By Rengo Gyyw Rengo, Jr., Addis Ababa
Rumours of Coup in South Sudan began ways back to the pre-referendum period before the country could gain her independence on July 9th, 2011. At least, over ten coup attempts have been rumoured since then. The “coup plotters” frequently named were the former Vice President Dr. Riek Machar; General Oyai Deng Ajak, former SPLA Chief of Staff and security Minister; Hon. Nhial Deng Nhial, former Minister of Foreign Affairs and son of William Deng Nhial, a martyred eminent South Sudanese politician; Dr. Majak D’Agoot who was then the Director of National Security and Deputy Defense Minister; Mac Paul, Deputy Director of Military Intelligence and General Isaac Mamur Mate who is now the Minister in charge of National Security-All members of the ruling party, the SPLM and its military wing, the SPLA.
The latest “coup attempt” involved eleven prominent names including Rebecca Nyandeng, the wife of the nation’s Founding Father, Dr. John Garang de Mabior.
Prejudgingly, majority of these coup attempts, at least, are regarded as farce and without substances. The entire world including the informed South Sudanese citizens except the sophists’ government have rejected the labelling of the crises within the SPLM as a coup. But I will not begin from there. There is a need to tiptoe back a little bit into recent history of coups in South Sudan.
It all became clear when in around 2007; there appeared in a system’s lexicon an infamous group called “Garang Boys or Garang’s Orphans”. Garang orphans implied that the new regime of Kiir raised its own children other than those who had worked under Dr. John Garang de Mabior, the founder and unrivalled visionary leader of the SPLM/A since 1983. Garang perished in an obscured plane crash in July 2005 after signing the CPA and inducting the Movement into Sudanese post war politics.
When his deputy Salva Kiir took over, the new system developed new cadres who had been either opposed to Garang or new comers to the parameters of liberation. In his book, “From Bush to Bush: Journey to Liberty in South Sudan , Steven Wondu, noted that, “I soon discovered that the death of John Garang had created orphans beyond his natural household. The center of power had shifted past Salva Kiir to elements not well known for their loyalty to the fallen leader and the central agenda of the SPLM-SPLA. The ‘Garang Boys’ as his closest aides were mockingly renamed, had been sidelined.”
This conspicuously created “we and they” polarity. The entrenched inner group pointed their fingers at the politically ostracised outside group, which due to the physical absence of John Garang, became known as “the Garang’s orphans”. And maybe, these were people the incumbent system thought were closed [closest aides as argued by Wondu above] to John Garang when he was at the political helm as was evidenced in the Yei-Rumbek Crisis.
During the crises meeting in Rumbek between November 29 and December 1, 2014, particularly during the second deliberations, Commander Kiir said the following:
“I must warn the Chairman that Nimeiri was made to be unpopular by his security organs. Those who are misleading you and giving you false security information about others will suffer with you together or leave with you. … Mr. Chairman, you have talked about people eating the boat while we are in the middle of the river. Let me add this; the issue is not eating the boat in the middle of the river. The issue is that there are a few who have already crossed to the other side of the river and when the remaining ones asked them to bring the boat, they refused to return the boat. This is the problem.”
Through their press release on December 6, 2013, Dr. Riek Machar and his detained colleagues, some of whom are now released, unmasked and confirmed the magnitude of the polarity as follows:
The anti-Garang elements inside and outside the SPLM encircled comrade Salva Kiir Mayardit’s leadership of the SPLM and the Government of Southern Sudan [2005-2007]. …These elements using their relationship with General Salva Kiir targeted and ostracized certain SPLM leaders and cadres they nicknamed ‘Garang orphans/boys’ creating schisms and precipitating open quarrels within the SPLM ranks.
Stephen Wondu, the former SPLM/A Movement Spokesman in 1990s, further backs up and notes that,
“We adopted a common name at the orphanage—places we used to congregate in Juba. Everyone was called Abau Jadau Nesitu (Rejected Discarded Forgotten). It was not all ‘idle garrulous talk’ at the orphanage. We had to device a strategy of how to return to the center. The guiding principle in our discourse was to ensure the survival of our most cherished achievement; the peace agreement and our gradual recovery of power to ensure its implementation. We could not trust some of the characters who had taken advantage of John Garang’s death and seized the front row in the chamber of leadership. They did not know the fine print and the silent provisions of the peace agreement. John Garang had said that during the interim period, the people who created the agreement must take full responsibility for its implementation. They were the ones who knew where the obstacles were and how to circumvent them. He [John Garang] gave the illustration of a man sleeping in a dark room. If he is the owner of the room, he can find his way to the door without stumbling on the furniture and breaking the glasses. A stranger would not be able to find a safe way to the door. On the basis of this logic it was our duty to pull the strangers out of that room before dark.”
