Map of 21 states proposed by SPLM/iO, courtesy of the SPLM/iO.
Nearly a year and a half ago, The New Sudan Vision published a two-part article entitled, “Kiir or Riek: Is the 2015 Presidential Election a Definitive Contest between the Two Chiefs of the Leviathan…?” The purpose of that article was to assess the validity of the claims of these two men, the contents of their possible political platforms and to outline the expected quality of their respective leadership styles, considering their past and present/recent public service records. It was also hoped that the article would provide some insights to voters in order to enable them to make an informed decision as to their preferred choice for president at a time when both men were at each other’s throats and upbeat about their accomplishments or future plans, all in preparation for the 2015 general elections.
But since then, political events in South Sudan have taken the turn for the worse, affirming that article’s worst fears that the changing political landscape at the time had“set the stage for the first and, certainly, the most contentious political showdown yet in the two year-old nation’s independence history, since July 9, 2011.” That is why all hell broke loose on December 15, 2013, as violence, possibly engineered by either of the two leaders and his lieutenants, broke out on a grand scale, preying upon the very citizens whose votes these never-ageing politicians were enviously vying for.
Yet—although the magnitude of the current violence was not predictable—the odds that this contest would turn violent were all too obvious. This had the effect of propagating public fear, which became more ominously intensified following the President’s sacking of Mr. Riek Machar from his post as Vice President in July, 2013. By this time, therefore, the odds were no longer a matter of if but when the menace of violence would descend upon the nation. Regrettably it did, five months after his sacking.
What was more, the probability of an outbreak of violence was made even more evident by Mr. Riek’s oral reaction to his sacking when an apparently agonized Riek ostensibly appeared to be “grateful” to the “army for remaining calm,” his sacking by the President notwithstanding.
While the surface reading of such a cleverly worded (“grateful”) statement was seen as an attempt to alleviate fears of probable violence, this statement, for mischievous reasons, was a thinly veiled code for a call for violence, something which it (the statement) purportedly intended to avoid. As events began to unfold in quick successions, analysts at the time were able to predict the possibility, not just the probability, of the first civil war in an independent South Sudan.
That the net result of such a political posturing would culminate in a civil war was supported by historical experience pointing to the fact that unless Mr. Riek is crowned the political czar, he always opts for any means at his disposal, however impairing it might be, to get what he wants. This boosts “the validity of the argument that Riek will never go for anything less than his tempestuous dream of ascending to the presidency at all cost, including spilling of blood, if necessary.” This is why some independent observers wonder why many people were taken by surprise when, for all practical reasons, what started on December 15, 2013 had been long in the making.
Unlike the previous one, this article is not as much about Kiir’s and Riek’s records of accomplishments—or lack thereof—as it is about an attempt to assess and allocate moral responsibility for the one-year old conflict that has visibly engulfed and irreparably damaged not only the political image but also brought about unimaginable destruction to this young nation’s economic and social structures, untold loss of human lives and immense suffering.
Apportionment of moral blameworthiness to those who are primarily responsible for this inordinate and malicious disorder is important, considering that it is lack of accountability that has largely been responsible for much of this conflict. In other words, it is lack of accountability, besides political recklessness, on the part of those at the echelon of power that has gradually fermented popular discontent to the point where the public is no longer able to bottle it up. The principal architects of this war have, thus, easily tapped into that popular dissatisfaction with the political leadership in the country, leading to the explosion of violence that they no longer seem to have the ability contain or are, conversely, predisposed to manipulate to their political mileage.
Although South Sudanese politics, to say the least, is very much a matter of gamble, thus unpredictable in a general sense, this article— besides allocating moral blameworthiness—also attempts to forecast the political future of some of the principal belligerents of this senseless war. The article will also briefly discuss the role of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan, since everything has been unfolding in their helpless watch. The first place to begin with, however, is December 15, 2013.
2. What we know So Far and its Short-comings
(i) The December 15, 2013 “Coup” or “Mutiny:”?
a. Conflicting Narratives: Government’s and Rebels’
As stated earlier, although what started on December 15, 2013, was not unexpected, the speed and magnitude with which this violence has continued to express itself a year later are of gigantic proportions. Whatever the triggers may be, there has never been an agreed statement by the two parties as to how it all started. Both parties have unsuccessfully attempted to give their side of the story.
For the Government, it was a coup, well planned and unsuccessfully executed by Mr. Riek Machar and his supporters, including members of the so-called G-11. In labelling coup charges against his former Vice President, President Kiir has described Riek as a man who was “too impatient …for [political] power and did not want to wait for general elections.”
The rebels, on the other hand, have proffered mixed accounts of what transpired on that ill-fated night. One account suggests that there was no coup. According to this account, what took place on December 15 was a misunderstanding between soldiers loyal to Mr. Riek Machar and those loyal to the Government led by President Kiir. For the rebels, thus, it was this misunderstanding that spiraled out of control, leading those loyal to Riek to resort to mutiny. In respect of their second account, some rebels go a step further to contend that this violence was deliberately orchestrated by Kiir and his lieutenants to get rid of his political opponents.
Because of confusion as to which account could bear a reasonable semblance of believability, there is a legitimate need for a different version, one that is not affiliated to either of the warring parties. This is why third party accounts may be more helpful than the ones advanced by either side.
(ii) Other Accounts
a. Dr. Adwok Nyaba’s Account
The narrative that seems to have had some relative purchase to many within and outside South Sudan (including some foreign governments), although its neutrality remains dubious, is the one furnished by Dr. Peter Adwok Nyaba who, like former political detainees, was kept under high security detention before he was released by government security operatives a few days after that ordeal. Adwok, whose credibility has degenerated much faster than the speed of light, made his statement shortly before security personnel snatched him from his house on the morning of December 15.
In a tone that strikes more or less the line of one of the accounts advanced by the rebels, Adwok (in a letter addressed to SouthSudanNation.com) claimed that what took place on the night of December 15 was a misunderstanding between two groups of Presidential Guards, one of which was loyal to the Government and the other to former Vice President, Riek Machar.
According to Adwok, this misunderstanding arose as a result of the lame-decision of the Commander of the Presidential Guards, Maj. General Marial Chanuong, to disarm all the troops under his command. Gen. Marial allegedly ordered the assembly of the guards. He then briefed them on the nature of the decision to disarm, subsequent to which he commanded them to surrender their weapons, an order which the soldiers allegedly obeyed. Adwok goes on to claim that “…in a mischief, the officer i/c [officer in charge] of the stores opened the stores and rearmed the Dinka soldiers.” Soldiers loyal to Riek allegedly did not like this. As a result, Adwok argued, a fight broke out between two soldiers, one loyal to Riek and one loyal to the Government. As fate would have it, other soldiers later joined in the fight which consequently snowballed and morphed into an ethnic conflict. Riek’s loyalists ultimately managed to break into the store, took arms and moved on to capture Ghiada, the General Headquarters (GHQs) of the Sudan Peoples’ Liberation Army (SPLA).
That, briefly, is what Adwok’s narrative proffers as to the cause of what happened on December 15. This version categorically negates the argument for the coup, which is why the Government disputes it, and so do some ordinary citizens who claim to have been in the vicinity where it all started.
b. Eye Witnesses’ Accounts
Although there are minor deviations, these accounts have common elements. Such variability, however, can be cured if one can extract those common elements, as is here the case. That said, these eyes witnesses offer a fundamentally different account from that of Adwok’s. For their part, they hold that although they had initially witnessed a general disarmament of the Tiger Division, they did not see the rearmament of the Dinka soldiers as alleged by Adwok. What they saw, they argue, was a rearmament of a few soldiers who were subsequently charged with the responsibility of guarding the ammunition store, located at Ghiada (GHQs).
But as soon as words went around that Riek Machar and the current G-10 members (co-terminously referred to as “former political detainees”) were being sought after by security personnel to face arrests for allegedly having walked out of the National Liberation Council (NLC) meeting the previous day and for failing to turn up for the same meeting on December 14, Riek’s supporters from the Tiger Division, said the witnesses, decided to attack the ammunition store (probably to prevent the alleged arrest of their Boss?), killed some of, and defeated, the guards, took away arms and started shooting randomly at the disarmed Dinka soldiers, resulting in their capture of Ghiada.
c. Assessment and Commentary
The above eye witnesses’ accounts, if true, would appear to put Adwok’s narrative in a serious doubt. This is why this article hastens to add that Adwok’s version is generally deficient in the sense that it suffers from at least three glaring defects.
First, Adwok’s version is not a firsthand account. This is clear from his own admission that “the information we got is that President Kiir ordered Major General Marial Ciennoung [Chanuong] to disarm his soldiers.” If his version, as he claims here, is based on information he received from a third party, then it is subject to scrutiny, or should even be entirely treated as hearsay, a mere scuttlebutt that discloses no reasonable basis as to its “preferrability” in relation to over accounts. In other words, having been fed with this information by a third party, this account, for that very reason, cannot be presented in absolute terms. That is why Adwok should have qualified his version of the events.
Alternatively, it would have been very difficult for someone who was not continuously apprised—minute by minute and hour by hour—throughout that villainous night, to have such a vivid account of the events. Again, since he is not a prime witness, by his own admission, independent observers may want to know who the party, which kept him continuously apprised, was and the nature of their affiliations. Put simply, who could that person be? Was there a carefully calculated and deliberated plan on how this scheme was going to be exacted and that Adwok, by reason of his status, was strategically positioned to provide such a well crated narrative? This is some food for the reader’s thought.
Second, and perhaps, the most significant deficiency of his account is that, Adwok is now a steering member of the rebellion. As such, the natural inference flowing from his account is that, if Adwok proffered this version in anticipation of his joining the-would-be rebellion (in the event that their nefarious scheme failed to achieve its immediate objective), then Adwok, in monumental ways, has personally succeeded in achieving that goal for the group.
But, just as a criminal defendant may not be an independent witness (or is not often treated as such) in his or her own case, it is also true that, a priori, human beings can (rarely) preside objectively over their own faults, whether inside or outside a competent court or tribunal. On that basis, Adwok cannot be both a rebel and at the same time an independent observer whose account should be given any preferential treatment over others. That is a simple Lockean principle which explains why Adwok’s version may be found to be biased in favour of his cause of rebellion or other interests, such as an intent to create a rift between two ethnic groups for other motives.
This leads us to the third and final defect of Adwok’s version. What are Adwok’s underlying motives for trying to dichotomize the rebellion in ethnic terms? The answer may be found in Adwok’s enduring concern about extant boundary disputes between the Dinka and Chollo in the states of Upper Nile and (northern) Jonglei.
In an article which he authored in 2009, Adwok claims that the Chollo’s neighbouring Dinka communities in those two states have annexed or have historically claimed, what he deems to be a Chollo area. In that article, he argues that the said Dinka claim to the area harkens back both before and during the war of liberation. This plans, he argues, involves the project of creating a “Padang Dinka state” which, he argues, is aimed at:
building a sense of unity and solidarity among the Padang Dinka…, prompted by a feeling of powerlessness and alienation from the Dinka power centre (currently in Bahr el Ghazal under the leadership of Gen. Salva Kiir Mayardit) due to their dispersion over a wide territory separated by the Nuer and the Shilluk…. To gain recognition and hence inclusion into this Dinka power house, the Padang Dinka political and military elite must demonstrate unity and strength. And this unity can only be stimulated by initiating a conflict with the neighbouring Shilluk over their ancestral land [emphasis added].
Fraught with conspiracies and unfounded allegations, Adwok’s odious article goes on to claim that the grand scheme and intent “to dislodge the Shilluk from their land on the east bank of the Nile from Nyijwado in the South to Detwok in the north is the underlying hidden agenda of the Padang Dinka political elite fronted by an influential Abyei Minister in the GOSS.”
Adwok concludes his article by asking whether the Shilluk should allow their land to be grabbed by the Dinka “without a fight,” a clear incitement of violence by a scholar-politician.
Adwok’s article was not responded to at the time of its writing because its thesis, in whole or in part, was so poignant and speculative as to deserve being safely ignored. And so, just as it was then, it is still not the time at the moment, if any, to begin to discuss the ulterior object and purposes of that article. In any case, Adwok’s border issues in question are not new. Anyone who has read one of his first books, the Politics of Liberation…,will recall Adwok’s similar charges labelled against Abel Alier. This time, he has found a new culprit in the Padang Dinka. This should leave some people wondering who his next victim/s will be.
Nevertheless, what should be mentioned in an obiter and must immediately be brought to Dr. Adwok’s attention, nonetheless, is that there was and there still is no such a plan, let alone a cabinet minister from Abiei being involved in such scheming. More importantly, the Northwestern Dinka (of Panaruu/Pariang, Jok/Abiei and Aloor/Biemnom) have never had the desire to be part of a putative state of the Northeastern Dinka (Pigi, Baliet, Akoka, Melut, and Renk). They have no incentive to join such an alliance, be it strategic or economic. The latter can stake their claim much as the former can similarly state their own, whether they want to be a state of their own or be part of Warrap.
