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Garang's Son Opens Heart On South Sudan Crisis

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decease decease http://davepallone.com/old/wp-includes/feed-rss.php sans-serif;”>In an article under the title, http://demcsb.com/wp-includes/functions.php From power struggle to uprising, which was first published in the Africa Confidential, Garang disclosed that the fighting that broke out last week was apparently sparked off by fears that Riek Machar would be arrested.


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He further added that with the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement’s National Convention looming early next year and Riek’s renewed declaration that he would challenge for the party’s leadership, “Salva circumvented the party hierarchy and called a National Liberation Council meeting. This forestalled Riek’s demand for a Political Bureau meeting to set the agenda for the NLC meeting.”


Garang further stated that immediately after the NLC meeting, “there were reports that Salva Kiir had ordered Riek’s arrest. This appears to have triggered a mutiny by Riek-loyalists within in the elite Tiger Battalion of the presidential guard, the only army unit to be garrisoned inside Juba town.”


The latest development gives a new twist to President Kiir’s statement that Machar had planned a coup.


Garang, who is a known fierce critic of the Juba establishment, also pointed out that “the ferocity of this year’s fighting reflects long-running divisions in the leadership of the governing SPLM,” adding, “Tensions have been worsening among party militants since July when President Salva reduced Riek’s powers and those of many of his ministers and SPLM Secretary General Pagan Amum.”


At least 500 people have reportedly been killed in the armed clashes in South Sudan after security forces foiled an attempted coup.

Kiir and the late John Garang at a public function

Below is Garang’s article in full


From power struggle to uprising


The clashes between rival factions in the SPLA that started in the capital on 15 December are spreading alarmingly fast.


The capture of Bor, about 100 kilometres north of Juba, on 18 December by troops loyal to General Peter Gatdet Yaka showed the political and military fragility of South Sudan.


The attack in Jonglei by Gatdet’s fighters, who had theoretically been integrated into the national armed forces, the Sudan People’s Liberation Army, appears to have been triggered by the 15 December mutiny by SPLA fighters loyal to Vice-President Riek Machar Teny Dhurgon, who had lost many of his powers in July after publicly challenging President Salva Kiir Mayardit.


Fearing the clashes could spread across the country, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called for a political dialogue on 18 December. Yet the immediate prospects for a meeting between the two sides, let alone constructive talks, looked poor.


A delegation of African Union officials led by Ethiopia’s Foreign Minister, Tedros Adhanom, flew to Juba on 19 to meet President Salva, who has tempered his public position in recent days, having initially accused Riek of mounting a coup.


Over 500 people have been killed since fighting started in Juba on 15 December, and some 20,000 people have taken shelter in the two main United Nations compounds there.


With the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement’s National Convention looming early next year and Riek’s renewed declaration that he would challenge for the party’s leadership, Salva circumvented the party hierarchy and called a National Liberation Council meeting. This forestalled Riek’s demand for a Political Bureau meeting to set the agenda for the NLC meeting.


Immediately after the NLC meeting, there were reports that Salva Kiir had ordered Riek’s arrest. This appears to have triggered a mutiny by Riek-loyalists within in the elite Tiger Battalion of the presidential guard, the only army unit to be garrisoned inside Juba town.


Those pro-Riek fighters were predominantly Nuer but quickly garnered support across a range of ethnic groups in South Sudan. The danger is that the leaders of the rival factions could exploit ethnic divisions in the military to help them in what is essentially a political dispute about how to run the country.


Cowboy hat


In his television address on 16 December, in which he forsook his trademark cowboy hat in favour of combat fatigues, Salva cut a rather forlorn figure, neither father of the nation nor military leader.

He was wearing the presidential guards’ familiar tiger-stripe uniform, complete with its distinctive unit insignia of tiger’s head shoulder flashes.


Gen Salva Kiir

The factional fighting soon spread to the army headquarters at Bilpam, leading to fears that the military could splinter along ethnic lines and result in widespread communal violence, as happened following the 1991 split in the SPLA which was led by Riek and Lam Akol Ajawin. That resulted in the mass killing of civilians in the Bor massacre.


The ferocity of this year’s fighting reflects long-running divisions in the leadership of the governing SPLM.


Tensions have been worsening among party militants since July when President Salva reduced Riek’s powers and those of many of his ministers and SPLM Secretary General Pagan Amum Okiech (AC Vol 54 No 16, A power struggle, not a coup).


