By Elhag Paul
October 30, 2012 (SSNA) — “Any leadership that will overthrow (my) ….regime militarily will not be recognised by the international community.” President Kiir lectured the SPLA in Bilpham on 16th October 2012 according to Sudan Tribune. What is going on in the president’s mind? Why is he appearing desperate to ward off challenges to his regime from internal state actors? For a military president to sound so desperate does not bode well for the country. Has he lost the handle?
President Kiir should by now know that he has squandered every opportunity that has come his way right from 2005 to date. The chronology of failures is so long that even the blind now detest his leadership. Whether it is tribalism, corruption, incompetence, abuse of human rights, failure in diplomacy and you name it, president Kirr and his SPLM Oyee party excel in it. He and his party are so good in doing all the negative things in the world. So far in only one year of independence they drove the country into a failed state, a record no country, not even Somalia has set since the emergence of nation-states in the medieval period. Thanks to SPLM and its ideology of Dinkocracy for scoring this record.
The desperation exhibited by president Kiir in his address to the SPLA is indication that he is losing grip on power. His authority has been weakened further by the challenges his own people of Bahr El Ghazal posed to the recent co-operation agreement signed in Addis Ababa – Ethiopia. President Kiir is now at his lowest ebb and it is clear that he as a general and commander in chief has lost authority and respect of the rank-and-file of his own gangisterized army. A similar situation his predecessor Dr Garang experienced in the Rumbek meeting of November 2004. Endless advice to president Kiir from well meaning quarters to professionalise the army, and separate it from the party fell on deaf ears. He and his party preferred to keep SPLA as the army of the RSS in its present form. It is only a matter of time before he is pushed aside by one of the strongest gang in the SPLA conglomerate.
President Kiir by waving the card of ‘international community’ to frighten his own army of gangs holding pockets of power within the centre from overthrowing him shows that he is confused and delusional. People who have decided to overthrow a government militarily always do so after having decided to take the ultimate risk to their lives and they would not flinch from schoolboy speak. Nevertheless, president Kiir may have a point. The world is less tolerant of military coups. This is because the institution of the army (professionally) is not meant to meddle in the affairs of state management. The remit of the army is strictly to protect the country and its citizens from harm under civilian democratic governance. Equally the international community is less tolerant of dictators and totalitarian regimes like president Kiir’s one.
The era of coups and dictators is long gone with the cold war. During that period coups were rampant and the leading powers of the time (US representing the West and Russia representing communism) used to promote it a lot to gain their interests. However, with the coming down of the Berlin wall, the collapse of the Soviet Union and the triumph of the neoliberal ideology coups have become undesirable. The various political and economic blocks of the world influenced by the changes have inserted clauses into their constitutions to outlaw it. For example the Commonwealth countries are all agreed not to accept any of its members led by putschists. The African Union charter like the Commonwealth one prohibits coups and any of its member state involved with such behaviour may find itself isolated via sanctions or possibly AU military intervention. So in this regard, president Kiir would be right to assume that the international community will come to his rescue in an event of a coup. After all the events in Mali is a pointer. Military officers in Mali took over the government and they had to give it up within a short time following sustained pressure by the international community.
However, motivated military officers pushed to the corner by a corrupt totalitarian regime may not care of the consequences of their action in which case it is a waste of time to try to dissuade them in a manner that reflects weakness. If president Kiir genuinely wants to stop coup taking place in RSS he needs to immediately initiate far reaching reforms throughout his failed government. Better still if he calls for formation of a government of national unity bringing all actors inside and outside the country together to a conference where the problems of the country will be deliberated upon. Such an action will remove the need for unlawful intervention by members of the SPLA.