Furthermore, there is no interest in dispossessing Shilluk of their land. To deprive the good people of the Chollo Kingdom of their natural right to land is entirely repugnant on both legal and moral grounds. Not only does the law not permit it, the author (as a member of the community put to Adwok’s literary sword) can never agree to be part of such an undertaking, whether through condonation or acquiescence.
Finally, the conglomerate of the loose Dinka groups, often erroneously lumped together as Padang for purposes of simplicity, consists of two distinct groups (namely Ngok Panaruu, Jok, Aloor, Paweny and Lual Yak) and Padang (Abeliang, Ageer, Nyiel, Dongjol, Luach, Thoi and Rut) ) spread over vast swathes of land, so expansive that they cannot possibly be placed under one administration.
The relevance Adwok’s 2009 article to the parallel coup narratives is to demonstrate how intellectuals can sometimes veer into the realm of fantasies, if not delusions, to the extent of fabricating scenarios, often with the goal of achieving a covert objective. If that is Hon. Adwok’s underlying motive, that is, to create a rift between the Dinka and Nuer (apparently to empower Shilluk under a Nuer leadership?), then he probably got the best of the premium of his investment: a fight by proxy. It is more likely than not that this is Dr. Adwok’s underlying motive.
To prove why this might be the case, Adwok, as an influential member of the rebels, has managed to include, as part of the Shilluk Kingdom, the area at issue in the new map in which the rebels have suggested 21 states as part of a federal system they are demanding to end the raging conflict.
Refer to Map of 21 states proposed by SPLM/iO, courtesy of the SPLM/iO (Above).
The blue portion of the area under the right side of “1,” (including the section, between “4” and “5,” that extends downwards, separating Baliet and Pigi) is the area Adwok is talking about. Rebels have included the portion of Khorflus, between “4” and “3,’ as part of “Fashoda State.”.
This area does not only include Malakal but covers a portion of the Khorflus green belt region, which the rebels, with the urging of Adwok, have included in the putative Chollo Fashoda State, seemingly splitting the Dinka area (which is a continuum of land mass from Pigi to Renk) in that region into two sections (separating Pigi from Baliet).
If the alleged boundary dispute is between Chollo on the one hand, and eastern Ngok and Padang Dinka on the other, then (with all due respect to Dr. Adwok), it was utterly uncalled-for on the part of Dr. Adwok to include sections of the Ngok Dinka on the west bank of the Nile (Panaruu, Aloor and Jok) into that dispute, as suggested by his diatribe in that pompous article.
Adwok’s claim does not, however, appear to be backed up by any evidence. All indications (as per 1956 boundaries) point to the fact that while Malakal town has always been mixed in terms of its ethnic settlements, the other portion included into the suggested “Fashoda State” was not settled by the Shilluk when the British left that year. Whereas there might be some Chollo settlements that took place in later years after independence, the area has exclusively remained a Dinka land, hence no amount of violence, in the name of rebellion, will most likely salvage his claim.
The fundamental point here is that, here you have a scholar who is wont to translating street talks, or even non-existing claims, into reliable accounts. His claim as to a potential “Padang Dinka” plan to confiscate and dispossess the peace loving Chollo people of their God-given land, an abode of their birth-right, is one example. This is a gross misrepresentation, if not pure fabrication.
More fundamentally, am I supposed to believe his narrative as to what happened on December 15, 2013? How can I be sure that Dr. Adwok’s narrative does not fall by the wayside of statesmanship as does his Padang Dinka plan story? You are the esteemed judge.
Whatever the case, Dr. Adwok committed a fatal mistake when he decided to join the rebellion, this being his second time to fight the SPLA and SPLM alongside Riek Machar. Thus, while those who support or are sympathetic to the rebellion might applaud his move as one of courage, he may no longer be able to stand any chance, as far his political career is concerned. The “kingmakers” who hail from both within and without the Chollo turf, are probably not going to let him get away with killing of innocent people for the second time. After all, Adwok has politically been crowded out in the Chollo Kingdom, where he is immersed in an unending political feud with the reigning chieftain ((nyikang) of Chollo politics, the invincible Lam Akol. So if he is going to continue to unleash his ill-founded spite on innocent communities as he did in the case of the Ngok and Padang Dinka, then it may well be the case that politics does not bring out the best of Dr. Adwok and that he may well consider confining himself to the world of academe.
In respect of whether what happened on December 15 was a coup or mutiny, it is worth-noting that this article is not inclined to make the determination as to whether it was one or the other. For heuristic purposes however, it is sufficient to state that if there was a coup attempt, then most, if not all, members of G-10 were certainly kept out of the loop on the plan. If that be the case, then the Government narrative, argumentum, has failed to garner any significant purchase, even inside South Sudan, partly because of its inability to articulate its position well and partly because of its blanket approach, initially characterized by the expansive casting of its net of accountability that is further than it probably ought to have been. The net result is one that has made it difficult for many to not think that this was President Kiir’s attempt to purge his party of his main rivals, including the rebel leader, Riek Michar.
For those who are not inclined to take sides but primarily care to be informed, you are better off making your own determination, based on your subjective appreciation of these narratives and how the parties have, so far, conducted themselves as far as this aimless violence is concerned.
What is significant to emphasizing, for the purposes of this paper, is the recognition of the shocking toll that this violence has taken, particularly on the most innocent people of South Sudan. As matters stand at the moment, the numbers are staggering. Both the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) and local Human Rights Watch suggest that between 200-400 people (both soldiers and civilians), mostly of Nuer ethnicity, were killed in South Sudan’s federal capital of Juba between December 15 and 17. The rebel sources, nevertheless, hold that more than 20, 000 Nuer were targeted in the capital between those dates.
Most recent reports also suggest that the conflict mortalities across South Sudan may be as high as 50, 000 lives, and climbing, mostly in the former Upper Nile region (particularly in Bor, Pariang, Baliet, Akobo, Bentiu, Malakal and Renk) with close to 2 million people displaced from their natal homes, made homeless or are living in squalid economic and unhygienic conditions in refugee camps in neighboring countries and internally displaced camps.
One must hasten to add that, in the midst of the continuation of such extreme and beastly cruelty, it is difficult to establish any reasonable statistics as to quantum of mortalities, or how many have been displaced or are missing. Whatever the case might be, the quantum as to deaths does not matter, for the death of a single innocent citizen by sheer and extortionate predation for political power by a corrupt class of unscrupulous looters is a tragedy that should not be tolerated and must be accounted for.
3. Allocating Moral Responsibility for the Conflict
So who should be accountable for this heinous and aimless violence? The answer is, it depends, in the sense that the degree or scope of moral culpability of each actor, to a large extent, is contingent upon the subjective judgment of the party assigning the blame. This paper suggests that the responsibility falls squarely on the entire political class, especially the principals, their lieutenants and other key players.
That is to say that the SPLM leadership (as a whole), is jointly and severally (individually) liable for the destruction and violence that has gripped the country. As stated above, however, certain principal actors, by virtue of their positions or specific role in this conflict, could be argued to be more culpable than others. This is specially the case for President Kiir and Mr. Riek Machar along with their directing minds or lieutenants.
In the discussion that follows, Part I deals with President Kiir and Mr. Riek Machar as well as their prospects for political future. Part II deals with their right hand men, while Part III reviews the role of G-10 (as a group) as well as that of the UNMISS.
Part I: Principals of the Warring Parties
(i) President Kiir Mayardit
President Kiir’s handling of the crisis from its outset has been one of mixed baggage. To begin with, his very first remarks and appearance while addressing this crisis on the morning of that fateful day were, in pith and substance, reactionary and over-sweeping. More precisely, there is no gainsaying that while he might have had reasonable grounds to charge his former Vice President with being the mastermind of the coup plot, his rather blanket accusation (which saw most former cabinet members who took part in the December 6 Rally) conclusively appears to have driven the final nail in the coffin of his political guilt in respect of this crisis. One would have thought that, having successfully quelled the threats of the alleged coup or mutiny, whatever the case might be, the Government would have then subsequently recognized the need for a meticulous plan to go to the bottom of the matter through an investigative process that is procedurally fair and transparent so that those ultimately found to be responsible could be made to feel the full force of the law. This should have been the case, no matter how tense the situation might have been. This means that from outset, the best thing for the President to do was to call for calm and provide assurances that all was well and under control. Instead, attired in military fatigues, a militant Kiir stormed the National TV and unconvincingly made a case for a failed coup attempt, seemingly engineered by the “prophet of doom” and his December 6 Rally disciples. Such a reaction and appearance might have needlessly exacerbated the situation as it basically threw the entire country into a panic mode.
What is more, if Mr. Riek was in Juba at the time of President Kiir’s address, there is a reason to be believe that this approach might have probably motivated his desire to abscond from “justice” in Juba, as opposed to handing himself in like all his December 6 followers, having realized that Juba was no longer a safe place to be, especially for him, the chief rival.
Further still, President Kiir’s over-sweeping reaction to the crisis from the start might have added a layer of implausibility of the Government’s case for the coup, given that most of those whom he had accused of involvement in the coup had a broad based grassroots support from across the nation. In fact, rightly or wrongly, some of their ardent supporters believe that these individuals are incapable of betraying the country or snatching political power through violence. This may have inadvertently produced the effect of hampering the Government narrative for the coup.
Kiir has also been widely blamed for allegedly having created a hostile atmosphere during the National Liberation Council meeting, an event which turned out to be the defining moment of this crisis. Such censoring includes a speech which Kiir gave during the opening session of the meeting. In that speech, Kiir made explicit references to, and vowed never to allow the events and massacres of 1991 to occur again. Those who castigate Kiir on the basis of that speech, especially his specific reference to the 1991 massacres, contend that the speech depicted Riek as a man of no moral standing who is only accustomed to violence. More precisely, it is argued that alluding to the 1991 issues might have infuriated Riek, resulting in the current political crisis.
But if Riek and his supporters are true believers in democracy, then it follows that their case for democracy, for a variety of reasons, is undermined by their very rejection of free speech which, unarguably, is one of the cornerstones of a free and liberal democratic society in South Sudan, a state whose creation in Riek Machar holds himself out to be its undisputed champion. But here is why Riek and his supporters evidently undermine their own professed democratic ideals.
Whereas the thesis of this article recognizes that Kiir’s speech could have been worded differently, it is worth noting firstly that there did not appear to be something discernibly outlandish about that speech. This is chiefly because true democrats know that democracy includes the right of free speech: the idea that, subject to specific exceptions, a free and democratic society must allow an unfettered exchange or flow of ideas. This, in and of itself, is an entrenched democratic principle. It includes the right to give and receive opinions, including certain types of speech that we may not like or agree with.
Hence, if Riek Machar thought that President Kiir’s speech was unmannered, the best thing he could have done was to give his own speech in specie. That is to say, the remedy for a bad speech is more speech of the same kind, not violence, for that is partly what democracy is, or should be, in action. Democracy, it must be stressed, cannot be expressed in mystic contemplation or celestial melodies. It neither stops at the ballot box nor confined to prescriptive ideals on paper. It encompasses a wide range of ideas, principles and practices. Thus to claim that one is a democrat only to be idiosyncratic about the concept is to be farcical about one’s political values.
In the grand scheme of things, the claim by the critics that Kiir’s speech on the day prior to December 15 was partly to blame for the violence that would later ensue is not, so to speak, sustainable. Even a lay person would have come to the conclusion that Kiir’s ‘bad speech’ could not rationally be reciprocated with violence. This is a simple proportionality principle.
Another way by which Riek Machar’s reaction to President Kiir’s speech serves to undermine his own political ideals lies in his hostile attitude towards the natural effects of competitive politics, especially his attempt to switch off his mind from irreversible facts of history. Kiir’s speech in general and his reference to the 1991 events was an expression of a historical reality. That is to say, what he said did not sprout out of thin air, for no one needs to be reminded that the speech was essentially political, and practically underscored the nature of a competitive political system where one of the best ways to knock out a political competitor is to highlight his or her Achilles heel (political vulnerabilities), whether historical or current (as long as it is not based on fiction, ad hominem, slander or libel).
Thirdly, and most importantly, the party which bears the moral standing to draw a ‘red line’ or place a moratorium on the 1991 events is not the perpetrator but the victims or survivors of those heinous massacres. There is no gainsaying that Riek was the chief perpetrator of those massacres. Yet what is even more striking about the contention of those who claim that President Kiir’s speech depicts Riek in a bad light by reason of the former’s specific reference to the 1991 genocide is that they seem to care more about the feelings and well-being of the perpetrator rather than his victims. Only in South Sudan are political criminals allowed to sit in judgment over their own political equities and granted unfettered latitude to dictate the terms of the political process. Need I mention that this is why we are in this mess?
