South Sudan

Why Machar Promoted Generals Gatwech, Olony

Dr Riek Machar

By Tim Mugerwa.

With only two months left for world leaders to meet in Paris for the 21st Congress of the party (COP21), recipe Uganda’s little action on climate change can be felt.

The country is turning from being affected by drought to floods. Selling of wetlands and public land for agricultural research continues whilst corruption is increasing in government authorities that are supposed to protect the environment.

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Weak policies like “Kavera ban” are a clear example the country needs to immediately double its efforts in enforcing environmental laws.

Uganda’s climate is naturally variable and susceptible to flood and drought events, which have had negative socio-economic impacts in the past.

Human induced climate change is likely to increase average temperatures in Uganda by up to 1.5 ºC in the next 20 years and by up to 4.3 ºC by the 2080s. Such rates of increase are unprecedented.

Changes in rainfall patterns and total annual rainfall amounts are also expected, but these are less certain than changes in temperature.

The climate of Uganda may become wetter on average and the increase in rainfall may be unevenly distributed and occur as more extreme or more frequent periods of intense rainfall.

Regardless of changes in rainfall, changes in temperature are likely to have significant implications for water resources, food security, natural resource management, human health, settlements and infrastructure.

In Uganda, as for the rest of the world, there are likely to be changes in the frequency or severity of extreme climate events, such as heat waves, droughts, floods and storms.

This year’s long dry spell in eastern Ugandan district of Bulambuli that left thousands needing food aid has been followed by torrential rains, raising fresh fears of flooding in the area.

According to the Uganda Red Cross Society (URCS), failure of the 2105 April-May rains left at least 13,500 people in Bulambuli needing aid. The crops failed following a dry spell in April.

The affected communities are in Bunambutye (11,000 people) and Bwikhonge (2,500 people) sub-counties, where most farmers failed to harvest any food. While some rains have started, few have enough to eat, with many families living on one meal a day.

Few Ugandans are aware that the country is already faced with climate change refugees. There are many people across the country who are displaced by increasing floods, drought and desertification.

Short-term climate goals for a country like Uganda could significantly reduce this and possibly guide well calculated long term goals.

Although pockets of excellent technical expertise and disparate activities on climate change are emerging, in part through response to the UNFCCC, action by government to date falls short of what is needed to climate-proof Uganda’s development.

Alongside explicit capacity constraints in terms of resources and personnel, there are less obvious constraints to effective action such as confused mandates, dysfunctional arrangements for inter-agency working, and weak institutional and professional incentives for pro-active action.

As well as adding to the challenges of developing an effective response, these issues undermine existing institutional performance which in turn heightens Uganda’s vulnerability.

Strong leadership with the power to influence across the sectors, and determination to tackle these constraints will be required to respond effectively to climate change. At the moment that leadership is lacking.

If UN climate talks agree to make sharper short term goals and put more emphasize on action the increasing drought spells and floods among other impacts of climate change in Uganda will be manageable.

The writer is a Climate Change Activist.
The Commander-in-Chief of the South Sudan rebel movement, pharmacy SPLA-In- Opposition, Dr. Riek Machar this week promoted 21 of his generals including the general Chief of Staff, Gen. Simon Gatwech Dual in a bid to create a wing of senior loyal army officers once confirmed as Deputy Vice President.

In an express order issued on Friday, Dr. Machar who is also the First Vice President designate said the rank elevation of his battle hardened comrades is in line with the April 2014 Nassir Consultative Conference.

At the beginning of the war the rebel movement and Machar himself were based in the thick bushes of Nassir which is in the Upper Nile state.

In May 2014 Machar moved to the neighbouring Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa and the SPLA-IO base was consequently moved to Pagak town which borders the Horn of African nation.

Gen. Gatwech was promoted from second Lieutenant General to First Lieutenant General with the immediate effect of 21st December last year.

“In pursuant to resolutions of Nasir consultative conference, I, Riek Machar Teny-Dhurgon, Chairman and Commander-in-Chief of SPLM/SPLA do hereby promote Lt. Gen. Simon Gatwech Dual to the rank of 1st Lt. General with effect from the 21st December 2014,” part of the 4 series of express orders reads.

Maj. Gen. Johnson Olony who was recently elevated in command with Maj. Gen. James Koang Chuol to Commander Special Division (1) and Deputy Chief of Staff in charge of operations respectively were also promoted to the ranks of Lieutenant General.

Other Major Generals promoted to Lieutenant Generals are James Yich Biet, Moses Chot Rik, Elias Jada Laku, Dau Aturjong Nyuol, Peter Dor Monjur, John Both Teny and Saddam Chayout Manyang Wuor.

Meanwhile 11 Brigadier Generals of the SPLA-IO are now two star generals. The new Major General officer are Ruai Kuol Jal, Magwek Gai Majak, Michael Ciengjiek, Daniel Koang Chuol Goach, Dang Yiei Thanypiny, Peter Thuok Chuol Luak and Martin Kenyi Terensio, Koang Gatkuoth Kerjok, Thomas Bazilio Tindo Kali, Khamis Abdel Latif Chauwel Chol and Wesley Welebe Samson.

The rebel forces are expected to integrate with mainstream SPLA under President Salva Kiir and it remains a puzzle if the Juba regime is going to recognize the military promotion in SPLA-IO.

Observers say Machar intends to have a command within SPLA that remains loyal to him just in case of a disagreement with President Salva Kiir in future.

Already, SPLA are inspecting areas located around 25 kms outside Juba as part of the demilitarisation process of the Capital.

Uganda is yet to confirm whether it would pull out its troops from the war-torn country.


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