Defection to the SPLA: Is it a time to rejoice or a time for the GoSS to fear?

By Agereb Leek Chol, Worcester, MA, USA

“Let those to whom the heavens grants such opportunities reflect that two courses are open to them: Either so to be behave that in life they rest secure and in death become renowned, or so to behave that in life they are in continual straits, and in death leave behind an imperishable record of their infamy" Nicco Machiavelli.

May 11, 2011 (SSNA) — First of all, I want to express my deepest joy since the return of most rebel leaders with their forces during the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), and also after the independence of South Sudan on July 9, 2011. However, this recent defection by Maj. Gen. James Duit Yiech, General John Dueth Yieth, and James Duoth Lam has obliterated some uncertainties caused by the SPLA withdrawal from Panthou (Heglig). There is no doubt that the GoSS was bullied by the UN, African Union (AU), and Obama’s demand for the Sudanese People Liberation Army (SPLA) to withdraw without any conditions given to the Khartoum’s government. The GoSS calls the SPLA withdrawal a ‘diplomatic win’, but the international community whom the Republic of South Sudan (RSS) responded to didn’t stop aerial bombardment after their pullout. What a disgrace!

The decision made by these leaders is something for South Sudanese to scrutinize because their defection send a strong message to Omar Bashir (war criminal) that South Sudanese are tied of his brutal regime. We hope those who are left behind would join their countrymen to stop Bashir from massacring innocent civilians in both countries. Is it patriotic to help someone who called black Africans “insects”? This insult doesn’t apply to Kiir’s administration, but to the entire black race. African “leaders” shouldn’t take Omar Bashir’s discourse lightly especially when he labeled black people as “slaves or “insects”. Failure to response to his insults reinforces Bashir’s imbecile rhetoric. How absurd can this be when “black Muslims” are quick to denounce those who question the book of Quran? Seriously, why is it so simple for black Muslims to equate their identity to Islam? It’s ironic that ‘some’ black Muslims automatically think they are “Arabs” once they denounce their African heritage over a Western religion.

Obviously, their return to the SPLA will definitely boost up the SPLA’s position to protect the (RSS) should they choose to be good citizens. The question is should the SPLA be vigilant about the political atmosphere in Juba or in the frontline? Currently, many South Sudanese are left wondering why they defected in the first place or why they waited this long to join the SPLA. Well, the obvious answer is that many people are not happy with Kiir’’s government for different reasons. Beside corruption which the president can’t tackle individually, old grudges between faction leaders are visible everywhere in the government and in the local level. Perhaps we all should forgive ourselves if we want to defeat Khartoum’s aggression. Conspiring with the Khartoum’s leadership to topple a “corrupt” government in Juba gives him the credibility to call black race “slaves” or “insects”. What a leader! We shouldn’t let Bashir question our pride by joining him while he’s killing our kin in Darfur, Kordofan, and in the Nuba mountains. The question is why are black Muslims in these regions oblivious about this situation? Could Bashir be the next Prophet? Apparently, he has million disciples in the NCP and in the SAF.

Whether “corruption” or “domination” of the GoSS by the SPLA veterans is the reason for rebellion, I would argue there are peaceful avenues to rid of them if that’s the goal. Let’s not forget that Bashir came to power by coup, and he’s not a role model for anyone to imitate. The only thing different is that they have better roads, health care, Agricultural production, and functional schools. Secondly, they don’t have foreigners doing their secretarial jobs, which they can employ their youths from local institutions. What is job creation if these jobs are given foreigners? Perhaps the issue is not foreigners taking jobs, but we South Sudanese don’t want to work under someone. In capitalism, working for someone doesn’t mean one is a “maid” as long one is being paid fairly. In this case, bringing change in South Sudan will not happen through violence, but through community empowerment. This means we need to teach our citizens their rights so they can hold their constituents accountable.

If I can be a “devil advocate” for a movement, these recent defections poises one question. First, did these generals defect to the SPLA to defend South Sudan from Bashir’s government, or do they have an agenda to liberate “South Sudanese” from the SPLM leadership? Defecting from the SPLA to the Khartoum’s government isn’t a new phenomenon in the history of South Sudan. Some individuals have fully settled their political grudges with their fellow comrades, and are now working day and night trying to help vulnerable people of South Sudan. However, the GoSS needs to be carefully for those who defect and return under the so-called “amnesty”. Perhaps Mr. Kiir should set a dateline to deter further defection. I wonder if the members of the parliament are part of the decision making.