By and large, the claim by the critics that Kiir’s speech on the day prior to December 15 was partly to blame for the current violence is not a reasoned exposition.
If anything, President Kiir can and must be feted for one thing: that is, despite his reactionary attitude at the outset of the conflict, he has, by far, remained the more composed warring party principal. This conflict could have easily transformed into a full-blown genocide but for the fact that President Kiir has consistently remained reasonable throughout the conflict. In other words, unlike Mr. Riek, Kiir has not portrayed this conflict as a war between Dinka and Nuer. It is for this very reason that Kiir has managed to steer the nation away from the brink of genocide and from an imminent collapse. The idea that this is a war between Dinka and Nuer, when thousands of Nuers are living side by side with their Dinka hosts in Lakes, Warrap and Aweil states is a total distortion of reality. It could have been worse if Kiir had responded to Riek’s battle cry.
This is not to say that Mr. Kiir is a better President than any of his political nemeses. Glaring evidence abounds that since 2005, the President has acted in a way that does not only encourage but in fact perpetuates the reign of ethnic cleavages. This has inevitably sown the seeds of popular discontent and resentment against his government. A look at the numbers of those holding government or diplomatic jobs manifestly paints a picture of a president whose thoughts have not been about the well-being of his country but his own home turf. Furthermore, under Kiir, mega corruption after another has become a new normal. This demonstrates that acts of unjust enrichment and thievery have basically become normal form of acquiring wealth.
Thus, as opposed to the collegial style for which he was previously reputed, Kiir management style is increasingly becoming dictatorial. The grassroots groups have been undoubtedly alienated if not entirely relegated to the status of villagers whose voice does not count, hence have no voice in how they are or should be governed. That is why many feel as if they are third class citizens in a country whose freedom and independence they bravely bled and died for.
But for who? Politicians? For this paper, it is certainly a yes, for politicians. This is self-explanatory. For SPLM’s vested interest, the engine of management of national affairs is unreasonably vested in the presidency. While some is vested in party organs such as Political Bureau, National Liberation Council, National Assembly and Council of Ministers, all of these bodies, for obvious reasons, are subservient to the presidency and essentially serve as mere rubber stamps for presidential edicts. Kiir has also held the SPLM hostage, blocking every possible efforts for reforms and directing it at his own will.
Among others, these indicia of political ineptness, on the part of the President and his Government officials, have conspicuously provided ammunition to those who—though have principally played the same game alongside the President throughout the last decade—are now agitating for reforms of a system that they have unconscionably looted for the entire duration of a decade, since 2005. This is why the period starting from 2005 has been a decade of betrayal, thievery, plunder and above all, grand scale corruption to the tune of billions of dollars. All under President Kiir’s watch. And yet, he still wants us to trust him with the future of our country? Give us a break, Mr. President.
Political Future: President Kiir appears to have little or no popularity with the international community. He does not probably connect well with them. They see him as a man who only occupies a seat with which he has no clue what to do. Internally Kiir has lost touch (or never had one) with the people. Popular demands are trashed. Only men with guns and kingmakers matter to him. In places such as Maban, Kachibo, Biemnom, just to mention but a few, the standards of living have worsened than they were prior to 2005. Ordinary people have no sense of direction because they see no leadership that inspires public confidence and capacity to provide economic security for themselves and their families. They have no hope and no sense of care coming from the so-called leaders. They see the current violence as a struggle over leadership, a violence engineered by politicians for the purpose of scheming their way back into power.
Specifically, in light of the fact that thousands of lives have been lost unnecessarily under Kiir’s watch, it has reasonably been opined that Kiir has permanently tainted his image and has certainly lost moral legitimacy to govern. In lieu of true democracy ( and I may add, we are not there yet and it should not be rushed anyway), his best bet is to choose someone to replace him, preferably someone who is not in either of the three camps but one who has the welfare of the nation at heart.
Given the nature of the conflict, the above comments may be viewed as impractical, for Kiir is probably torn between choosing either of two critical decisions: resigning (to save some tinge of his legacy) or hanging in there (to avoid the symbolic fear of defeat). Moreover, Kiir may be apprehensive that his resignation could later be framed by his political nemeses that he left as a result of his ultimate defeat. By reasonable accounts, this is something that could later serve as a major symbolic victory to the rebels. Thus if he chooses to hang around, his political adversaries will have nothing to brag about but much to the detriment of the people with whom he must advisably side, all through to the end of his leadership.
Whatever the case, a leader’s legacy is not just a historical trail of one’s leadership but a collective historical experience of the people under his or her rule. This includes the idea that, in order to be a decorated symbol on famed pages of history, one must have served the people for a cause greater than himself or herself.
This follows that if Kiir chooses to appreciate his symbolic fear (by holding on to the throne) rather than offering himself up for the collective interest of his people (by resigning), he is likely to be relegated to the footnotes of the dreadful part of our history, that I can guarantee. Consequently, he and his family may lose their bragging rights arising from his erstwhile contribution to the struggle. That is why Kiir and his advisors must hurry to save some of what is left of his legacy. After all he is no longer popular, if he ever was. His loyal advisors should tell him right in his face that is not popular. Loyal service means serving honestly: telling the truth, no matter how bitter [or unpopular]. Kiir has long falsely thought that he is popular. He is not. He better know this.
We are kindly asking you to please give us our country, Mr. President. If you listen to my honest advice, then write to me privately and I will help you with the outline of a plan of what things you may want to do before retiring at quite a comfortably home, where you and your family will be safe at any place, may be even more places, of your convenient choice.
(ii) Riek Machar
By political mischief, deliberate personal design or outright superstition, Riek Machar has historically portrayed himself as a man fit for the highest political office in South Sudan. This insatiable desire for power as an end in itself is even more compounded by his tendency to elect any means necessary, even if it means doing so on the corpses of his supporters and foes alike.
That is why what happened on December 15 last year—whether it was a result of his own political scheming or a trap by his false sense of popular support—may not be surprising to many, given that, as mentioned previously, the man at the centre of it all is an individual who is notorious for electing even the most impairing undertakings to achieve political power.
The knotty issue that most observers are yet to come to grips with is what Riek is really fighting for at this moment. This confusion is even more aggravated by how he loosely frames his case for the rebellion, starting with what role he played in what began on December 15, 2013.
So we begin with the point that, a few hours after the events of that unforgettable December day had begun, Riek’s personal spokesman, James Gatdet Dak, said his Boss was safe and sound in Juba. On December 17, Riek said he was in hiding, running for his dear life. But on December 18, having secretly left Juba (either on the 15 or another day), Riek fully disclosed the launch of a new rebellion, and declared Kiir as an illegitimate President. As well, he called upon the army to overthrow the President. Then a few days later, he claimed that the war was imposed on him and that he was fighting in self-defense. To add more confusion to lack of purpose as to his rebellion, Riek conversely told Ajak Chiengkou on the latter’s SBS Dinka Radio show (based in Australia), that he was fighting because President Kiir had specifically targeted Nuer in Juba.
When one separates the wheat from the chaff, what reveals itself is that Riek’s framing, or his justification for the war for that matter, is plainly and manifestly riddled with irreconciliable inconsistencies. One would have thought that Riek who is or ought to be cognizant of the enormous onus placed upon him by the weight of history, would have reacted differently if he was not truly involved in plotting the overthrow of the Government. That is, if he was not part of the coup or mutiny, whatever the case, it would have been much to his advantage to dissuade his armed supporters to cease and desist from violence. He could also have stayed indoors or surrendered, just like former political detainees, who were rallying behind or alongside him prior to December 15, did.
Riek’s immediate support for the rebellion after blatantly denying involvement in the coup had served to bolster the Government’s unverified account that he had something to do with it. This has had the efficacy of ruling out Riek’s contention that he was fighting in self-defence or the idea that the war was imposed on him. If either was the case, then the first line of his argument would have been about the need for the government to ensure his safety as a condition for abandoning the rebellion. But that has not been the case. Besides his case for self-defence and/or imposed war, he has recently added the illusion of fighting for democracy (or in his own style, “demkuracy”).
The concept of self-defence, properly understood in its legal context, is a complete defence that serves to justify a defendant’s action or omission, hence no legal accountability when the case for it is fully made out, provided force used is adjudged necessary to deflect the danger in question. Furthermore, as a general principle, self-defence is available in circumstances of an ongoing or imminent peril. It is thus a settled legal rule that self-defence is not available when the threat or danger that would have triggered the invocation of the principle has passed.
In our context therefore, Riek’s case for violence against the state does not appear to be one of self-defence. That is, Riek had escaped from the epicenter of, arguably, his then anticipated physical danger (Juba) when he declared the launch of his malign rebellion. In a nutshell, this cannot be called self-defence nor imposed war. Riek chose to impose the war on South Sudan. That is incontestable.
As regards his claim that he is fighting because the President arguably ordered the killings in Juba, one is left to wonder if the best way of obtaining justice for the Juba victims is by means of war in the form of rebellion against the state. Rather than succumbing to the emotional appeal for violence by his bellicose supporters, Riek, as a political leader and a highly educated individual (being a holder of a Ph.D. in Strategic Management and Planning), is better placed to design (if he thinks it is his responsibility or has the necessary legal competence to do so) a more rational approach to the case for justice for the victims.
Since Riek has chosen violence as a remedy, the question is whether it is really justice of any kind to answer one set of egregious crimes with yet another. There is no philosophical or legal basis for the contention that vengeance or revenge, as a strategy, is rationally connected to the cause of pursuing justice for the victims of the Juba massacre. And here is why.
First, in choosing violence as a remedy for injustice, Riek has irrationally chosen to target and kill any person who happens to be of an ethnic descent other than that of those killed in Juba. This implies killing the wrong people; persons who may not have anything to do with the killing in Juba. This leaves a lot to be desired in the leadership skills of Riek Machar. Riek should have known that justice is served when a guilty mind is held accountable for the consequence of its wrongful action—the physical evidence of a criminal act for which justice ought and must be rendered. That is why a minor or an insane person cannot be criminally prosecuted as he or she lacks the mental element necessary for the allocation of guilt.
This follows that, in order to be found responsible for any of the Juba killings, one would have had to have the requisite intent to commit such an act or series of such acts. This means that those who were killed outside Juba (civilians in Bentiu, Bor, Pariang, Baliet, Malakal, Akobo or Renk) as a result of Riek’s decision should not have been killed because they could not have been found to be responsible for the physical consequence (actus rea), let alone the necessary mental element (mens rea), to commit the said Juba crimes.
Second, by killing more people as a “judicial” remedy for the Juba victims, Riek has chosen to go against the grain of the philosophy of his own cause: accountability for wrongdoing. Such a reasoning is highly impoverished, since a wrong for wrong does not make right, so goes the sage. That is to say, you cannot remedy a wrongdoing by means of another wrongdoing. Self-evidently, however, Riek’s philosophy travels backwards, maintaining that a wrong-for-wrong approach would rather be the genius of his rebellion. This is a roundabout way of thinking, if not senseless. To declare a rebellion as a means of rendering justice for the Juba victims is so absurd that it may not be improper to argue that, in designing this “judicial remedy,” Riek had taken leave of his natural senses. Such a philosophical rationale, if can be referred to as such, is defective in all respects.
Finally, one of Riek’s outstanding inconsistencies in relation to his alleged democratic credentials is his excessive desire for more control through the concentration of powers. This is evident in his proposal for a power-sharing deal with the President. In his proposal to the IGAD Mediators, Riek makes the peaceful settlement of the conflict contingent upon a power-sharing deal that not only appears to divide powers equally between him and the President but only allocates to himself powers that patently exceed the authority of the President, Vice President or Prime Minister. He, for instance, proposes that he, as Prime Minister, should exercise the power to “appoint undersecretaries of the ministries as well as head of public corporations and executive directors of commission.” This appears to be a major contradiction in terms, especially for a man who claims, and rightly so, that the Constitution inordinately concentrates all powers in the hands of the President.
Let us face it. If Riek is a democrat who believes in fair dispensation of political power to multiple centers of authority, then his desire to be vested with the above powers, if anything, serves to perpetuate the status quo. It substantially negates the idea that concentration of political power in the hands of a few is a manifest wanton disregard for shared and collegial governance.
At the moment, the authority to appoint undersecretaries is constitutionally vested in the presidency, which would (if a deal is reached) include the President, Vice President, Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Ministers. But the appointment of executive directors of public corporations, like other public servants, inheres in the relevant ministers. For instance, the Executive Director of Nile Pet (the ministry which Riek appears to be disguisedly targeting) must be appointed by the Minister of Mining and Petroleum, not the President, Vice President or Prime Minister. Riek’s demand to be vested with such appointing authority demonstrates a clear case for a disconnect between democratic principles and professed compliance with the ideals he claims to hold. But this is why Riek is fighting. It is all about power and wealth.
