Special Reports

Will S. Sudan Generals Topple Kiir?

advice http://ccrail.com/wp-includes/comment-template.php geneva; font-size: small; line-height: 115%;”>The African Union Commission and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), unhealthy together with Canada, Norway, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States have issued a joint statement, urging South Sudan’s leadership to expedite the formation of a new cabinet and calling on all parties in South Sudan to maintain calm and prevent violence.

Last Friday statement said “we encourage South Sudan to do so in a manner that reflects the diversity of the South Sudanese people, and in conformity with its Transitional Constitution and the democratic ideals the new country has espoused.”

Kiir disbanded the whole cabinet last Tuesday and directed the under-secretaries to take charge in their respective ministries under the secretary general of the government, Abdoun Agau, who will run the government until the next cabinet is formed.

South Sudan armed forces at a military parade

The move was seen as aimed at replacing the old, politically ambitious and corrupt guard with a new generation of leader. It’s feared should Kiir fall short on forming a new and inclusive government, South Sudan will slip into chaos.

However, there are so many factors at play, with background of the conflict between Kiir and his Cabinet giving an insight on the outcome of the President’s future actions.


According to an intelligence briefing seen by Chimpreports, the crisis in the SPLM is not a surprise; this has been expected since the death of the founder, Dr. John Garang.

The transition from the death of Garang was smooth due to the fear of Arab threats but not necessarily out of agreement on the leadership. Therefore differences and fear existed within the government of Southern Sudan then and now in the Republic of South Sudan Government after the referendum.

Some of these differences at the political level have split the vision of the party with first group derogatorily referred to as “Garang Boys” which consisted mainly of the close cadres that were the lieutenants of the Late Garang and those who were very active in articulating the vision of the New Sudan then.

Majority of this group was also labeled by the northern government as former communist and those who are still supporting the Northern SPLA of AbdelAziz and Malik Agar of the then northern sector of the united SPLM party.

Kiir giving a speech at the country’s second Independence celebrations in Juba recently

Khartoum capitalized on the bond between this group to continue to accuse South Sudan of supporting the SPLM/A North simply because the SPLM SG and other high ranking of the party in the South are in still in close contact and morally support their former comrades in arms.

The second group is mutually based on those who challenged the leadership of the Late Garang in the infamous Rumbek conference in December 2004, where the Commander Salva stated his displeasure with his boss over the changes to the structure of the SPLM movement.

Several other people who spoke out against Dr. John at that time still today consider themselves Kiir Boys. Although President Kiir does not accept these people or their perception, this has been the trend in his two administrations both during the interim period of the CPA and now in post CPA after the referendum. Some of these differences manifested themselves in the highest body of the political bureau activity.

As a result, the group that was far behind in the hierarchic of the party before peace, was appointed into the political bureau. These include Telar Deng, Awut Acuil and Aleu Ayieny – who were critical of the late Garang. Yet, some of the senior members of the party during Garang’s reign were left out from the leadership body for unexplained reasons.

The formation of the first government of National Unity saw again a number of SPLM turncoats appointed into sensitive positions that were given to the party. Those include Dr. Lam Akol as foreign Affairs Minister and Telar as Minister for the Presidency. These appointments cemented the element of doubt in the mind of many SPLM cadres about the direction of Kiir’s administration.

As a result the group was thought to be fighting back to win the confidence of the chairman (Kiir) whom they saw as being taken away by a group of non-die-hard Party members who have been in alliance with Arabs in the past.

In this effort many of those suspected to be Kiir boys were targeted in party machinations led by Secretary General Pagan Amum and they were subjected to various internal disciplinary actions for their alleged diversions from party guidelines especially on policy issues and foreign policy in particular.

Among the victims of this interpretation includes Telar Ring Deng who is currently Presidential Advisor for legal affairs and Hon. Aleu Ayieny who is chairperson of parliamentary select committee on Security and law enforcement.

Current Situation

About three months ago the SPLM political bureau had an extraordinary meeting which was intended to pass various working documents of the party including the constitution and the code of conduct. In the debate process for the document, the first deputy chairman of SPLM Dr. Riek Machar Teny had revealed his displeasure with the direction of the party under the leadership of Gen. Salva Kiir – the current chairman.

He stated that he will be contesting the position of chairmanship of the party in the upcoming national convention. A number of members of the political Bureau also expressed their interest in the party leadership if the condition they see prevailed. The following were the factors that inspired each candidate to aspire for the leadership of the party:

Dr. Riek Machar Teny, who is current the party 1st deputy chairman and the Vice President of the SPLM led government, stated that he would contest because Salva Kiir has failed to deliver and provide leadership and direction for the country.