Apparently, any complains that must have been raised by those associated with John Garang in regard to the direction of the country’s affairs were taking, including the CPA implementation, was and still is regarded as an attempt by this group to make a coup. Garang’s Boys versus Kiir’s cabal, cronies and sycophants created irreconcilable gaps within the SPLM as a party.
The first scenario occurred between 2006 and 2007 when Gen. Oyai Deng Ajak, a reputed SPLA war commander and Co. were allegedly accused of wanting to topple the government of Salva Kiir. It was alleged that the group wanted to install Rebecca Nyandeng de Mabior, the widow of John Garang who was then a maiden Road Minister in the post CPA Government of Southern Sudan (…installed Nyandeng into power). On his Facebook dated 30th January 2014, my distinguished friend and renowned writer Paanluel Wel recounted the scenario as follows:
During the transitional period, Comrade Oyai Deng Ajak was accused of planning a military coup to put Madam Nyandeng Garang into power; after independence, he is being charged with participating in a coup to put Dr. Riek Machar in power…same person making the (same) accusations…Yet, it is him, Oyai Deng Ajak, more than anybody else, that the SPLM/A honored with leading its most prized military campaign of its revolutionary war–Operation Jungle Storm of the Bright Star Campaign…the campaign to wrestle Juba from Khartoum…Somebody somewhere is either jealous of his chequered records or damn afraid of him or both…What is Nyandeng and Riek to Oyai that he would risk his life to put them into power?
In a confidential document dated March 27, 2007 entitled Subject: Sudan: SPLA Chief Of Staff Says He Might Be Replaced; General Oyai made an account of an alleged coup which involved him and also hinted at the general problems of maladministration. That document was republished on September 5, 2011 by Paanluel Wȅl under the title Wikileak on Gen. Oyai Deng Disagreement with Salva Kiir. The anonymous author of the wikileak document reported the little known but widely suspected perfidiosity as follows:
Various figures, including two of his four deputy chiefs of staff, have repeated rumors to the president that Deng is plotting a coup, Deng said. He dismissed the rumors as nonsense. The two deputies, Mamur and Mathok, are corrupt and unreliable, Deng stressed. One rumor has it that Deng wants to seize power and hand it to GOSS roads minister Rebecca Garang, wife [of the] Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) leader John Garang, who died in July 2005. “I told the president, why would I do that?” Deng said. “Why would anyone take power just to give to someone else?”
This SPLA general whose name had positively become a household name during the war, Oyai Deng Ajak, brought forth some important observations. He argued that the president is a victim of apathy, lethargy and indolence which plagues the management of the SPLA. As a result, Deng conceded that the military top leadership has always been afflicted by internal suspicion and mistrusts, transmuting to accusations and counter accusations as revealed above. “We have disagreed on many things. There have even been times when I have had to do things, he did not want, which is not good for a military–but it was necessary,” observed General Deng.
General Deng denied he had any intention of wanting to make a coup and exculpated himself from any wrongdoing. Whether being stalked politically, Oyai Deng is now among the eleven SPLM senior politicians accused of attempting a coup again in Juba during December 2013 turmoil. The regime alleged that Oyai, on Dec 15th, 2014 was heard on phone (phone tapped or hacked] talking to Taban Deng about the coup. Whatever the duo said is not yet known. The regime prosecutors are yet to present the recorded messages before the judges. It would be wise for the readers to watch out for that.
In March 2007, on the heel of the above scenario involving Oyai, General Mamur Mate was arrested in his home by the leadership and imprisoned without trial. He was allegedly accused of planning a coup against the government and President Kiir in particular. Mamur was particularly accused of acquisition of military hard wares from abroad without the knowledge of the system and stashing them in his home. Among the items he was allegedly accused of were military uniforms including bullet proof vests, sniper weapons, and unsubstantiated collaboration with “Garang boys” and Dr. Riek Machar, the usual suspected masterminder of all South Sudanese apocalyptic events. “…Mamur was responsible for other transgressions, including the dispatch of a platoon of 47 soldiers to Uganda for unauthorized training,” wikileak quoted Deng. General Mamur, this fearless SPLA General was kept in prison for twenty-one months from March 2007 to January 1, 2009. However, Oyai argued that Mamur’s arrest was an “administrative” issue based on an unacceptable financial conduct other than political matter. He was later pardoned, released and reinstated in to the SPLA.