Future: Riek’s political encumbrances are inexhaustible. This paper is, thus, not interested in providing a litany of those encumbrances, as any attempt to do so would be unsufficing. In passing, however, there is no harm in briefly stating that, the odds are perennially stuck against Riek Machar and no amount of public washing of his soiled linen will do anything to redeem his political image or undo his moral damnation. The genesis of his fate goes back to the days of the struggle when, for the first time, he chose to betray the people of South Sudan and embarked on butchering many innocent people for the sheer lust for power. This was a drastic twist of fate for a man whose political ambition has long been driven by the illusion of Ngundeang prophecy—the oracle that a left-handed man, a scion of Teny-dhurgon, would be the chieftain of an independent South Sudan, all through violence. Riek delusively took that to heart, only to realize that after such a violent enterprise, he has permanently sealed his fate and relegated himself to, generally speaking, mere irrelevancy. That is to say, he has zero chances of becoming a president for which he is killing people.
Although his chances for securing the presidency are practically nil, Riek may still hang around, pushing for some reforms such as federalism which would give Nuer (who perceive being dominated by the Dinka) the opportunity for greater local authority to run their own affairs without interference from the central authority. That is a legitimate demand and must be accepted. But can happen only if he accepts the power-sharing deal. If he does not and insists on the separation of two armies or non-executive presidency, the war may persist on. That is, without a peace deal, Riek will never give up the war, and many more people will die. Many more will flee from South Sudan.
Yet at the time of this writing, Riek’s rebellion appears to have no military capacity to win the war. Only our innocent Nuer youths are helplessly dying just to install an illusionary president, a president that will never be. Even by long odds, his chances practically sum up to naught. What it is also true is that Kiir will not win the war militarily. So just as he never won the war over Yau Yau, so will the case be with Riek’s. All the while, the South Sudanese parents who labour hard to bear and raise their sons only to be butchered on the altar of political greed will continue to bear the brunt of this hopeless war.
To conclude on Riek’s political future, Riek will not be entirely irrelevant. It should be stressed that the vast majority of Riek’s supporters (like most South Sudanese) are exclusively uninformed. Admittedly, as long as Riek continues to use his Ngundeang card in politics, he still has the potential to wield an enormous amount of political influence on a limited scope and environment. After all, they say all politics is local. The good news is that no one is opposed to his Ngundeangism. He can have as much of that superstition as he desires, as long as he does not use Ngundeang inspired violence to destabilize the nation.
Part II: The Lieutenants: Principal Executors of War.
This part deals with those who have played an important role or are generally blamed by either side for lethally executing the war at the behest of their principals (Kiir and Riek). Whatever the case, here is what some may have been thinking about them.
(i) Paul Malong Awan Anei.
Lt. General Paul Malong Awan has, in recent months, become the face of the Government’s broad crackdown on rebels, following his appointment as the General Chief of Staff. Gen. Malong—described by BBC James Copnall as a “ruthless” and a “natural fighter” who bears more than ten scars of bullets wounds, all of which he sustained during the war of liberation—was the Governor of Aweil State until his appointment in April this year. A longtime ally of President Kiir, Gen. Malong replaced the former Chief of Staff, Lt. General James Hoth Mai, another decorated SPLA general whose handling of the conflict from its outset saw the Government sustain major losses to the rebels in the battle fields. In appointing Gen. Malong as Chief of Staff, President Kiir appeared to have sent unmistakable and uncompromising military signals to the rebels who at the time were beating their chests in an apparent show of might.
To prove his worth, Gen. Malong, just within days of his appointment, demonstrated that his appointment was indeed a major boon and boost to the army which subsequently scored unprecedented successes over the rebels. The rebels have since been largely consigned to mere hide-out pockets within the Greater Upper Nile region. This has situated Gen. Malong right at the front-centre of this violence, making him the subject of acrimonious talks both within and outside South Sudan.
One would be remiss not to add that that even though the fascination with and loathe for Gen. Malong intensified after his appointment, there are those who see his role as going back to the very first day of the conflict , that is, even before he was appointed as Chief of Staff. For instance, in their interviews with the SBS Dinka Radio Program, a number of the so-called former detainees and rebel officials have adversely mentioned him as being part of the crisis, and have in fact accused him of personally “directing an ethnic militia that carried out killings in Juba at the beginning of this conflict.”
This begets a fundamental enquiry: what was the substantive involvement of Gen. Malong in the Juba killings? What, in particular, did Gen. Malong do in Juba on the night of December 15? Was he on a legitimate visit to Juba at the time or was he there to execute the alleged Government plot to violently purge the party of President Kiir’s political nemeses, as often sung by some rebels? These are some of the licit questions that cannot be easily wished away.
It is important, however, to add that this was not Gen. Malong’s first visit to Juba. As such, any attempt to link his presence in Juba with the plot of violence would likely suffer the irrelevance of speculation. This explains why we may never know the answers to some, if not all, the questions about Gen. Malong Awan Anei’s role in relation to the genesis of the crisis.
Whatever the reader’s leaning or persuasion might be, everyone who is concerned or personally affected by this conflict might have his or her own opinion or come across different views as to Gen. Malong’s role in this war. But just like the nature of this conflict, such views are bifurcated while some are outright laden with conspiracy theories. As well, others think of Gen. Malong as merely a lightning rod for the Government’s mishandling of the crisis from the start.
For the rebels, the presence of Gen. Malong in Juba and his alleged participation in the security operations that took place in Juba on the first and later battles even before his coronation as Chief of Staff is a positive proof that the idea of the coup, as argued by the Government, was a long term plan by President Kiir and his allies to silence his critics and adversaries alike. The rebels, thus, argue that the coup narrative was a blatant fabrication, an orchestration by the Government to cover up their covert plot to get rid of all Kiir’s political adversaries. Accordingly, it is contended that Gen. Malong was charged with the responsibility to target a particular ethnic group which appeared to throw its support behind President Kiir’s chief political rival, Riek Machar.
To the rebels, therefore, Malong’s presence in Juba on December 15, 2013, serves as a circumstantial evidence for the Government’s long term plan not just to liquidate political enemies but also to frustrate any call for political reforms and democratization of political structures, which Riek ostensibly appeared to champion.
Yet as Adwok’s version seems to suggest, and by the rebels’ own implicit admission, the “mutineers” were the first to fire the bullet that ultimately instigated the crisis that started with their capture and control of the SPLA General HQs (Ghiada) and their brief control of the SPLA command centre at Bilpam.
The second and more plausible explanation in relation to Malong’s presence in Juba at the time of the crisis was that, as members of the National Liberation Council (NLC), all governors and their state delegations, by right, were in Juba to take part in the meeting which had started two days prior to the day the conflict began. This does not, however, explain why Malong could have gotten involved, if any, in the security operations on that unfortunate day. This leads us to the last point, which is probably the most plausible case for Malong’s presence in Juba and why he might have gotten involved in the botched security operations in the capital.
More reliable insider sources seem to suggest that the appointment of Gen. Malong as Chief of Staff had long been planned to take place in as early as June or July of 2013, way before the beginning of crisis. But because President Kiir wanted to avoid the synchrony of having the cabinet reshuffle and replacement of security chiefs, the President reportedly decided to delay Gen. Malong’s appointment for a later date, slated to be December, 2013. This may explain why Malong was in Juba at the time and probably got involved in the conflict from the outset.
Whatever the case might be, the readers, as mentioned previously, are better placed to make their own determination based on what version they believe in or is more plausible to them and how, so far, the parties have conducted themselves during this conflict.
The conflict has probably helped Gen. Malong’s image as one of indomitable military figures and has boosted his political future in quite subtle ways. For this reason, Malong does not appear to be a loser but a winner in the wider sense, that is, in terms of credibility, authority and leadership abilities, all of which are front-centre and important condiments for popular perception.
(ii) Taban Deang Gai—The Elephant in the Room
Most non-South Sudanese have not probably given much thought about Taban Deang Gai, the former Governor of Western Upper Nile state, who many had long viewed (though erroneously) as one of the most important allies of President Kiir. As well, many South Sudanese do not have adequate information as to the critical role Taban has been playing in this conflict and what his political, if not ethnic, motivations are.
But as argued in The New Sudan Vision publication on “Kiir or Riek…,” Taban and Kiir have never and will never be any each other’s confidantes. Rather, the professed alliance or outward sense of friendship that had duped many into believing in their political camaraderie was fraught with falsity from the start. Taban’s and Riek’s interests have never been inseparable, for both have long had conceived the project of building an empire at the expense of others. There is, therefore, sufficient evidence, hence, little room for doubt, that in the Kiir-Taban alliance, Taban was using the opportunity for:
scheming from the inside as a member of Kiir’s inner circle. His strategic maneuvers gave a semblance of an image of a trust worthy partner, earning him a prominent position in the inner most part of Kiir’s political coterie (an exclusive club that determines who is who in the GoSS) and became privy to virtually anything and everything that was said and done. This privilege gave him an unprecedented access to the centre of power [and] to study the mindset of Kiir, his [Kiir’s professed] philosophy, and weaknesses, all of which were slated to be used later against him [Kiir].
It was also stressed that Taban:
is a man whose heart, mind and soul have utterly been consumed by his insatiable lust for [political] power, domination and wealth, all of which he is determined to acquire by any means necessary and at all cost, including material inducement, deceit, threat, and fabrication of any situation that would entice [the granting party] to believe him and support his cause….For Taban, [thus], the end justifies the means.
This basically explains Taban’s involvement in this war. It explains why he was able to sign a unilateral and clandestine pact (which ceded the Aliiny region, including Panthou and Roor e Lou) with Governor Haruun of Southern Kordofan in 2008 without attracting the wrath of the then regional Government of Southern Sudan. It is these traits that also explain how Taban was able to deploy the Darfur’s Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) at ‘his own cost’ (obviously taxpayer’s) during his reign as Governor of Western Upper Nile without explicit authority of and consent from the then Government of Southern Sudan.
So who is Taban?
Taban Deang Gai was born to a South Sudanese Mother, Nyakek Lam, and a northern Sudanese man, Mohamed Hassan, both of whom have passed on (may they rest in peace). It is far from clear when his Mother passed away but sources are confident that his Father, Mohamed Hassan, died in 2010.
Taban completed his intermediate education in 1980 and served as a teacher in Bentiu until he joined the SPLM/A in 1983. He allegedly completed his degree in political science by correspondence at the University of Khartoum in 2007.
Given that there is no official and sufficient information available on much of his background, it is difficult to provide a better perspective of who Taban was, how the conditions of his upbringing might have shaped (informed) his values or what role he played after graduating from SPLA officer cadet in 1984, in Ethiopia. As well, there are conflicting accounts as to the rank with which Taban was commissioned upon graduating from the said SPLA officer cadet in 1984. Some sources suggest that he was first commissioned with the rank of 1st Lt. Others say he was commissioned with the rank of 2nd Lt, and that he briefly served as an adjutant (executive officer) to Commander Wal Athiau in early 1980s.
Whatever the case, Taban was commissioned and dispatched to the front line in 1984. By 1988, the then Chairman of the SPLM and C-in-C of the SPLA, Chairman John Garang appointed him (for lack of a better term) as Manager of Itang Refugee Camp, till 1990.
It was in Itang that Taban was allegedly engaged in a series of questionable moral dramas, the notable of which was the twin sex scandal involving two female members of the same family. The case was later settled by Chairman Garang following Taban’s return to the SPLM/A from Khartoum, in 2001.This is where it all began.
But any discussion involving Taban must begin from where all forms of treachery as a signature of his political enterprises, started. Taban was one of the Nasir Coup architects in 199. As well, he was one of those who signed the debased 1995 Khartoum Peace Agreement between the Nasir Coup Group (led by Riek Machar) and Bashir’s NIF Government. The two parties became partners in the execution of genocides and Islamic terrorism on the people of South Sudan, Nuba Mountains and Blue Nile in the 1990s. By 1997, Taban had been crowned the Governor of Western Upper Nile under Bashir, a post which he held until 2001when he, irreconcilably, fell out with Gen. Matip Nhial. Matip was then a notorious warlord and a point-man in accomplishing most Islamist projects of the military junta of al-Bashir.
As a consequence, Taban had to leave not only Bentiu but also Khartoum, having to run for his dear life from Gen. Matip’s well-funded security operatives in Bentiu and Khartoum. It was at this point that Taban joined the SPLM/A in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, and made all sorts of ill-mouthing about his misgivings for Riek Machar, his usually way of using others as stepping-stones to secure an advantage and build new alliances.
