February 13, 2011 (SSNA) — In his apparent response to the press releases issued consecutively by Fangak community in Diaspora and Nuer Supreme council condemning the recent massacres meted on the people of Fangak by George Athor, Michael Mthaing decided to come out into the open defending the SPLA, which is now suffering from credibility problem. I am beginning to sense something here; and it’s that he is either oblivious of the realities on the ground or masquerading not to know what is happening with the-would-be national army, the Sudan People Liberation Army (SPLA).
Since you are ignorant on this particular issue, let me devote my precious time and energy to educate you about it, which I think will help you in the future to have a superficial analysis of the issues at hand other than just relying on mere assumptions. The interim period, which is from 2005 to July 2011 when the CPA officially comes to an end; was meant, among other things, to transform the SPLA from its guerrilla warfare mentality to a national and professional army. Unfortunately, and for obvious reasons, this did not happen as the resources (money) meant for this crucial program was misappropriated and mismanaged in a widespread corruption; the generals (including Athor himself) amassed it to themselves and nothing was left to undertake this.
So your question on whether the SPLA is a national or a tribal army is indeed a rhetorical question in all sense of the word, which you shamelessly shied away from answering it yourself. The real question is: when did SPLA become a national army, let alone being professional? The other questions that could spring up from sound-minded person are: what makes an army a national army? Is it by numerical size and strength or by upholding certain principles related to their national duties and in line with the article 155 of the interim constitution? It’s worth noting that what we have in South Sudan is not a national army but a kind of tribal army protecting the parochial interests of the few at the expense of the majority. And to prove my point right beyond doubt, I will present two cases as a back-up or examples to the foregoing discussion on the supposedly national army.
The first case is about the two incidents which happened in Malakal, one in November 25-27 2006 and the second one in February 2009. In these two incidences, Gabriel Tanginye, a pro-government former militia leader and a SAF general, was viciously attacked by the SPLA on the pretext that he was allied to Khartoum and was thus a threat to peace and stability in South Sudan. He had come from Khartoum to attend to family issues in Malakal, one of which was his plot that had been sold out by another person. Upon his arrival only to realize or find that he was declared ‘unwanted’ person and that his stay for the specified three days was undesirable as the SPLA became more paranoid, and began to question his intentions. As a result, that unwise bloody war was fought; SPLA acted in offense and Gabriel Tanginye acted in defense, and that is a known fact though the SPLA twisted facts and fabricated the whole story in its favor.
The second case is about the fighting which occurred between Dinka and Chollo in Upper Nile state over the ownership of land. Again, instead of intervening and remaining neutral, the SPLA took side and was thus favoring Dinka and a result; despicable crimes were committed against the Chollo community, which was accused of being supported by Jallaba fighting a proxy war through its militias. Crimes of enormous proportions were committed by the SPLA on the civilians it was supposed to protect from external harm, which is their primary duty number one; please educate yourself further through my article I wrote last year about this odious killing of civilians entitled: “SPLA should stop all the heinous acts against the Shilluk people” (published) and you will prove this right when you read it.
In conclusion, I think there is no dispute on the fact that SPLA was supposed to have become a professional or call it conventional army were it accorded that window of opportunity to do some reforms from within and not from without. But to our dismay, this did not happen, so your supposition that SPLA is not a tribal army is unfounded and therefore meant to extenuate the ordeal of Fangak massacres (with death toll reaching 200 now) in which SPLA is reprimanded for the poor response. SPLA high command shall be treated with all the contempt it deserves! The sons and daughters of Fangak in uniform cannot sit back and watch their unprotected civilians massacred for fear of being called tribalists or whatever name, while the government does not respond and put the necessary measures to protect them. Anyway, the name ‘SPLA’ is soon going to be expunged and shall cease to be the official name as the clock ticks towards July 9th, the date when we fully become an independent entity.
The author lives in South Sudan, he is reachable at email@example.com