In 2008, prior to the commencement of the SPLM 2nd National Convention held in Juba, the system had a plan of removing one of the SPLM Party’s three deputies, Dr. Riek Machar. The SPLM has been having three deputy chairmen, Dr. Riek Machar, James Wani Igga and Malik Agar. The Convention top echelonic organizers through revision of the party laws had planned to reduce the three deputies to one in order to get rid of one and sacrifice the other. Riek and his group knew he was the target of the removal conspiracy.
The convention was delayed for two days because of commotions between the groups. Riek withdrew to his home and held meetings there. Kiir and his supporters went and held meetings in White Nile Inn behind Juba Stadium, which the author attended. With clear signs of looming problems, Kiir had to announce that the convention would begin the following day despite the ominous situation. That was after saying, “even if one manages to kill someone, still that person will run away from the same dead body in fear!” referring to an unspecified addressee. The night prior to the convention was tense in Juba. However, the sun managed to arrive early, and the convention kicked off. Within two days, the situation was threatening again. It took the nearly two thousand delegates to compel the Convention to maintain the three deputies for the sake of peace and unity towards the referendum. The top leadership had to withdraw to Home and Away Hotel to discuss the position of the delegates. It finally identified with the position of the delegates. That was when the convention resumed and went on smoothly.
In 2011, another coup was rumoured in Juba with Dr. Majak D’Agoot, and Nhial Deng Nhial, twice a Minister of Foreign Affairs, being rumoured too as being behind another coup attempt. We would have known nothing had Salva Mathok Gengdit not published a crucial piece of letter in Juba Post Newspaper in response to the coup. Mathok Gengdit then refuted the existence of a coup and accused Paul Malong Awan of Aweil of orchestrating a false coup in order to sow acrimony within the nation and perhaps to tarnish the image of the two prominent personalities Dr. Majak D’Agoot and Nhial Deng Nhial.
There had been speculation always as to who are the potential “threats” to Kiir’s Administration. I would like to paraphrase this statement. Dr. Majak D’Agoot rose under Kiir during the long war and some people; say inner cabals to be precise, thought or still think he was being groomed by Salva Kiir for future leadership of the country. Commander Majak Agoot had had rapid promotions through the ranks during the bush war, something the SPLM/A and South Sudanese attribute to his association Salva Kiir as his Aide-de-camp, bodyguard or adjutant for most of the war times. It is alleged that in that capacity, Commander Salva Kiir would invariably recommend and submit Majak’s name to John Garang the SPLA C-in-C for promotion to the next SPLA rank every time there would be promotion. Thus, according to Paanluel Wel, “his [Majak] rise in the SPLM/A‘s military hierarchy was owed to his closeness to Commander Salva Kiir.”
However, Majak’s promotions and rise through the ranks above his SPLA’s Unit, colleagues and shell is said to have alarmed John Garang, the SPLA C-in-C. Dr. John Garang ‘was once reported having asked Commander Salva Kiir “Ye menh ye ruook dhede ye tenou koor bin ye laar ne wo-nhiim?” which translate: “This youngster that you are promoting so fast, where do you want to take him above us?”’ elucidated Paanluel.
Majak, a shrewd young revolutionary lad to have joined the Movement in the 1980s is among the first SPLA generals to earn PhD in economics. Being an immediate nephew to the late Akuot Atem de Mayen did not make him to side with his uncle during the Akuot’s-Garang’s leadership wrangle at the inception of the SPLM/A. He sided with Dr. John Garang against his own uncle, on ideological ground, practicality and feasibility. Unlike most of his contemporaries in the bush, Majak kept close to books in the war trenches. Wounded as early as Jerkou Battle of 1985, he subsequently led many operations in various frontlines, from Red Army at Demidolo to Bor to Kapoeta to Bhar el Ghazal regions where he was an area commander. After the fall of Kapoeta to the enemy on May 28, 1992, it was Commander Salva Kiir and Commander Majak who defeated SAF at Buna, on their way to capturing Narus and to advance on the Sudan-Kenyan border.
The author is not out to promote Dr. Majak D’Agoot’s image, it is because I do not want to give room for misunderstanding between his promotions and deeds or achievements. This helps explain why he is in prison now. John Garang, though not directly relevant to his early concerns, Majak is still relevant to the status of our country. There are many people from within and from without who are alarmed by his previous association with Salva Kiir and his obvious progress in all fields. This is hunting the General.
Majak, a successful field commander in his own right, and a high ranking SPLA General, a Lieutenant General, was sent to go and “worked” with the notorious Khartoum NISS as a Deputy Director, a position and place that would take a disciplined fighter to be. After the secession of South Sudan from Sudan, Dr. Majak D’Agoot was brought back to Juba to head the national security portfolio as its first Director. It was under Majak that the South Sudan National Intelligence and Security Services [SSNISS] building at Jebel Market in Juba, was constructed; something which most departments including the SPLM as the ruling party have not done. Most institutions in South Sudan still do not have permanent buildings.