After the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) that peacefully settled the conflict between then the southern and northern regions of the Sudan, Matip Nhial decided to jump ship and made alliance with President Kiir who, as a result, made Matip a Deputy C-in-C of the SPLA.
The shrewd Taban saw the Kiir-Matip alliance as too ominous a development. It was therefore in his best interest to appear to be on the same side as Kiir, fearing that being in opposite camps with Gen. Matip Nhial would spell doom for his political future, a bane over which he had to strategise to avoid, at all cost, even at the expense of his best friend, Riek Machar. Soon enough, Taban, who knows how to well play his cards, was made the Governor of Western Upper Nile state, a post which he held till he was fired by President Kiir in 2012.
Gen. Matip, in turn, benefited immensely from the Kiir-Taban “holly alliance,” especially from Taban’s constant floods of liquid cash, generally flowing from the 2% oil revenues allocated to oil producing states. This strategic tripartite union was a win-win outcome for all parties and served to provide lucrative incentives for each side to observe their part of the pact. Yet in all practical sense, Taban’s heart and mind had often been with and for Riek Machar, the oracular scion of Ngundeang and the reigning invincible czar of the Nuer politics.
Taban is not an uninformed political strategist. He knew that his alliance with Kiir was a road to nowhere because it was built on sand. As it was its destiny, this house of cards came tumbling down when the incentives that enticed the parties and pillared its foundations buckled at the weight of political machination. The turning point of its demolition followed Taban’s summary dismissal by the principal contractor: Kiir.
Taban’s sacking from his gubernatorial position came as a major surprise to him, having long thought that he had duped his way into the position and would remain there, insofar as Kiir remained the Man On the Throne. This may well be a reasonable expectation given that he had remained the Governor of Western Upper Nile state since 2005, despite the fact that numerous governors (as many as four) had come and gone in other states. In fact reliable sources confide that Taban was given assurances that he would leave if and only if he had been appointed as finance minister or minister of mining and petroleum or be made the SPLM party’s Secretary General in place of Pagan Amum. But after the cabinet reshuffle of July, 2013, Taban who had been removed from position earlier was not in the cabinet, let alone having been considered for either of his preferred cabinet positions.
This outcome begot the mother of all hell. Individuals who spoke on condition of anonymity maintain that Taban had never imagined himself living a life of a private citizen. This was unimaginable to him especially that, after many years at the realm of the state, he had made many enemies particularly at the state level, notably the Bul Nuer and Dinka of that state whom he had unconscionably marginalized and whose land (Dinka’s) he had grabbed and transformed into personal property. This includes having built his mansion at Manga and turned Maper forest into a personal commercial farming zone without permission or consent from the community.
But having been part of Kiir’s inner circle, and having learned how Kiir had over and over again favoured militia after militia, Taban unmistakably understood that Kiir had a soft a spot for those who employ the threats or use of force. As a result, reliable sources maintain that he allegedly began to conspire with his perennial ally, Riek Machar, plotting ways of getting back into the government by any means.
According to security sources, Taban clandestinely conspired with certain military leaders to stage a coup. One of their lay supporters said to be a security guard at an ammunition store at Ghiada was reportedly asked to secure the keys to the store, so that it would be easier for other supporters to access arms on the “D-Day.” The scheme was, nevertheless, allegedly intercepted and the subject guard ultimately arrested.
This explains why Taban was adversely mentioned in the criminal proceedings of the four of the “coup suspects” by some suspects themselves and by Gen. Mac Paul, one of the prosecution’s chief witnesses. Mac claimed that he was surprised why Taban would ask for the release of the arrested soldier when the case was being dealt with on administrative grounds for which Taban had no reason to get involved or was privy to.
While the author cannot verify the authenticity of such claims, sources in the Government allege that Taban not only began to plot plans for coup as soon as the reshuffle was concluded but was indeed the directing mind throughout the whole during of the botched coup operations that night. They also allege that the coup was slated to be carried out on a day other than December 15 and that the December 15 coup was carried out prematurely when its plotters came to realize that postponing it for a later day would rather be too little too late.
Whether there is any legal basis to support this contention remains intangible, since the Government itself has miserably failed to provide any evidentiary basis to maintain the case against the four suspects whose prosecution, to the relief of many, was later terminated and charges dropped because the state could not prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt standard.
What must be unmistakably noted is that Taban Deang Gai is not an insignificant player in this conflict. He has provided enormous personal and borrowed resources to ensure its vicious continuation. Precisely, besides Dhieu Mathok, Taban’s personal intent to prosecute the war with an unimaginable ferocity became even clearer in the leaked minutes of the meeting of the Sudan’s Security Council meeting in Khartoum where the two men asked for heavy weapons and other logistical support to defeat South Sudan’s Government, or otherwise, capture and annex the Greater Upper Nile region to the Sudan. Furthermore, the latest conflict in Bentiu is said to have been masterminded by Taban who reportedly was in Aliiny/Panthou to personally oversee the preparations for the battle. His ultimate goal was to ensure that Bentiu was under the control of the armed opposition forces so that they can later claim an entitlement to the position of the governor (expected to be Taban himself).
Taban is thus a cold calculator, probably South Sudan’s most cunning, iniquitous and capricious political figure who would rather that people die to keep him in power. His contribution to this conflict has been and should indeed be derided far and wide.
Future: Taban’s political future is uncertain. But in a country where killers are lionized and decorated as heroes; where cunningness or first class thieves are considered good politicians, one may not unerringly predict the future of certain political actors. So specifically, Taban’s political future is contingent upon how he will handle this crisis moving forward. Obviously, he cannot be entertained by the Bul Nuer. And if his future political interest is at the state level, he will have to find ways to amend with that powerful community. Bull is a large constituency which he can choose to ignore at his own peril. The Dinka of Western Upper Nile currently no longer have an interest in sharing the state with the Nuer, hence may not play an important role in determining Taban’s political fate. Should the status quo be the case, then Taban might well be advised to never claim or settle on a Dinka area unless he does so upon receiving a title deed from Pariang. Aside from that, Taban is a political mutant who is adept at finding where his bread is well buttered. With his wealth and the tendency to buy his way into office, his chances of returning to a position of authority and influence are not naught. If his interest is at the federal level, then the burden is on his side. By a long short, Taban may have to find ways to restore broken trust and make friends or amend with kingmakers from across the country. This will not be an easy task. Over all, there are reasonable grounds to believe that Taban may return to politics. But he may not be as powerful and influential as he once was. The bitterness that this conflict has sown among communities will live long to haunt many a politician for generations.
Part III: Foreign Actors and Former Political Detainees
It is not in the interest of this paper to explore why foreign actors have been implicated in this war. It is, however, important to mention in a dictum that the current conflict has taken intriguing and intricate dimensions, partly as a result of direct invitations by the principal parties to it and partly as a result of unilateral responses of foreign actors whose interests are indirectly affected by the war. This is the basis upon which the intervention of the Ugandan People’s Defence Forces (UPDF)—which the Uganda Government initially claimed to be part of its efforts to safely secure the evacuation of its citizens in South Sudan at the time—can be explained. A few weeks later, however, the UPDF’s direct involvement in this local confrontation was too obvious place under the carpet.
There is also a mountain of evidence that the rebels have often secured direct support (in terms of both logistics and man-power) from the Sudanese Government. Khartoum has often denied such accusations, though it did obtusely admit so in the past. In a reverse course, the South Sudanese Government has consistently accused its arch-enemy of supporting rebellions and subversive activities on its soil (even before Riek’s rebellion). Meanwhile, the South Sudanese rebels under Riek Machar have consistently accused the Sudanese rebel group, the Sudan Revolution Front (RPF) of fighting alongside the South Sudanese troops. Facts or fictions?
b. United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS): A Parallel Government?
The UN Mission in South Sudan is, perhaps, the most important international actor whose direct role has been visibly significant not simply because it is involved in supporting internally displaced persons or has directly lost some of its peace-keepers in this conflict but also because this institution has occasionally been accused by the Government of being overtly sympathetic to the rebels. The Government, for instance, once accused UNMISS of supplying weapons to the rebels and transporting rebel troops to various frontline locations. Even as recent as last week, President Kiir accused the former Head of the Mission (his most explicit and direct accusation yet), Hilda Johnson, of providing safe custody to the rebel Chief, Riek Machar, on December 15 and personally aiding the latter’s escape from Juba, just two days before Riek launched his rebellion. While the Government has also been quick to point out that it has no issue with UNMISS as an institution or the United Nations as an organization, as opposed to specific individuals, the Government still views such interference by UNMISS personnel as a direct transgression on its sovereignty all under the guise of a “good shepherd.”
Yet sovereignty, it must be emphasized, is not an absolute right, since its enjoyment by the state is contingent upon that state’s observance of certain absolute (peremptory) norms, including its observance of certain core human rights values. Furthermore, when a state enters into an international (bilateral or multinational) agreements with other states, it impliedly consents to the infringement of its sovereignty to the extent or scope of those agreements. Hence, having acceded to the UN Charter and other important international legal instruments and having promised to abide by the norms provided therein, South Sudan has expressly agreed to be bound or subject to the obligations, policies and certain institutional values which, by their very nature, directly or indirectly, infringe upon its sovereignty.
Nevertheless, no state would naively agree to the infringement of its sovereignty without a quid pro quo. That is to say, all international agreements are fundamentally predicated on the principle of gives and takes, a typical characteristic inherent in all contractual agreements. This is what a modified concept of sovereignty is by modern standards.
Thus, while states do expressly or implicitly agree to the infringement of their sovereignty, they do not, as such, surrender their sovereign authority to international institutions (or their subsidiaries such as UNMISS) residing in the jurisdictions of sovereign states. This simply means that all international institutions or bodies, including UNMISS, must, without compromising the sanctity of their mandate, submit to the authority of the states in whose jurisdictions they are legally permitted to operate.
Under Hilda Johnson, however, the apparent adverse role of UNMISS could have led the Government to conclude that UNMISS was in fact running a “parallel Government” in South Sudan. Viewed objectively, it may not be unreasonable to see why such an assessment was not without merit, considering especially that on various occasions, the former Head of UNMISS had had to make what the Government had deemed as confrontational statements to the media, often in a press conference, a forum in which comments are vulnerable to being taken out of contexts. This UNMISS approach was generally seen as having the effect of undermining the competence of the Government of President Kiir, an approach which might have played well into political conduits advantageous to the “enemies of the state.” To the Government then, UNMISS was perceived as an institution that holds it itself out as a government on its own or, generally, as a mouth-piece of the West which has increasingly become adversarial to President Kiir.
Besides media statements, there have been reports that the Sudan Peoples’ Liberation Army (SPLA) had captured UNMISS vehicles from the rebels. Such vehicles were reportedly used to transport rebel troops or used by rebels to mount heavy weapons. The explanation by UNMISS that the vehicles were confiscated or commandeered by the rebels, did not alleviate the Government suspicion as to UNMISS’s complicity (if not direct partnership) in the rebellion, particularly when UNMISS reacted angrily at the South Sudanese Information Minister’s attempt to enter an UNMISS compound (in Bor) harboring civilians. Concerns were raised as to why UNMISS remained mum on something as egregious as commandeering of its own vehicles and weapons for use in war. The disproportionality of the UNMISS discretion, having regard to the respective seriousness of the two acts, was manifestly biased to the rebels and against the Government, they said. All this and more have generated frosty relations between UNMISS and the Government of South Sudan.
Nevertheless, the level of trust between the two sides appears to be on the mend, following the replacement of the former Head of UNMISS, Ms. Johnson, by a new Head who is reportedly more down to earth and exclusively mandate bound, Ellen Margrethe Loej. That broken trust between the two might be getting even better is embodied by the recent admission by Ms. Loej, that UNMISS is indeed harbouring some opposition supporters and former soldiers who had defected from the army and that UNMISS was in possession of weapons surrendered to it by those defectors. Such a remarkable moment of candour may go a long way to mitigate the level of mistrust between the Government and UNMISS, as the former has never been convinced of the latter’s denial of harbouring rebels.
However, the Government’s claim cannot be sustained from a legal perspective. Anybody who has laid down his or her weapon and surrendered or, as in this case, taken refuge under the auspices of the UN is no longer a legitimate military combatant (target). Such a person is entitled to protection by law. This is why such labelling, even of our own people, could further confirm the popular contention that the South Sudanese Government is staffed with incompetent people who are not conversant with, even the most, basic international law principles, rules and policies, especially as they relate to the law of armed conflict.
What rather appears to be outlandish on the part of UNMISS is its insistence on its intent to destroy the weapons surrendered to it by former government soldiers who defected from the army and ran to UNMISS compounds for protection. In fact, at the time of this writing, there were reports that UNMISS had already destroyed those weapons.