He based his decision also on the survey conducted by the party in the ten states of South Sudan where the polls on the party were very negative and the rating was below the expectation of the party leaders.

Gen. James Wani Igga, who is the party’s second deputy chairman and the speaker of the SPLM dominated South Sudan national Legislature Assembly (SSLA) and declared his position: If the current chairman is not contesting for re-election, he will seek the position of chairmanship of the party. He also stated that he would continue to be deputy if the chairmen sought re-election in the upcoming national convention of the party.

Regional leaders lay wreaths on the tomb of the Late Dr. John Garang de Mabior

Madam Rebecca Garang de Mabior, who is the widow of the founding chairman of the party, the Late Dr. John Garang and also the current presidential advisor on gender and human rights intends to contest on grounds that the two leaders have not kept the promises made by her husband. She argues that the current SPLM party has departed from the ideals that her husband fought and died for.

Gen. Pagan Amum Ukech, who was until July 23, the secretary general of the party and leading negotiator on South Sudan post CPA issues with Khartoum, declared his interest to contest for the party chairmanship if Dr. Riek Machar is allowed unchallenged by the party to contest.

He argues that if Dr. Machar contests against Salva Kiir he would win from the protest votes by the public simply because the current environment has left the chairman unpopular. Therefore he sees himself as an alternative to Machar’s chances of winning the chairmanship of the party.

All these aspirations were declared at the meeting of the political bureau while the document that will govern the voting mechanism was being debated. The meeting of the bureau was postponed and no date was set for the next meeting which should set a date for the national convention.

Due to the lack of clear resolution in the last political bureau, political issues were transfer to the government. Senior party leaders like Deng Alor who is a member of the political bureau had voiced their concern with the party direction.


The president had declared war on corruption as policy of his government and in this context has been making serious decision starting by suspending and dismissing some of the senior staff in his office. Before that he had written a letter to 75 current and former government officials who are responsible for the lack of accountability for an estimated 4 billion USD dollar over the 8 years of the sinterim period. The alleged recipient of the letters included cabinet members.

The recent suspension of two ministers Mr. Deng Alor the Minister of Cabinet Affairs and Mr. Kosti Manibe, the Minister of Finance, who are both members of the SPLM political bureau was made in the context of fighting corruption by the president.

The decision did not go down very well with number of SPLM politburo members. They accused the Presidential Legal Advisor Mr. Telar Ring Deng to be behind the decision as vindictive for his expulsion from the politburo and the party in 2008.

Telar has become very close to the President and is said to be using the cover to exact revenge on his political enemies and reviving the alleged revelry between the Kiir boys headed by him and Garang Boys headed by Pagan according to Telar.

When the differences could not be hidden within the party, many members had issued statements which seem to have escalated the situation. The VP apparently claimed that the suspension of the two ministers was politically motivated and was a result of their stand on the party issues at the political bureau.

The secretary General of SPLM Pagan Amum also issued a statement supporting the views of the VP Dr. Riek Machar on the political motivation sacking of the two ministers.

The President on his part has order the suspension of the part SG and form a committee of investigation headed by the 2nd Deputy Chairman of SPLM and current speaker of SSLA Gen. James Wani Igga and membership with three other members of politburo.

Top South Sudan officials at a function in Juba


Although the rumor of the removal of VP has been around for a while, it was not expected that the whole government will be dissolved.

The VP has been building alliances for the last three years and has convinced a number of SPLM members of the politburo including the widow of Late Garang de Mabior and other senior members that are dissatisfied with the performance of Gen. Salva Kiir.

The VP also has publicly apologised to the people of Bor Dinka who were the major victims of his 1990s war with SPLA during the split.

The acceptance of his apologies by Bor Dinka who were the strongest opposition to him for years appears to have emboldened him and encourage his current stand against Gen. Salva Kiir administration. Dr. Riek now has followers across the 10 states of South Sudan, unlike his attempt for leadership in the 1991 when he was only supported by mainly by his tribe mate the Nuer ethnic group.

Will Kiir be toppled?

There is no united front to challenge the current president of the party and if he continues to seek re-election he will split the votes with all the above aspirants because they all have different motives for seeking leadership of the party.

The common factor in their aspiration is the poor performance by the Kiir administration. The public opinion sees them as one with Kiir who has failed the South Sudan to move forward.

With exception of Dr. Riek Machar the rest have no political basis in the party. The widow of Garang has only the name of Garang and no political program. While Pagan Amum has popularity at the international level he is absent at the grassroots level.