These raised stakes for being potential “successor” of Kiir. He risked being framed up through coups to either cause friction between him and Salva Kiir, his long time boss or worse to be thrown into prison under treason where he would lurk behind bars inactive and have his image tarnished for good. Salva Mathok brought out the intention of Malong Awan in his exposition of the situation and the thesis out rightly and literarily exonerated Majak and Nhial of any wrongdoing. He opined that Majak and Nhial had nothing to do with the alleged coup and placed the whole onus of responsibility on Malong Awan. In “Actualizing the Signs of a failed State: Another Somalia (Part I)” published on February 26, 2014, Kuir ȅ Garang, a South Sudanese Poet, Author and Cousin based in Canada made the following observations.
People like Northern Bahr El Ghazal governor, Malong Awan, who is Kiir’s very close ally, hates Dr. Majak D’Agoot with passion. Malong and Bol Madut made a lot of noise to late Dr. John Garang de Mabior in the late 1990s to have Majak removed from Bahr el Ghazal as the area commander. With influence on Kiir now, it’s no brainer Majak is now being set up for death or political vilification.
Majak as a Director of National Security and Intelligence was assigned to go and talk to a rebel leader, George Athor Deng, at the rebels’ Headquarters somewhere in Khor Fulus [Pigi]. The late George Athor had rebelled against the government following the 2010 elections. Majak was dispatched together with the Episcopal Church Archbishop Daniel Deng Bul and few others to go and persuade the rebel leader to abandon rebellion, which many in the system had myopically seen as a rebellion against the Jonglei’s Government. This mission was characterized with conspiracy theories had it not been the Long Hands of Providence God. Many people believed the mission was a death set up for Majak.
Nhial Deng Nhial, equally a versatile personality, being the son of William Deng Nhial, founding member and President of SANU, a highly respected South Sudanese politician martyred in 1968, has been looked at as another Dinka politician with high chances to ascend the top political position in the country. John Garang was accused of wanting to replace Salva Kiir with Nhial Deng in 2004, an allegation the late Garang shrewdly denied. Shrewdly, because Garang in his self-defense declared that, replacing Kiir with Nhial would tantamount to retiring all the SPLA commanders senior in rank to Nhial Deng, something that was unimaginable and unattainable. The SPLA Commanders who were senior to Nhial were many and powerful. In the bush, military hierarchy is almost sacrosanct. It is a military hierarchy’s qualification that brought Kiir to where he is now.
It would never be known whether John Garang had contemplated the idea of wanting to swap Kiir with Nhial and only backed down or it was an enemy’s ploy and gambit. And if he had contemplated the idea, why would he? Had he lost trust in Kiir’s ability to lead the country in scenario of his absence? Nobody knows.
That allegation almost caused schism between Salva Kiir and John Garang, creating what is now known as the “Yei Camp” headed by Salva Kiir and the “Nairobi/Rumbek camp” with the rest of the leadership. Replacing Kiir with Nhial would have caused a second disastrous split within the Movement after the 1991calamity then led by Riek Machar and Co. Nhial is an epitome of the group infamously called “John Garang’s boys” among others who this paper would not be able to name them all. Some cabal in the system saw Nhial and Majak as potential candidates for the country’s top post of presidency should Salva Kiir leave power under any `circumstances. We are aware the issue of political succession is ever discussed at drinking places. Of course, the two plus Riek make the triad of potential people with capacity to lead the country.
Mathok Gengdit justified how King Paul [Paul Malong] orchestrated the alleged coup citing the negative role King Paul had played in the “Yei camp” in throes of the 2004 crises. It was alleged that Justin Yach Arop, Arthur Akuien Chol and Dominic Dim Deng had told Salva Kiir that Garang should be arrested in Rumbek by soldiers commanded by King Paul. Maybe it was a mere allegation without a grain of truth, no one knows for sure. In Hilde Johnson’s book, “Waging Peace In The Sudan”, Kiir made a reckon of that and confessed that he was under pressure from Justin Yach, Dim Deng, Arthur Akuien and King Paul to take action on Garang. Fortunately, he refused. Full of sobriety, he is quoted to have said that “he would rather die at the hand of his comrade than effecting a coup in the SPLM/A.”