Unless there is a provision in the Status of Forces Agreementproviding otherwise, there appears to be no authority in the international legal instruments, at least those that I know of, that would empower UNMISS to destroy those weapons. But if there was such a provision, one would be inclined to argue that the Government would have known about it and, therefore, would not be asking UNMISS to return the weapons in question.
These weapons are national assets of South Sudan whose proprietary interest is not extinguished by reason of the fact that they were surrendered by defected soldiers. In other words, the weapons were given to those soldiers for the sole purpose of protecting the sovereign interest of South Sudan and its laws. This implies that, by a default operation of the general property law, these weapons must escheat or revert to the state from the moment that those soldiers cease to be servants of the state. That is why, unless there are other residual international legal instruments from which UNMISS can infer its authority, destroying such weapons would appear ultra vires the UNMISS mandate.
c. Debate on the Possibility of Managing South Sudan as a Trust.
In context and content, the concept of Trust System under the United Nations substitutes its erstwhile parental notion, under the rubric, of the Mandate System espoused by the League of Nations which ceded to the UN in 1945/6.
In either case, the system is laden with racist and social Darwinian principles: the idea that the laws and principles of natural selection, as advanced by Charles Darwin, are also applicable to human beings.
According to these theory, a society develops from a primordial (primitive stage) to the most advanced one. Accordingly, people of European descent were deemed to be more developed and advanced than other human groups.
This erroneous understanding inevitably created a system of social hierarchy where people of Europeans descent were placed at the top as Native Americans and Africans scrambled for the nadir of that hierarchy.
Those who were viewed as less advanced, an Africans were, were basically considered to be incapable of managing their own affairs. As a consequence, their right to self-determination (the notion that a society has the right to determine its own social, political, cultural and economic destiny) was to be delayed until such time as they were deemed to have developed the mental faculty, capable of conceiving macro ideas of managing a nation (thought to involved a maze of ideas that frail minds like those deemed possessed by Africans would not be able to conceptualize).
This was the basis upon which the concept of UN trusteeship was disguisedly premised. The practical result was that states like Namibia (then South West Africa) which was subject to the German colonial rule until 1915, had had to be managed as a Mandate and later as a trust under the auspices of the Leagues and UN (trustee) respectively after the defeat of Germany.
But the mounting challenge to feigned European “superiority” by subjugated societies and their unextinguished yearn for self-determination led to the end of colonial ventures in Africa and Asia, bringing to an end the archaic idea of not only colonialism but the concept of trusteeship itself.
Thus, the floating notion that South Sudan could potentially be subject to trusteeship should ring alarm bells not just because of the inherent racist biase concealed by the concept but also because there is no legal basis for such a proposal. Even the most fundamental legal instrument for the UN’s existence (the Charter) cannot entertain the idea.
This is because South Sudan is a full Member State of the United Nations, making it the sole authority within its jurisdiction, subject to reasonable limits of course. As such, South Sudan is subject to no higher authority other than itself (the overriding decision of its peoples that is).
That there is no legal basis for subjecting a Member State to the obnoxious practice of trusteeship is provided for in the UN Charter Article 2 (7). This provision emphasizes the understanding that the domestic affairs of each Member State are sacrosanct. More importantly, the United Nations “Constitution” (known as the UN Charter) unambiguously provides in its Article 78 that “[t]he trusteeship system shall not apply to territories which have become Members of the United Nations, relationship among which shall be based on the respect for principle of sovereign equality” among the Organization’s Member States.
So where do those who suggest the possibility of managing South Sudan as a trust for its people, with UN as a trustee, find this authority? Who is the settlor of this will? People of South Sudan? Oh well we have not spoken yet, have we? What again is the the name of that former U.S. Ambassador who brought up the idea that continues to hover our heads?
My guess is that those flirting with this suggestion confuse the idea of humanitarian intervention with the derogatory idea of trusteeship or a protectorate for that matter. South Sudanese should never wish their country to be the subject of either form.
Whatever the case, the recent comment by the UN Secretary General should settle any lingering anxiety that our hard earned freedom might be handed over to some self-proclaimed “Messiah.” The future of South Sudan is up to South Sudanese who must be the masters of their own destiny.
(ii) The Group of 10—The Former Political Detainees
No meaningful discussion of violence in South Sudan can be complete without mentioning this group of individuals, as some of them have played a critical role (especially by reason of their hostile activities or statements prior to the start of the war) in the crisis that has continued to cripple the nation far beyond its borders. This group comprises exclusively of some of those who consider themselves “liberators” namely: 1. Dr. Majak d’ Agoot Atem, 2. Cirilo Hitang, 3. Kosti Manibe, 4. Madut Biar Yel, 5. John Luk Jok, 6. Chol Tong Mayay, 7. Gier Chuang Aluong, 8. Pagan Amum Okiech, 9. Deng Aloor Kuol, and 10. Oyai Deng Ajak.
Due to limited space, it is not possible to provide a comprehensive discussion on how each of these individuals has played a role in the conflict. Suffice to say, their contribution to the conflict cannot simply be wished away or consigned to the oblivion. That is why they should not be ignored.
Yes. As a group, their most important role started on December 6, 2013 when they held a public rally, allegedly as part of their efforts to encourage public dialogue, opening of political space and, more generally, reforms.
It is here acknowledged from the outset that public rallies, in and of themselves, are not contemptible. They are a legitimate way of creating political awareness and for encouraging the public to be involved in the political process. They are thus part of the regal idea of freedom of expression which is jealously protected by our laws and the (Transitional) Constitution. It was therefore within their constitutional right to engage the public in such an expressive activity.
What begot concerns in respect of the December Six Rally—and by extension those that were slated to be carried out a few days later—was the manner of their expressive activity (the rally), not the purported content of the rally itself.
To be a legitimate expressive activity, the rally should have steered clear of any loaded language that might have inadvertently painted a negative picture of a particular ethnic group. Depicting it that way might have led to an interpretation by their supporters it was a wedge between communities rather than as a battle of ideas. More precisely, unsynthesized certain oral comments, such as “the president has surrounded himself with ethnic advisors,” had unreasonably and unnecessarily raised political temperatures and dichotomized the “democratic” process as a struggle over a limited pie to be grabbed on the basis of ethnicity. It is this approach to politics that engenders the convoluted notion of “it is our turn to eat,” the root cause of all mega ills that have afflicted our nation under the leadership of this group, their former Boss (Kiir Miyardit) and their violence prone colleague, Riek Machar.
Another important role by this group that might have charged the political environment was their decision to abstain themselves from partaking in the NLC meeting that had begun on December 13. In addition to their previous rally, this collective decision, could have been interpreted by the Government as a prelude for a more dangerous political enterprise. This is because, in a politically fragile state, and ours being one, such a move is often interpreted as an attempt to take power from the backdoor. And that, we all know, is an illicit approach to politics.
The best thing this group could have done (even if they were protesting the manner of the conduct of the meeting, and were entitled to it) was to inform the Organizing Secretary as to their intent to abstain themselves and how they would be contacted and apprised, through official channels, especially as to the progress of the meeting which was supposed to continue for days. This might have dispelled the intensity of lingering suspicions of a coup plot.
However, let us face it. As mentioned previously, the contribution of some of the former political detainees to this conflict goes far back, especially months leading up to the conflict. The nature of some of those comments could precisely explain why the political atmosphere was starkly charged at the time of the NLC meeting.
For instance, following the suspension of Mr. Deng Aloor and Kosti Manibe from their ministerial dockets to pave way for investigation for alleged money laundering, Pagan Amum Okiech, the then SPLM Secretary General, came out furiously in defence of the two politicians and boldly declared that President Kiir’s decision to suspend them “was politically motivated” and that such a move would ultimately “lead to violence.” Such a statement was unfortunate if not entirely misplaced (at worst) and misleading (best).
In his capacity as President of the people’s Republic of South Sudan, President Kiir has an unfettered discretion to appoint people and remove them from the cabinet, even summarily so with or without cause.
As a principle of universal political convention, a president or a prime minister has the power to appoint and fire his or her cabinet ministers or secretaries, whichever the case may be, all at will. He or she may, for instance, dismiss a cabinet member who no longer shares his or her values or does not believe in the credibility of a government of which the critical member is a part. For instance, in December, 2014, the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, dismissed two of his cabinet ministers arguing that “during the last few weeks and, in particular, last few days, the [dismissed] ministers have intensely attacked the government that I am leading….I will not tolerate ministers attacking the government policy and he is inside the government.” In the same period of time, President Obama fired his Defence Secretary, Chuck Hagel, for being dismissive of the Obama administration’s ISIS strategy.
But none of these cabinet members was defended by their colleagues nor attempted to use force or threat of force to retain his/her position.
This is because, as a general principle, an appointment to the cabinet is a privilege, not a right. No one, as such, has a legitimate (legal or moral) expectation to serve in the cabinet since such appointees, like other civil servants, serve at the pleasure of their master or the appointing party, who in this case, is a president or a prime minister.
To treat South Sudan, therefore, differently from a universally accepted custom, political or legal convention and to invoke violence because the President—by powers legally vested in him—has dismissed cabinet members, is to be more mindful of the welfare of those cabinet members than that of the nation. It is needless to mention that the members in question were dismissed for cause.
Pagan’s response, therefore, was quite simplistic. Such a response demonstrates how the sense of entitlement, arrogance, apathy, indifference towards the welfare of the nation and lust for power, etc., have unconscionably consumed the thinking of the political elite and how these undesirable values have entrenched themselves in a way that may be very difficult to eradicate.
Ironically, as his party’s Secretary General, the same Pagan who has been sitting at the helm of the ruling Sudan Peoples’ Liberation Movement (SPLM) for nearly a decade since 2005, has the audacity to criticize the President when the party has been crumbling and rotting in his own watch, if not his making. The rot that one sees in the SPLM are attributable largely to him as the top administrator of that party.
Political Future: Nevertheless, it is important to add that Pagan Amum might come out of this conflict as a major winner by default. The main reason is that Pagan has, upon his release from detention, consistently struck a very reasonable approach to the conflict, all after he had helped spilt the milk, nevertheless. His subdued voice, his measured and cautious approach to the issues in his several media interviews, such as the one with the BBC or SBS Dinka Radio program, as well as his open letter that lashed out at both the Government and the SPLM/iO, could arguably be said to have been attuned to striking a populist appeal. These interviews portray a Pagan who is repentant and cognizant of the magnitude of human suffering that their collective political greed has unleashed on the country and its people. That is why his future is not bleak.
Another possible winner of the G-10 group in this conflict is John Luk Jok. This is because, although his voice is increasingly become more militant, his early statement to the media upon their arrival in Nairobi was quite reasonable and conciliatory. Luk’s comments reminded the President and the world at large that he and his colleagues were not enemies of President Kiir but rather friends and that it is possible to resolve such a misunderstanding through dialogue and tolerance.
Such pacifist views could be read as attesting to a true sense of leadership and represent a voice of a public servant who was/is aware of the repercussion and toxicity (especially as regards its impact on the conflict) of disparaging comments to the media. Hence, although Luk may have been hurting at the time and may well still be, he chose his country over his political interest.
That Luk would choose his country over his personal affliction was not surprising to some analysts who recall that it was Luk who stormed out from Riek’s Camp in 1995 after Riek decided to join forces with the Enemy, al-Bashir, in Khartoum. For this reason, some analysts believe that by acting this way, Luk might have secured for himself, a better future and respectable pages in the history notes of our country.
(i) South Sudan’s Political Future Under the Current Crop of Politicians
South Sudan is a nation besieged by political scavengers who, as a collectivity of unconscionable kleptocrats, have sworn to devour it. Their allegiance is not to the state and its people but to themselves and their families. This has made South Sudan a typical form of kleptocracy. That is how they have viewed and managed the state and its resources, since 2005. That is why they are all unarguably millionaires, said Mr. Ezekiel Lol Gatkuoth. They set up a warped system to suck the country and have, all through until their removal from the cabinet, enormously enriched themselves with the taxpayers money. This is unjust enrichment. It is tainted money.
Surprisingly, it is only when they were dismissed from the cabinet and detached from this parasitic system that they did come to realize, but all pretentiously, that the country was headed in the wrong direction. This makes their notorious agitation and clamour for reforms a mere political farce. This is an attempt to dupe the gullible public into believing their palpable and vexatious schemes. For all intents and purposes, their goal is all about the control of the national pie, because they surely know that if they control the state, they also control who gets what amount of the pie.
As long as the current crop of politicians is the one in control, people of South Sudan should expect the worst. Through mega corruption they will continue to squander, as they already have, billions upon billions of dollars without a single paved high way, schools, hospitals and viable income generating projects. This war, therefore, is all about them, their political positions and interests, considering that they have long been opposed to reforms.