He is well known among the Diaspora South Sudanese and loved by North Sudanese for his oratory ability and articulating the common Sudanese problems and the Ingaz (NCP) regime in Khartoum. But his personal performance on the SPLM party has left him with poor records for not organizing the party at its grassroot level.

Pagan’s political ground in Malakal is dominated by Dr. Lam Akol, another renegade who popularized his political program against SPLM’s failure led by Pagan.

Gen. James Wani Igga appears to be doing a balancing act and perhaps is the only man who stands to benefit should the President decide to exclude Dr. Riek from the next cabinet lineup. His political survival is built around concision in difficult times.

It is said that he offered his position in order to attract Dr. Riek Machar back to accept re-uniting with SPLM during the negotiation in Kenya, a decision which haunted him and is being blamed to date by members of his constituency.

Although he does not have a large number of followers in Equatoria, he is very popular among the Dinka and other tribes and his chances in elective politics are very high among all the challenges.

Dr. Riek stands to lose if violence that was associated with his quest for party leadership recurred again after the 1991 incidents for which his political career suffered untold damage.

Although the political factors today are different from those of 1991, first of all Dr. Riek has acquired diverse followings in the 10 states of South Sudan.


His association with Madam Rebecca Garang has added some weight to Dr. Riek aspiration. However, the declaration by Madam Rebecca to contest for the leadership of the party seems to have added to the confusion. The only probability will be coalition. Mrs. Garang suffers from lack of political ground as the community in Bor do not tolerate her quest for leadership at this stage.

Due to fear of persecution by Salva Kiir camp, Pagan Amum will take political refugee in the camp of Dr. Riek in order to weaken Salva Kiir. Such move, if it happened, will provide Dr. Riek with the international recognition that he lacks due to his human rights records from the past.

Dr. Riek remains as the stabilizing factor as both camps do not want the repeat of violent related to their political careers. The fear of ICC and the consequence of participating in tribal wars will keep politicians away from violence.

However, it is important to note that tribal threats are something all the leaders used as bargaining chip.

Gen. Salva Kiir is the one facing a big challenge as which direction he will take. If he replaces the entire cabinet with returnee renegades like Dr. Lam Akol and Dr. Reik Gai Tuec, he will be seen to be implementing anti John Garang policy.

This is because all these officials hated the Late John Garang. Such a move will give political ammunition to the camp of Dr. Riek and will consolidate his position as the alternative choice. The choice of political aides such as Telar Ring Deng is promoting the dismantling of the SPLM party as it was known and reconstructed in their own image.

This could be achieved in two options – first to cancel the election and by not holding the national convention until all the ‘rebel’ politicians form their own parties or to call the liberation council to elect a new Secretary General who will organize the convention and control the events according to the chairman’s wish.

Gen. Salva Kiir cannot win on both fronts. If he wins in the party, he will surely lose the government. There is high possibility that the people he will nominate for cabinet post will turn down his offer in protest because current ministers are busy grouping into camps and majority are running to Dr. Riek and Deng Alor who was suspended for alleged corruption earlier before the dissolution of the government last week.

The exact reaction of the Nuer community where Dr. Riek tribe hails is not yet known until when the new cabinet is announced. If the former VP is left out and specifically from the post of the VP, some people may react angrily and this could result into violence.

The VP has too much on stalk to accept a violent response from his followers. Because even the Nuer are divided in support of Dr. Riek and Salva and also the Dinka are divided in the same line. So tribal war will not be possible as it will affect both camps.

Dr Riek Machar

Where Does the SPLA stand?

The military factor: For the last 8 years, the original SPLA has been diluted by the number of absorbed militia men that returned from Khartoum into the SPLM and those accepted as result of amnesty by the President.

This situation has created considerable resentment from the soldiers who have worked hard and are only commanded by the former enemies. Although the leadership of the army is well balanced, the minister of Defence and the Chief of General Staff are both from Nuer, but do not subscribed to Dr. Riek quest for leadership.

However, there is a group of Nuer that has no history of defecting from the SPLA even in the 1991 wars. Gen. James Hoth and Gen. John Kong Nyuon were both field commanders who stayed with SPLA main stream until the end of war. This decision has also earned them enemies among their own Nuers as they are being seen as traitors.

Their presence in the military leadership of the SPLA has reduced the effect of Nuer factor in potential tribal conflicts. This has denied Dr. Riek the unanimous support that he receives from the entire Nuer.

The recent decision by the President to remove the governor of Western Upper Nile state (Unity State) has also contributed to reducing Nuer support for Dr. Riek in his own home State of unity.


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