It was not long before another coup was rumuored. This time it “involved” Mac Paul, Deputy Director of Military Intelligence and those who were still pursuing Majak politically were quick in pushing Majak’s name in the spinning rumuor. Based on the state sponsored lucrativeness and lushness of rebellions in today’s South Sudan, Paanluel was tempted to say, “Dr. Majak D’ Agoot,… accused of planning military coups on as many occasions as the number of times Peter Gadet has rebelled against Juba, should rather have gone with his uncle Akuot Atem Mayen or with Arok Thon Arok… he would have been a hero today.” There are a lot of things I do not know about this coup. I could not also substantiate the truth from the street talk even if they say there is no smoke without fire.
In South Sudan, there could be smoke without fire or total departure from the truth. Mac was rumuored to have run to Uganda yet according to the circumstantial evident, he was attending talks in Addis Ababa with pagan, negotiating with Khartoum. Another group alleged he was imprisoned. Still, Mac Paul was later seen in the field around Panthou leading SPLA Military Intelligence alongside the SPLA against Khartoum forces. I infer there was no coup attempt at all. Otherwise how would one run or be imprisoned without having committed the act in the first place? The fact was that Mac Paul was neither involved in any coup nor imprisoned. So, there was no coup. It went like any other coup rumuored before on the streets of Juba.
In October 2012, a State House route was cordoned off following what was rumuored as another coup attempt. It was alleged that a tiger-uniformed men [well armed] had approached the State House [aka J1] premises within the town and were detected or thwarted. Juba was incensed once more with more coup rumours. Was it true? I do not know. This time round, the leadership directed its finger towards Major General Simon Gatwec Dual. The coup news came when the President, Minister of Defense John Kong and Chief of Staff James Hoth Mai were on a visit to Uganda, the advisory backyard of our presidency. The Vice President Dr. Riek Machar had gone to attend a United Nations meeting at New York. President Kiir had to cut his visit to Uganda short and returned to Juba. He went and addressed the army in Bilpam where he told the army that whoever would take power by force would not be recognized by the International Community. The President also hinted that he had left Majak in charge of the army when the news of coup reached him. Gatwec is said to have denied any involvement.
In December 2013, things became dramatic in South Sudan. President Salva Kiir clad in military uniform and his government announced a coup attempt against the government in December 2013 allegedly led by eleven SPLM senior figures. The eleven senior SPLM officials had held a press conference at the SPLM party’s HQrs, calling on the party’s chairman Salva Kiir who was in Paris, France to resolve issues within the SPLM. First to convene meetings of a party Political Bureau, this would set the agenda for the SPLM National Liberation Council meeting, and to prepare for the Third SPLM National Convention.
President Kiir’s aversion towards reforms in the party led to the independent press conference; shoot out within the presidential citadel unit HEADQUARTERS and eventual arrest of the eleven senior figures. The whole event was immediately dubbed by the government as a coup d’état attempt although all the members of the alleged coup denied it was a coup. That position is backed by the international community and large segments of South Sudanese society. We will see why a situation that claimed about one thousand lives in Juba alone and nearly ten thousands lives countrywide is seen differently other than a bloody coup d’état even when it was greased by intensive shooting and engaging gun battles on the streets of Juba during December 2013.
We will examine this through three perspectives, that of a government, that of the eleven detainees and that of the international community. We have already known the government position. It agreed it is a power struggle. Riek Machar in support of the eleven senior SPLM members staged a coup to grab power by force. The government quashed the coup and the coup mutated into a rebellion, which attacked and captured towns of Bor, Bentiu and Malakal temporarily from the government. In a televised address, President Kiir hypothesized the event in the following statement, that, “they tried to carry out a coup…but they have failed. All the people who were involved in this will be arrested.” On that account, the detainees are detained based on the charges of committing treason of coup d’état. This is the regime argument.
The SPLM’s dissenting party holds a different view towards the coup allegations. Rebecca Nyandeng, Dr. Adwok Nyaba and Riek Machar as representatives of their group made their arguments as follows. Their arguments will be aligned with analyses from some independent, international and regional analysts.
In her recent interview with London newspaper, entitled Rebecca Garang Talks about South Sudan’s Non-Existence Coup Attempt & Why Salva Kiir Lied [January 27, 2014]. Rebecca Nyandeng gave the following version.
They may have thought that these people did not come to the meeting and so they were maybe planning a coup. So they made a decision that these people would be arrested. Some of them said they would try to make something so they could accuse these people of planning a coup and arrest them. This is what happened:
“This thing happened in his [Kiir’s] headquarters. When they went there, they wanted to disarm a group of Nuer. They went and found that in the president’s headquarters they were many [soldiers belonging to the] Nuer. Their commander then went to the Chief of the General Staff and asked what he could do. He was then told to leave the [Nuer] soldiers until the next morning. But the officer did not listen to his orders and proceeded to try and disarm the Nuer soldiers. This was the time when this thing erupted and war begun in the headquarters of the president. Then at one o’clock at night, that is when the army headquarters started shooting because there were Nuer members there. Because they were watching the speech of the president, they knew there was a problem.”