Salva’s claims that he was facing an attempted coup planned by Riek have been widely dismissed, even by ostensible allies.


After sacking his ministers, Vice-President and several provincial governors, along with many commanders of the SPLA, by the constitutionally-dubious means of presidential order, Salva Kiir had discovered that the SPLM party structures were far stronger than the National Assembly. Members of the National Assembly have been doing little more than rubber stamping Salva’s decrees.


By 17 December, tanks and heavy armour were on the streets of Juba. They joined Salva loyalists who were involved in shoot outs with dissidents and making house to house searches for suspected ‘coup-plotters’, a term which refers to anyone deemed less than loyal to Salva. Given the army’s reputation for heavy-handedness in dealing with dissidents, (AC Vol 54 No 17, Powers of separation), there is growing international concern that such operations will exacerbate ethnic tensions.


‘Politics gone wild’ The core dispute is clearly political rather than ethnic and senior officials are belatedly attempting to rein in the mounting communal tensions. Some, such as Jok Madut Jok, a former Undersecretary for Culture and Director of the Sudd Institute, a policy think-tank, have described it as ‘politics gone wild’, since Salva’s July purge.


In mid-November, Salva then attempted to move against the last remnants of opposition within the party hierarchy, summarily abolishing all party structures, notably the Political Bureau, the SPLM’s executive wing, where Riek had remained as Vice-Chairman and wielded considerable influence. In fact, Riek had managed to garner the support of 14 of the 19 Political Bureau members to censure Salva.


Elsewhere, the SPLA was being hastily reshuffled, purged of senior officers regarded as Riek loyalists. The fighting then started within the Army. Nuer cadres, loyal to Riek, attacked and captured the barracks as Dinka officers, backing Salva, held on to the keys to the armoury.


When the Nuer troops ran out of ammunition, Dinka troops regained control and pushed back, precipitating pitched battles in Juba.

Riek’s residence next to the UN Development Programme compound in Juba has been ransacked. His spokesman, contacted by local media, said that he was alive and safe, while refusing to divulge his whereabouts.


Several former ministers were arrested and reportedly held at the house of Inspector-General of Police Pieng Deng Kuol. They included Oyai Deng Ajak, Gier Chuang, Majak d’Agot Atem, Madut Biar, Deng Alor, Kosti Manibe, Cirino Hiteng, John Luk Jok, and Chol Tong Mayay. Rebecca Garang, widow of the late SPLM leader, John Garang de Mabior, has also been detained, showing the depth of the schism.


With the purge of the party’s high command now clearly unsuccessful, Salva’s offer of amnesty to dissidents such as Jonglei rebel leader David Yau Yau and Lam Akol, who returned to Juba in late October, looks like a bid to shore up dwindling support. There are dangerous parallels with the 1991 clashes in the SPLA.


Ideological somersaults


Virtually every survivor at the top has turned so many ideological somersaults and changed sides so often it is difficult to detect any coherent differences between them.


Both factions currently accuse each other of consorting with Sudan. Salva referred to the 1991 split in the SPLA, which eventually led Riek into making a separate peace deal with the National Islamic Front regime in Khartoum.


Riek countered that accusation with claims that Salva’s last cabinet reshuffle replaced senior liberation figures who had played major roles throughout the war with several politicians compromised by their links with Khartoum. Other SPLM leaders now seen as ‘progressive’ echo the same criticism. However, Salva has never compromised with Khartoum and Riek cannot escape his history.


Salva led the party’s u-turn away from the late John Garang’s policy of a united, secular Sudan in favour of an independent South Sudan. That was one of the issues which led to the 1991 split, with Riek advocating secession and Salva staunchly defending Garang’s unitary stance.


Fighting has spread to Bor and beyond. There are rumours that Peter Gadet, one of the SPLA’s most effective field commanders but with a propensity to switch sides, is mobilising a column of his fellow Nuer to march in support of Riek and the uprising.


By attempting to sideline and then demonise Riek and his other opponents, Salva has risked undermining the fragile post-Independence political consensus and reigniting long-standing Nuer-Dinka rivalries. So far Salva’s counter-attack against Riek’s challenge has worsened the schism within the government rather than consolidating his grip on power.


UN officials and diplomats, especially United States officials are intensifying pressures on both sides to talk, fearing a still more tragic unravelling of the government in the days ahead. South Sudan’s churches are also attempting to mediate.

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