The Root Causes of the December 2013 Crisis: A Response to Hon. Mabior Garang

Posted: April 20, 2018 by PaanLuel Wël Media Ltd. in Arop Madut-Arop, December 2013 Crisis, HLRF, Junub Sudan

How Political Wrangling in the Ruling SPLM Party Wrecked South Sudan Apart In 2013: A Belated Reaction to Mabior Garang’s and Deng Vanang’s Articles.

By Hon Arop Madut Arop, Oxford, UK

SPLA Chief of General Staff, Gen James Ajongo Mawut

R. I. P SPLA Chief of General Staff, Gen James Ajongo Mawut Unguec

April 20, 2018 (SSB) — Last month, I wrote an article about the impact of the political bickering and schism in the ruling SPLM party (January-July 2013), and how that wrangling ignited the December 2013 crisis and the ongoing efforts by the IGAD led High Revitalisation Forum to bring a halt to the escalating crises and restore sustainable peace back to the young nation. I have closely and keenly been watching the sad events as they tear our young nation asunder.

Weighed down by the magnitude of destruction unfolding under my watch, I found it morally compelling to give the eyewitness account of what I believe were the direct conflict triggers. While my take on the events may not be comprehensive, it would at least shed light on issues which the IGAD led High-Level Revitalisation Forum (HLRF) Mediators may want to look into with more depth. That was the spirit with which I approached my previous articles.

Two compatriots; Mabior Garang and a Deng Vanang, immediately made comments which, given what I witnessed at first hand, registered to me as an uninformed or willfully dismissive of the actual content of my article. I wish I could desist, but I must say judging from the responses I got from the two discussants, handed down cultural parameters governing healthy exchanges on vexing communal concerns, have become history and are replaced by innuendos, imaginative truths fuelled by phobia, paranoia, and frustration.

Taking it as it is, such are the characteristics of traumatized populations. Our educated youths suffer no less than our rural or urban populations, including policymakers. The difference lies in the inability to weigh one’s word before unleashing it. It is row feeling, allowed to gush forth unchecked that have landed our country in this unenviable spot.

Even at that, I refrained from firing back as that would amount to no more than a knee-jerk reaction. I must say I was also busy proofreading my new book: ‘’The Ngok Dinka of Abyei in Historical Perspective’’ currently on sale at the Amazon Website.

Before I respond to Mabior Garang and Deng Vanang comments, however, I must state to the records that I sincerely appreciate their inputs regardless of their contents. After all, that is how they have perceived events as they were unfolding. If anything, it also shows that we have not lost hope that, differences of opinions are not enough to sever our time honoured social fabric that ties us together.  Please bear with me as I give my comment on the points they have raised in response to my article. I start with Comrade Mabior Garang as he was the first to react.


Comrade Mabior de Garang responded to my article with three articles: a. The Riek Machar Factor, b. The SPLM Factor, c. The Sectarian Culturalism Factor. As Mabior de Garang is in his own right, so his views may not necessarily represent those of his organization. However, as a spokesperson for Dr Riek Macha’s SPLM IO, Mabior de Garang’s account of the events might also be an insider’s view, thus very pertinent in understanding what plagued the SPLM Party from within, before it became a spectacle for all to see. His first article covered the events brewing within the SPLM Party from January to July 2013) which coincidentally are also discussed in my article. Here below is Mabior de Garang’s response quoted verbatim:

‘’The SPLM crisis of 2013 was a culmination of several months of tension within the SPLM Political Bureau (PB) caused by the then forthcoming SPLM National Convention, scheduled for May 2013. The SPLM Convention was set to discuss among many issues, the Constitution, Basic Documents, Code of Conduct, term limits of office holders (including the SPLM Chairman) and the flag-bearer for the 2015 general election.