On December 17, two days after the alleged coup, Dr. Peter Adwok Nyaba, one of the accused who was still-at-large [evasive] published an informative article, titled “From Dr. Adwok: … It Was Not A Coup.” In that important piece, Adwok was refuting and perhaps rebuking a position presented by an editor of the online website known as Southsudannation.com. It is not my intention to go into the duo contentious debate. But Adwok noted that “this time the debate within the SPLM was about democracy and how to make it work in our young republic”. It implied their debate had nothing to do with military skirmishes within Juba.
Adwok, who himself is a SPLA war wounded veteran and former minister enumerated the issues that he believed precipitated the fluidious December political crisis.
All that people are clamoring about as failures of the Government of South Sudan are indeed SPLM failures. The SPLM failure to organize itself with functional organs and institutions sensitive to the concerns of the citizens; the failure to evolve a political ideology has resulted in the ethnicization of SPLM power politics; the failure to institutionalize power relations within the SPLM has result in autocracy and one-man dictatorship relying on ethnic lobbies and close business associates who have turned South Sudan and its state institutions into a limited liability enterprise.
Adwok has drawn a negative nexus between the ruling party SPLM and the Government of South Sudan [GOSS] in the following statement. ‘The SPLM dysfunction has reflects itself [in] the dysfunctionality of South Sudan state and this explains why it has remained since July 9th 2011 under Chapter VII of the UN Charter.’ I will write about “the South Sudan and the UN Chapter VII” in another article.
Adwok had something to say about the coup. To determine the reliability of coup tidings, below was Peter Adwok’s version of the December 2013 crises. Since he has agreed above that he and his group were agitating for democratic realization within the SPLM, what was the strategy laid out to achieve that aim against Kiir who has invariably refused to heed the public censure/critic of the system he is leading?
I live in Juba almost ¾ of a kilometer west of the old Army H/Qs, which now houses Tiger Battalion – the presidential guards. It is not true that “the fateful night started at Nyakuron where an unknown gun (man) fired at the SPLM National Liberation Council which was concluding its meeting attended by Kiir himself.”
It is about two kilometres from Nyakuron Cultural Centre to the Army H/Qs if one follows the tarmac through the University of Juba round about. If the unknown gun (man) fired at the SPLM NLC meeting what are the casualties? This is mere fabrication. The centre was awash with Salva Kiir’s guards and it would have been a massacre I can assure you.
The information we got is that President Kiir ordered Major General Marial Channoung to disarm his soldiers. Marial was at the closing session of the NLC. Left the scene immediately and called for a parade of the Tiger Battalion.
He briefed the troops and ordered them to surrender their arms. They obeyed and executed the orders and dispersed. Now in a mischief, the officer i/c [in charge] of the stores opened the stores and rearmed the Dinka soldiers. A Nuer soldier, who happened to be nearby, questioned this. A fistfight ensured between the two attracting the attention [of] both the commander and his deputy to the scene.
They now could not control the situation as more soldiers came in and broke into the stores. The fight ensued and the Nuer soldiers managed to take control of the H/Qs. It was in the morning yesterday (Monday, 16 December) that SPLA reinforcement came in and dislodged the mutineers. This can later be verified and the truth will come out.
Riek Machar, the alleged leader of the coup also refuted the accusation against him and his group, which was jailed on an account of the coup attempt. Quoted by various media outlets such as sudantribune.com website, CNN, BBC etc and particularly by Hussein Mohammed, Riek Machar who had managed to escape an arrest and talking as a rebel leader in the bush had the following to say. “What took place in Juba was a misunderstanding between presidential guards within their division, it was not a coup attempt,” Machar told the Paris-based Sudan Tribune news website. “I have no connection with or knowledge of any coup attempt,” “What we wanted was to democratically transform the SPLM,” Machar added. “But Salva Kiir wanted to use the alleged coup attempt in order to get rid of us to control the government and the SPLM.”