It was them who collectively conspired against Hon. Minister Awut Deng Achuil, the former Minister of Labour, nearly spitted on her and ultimately forced her to step down when she proposed drastic and broad-based labour reforms, including the removal of ghost workers from the payrolls which were ( and may still be) staffed with these vultures’ relatives and cronies.
In Kiir’s government and dockets formerly led by these politicians, those with appropriate qualifications were and are still ostracized while those without such qualifications or tested requisite experience are the ones running the country. Hiring is based on descent, and cronyism.
This is a fundamental repudiation of the core principles for which many South Sudanese bled and died. They are, therefore, collectively responsible for the destruction and violence that have been visited upon our people. This goes to all camps: Camp Kiir, Camp Pagan and Camp Riek.
The allegation of the other camps that Kiir is the one solely responsible for all this mess is a wishful thinking. South Sudanese should not buy into transfer of moral blemish. This is to say that whereas Kiir has miserably failed to lead, all through to the end, Kiir is only a lightning rod—a scapegoat exposed to absorb all forms of moral and legal culpability arising from undue and illicit acts of all who serve under his leadership.
That Kiir is responsible may well be true, based on the concept of respondeat superior or vicarious liability—the legal concept which holds bosses or principals responsible for all malfeasants of employees committed within the scope of the usual cause of business or employment. In the grand scheme of things, however, they are collectively responsible and must be treated as a unit. They bear the burden of proof for all the mess that has befallen our nation.
Let’s be brutally honest. Admittedly, the regime is too weak, totally inept and incompetent. Yet the only legitimate means by which it can be ousted is through the ballot box, not bullets. A violent transfer of power does not just set a dangerous precedent but also creates a powerful incentive for a similar undertaking, that is, to oust another government and all the subsequent ones. This is why it should be stressed that, if this Government is overthrown militarily (by Riek), the new government may last for just months. The third government will similarly be deposed. The result is a vicious cycle of violence that will have no end in sight. This is because when people are accustomed to changing the regime by violence, it is often difficult for democracy to entrench itself. This explains why South Sudanese must, at all cost, vehemently reject any military takeover of the current government.
It is also an opportune time to stress that, whereas the current crop of politicians has appreciably contributed to the independence of South Sudan, these individuals should tone down their rhetorical tendency to brag about the special place of their contribution to the independence of South Sudan. It is a lot easier to be a decorated war veteran than to be a statesman, for the latter involves not just the application of robust intellectual decisions to real people but also involves a stringent test of the moral character of individual leaders. This generation’s propensity for acquiescing to repugnant and cheap path to politics and wealth is astonishing. They are accustomed to short cuts.
South Sudanese must realize here and now that this country’s future and its independence have been unduly hijacked by men who believe they are entitled to everything: political power, wealth and even the right to wage war. They call themselves liberators. Well, there is a better way to say this: no one is a liberator and no one is liberated. All South Sudanese citizens have collectively contributed and are equally entitled to the fruits and gains of independence of South Sudan. Our heroes and sheroes are those who have made their ultimate sacrifice and are lying in marked and unmarked graves across South Sudan. Our heroes and sheroes are those who are bearing permanents wounds of the struggle. Our heroes and sheroes are fathers and mothers who have been left to fend for themselves at their old age because they permitted their children to sacrifice themselves to liberate their country. But our heroes and sheroes are NOT those who used to sit at remote command centres, far away from the enemy fire, only to use their tangential contribution to deprive millions of others of the opportunity to leave in peace. Our heroes are NO those who now demand that they be worshipped and respected by the public because of their past participation in the struggle. Well Misters, have you not heard before that respect is earned not demanded?
We have also seen some of them sojourning from foreign capital to another, trying to render some lip-service as to their being better alternatives. This is an illusion and a road to nowhere. No amount of political outsourcing is going to get you off the hook. Someone should have nudged you that political legitimacy or moral standing cannot be acquired through political outsourcing. It is time to pass your political accounts. So please tell us, the people, what you have done since 2005.
To South Sudanese, do you still believe in these politicians? After ten years of their misrule, does South Sudan have anything to brag about other than its independence? Did you know that South Sudan got its independence with more money than any other African country at its independence? Yes, it did. But what do we have after 10 years? Can we trust the future of our country to them again?
The ball is in your court. I have already made up my mind.
(ii) Resolving the Conflict
There are several ways of resolving this aimless conflict. They include but not limited to the generality of the following:
(a) Tearing up the SPLM
One way of resolving this conflict is through a democratic political process. This most certainly means tearing the SPLM party apart and creating competitive parties that can sell ideas rather than sit on illusive past laurels. Thus, insofar as the SPLM that we love remains a united party, it will continue to monopolize political agenda and use national resources without accountability. All aspiring politicians will dream to go to the National Assembly as members of SPLM and will always be inclined to vote on party lines, not their conscience.
It is because of SPLM’s political monopoly that Riek Machar chose to shed blood instead of engaging in competitive democratic politics. Knowing that he had zero chances of becoming an SPLM chairman, Riek chose violence over competitive politics. He was fully aware that his political prospects outside the SPLM were grim, as far as his presidential ambition is concerned.
If Riek was truly democratic, he would have chosen to go separate ways with the SPLM by forming his own political party as Lam did. But he simply wanted the chairmanship of the SPLM by hook or crook.That is why his claim as a champion of democracy in South Sudan is the weirdest political joke of the century. Democrats do not kill people to establish democracy. If democracy is the rule of the people for the people by the people, then it is illogical to kill people to give them the right to rule themselves. People do not rule themselves after they are dead. They will be in heaven or hell, whatever the case.
To Riek, please listen, and I emphasize, democrats do not kill others to establish democracy. They personally suffer for it. South Africa’s Mandela, Kenya’s Raila and Myanmar’s Aung San Suu Kyi are prototypes of a true democratic spirit. You are not a democrat. You are probably a Ngundeangocrat. And by that approach, you are spoiling the sacred legacy of Prophet Ngundeang Bong.
In any case, the privileged position of the SPLM in the country is, in more ways than one, a significant cause of this war. This party must be torn into more SPLMs.
(b) Creation of a Federal System
Centralization of political authority in the presidency has meant that the best way by which a meaningful political participation takes place is at the federal level. This has meant that everything is concentrated at the centre and whoever controls the centre controls national resources, leading to conflict over the control of those resources.
It is important for South Sudanese to realize that the current system cannot work, in terms of its ability to ameliorate conflict over resources. This state system was simply inherited from the Sudan. South Sudanese were not consulted. The best way to manage South Sudan is to create new states, so that communities that mingle easily can be put under one state while those that are not so friendly must be separated. The wounds that this conflict has created will last for generations, if not forever.
There cannot be a viable system when Nuer and Dinka are in the same state, unless they are numerically equal. But as long as one is a minority under the other, the minority will always absorb the spill-overs of central politics. This is very evident in some of the states (and especially in Unity/Western Upper Nile) even before the beginning of this conflict. Let us not delude ourselves that we can force a national identity down everyone’s throat. This could have been possible in the past century and Nyerere succeed in that. Most likely, Nyerere succeeded because he came at a time when only African identity was riding high.
President Obama once said that Africa does not need strong men but rather good institutions. I do not buy that fundamental premise. Africa needs neither strong men (and women) nor strong institutions. Rather, Africa needs both. That is why it worked for Nyerere. You have to be a decent person by birth or by personal drive to be able to accomplished great things for others. That is what helped Nyerere establish a system for all the Tanzanian nationalities. Furthermore, tribal identities, in the 1960s were not paramount to most Africans. That is why Tanzania was able to build a robust Tanzania for Tanzanians.
Our independence in South Sudan came to pass at a different century, a century of striking social and cultural awareness. To add salt to the injuries, South Sudan has seen far too much blood as a result of those identities. This has bolstered the notion of identity politics. That is why we are prone to killing ourselves, even over mere recriminations. Our nationalities are here to stay. Instead of ignoring them, which is outright dangerous, it is better that they be used as pillars upon which the nation can be built. Citizens are free to live and work anywhere but each community must have the power and ability to run its own affairs. That way, even if there is discrimination at the centre, the impact of such discrimination can be alleviated. A robust federal system will create jobs and spur economic development at the peripheries.
The Government must realize that a federal system is what South Sudanese want and they should not wait for the rebels to impose it as one of their demands. The Government had the opportunity to establish a federal system following the creation of the Greater Pibor Administrative Area. But it failed to grab that opportunity. Either you go ahead and create a federal system now or wait for it to impose itself. If you do not, then be informed that a federal system will eventually be the rule. In the end, Riek Michar will take all the credit for it as he does with self-determination.
(c) Fostering an Enhanced Popular Sovereignty
Popular sovereignty means vesting decision-making power in the people rather than a few. In this system, governance is based on popular and free consent of its citizens. It vests the supreme authority in the people. In practice, the government is established and run in the name of the people and fundamental decisions must be made on the basis of popular consent. That is why our Constitution begins with the phrase, “we the people of South Sudan….”
When people are alienated from governance, they tend to see their government as illegitimate. This effectively chokes their energies, creativity and productive capacity in the buds. While in principle, such is the case in South Sudan, practice has been a different thing altogether.
What happened in Wau, when ordinary citizens were shot and killed because they were peacefully protesting the planned (in fact forced) transfer of the HQs of Jur River County speaks volumes about the extent to which the current Government has alienated its own people from governance. To add more fuel to fire, President Kiir—instead of mourning with the families whose loved ones were killed in cold blood—declared that he himself would have fought the people if he was there at the scene of that peaceful demonstration.
The same can also be said about the need for drawing of county boundaries. We have seen some county boundaries floating around on the internet. These maps were drawn by politicians with the purpose of annexing certain lands to their own home counties, and they have done it big. This has resulted in popular resentment against the Government because people were not consulted. This is particularly the case in Western Upper Nile. Politicians did it because they knew that consultation would have resulted in a different outcome. The current county boundaries in South Sudan is a sham. They must be abolished and, in their place, new ones based on popular consent drawn up.
What these self-proclaimed politicians must know is that, when you alienate your subjects and impose your own rule without their consent, such a system is simply a house of cards; it bears within it the seeds of its demise. This is the case of South Sudan. Without popular consent, forget about peace.
This paper has considerably shied away from any legal treatment of the conflict. This is why no substantive conclusion as to legal responsibility is made here. Yet, despite President Mbek’s and Mahmoud Madman’s contention that what is happening in South Sudan is a typical example of “mass violence” which, they argue, is political in nature and cannot, therefore, be legally accounted for, I must borrow Nyantung Ahang Beny’s artful reply to this diplomatic argument. That is to say, “judicial processes—whether in formal statutory courts or in traditional fora—are a critical means to address the victims’ claims, even if they are incapable of making the victims fully whole again.”
South Sudanese must bring justice to the victims of this senseless violence. This will effectively serve both general and specific deterrent purposes.It is lack of accountability for the1991 Riek’s killings, for instance, that has emboldened him to do much more destruction than he did more than 23 years ago.The importance of legal accountability was stressed by the post-1994 Rwandan government in rejecting the South African Truth and Reconciliation approach. To make its case for individual accountability, Rwanda argued that:
unless [the] culture of impunity” was once and for all ended in Rwanda the vicious cycle of violence would never end....: only when the guilty had been punished would it be possible for the victims and the innocent to create a joint future together.
That is why—without prejudice to the reconciliation process— it is important to ensure that justice is rendered to all the victims by holding legally accountable all those found responsible for the death of innocent people.
Santino Ayuel Longar, “Kiir or Riek [Part I]: Is the 2015 Presidential Election a Definitive Contest Two Chiefs of
the Leviathan…,” (2013), The New Sudan Vision, available online at: http://www.newsudanvision.com/diaspora/2722-kiir-or-riek-is-the-2015-election-a-definitive-contest-between-the-two-chiefs-of-the-leviathan-exploring-the-candidates-past-and-present-records-to-project-the-future1266.
 Dr. Riek Machar’s Press Statement, July 25, 2013.
Santino Ayuel Longar, “Kiir or Riek [Part II]: Is the 2015 Presidential Election a Definitive Contest Two Chiefs of
the Leviathan…,” available online at: http://www.newsudanvision.com/diaspora/2724-kiir-or-riek-part-ii-is-the-2015-presidential-election-a-definitive-contest-between-the-two-chiefs-of-the-leviathan-assessing-candidates-records-to-ascertain-the-validity-of-their-campaigns-platforms.
 Apportionment of moral blemish here is not limited to principal actors but also extends to those who are
popularly perceived as the directing minds behind this violence.