The crisis escalated when the Chairman of the SPLM/SPLA, Salva Kiir, acting in his capacity as the President of the Republic, decided to sack the Vice President, the National Ministers and their Deputies, and the SPLM Secretary General, on July 23rd, 2013. The president also dissolved all the SPLM structures during a speech at the opening of the SPLM House in Juba on the November 15th, 2013. Adding, the SPLM leaders retaliated by coming together and forming a coalition of the various candidates who had expressed their intention to contest for the Chair of the SPLM, joined by other concerned SPLM senior politicians and SPLA veterans.

The SPLM leaders, after several meetings, resolved to contact Dr Riek Machar, the deputy chairman of the SPLM, and they mandated Taban Deng Gai and Ezekiel Lol Gatkuoth to initiate contact with him. They eventually resolved to endorse him as the chair of the coalition by virtue of his seniority as Deputy Chairman of the SPLM. The tension further escalated when the SPLM leaders, with the intention to put pressure on President Salva Kiir to call for dialogue, decided to call a press conference on December 6th, issuing a press statement in which they exposed the tension within the leadership, corruption and many other issues” end quote.

In the subsequent articles, Mabior expressed his own viewpoints but also gave insights to the position of his organization on issues I have raised in my article. As I am in a way, content with Comrade Mabior de Garang’s first account on my article; I will now turn to Mr Deng Vanang response to my article.


Mr Deng Vanang’s article: “Neither Arop Madut nor Mabior Garang has fully explained the December 2013 Crisis’’ was a response to my article: “How the SPLM Political Wrangling’ contributed to the December crisis”. I think a point of clarification will be necessary. In essence, my article was specifically, an account of the events as I saw them.  Understandably, Comrade Mabior de Garang reiterates the same facts albeit, as he interpreted them. However, since Comrade Mabior Garang has said it all, I will just only make few comments on Mr Deng Vanang response to my article as follows.

Firstly, Comrade Deng Vanang appears to have not adequately read my article. If he did, he would have analyzed them more pointedly, professionally and convincingly. Rather, he chose to dwell on imaginative generalities rather than holding me by my words, sentences or paragraphs. That way, he would have clearly highlighted which part of my article, he thought could not withstand the acid test of truthfulness. Instead, he allowed unhelpful imagination and speculation to run wild as he generously served the audience with ‘’Concocted Believable Lies’’.  Unfortunately, Deng Vanang chose no opportunity other than the moment of my article to vomit out whatever half-baked news that had trickled into his ears apparently from the social media mad world.

Secondly, Comrade Deng Vanang mischievously dilated on the issues raised. Wittingly or unwittingly, he sailed away from the subject matter and began daydreaming: Here is how he describes my article: ‘’— a rather long and cumbersome article heaped blame on SPLM’s politicians opposed to Kiir’s planned extension of his presidency back in 2013 till today—Including Dr Riek Machar and Cde Pagan Amum Okiech simply for wanting to be President.”  Had my respondent, Mr Deng Vanang, honestly and laboriously perused what I had written, he would have found out that he was squarely off point and could have correctly harnessed himself and responded to my article respectfully.

Surprisingly, I have never expected such a learned philosopher and an intellectual of high calibre, to have allowed himself dragged into the social media madness, where people discuss and write out of impulse without caring about the impact of what they write or discuss would bring to bear on their planned targets. As a person who claimed to have studied print media, Mr Deng Vanang could have noticed that, my article just narrated eyewitness accounts of the events which have gratefully, been adequately outlined by Comrade Mabior Garang, as an insider in the SPLM party; as opposed to somebody who writes from a distance of thousands of miles away from the scene of events.

Thirdly, Hon Deng Vanang could have well been abreast with the issues discussed during the 2015 Arusha Conference in Tanzania, when all the fractured factors of the SPLM admitted that, they were responsible for the crisis that has bedeviled our country, making it a laughing stock in the eye of the developed world. He would have also been aware of the fact that, all the leaders of the fractured SPLM factions who attended the Arusha Conference, offered their apology to the South Sudanese people and, agreed to remedy and rectify the mess they have brought to bear on their people and further promised to move their country forward in accordance to the SPLM party vision and mission agenda.