Drawing from the third parties’ perspective, that is, from international and regional analysts views, I readily came across Magdi el-Gizouli, a researcher at the Rift Valley Institute, cited in Eric Reeves article, ‘The “Coup” Attempt in South Sudan: What we know’ published the same day as Adwok Article, December 17, 2013. El Gizouli, a familiar regional analyst never feigned his doubt over the coup. ‘It doesn’t seem to be a full-fledged coup attempt in the sense that there’s an organized attempt by Machar to seize power. It appears a bit disorganized”
According to Prof. Eric Reeves, presenting popular views, noted that,
Others in Juba also find the nature of the coup puzzling—its apparently ad hoc quality hardly signifying a well-planned action. It may be, as one highly informed observer with numerous contacts in Juba has said, a “coup” that began by accident but took on a predictable political and ethnic character, of a sort that could be expected in the event of a fully developed coup plan.
In my interactions with ordinary citizens, still majority of them do not believe it was a coup. They see it as outbursts of long latent mistrusts within forces, politicians and at social levels. One could not plan a coup and went back to his home. All the eleven politicians were arrested in their own homes. Some people argued it that way.
However, there are some citizens who argued that all coups should not be defined according to the western definitions. “South Sudan has a right to define it in her own way”. They asked, if it is not a coup, why then have these politicians turned to armed rebellions. Adwok is quick to say the crisis is a boomerang, resulting out of Kiir’s policies and governance style.
Despite these highly doubted coup attempts, South Sudan media especially the SSTV presenters, local radios, field reporters and government officials still proudly talk about a failed coup. One question has remained unanswered, why has South Sudan’s government enjoyed calling almost everything a coup? Of course there is no doubt that the government in Juba has come under intensive public opprobriosity.
There are chilling examples of such opprobriosity.
Mabior Garang de Mabior, in his article Capt. Mabior Garang de Mabior: A call for fundamental change in South Sudan published on December 24, 2012 by the New Sudan website, asked a question that the nation seems to be struggling with hitherto. De Mabior asked, “If we cannot be different from those in Khartoum, why are we in Juba?” If we cannot become different from our former enemies whom we thought were wrong, why can’t we just return home and apologize?”
Donald Kipkorir, an advocate of the High Court in his article Who will save Government of South Sudan from wrong turn?, published on 06/08/2011 by the Kenyan Standard-on-line wrote that
… we hedged all our bets that GoSS will be a new and different child of Africa. With its abundance resources in oil, iron ore, copper, timber and other yet to be exploited minerals, we knew GoSS will have privileged upbringing. GOSS adopts triple ills of Africa. She has adopted the triple ills of Africa, lock-stock & barrel! In less than a month after independence, GoSS is entrenching negative tribalism, grand corruption and political hubris. We weep for GoSS. Its innocence taken away so soon.
Richard Dowden, author of the book “Africa: Altered States, Ordinary Miracles”  simply put a blunt conclusion that “South Sudan’s leaders have learnt nothing from 50 years of independence in Africa.”
South Sudan has been ranked fourth after Sudan in the Failed States Index [FSI] 2013. Representatives of my government are said to be unhappy of this ranking and their argument is based on the “youngness of the Nation” excuses. What has the youngness of the country to do with stealing billions of money? What has it to do with not setting up a prudent and permanent constitution? What has it to do with not holding people who are corrupt accountable? What has it to do with the formation of tribal armies? Liars.
G. Pascal Zachary, a professor of practice in the Cronkite School of Journalism has called for South Sudan to be put under American trusteeship. “It Needs to Be Put Under U.S.-Led Trusteeship”. With such unsuppressed articulation and loquacity, there are concerns by international personalities who advocate for South Sudan to be placed under the UN trusteeship and be governed by the UN until such times when the people of South Sudan shall be ready to govern themselves. Top among those personalities is Hank Cohen who has declared that, “South Sudan should be placed under UN trusteeship to aid development of viable self-government” in his recent article. Herman J. Cohen is Former United States Assistant Secretary of State for Africa.
UN trusteeship is a practice and policy of 1940s during the decolonization era in which disputed or swinging territories were put under the UN trusteeship to help them towards their independence or self-government. All the eleven trust territories under the UN were either merged with neighboring states or became independent sovereign nations. In 1994 the last trust territory, the Palau Islands, became independent and joined the UN as the 185th member. This means no independent and sovereign state like South Sudan has ever been put under the UN Trusteeship.
South Sudan would have qualified to be put under the UN trusteeship in 1940s, pending her quest for independence. Neither the UN nor the OAU later hinted to that call. The result due to lack of capacity among southerners to form a post-colonial nation-state made the South to be annexed to the North in 1946/7 by the British. William Deng Nhial advocated in his letter to the OAU Secretary General, 1963, for South Sudan to be put under the UN trusteeship following the Arab’s oppression and killings in Southern Sudan. The UN never sought trusteeship of South Sudan.
