-Dinka” and at the same time an “anti-Gen. Malong” political persona; his sentiments cannot be ignored. Malek points it out that: “what will kill Malong in this world is greed for power. Malong right now is mentally blind to accept the universal truth about the laws of power. He is not properly analyzing the dynamic of international politics in regard to rebellion in South Sudan”.

Having stated this that, however, Mr. Malek: explicitly confirm[s] in many ways, that he is an unqualified diplomat, unworthy of holding any diplomatic post or title whatsoever; or in “indeed the guy should not even had qualified to be a mere sweeper in a normal Country’s mission abroad, except in Kiir’s administration. Mr Malek’s lack of critical understanding and the duties before him: puts him in a position of neither president Kiir’s supporter nor Gen Malong’s opponent; in fact his disgraceful, immature and unsound behaviour for instance, disregards of Gen. Malong’s course, his “disheartening unawareness of the current affairs, even those concerning his own Country”, is absolutely Pathetic for a diplomat.

Nonetheless, Mr. Malek is typical of president Kiir’s public officials in South Sudan and as such, he is one of the many dangerous mistakes that the country’s leadership “had to put up with, at least for now”.

Malong has formerly served as governor of Northern Bahr el Ghazal from 27 March 2008- 2014 before being appointed as SPLA Military Chief of Staff in 2013. On Malong’s report, are: to ensure that peace prevails across the state and with the neighbouring Misseriya and Reizegat in the north; strong adherence to state’s laws and public order—in line with the national policies that promoted peaceful co-existence at the time.

However pervasive ethnic violence has been reported in South Sudan, it is fair to say that: During Malong’s years as state’s governor, no any Nuers were reported to have been killed in Northern Bahr el Ghazal or massacred because of their ethnicity. It is imperative to say that: Gen. Malong is no terrorist or a war-mongering SPLA military general. He was doing his job.

In 2013, much of the killings were carried out by a group known as “Dot Ke Beny” (Rescue the President) or “Mathiang Anoor” (Brown caterpillar), a militia of Dinkas formed for the protection of president Kiir and Paul Malong Awan. The US pushed for an arms embargo and sanctions on Machar and army chief Paul Malong Awan through the Security Council, but it failed to receive enough votes to pass in December 2016

In His letter to paanluelwel.com, dated January 23rd, 2018, Amb. Malek offers to advise to deposed military strongman, Gen. Paul Malong Awan, stating that:  “…one thing [that his] brother Paul Malong Awan missed is that power politics has laws similar to Ten Commandments of the Bible”. Addressed to “dear all”, Amb. Malek argues that: “if you are not loyal to God, you cannot expect to go to heaven”. What does this man mean by this, really? Can South Sudan be compared with a Bible or Gen. Salva Kiir be compared with “God”?

The author, Adut Naar, is a student of Diplomacy, International Politics, International Trade, Law and Policy in Melbourne, Australia. He can be reached at his email: adutmayor@yahoo.com

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, commentary or news analysis, please email it to paanluel2011@gmail.com. PaanLuel Wël website (SSB) do reserve the right to edit or reject material before publication. Please include your full name, a short biography, email address, city and the country you are writing from.

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