They also agreed to reunite their ranks. At the end of the Arusha SPLM conference, many lead members reported back to Juba albeit temporarily where they were welcome amidst lavish celebrations by their counterparts who assumed that they have come to stay. But did they?

Fourthly, as longtime SPLM activists, Hon Mabior Garang and I related the events as they actually happened with due respect. Indeed, it was in that light that I urged at the conclusion of my article, I stated that, all the fractured factions of the historic SPLM party that brought peace and freedom to our country, are reunited. As many members of the oppositions parties were at one point in time members of the SPLM. I stressed that without the reunification of the fractured SPLM party most of who formed the greater part of the opposition alliance, any search for sustainable peace would be like chasing the wind.

Fifthly, I would like to refresh Deng Vanang memory that, as a person who claimed to have studied print media, he should have been aware of the fact that, in a complex situation where everybody is drunk, and as journalism is a game of fair play, it is only the journalists who are expected to keep their heads above the waves and their minds fairly sober. Hopefully, I would expect Hon Deng Vanang to adhere to the ethics of journalism profession in his future writings.

Sixthly, Comrade Deng Vanang has also the gut to attack me directly when he writes: ‘’His writing revealed a glimpse of an inner self, sorry to say, of a sycophant advocating dictatorship and President Kiir’s divine right to rule, no matter how questionable is that divine right. Here again, Comrade Deng Vanang contradicts himself when he says and I quote; “Honorable Arop Madut Arop is a respected writer and politician known to many for being old enough to be Uncle to most readers of this esteemed website. He is moreover an up to date academic who has been through torturous journey this beloved country has traveled more than seventy years ago.”

Fine, but what is the logic in calling such a respected writer, a politician and an academic of high regard, a sycophant: Oh dear! So as to achieve what!  At the age of over 70, I do not think that I could become a sycophant at kingly courts. Indisputably, my CV is full and I don’t think that I need more than what I have acquired so far.

Seventhly, regardless of what Deng Vanang thinks about him, President Salva Kiir did not come to office through a divine right but, through a ballot box. And if at all, he thinks that, President Salva Kiir has not lived up to his commitment and assignment as an elected president, the best, the cheapest and the safest way to remove him from office; which will not involve the deaths and the untold sufferings of thousands of our innocent people, would be through the same democratic mechanism that had brought him to power and not through blame game, verbal abusive attacks or through the barrel of the gun.

The current IGAD led Revitalisation Forum, has already drawn up the timeline that runs from 2018 to 2023, when arguably, a democratically elected president would have assumed office. Hopefully, all the stakeholders in the IGAD led HLRF would endorse the proposed IGAD timeline, willfully so as to bring sustainable peace back to our conflict-ridden country.

Finally, as Compatriot Deng Vanang’s comments were merely speculative, unprofessional and largely unethical, I ask that he withdraws the lies he sells in the marketplace of ideas as truths to the unsuspecting.  There is nothing as absolute freedom to lead or mislead. Mr. Deng Vanang is mixing freedom with chaos using the breakdown of our social fabric as a license to smear at will.

Hon Arop Madut Arop, currently an MP for Abyei at SSLA and an international media consultant, holds a Diploma in Socialist journalism – International Institute of journalism (East Berlin); Advanced Diploma in Liberal Journalism International Institute of Media Studies (West Berlin) and Masters of Arts Degree in International Journalism (City University of London). He is the author of two books: Sudan Painful Road to Peace, a full story of the founding and development of SPLM/SPLA (2006) and The Genesis of political consciousness in South Sudan (2012). He is also the author of a number of unpublished books. He can be reached at

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 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.

  1. Valentino Akec says:

    so elaborative Hon. Arop Madut Arop, you have explained it all, sometimes there are writers who would just want their side of the story to dominate the narrative of the events, or else and in total disregard to the real facts on the ground, they accused and abused other prolific writers that appear to be telling the real facts. but you are our teacher from whom we should learn from, God bless you cheers


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