It might be true as articulated by Richard Dowden that, “South Sudan’s leaders have learnt nothing from [the experience of the last] 50 years.” It is disgusting that our leaders have manifested in this 21st century the same lack of capacity to govern themselves problem so as to warrant the world to now advocate for South Sudan to be put under foreign powers, be it the US or UN. Of course, there is no difference between the US-led trusteeship and UN trusteeship.
John Garang had warned about the creation of “Mesh-Kilat-El-Junub [internal South problems] in one of his speeches. He said parochialism, tribalism, self-aggrandizement, clannish-centric policies and negligence of people needs could bring doom upon the country. It is full of author’s emphases.
It is unfortunate that the UN trusteeship of the South Sudan has already started with deployment of the UN army. The UN did not seek consent of South Sudan authorities when it sat in December 2013 to approve and deploy six more thousand troops. African nations are also being used to mobilize more troops under the same placard to be deployed in South Sudan. And Kiir admitted that when he said the UN seeks to co-govern South Sudan with him. The manner and nature of the UN weapons impounded in South Sudan, sent without the government’s knowledge and consent is a clear evident that the UN trusteeship of South Sudan has begun.
Do we blame the UN or the world? No. Kiir and his leadership have provided the unmistakable conduit for the world’s action. He has failed. Who? Kiir! The political hemorrhage and entropy in South Sudan is purely a matter of political and administrative incompetence, even lack of analytical capacity. President Kiir under “constitutional” perjury neglected building the national army, the SPLA and embarked on building a private army, which is mono-clannish. And he had a gut of admitting it. The main army, SPLA remains as clusters of ethnic enclaves and militias with divided loyalties and various commanding centres.
The author had raised almost similar concerns in an article, “managing a liberated society: do you think your new nation is going to hold?” published by the Newsudanvision.com website on by the June 9, 2012 and allAfricaonline.com. South Sudan has been manufacturing its own Frankenstein. The road we have taken leaves a lot to be desired.
In Dr. John Garang’s view, leadership’s dysfunctionality and impracticality leads to one outcome-divided society. In one of his addresses to the SPLA officers, he prophesized the unfortunate events of today in the following paragraph.
“This is simple arithmetic: if the SPLM cannot deliver anything and we just shout REVOLUTION, REVOLUTION; the cattle of the people are not vaccinated; their children are not vaccinated or sent to school; there is nothing to eat, there are no roads, there are no basic necessities of life—there is no cloth, no needle, not even a razor blade—when the barest minimum of essential things of life are not available, then the people will drive us into the sea, even though there is no sea here they will find one.”
Let me conclude by stating that time for uncultured sophistry is gone. We are watching. We are recording and a day of reckoning where everyone failing our dear state shall be made accountable is certainly drawing near. The Ashanti people say, “One falsehood spoils a thousand truths.” There are so many coup attempts to be true. The thousand truths are that, South Sudan has no law; no organize political parties, no visionary and practical leadership, no judicial systems, no national army and no services delivery. The no…no…no series goes on. The only active sectors in South Sudan are tribonationalism, corruption and power struggle. Then, is it a consummated state?
Salva Kiir does not represent Patrice Lumumba. However, South Sudan as a country is going the D.R Congo way. It is a struggle between Moise Tshome, Joseph Desire Mobutu and the unfortunate Patrice Lumumba. If we do not take care, the nation will be left in an adinfintum failure.
The Juba’s regime is witch-hunting its concern citizens. Without a coup, a kangaroo court is set up to silence its four critical citizens. This is a judicial mockery, absurdity and manipulation. The trial of the four citizens does not and cannot address the objective realities of the day and the fundamental problem in our country. The state is standing on nothing but four crooked legs to use the phrase of Dr. Jok Madut Jok. Isn’t our government an impractical phantasm? How else will I conclude this message, either the world, the majority is wrong, and the impractical cliquish government is right or vice versa.
The government that has veered off is basically making the nation and its masses expendable. Unfortunately, the reality is disproving Plato’s view, that a philosopher-king is better than public opinion. In our case, it is the public opinion, which is competent than the will and desire of the South Sudanese philosopher-king [s] running the government. Isn’t majority a law? Neither Kujur nor God Almighty will revoke the verdict the masses has put on the government. What is a government that does not heed to the cries of the masses?
All the country’s dialogue should begin with the Constitutional and law reforms, in order to establish a viable and responsible nation in South Sudan.
The system is ideologically Kiir without Garang.
About the Author: Rengo Gyyw Rengo, Jr., is a former member of the SPLA Red Army. He is the author of the upcoming Red Army’s memoirs, entitled, “The Journey of No Return: Unaccompanied Minors, Red Army, Lost boys of Southern Sudan caught between the cause and the refuge”. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org