Obviously, there are no immediate answers to these questions, but we can only hope that everyone who is frustrated with Kiir’s government will support him at this critical time. During the “Cold War” between the West and the Communist countries, American allies abandoned their hatred among themselves in order to defeat their common enemy. I would think those rebels in the bush will do the same. However, my fear is that the GoSS will lose sight of these individuals who “fly in and fly out regularly” because they “defected” to the SPLA. The question is do they pose any security threat in the leadership of the GoSS and the SPLA? What about those who defected to the SPLA with high ranking positions earned in the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF), are they going keep their ranks (Maj. General)? Failure for the GoSS to follow the system will give those individuals with lower ranks in the SPLA an idea to defect with hopes of becoming a “Maj. General”. For God sake, why reward these traitors? David Yau Yau who recently defected to the SAF as a Maj General was begging for rations in Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya years ago. What did he do exactly to earn his rank? Let’s stop nepotism! Currently, we have veterans who are founding members of the SPLM/A since 1983 who haven’t been promoted to that rank yet. What’s wrong with this SPLA? Perhaps I shouldn’t mention retirees, and their inconsistent salaries. God have mercy on our veterans, widows, and orphans. Maybe their children are those street kids in Juba who beg just to get by. We urge David Yau Yau to return the SPLM despite his betrayal. I suggest everyone to use this opportunity before the ‘dateline’. Is there such thing?

Overall, I urge the GoSS and the SPLA to be more vigilant everywhere in South Sudan because there are too many opportunists who will resort for short term solutions in order to get in power. I personally congratulate our Vice President, Dr. Riek Machar for going on South Sudan TV (SSTV) to dismiss recent fabrications about a potential “coup” while the President was on a diplomatic travel to China. David de Chand, why betray us? To those brothers who want to get in power by creating havoc in the South, please join the SPLA and change the SPLM from within. Also, I urge the SPLM to allow multiparty system so we can coexist. Voting and holding your representatives accountable is the only option if we envision South Sudan a place for our grandchildren. President Kiir and the Vice President Riek Machar don’t pledge legion to their tribes, but they pledge that to the people of South Sudan. We may have different views about who “dominates” the government, but if we all get involved instead of making South Sudan a volatile country, we can change whatever we think is happening in Juba.

What change can one bring if we displaced civilians who contribute to South Sudan’s economy? What change can one bring if we point fingers that the Dinka tribe failed the country? We all have a role to play, and if one failed to excise his/her rights to hold her governor or commissioner accountable, then “we” the people failed the country, not the Dinka tribe. Perhaps we should think about ‘tribal constitution’ to avoid this mentality. How many more years can we call on the UN to rescue us from starvation? How long can we continue to ask the international to send in troops to rescue innocent civilians from Bashir’s brutal regime? How many more years can foreigners run our country? How many more years are we going to transport food from neighboring countries? Aren’t we capable to farm or are we just lazy? How long can we depend on oil’s money? How long can we complain about corruption instead of getting involved? How many more pounds can we allow our representatives to stash in foreign accounts? Why are we investing our hard earn money in neighboring countries? How do South Sudanese define development? In my opinion, South Sudan is going to be a “failed state” if we don’t join the GoSS and hold them accountable. Think about these questions when you point fingers, and at the same time conspiring with the enemy. Nevertheless, if Dr. Garang de Mabior and Dr. Riek Machar with their comrades reconcile to bring about the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) in 2005, I don’t see any reason why everyone can’t join the SPLM or the SPM-DC. Lastly, I urge all members of SSDF, SSLA, and NDF to join us and form their parties so our uncles and grandparents in Juba can retire. They deserve a vacation because they been in a frontline for decades. To the SPLM, “corruption” and “nepotism” will never stop if we don’t have a multiparty system to compete against. Let’s compromise and debate these pressing issues in South Sudan TV (SSTV) so we the civil society can judge who can better lead the country. Think about your children’s future because your baggage is going to ruin their future in a modern South Sudan. God bless our mothers who are tired of giving birth to child soldiers. To our men and women in the frontline, please sing those revolutionary songs in the 80s and the victory is certain in Abyei and in Panthou. South Sudan oyeee!!

Agereb Leek Chol is a concerned citizen who lives in Worcester, MA, USA. He can be reach at [email protected]

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