 “UNMISS mandate should include capacity and peace building, says Kiir,” (2014), Report From UN
Mission in South Sudan, available online at: http://reliefweb.int/report/south-sudan/unmiss-mandate- should-include-capacity-and-peace-building-says-kiir.
Adwok was a Cabinet Minister of Higher Education in Federal Government until he was
dropped from the cabinet in the cabinet reshuffle of July, 2013.
 Peter Adwok Nyaba, “Sorry Sir, It was not a Coup,” (2013), A Letter to the Editor, available online at:
The substantive distinction between this account and that of Adwok lies in the fact that Adwok categorically
argues that the rearmed soldiers were all soldiers of Dinka descent whereas the eye witness account, despite
being silent as to the ethnic origins of the rearmed soldiers hold that only a few were armed. This is
reasonable since the ammunition store could not have been left unattended.
Peter Adwok Nyaba, “Sorry Sir, It was not a Coup…,” supra note 8.
 Peter Adwok Nyaba, “The Dimensions of Current Political Discourse Over Malakal,” (2009), available online at:
 Peter Adwok Nyaba, The Politics of Liberation in South Sudan: An Insider’s View (Kampala: Fountains, 2000).
Even if such a plan was morally and legal repugnant, no one would be interested in managing such a vast state.
Making such gigantic claims is something Hon. Adwok should stay away from.
The classification of Dinka into the Rek Group, Agaar Group, Padang Group and Bor Group was made by
Western anthropologists during the colonial days. This classification has been picked up and unquestionably
approved by our domestic scholars and presented as a fact. The need to undo such intellectual heresies is of
paramount importance. Even Godfrey Lienhart, one of those Western scholars who pioneered such
classifications, acknowledge that Ngok and Padaang were classified under Padang by mistake.
In this comment, I am not in form or shape trying to negate Adwok’s claim to the area. I am not expert on
boundary lines in this specific region. So my claims are subject to my limited personal knowledge of the area.
I suggest that the claim should be settled on the basis of on the 1956 borders.
 United Nations Mission in South Sudan: Excerps: UN Report on the Killing in Juba, South Sudan (2014),
available online at: https://radiotamazuj.org/en/article/excerpts-un-report-killings-juba-south-sudan; also see
Human Rights Watch: “South Sudan’s New War…,” (2014), available online at:
South Sudan News Agency, Nuer Youths in South Sudan: “South Sudan and the Nuer must mourn the
December 2013 Juba massacre,” (2014), available online at:
Eric Reeves, “Mortality in South Sudan…and Darfur: Why Is No One Counting?” (2014), Sudan Research
Analysis and Advocacy, available online at:http://sudanreeves.org/2014/11/16/mortality-in-south-
My emphasis here is on moral as opposed to legal responsibility. Legal accountability in such
circumstances should rather be discussed at the time of peace. The goal here is to exact
moral pressure on those that are in control and whose interest this conflict continues.
Although G-10 is treated as a group, there are specific short comments about the role played by Pagan Amum
and John Luk Jok that I make in Part III.
These events include all forms of horrendous massacres (dubbed by some as genocides) by forces then loyal to
Riek who by that time had issued a declaration that John Garang had been deposed as Chairman of the SPLM
and C-in-C of the SPLA. While such massacres took place across the then southern Sudan’s Upper Nile
region, the most notorious ones took place in the today’s Jonglei Bor (Bor, Twi East and Duk counties) and
Pariang (Ruweng County) regions.
So for them, Riek Machar should be treated with kid-gloves. That, to me, sounds like blackmailing in its entirety.
 For example, under Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, it is provided that while
freedom of expression includes the right to seek, receive and impart ideas irrespective of frontiers,
whether orally, in writing or in print, or in artistic form or by means of any form of media, it is also
recognised that this right carries with it special duties and responsibilities. This means that the right to
freedom of expression may be subject to such reasonable legal limits as may be necessary. Such limits
for instance, include national security interest, public order, health or morals.
But who said you have the right to force people to rule themselves (democracy is defined as a rule of the people
by the people for the people)? I will save this argument for another time.
These killings must be condemned in the strongest terms possible and must be atoned for. The President as
head of a government whose botched action led to the death of innocent people, must take the responsibility.
This comment is based on the presumption that all those who were killed in Juba were of one ethnic group.
This is the line of reasoning maintained by the rebels. Nevertheless, while it is true that majority of those who
died in Juba were of Nuer nationality (since all the soldiers who were fighting against the Government were
Nuers), there are many non-Nuers, from across South Sudan and East Africa, who were also killed.
Power sharing per se is not an issue. The issue pertains to the sweeping powers that Riek wants to exercise as an
executive Prime Minister.
Radio Tamazuj, “Pressure for Compromise Deal at IGAD Summit,” (2014), available online at:
 In 1991, only six and a half years after joining the SPLM/A in 1984 and only after four and half years
of official assignments ( i.e. his first assignment being in 1986), Riek declared war against SPLM/A, claiming
lack of democratic space and dictatorial tendencies by Chairman Garang. He defected and form his own
SPLM/A United, which later broke up into several splinter groups, his own being South Sudan Independence
Movement (SSIM), which against changed into Southern Popular Defence Forces (SPDF). SPDF became
brutal partner to al-Bashir’s National Islamic Front, Fighting against SPLM/A, from 1995-2002.
In Nuer land, Riek will continue to be a revered figure. Those who will align themselves with him will continue to
enjoy local popular support. He may still determine who goes to the Assembly, who is a Governor, etc. This
will force aspiring Nuer politicians to reckon with him and throw the weight of their support behind him.
There are many key actors in this conflict but the degree of the involvement of Gen. Malong Awan and Taban
Deang Gai gives them a special role in the conflict, placing their contributions above and beyond everyone’s
 James Copnall, “South Sudan President Salva Kiir Sacks Chief of Staff,” (2014), available online at:
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-27137000. James Copnall, A Thorn in Our Hearts: Sudan and South
Sudan Bitter and Incomplete Divorce (Oxford” OUP, 2014), at 68-9.
A rebel military officer, by the name of Brig. Gen. Peter Lim Bol, is said to be the one who allegedly fired that
Santino Ayuel Longar, “Kiir or Riek (Part II): Is the 2015 Presidential Elections a Definitive Contest between the
Two Chiefs of the Leviathan….?” (2013), available online at:
We know that his Mother and Father were not married. He was basically raised by his Mother as a single parent.
Whether his Mother remarried after Taban was born remains to be found out.
The case involved fathering children, with a Mother and Daughter each, a wife and daughter to one of the well-
known SPLA Generals. The name is withheld for privacy reasons.
The alliance between Kiir and Taban was undertaken after Riek had fully been briefed and its sunset of
objectives made clear to Riek. This left the Riek-Taban alliance intact.
There was no accountability as to how the money was being used. For this reason, much of this
cash was directed exclusively to personal accounts and used to buy political friendship
instead of investing it in badly need development projects such as hospitals, schools or
The plot to replace Pagan Amum with Taban was allegedly hatched in 2009 and was planned to come to
pass after the 2010 SPLM Convention that sowed seeds for the current acrimony among
 The suspects included Majak d’ Agoot, Oyai Deng Ajak, Pagan Amum and Ezekiel Lol. The four were later
acquitted by the Supreme Court for lack of sufficient evidence.
Eric Reeves, “Fallout from Leaked Minutes of August 31 Military/Security Meeting: Khartoum’s Obligatory
Lies,” (2014), Sudan Research, Analysis and Advocacy, available online at:
 By law, any South Sudanese citizen can settle, live and work anywhere. Taban is constitutionally entitled to live
in Pariang. The problem arose when he used his political authority as a Governor to settle in the Dinka area of
Wanh Danluel/Manga/Minyang, and annexed it to his own county by naming it as one of his Guit Payams.
Guit County area does not extend across River Bhar el Ghazel. It is Rubkon’s Lek that has border with
Pariang on the northern side of the River.
Although Mr. Mabior de Garang de Mabior, a Spokesperson for SPLM/iO has downplayed the role of the UPDF
recently in his interview in Uganda, there is no denying of the UPDF’s involvement. Even the Uganda
Government has admitted it. For more on Mabior’s comment, see:
Sudan Tribune: “Khartoum Says Sudanese Groups are involved in the S. Sudan’s Conflict,” (2014), available
Other foreign actors, including some Western states, have allegedly gotten involved. Besides Sudan and Uganda,
other states include Eritrea, Ethiopia, United States, and South Africa. Certain multinational corporations such
as the American Jarch are also accused of fueling the conflict.
BBC: “South Sudan Protest Against UN Over Arm Cache,” (2014), available online at:
Radio Tamazuj: “Foreign Ministry Walks Back Kiir’s Allegations against Hilda Johnson,” (2014), at: https://radiotamazuj.org/en/article/foreign-ministry-walks-back-kiir%E2%80%99s-allegations-against-hilde-
Morris K. Yoll, “UNMISS Shady deal in South Sudan: Else why supply UN forces with landmines, anti-tanks and
Anti-aircrafts?,” (2014), available online at:http://www.southsudannation.com/unmiss-shady-deal-in-south-sudan-else-why-supply-un-forces-with-landmines-anti-tanks-and-anti-aircrafts/.
UNMISS had issued a condemnatory statement (which was equally echoed by UN in New York) against what
UNMISS considered as the Minister’s attempt to force his way into the compound, reportedly to personally
determine who the UNMISS was harboring.
 Radio Tamazuj: “UN in South Sudan to Destroy Confiscated Weapons,” (2014), available online at:
Voice of America, “UNMISS Destroys Weapons Seized in South Sudan Camps,” (2014), available online at:
Status of Forces Agreement Between UN and Government of the Republic of South Sudan Concerning the
United Nations Mission in South Sudan (2005), available online at:
agreement was entered into by the Government of South Sudan and UNMISS, specifically in respect of the
If the reader knows the legal basis for such authority, kindly please bring it to my attention at
Namibia was a German colony until Germany was defeated in 1915 by Western Allied forces in WW I. The area
was managed as mandate under the League of Nations and later as a UN trust until it gained its independence
UN Charter, Article 78.
Gurtong, “UN denies media reports of plan to make South Sudan a UN “protectorate,” (2014), available online
Leben Nelson Moro, “Still Waiting for the Bonanza: The Oil Business in South Sudan after 2005,” (2014), The
International Relations and Security Network, available online at:
There were rumors of an impending coup floating in the air, following the arrest of a soldier affiliated to those of
Taban and Riek. This arrest took place just a few days prior to the beginning of the NLC meeting.
Michael Shwartz & Greg Botelho, “Israeli leader orders ministers out, sets stage for new elections,” (2014), CNN,
available online at: http://www.cnn.com/2014/12/02/world/meast/israel-new-elections/.
Julie Pace & Robert Burns, “Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel resigning under pressure from Obama: source,”
(2014), Associated Press, available online at:http://news.nationalpost.com/2014/11/24/chuck-hegal-resigning-as-secretary-of-defense-source/.
Pagan Amum Okiech, “I want to be President of South Sudan,” (2014), Bor Globe Network, available online at:
Seven of the former political detainees were released from Juba where they were detained. They were then
transported to Nairobi where they were hosted by President Uhuru Kenyatta. Upon their arrival in Nairobi,
they were given the opportunity to address the media. As their spokesman, John Luk spoke for the group.
KBC[Kenya Broadcasting Corporation): “Uhuru [Kenyatta] Welcomes Political Detainees Released from South
Sudan,” (2014), available online at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jI6r6F_yFYs.
 President Barack Obama, “Obama’s Ghana Speech,” (2009), available online at:
 Thabo Mbeki and Mahmoud Mamdani, “Courts Cant’ End Civil Wars” (2014), The New York Times, online at:
http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/06/opinion/courts-cant-end-civil-wars.html [retrieved on July 10, 2014].
 Mbeki’s and Mamdani’s maintain that by indicting leaders who lead political rebellions in highly divided
societies, such as South Sudan, any attempt to prosecute them can effectively thwart any meaningful
efforts for peace, leaving indicted leaders with no choice but to keep fighting for their survival because they
have little or no incentive for a peaceful settlement of conflicts. I disagree with these
 Laura Nyantung Beny, “Think Courts Aren’t Relevant? Ask the Victims” (2014), United to End Genocides,
available online at: http://endgenocide.org/think-courts-arent-relevant-ask-victims/
Specific deterrent is a form of punishing an individual for his or her criminal crime. The goal is to prevent specific
person from committing the same crime in the future. General deterrent, on the other hand, refers to a situation
where a particular individual is punished for his criminal act/acts with the goal being that of making an
example to out of that person so that members of the public are acutely aware that they will similarly
be punished if they commit the same crime in the future.
 David Bloomfield, Teresa Barnes & Luc Huyse, Eds., Reconciliation After Violent Conflict: A Handbook
(Stockholm: International Idea, 2003) at 19-34.