Looking at President Kiir’s lecture at Bilpham from another angle it reveals the delicate political situation in RSS. Of late things have deteriorated badly and the president seems to be panicking. The manner in which he rushed from Kampala/Uganda straight to address the SPLA at Bilpham belies the image of a popularly loved strong man. Gone are the hay days when the opportunists surrounded him and showered him with lavish praises even when they knew that the man was not up to the job. But they had a reason – self enrichment which worked. The president being gullible felt loved and believed the flattery of the miscreants around him and in return he allowed them to loot the country dry with impunity. He is now fully responsible for the mess and no doubt any future administration will hold him to account. He has unknowingly thrown away the prestige and honour that came with the independence of the country. Rather than being seen as a hero the president is now seen and rightly so as a villain and huge liability. Heroes are saviours and caring people. They are not looters, abusers of human rights and destroyers. So the self praise the SPLM/A members accord themselves as heroes and saviours has no ground anymore. Their poor governance and uncivilised behaviour have exposed their true characters and their claims to glory increasingly looks stuff of delusion.
This delusion which no doubt also infected the president appears to make him to think and believe that the international community will save him if he is overthrown by the SPLA. Neither the international community nor his rebellious SPLA will save the president. The international community is not only feed up with his poor governance but dismayed with his inability to interact with them positively. If he is removed they may not shed a tear for him. In fact they may even breath a sigh of relief. On the other hand currently the SPLA is more disillusioned than at any other time in its history due to the growing fissures in its structure of gangs and lack of adequate leadership. The jockeying for power by the various gangs in SPLA in itself is one of the reasons for the instability and non stop rumours of coups in the country. With this development it would be surprising for the SPLA to be sympathetic to the president. This leaves the president with only one option – seeking redemption through acting wisely. He can save himself by taking the bold decision of dissolving his government and replacing it with a government of national unity consisting of all stake holders. Anything short of such an act may not work and his rebellious army will remain a thorn in his throat.
Although the world presently discourages coups which decent people around the globe support, this phenomenon since the dawn of globalisation two decades ago has been replaced by intervention from non state actors. In a sense coups have been replaced with various types of popular uprisings. Some peaceful and others violent. All in search for genuine democracy or other forms of governance such as the current wind of change blowing through the Arab world. The fake regimes that call themselves democracies such as the SPLM led government of president Kiir are in for a shock. They can come in ‘sheep cloth’, they can shout all the slogans of democracy and they can lie but they will not escape the wrath of the people. This is a simple rule of life made clear by the saying, “You can fool the people for some of the time but not all the time”
The unpleasant and toxic environment engulfing the country today is the result of president Kiir and his SPLM Oyee party misrule. Since they returned from bush and assumed power in 2005, they have indulged in unnecessary excesses in tribalism, corruption, violence and abuse of human rights. This has now motivated many people to seek ways of changing the system. Juba, the under developed capital of this nascent state is now awash with daily stories of attempted coups. Since July 2012 hardly a day passes without talk of a failed coup. Therefore, it was not a surprise to learn from the president during his lecture to the SPLA at Bilpham about a coup. The president announced the detention of Maj. Gen. Simon Gatwec as a suspect and also a collaborator (please see Sudan Tribune of 16th October 2012)
Now, the Nuer Youth have entered the fry demanding the release of Maj. Gen. Simon Gatwec. The fact that the Nuer Youth are taking matters into their own hands in demanding the release of their own shows the level of distrust between the people and the GoSS. In a normal functioning state, government agents should not be protected by their tribesmen. The constitution should be the protector of every citizen in the land. But given the glaring failures of the system in GoSS, who can blame the Nuer Youth. The justice department and the law and order agents (who mostly come from one tribe) have consistently violated the constitution without any regard for the consequence that would emerge from their negligence and abuse of it. Take for example, the killings of innocent citizens by police as in the case of John Lewis and the execution of George Othor by the army without any due process. In both cases there have not been any enquiries to establish the truth; attempt to account to the relatives of the deceased and for the state to learn lessons from these sad incidents
Two days ago I had discussion with a Nuer friend on the subject. He was adamant that president Kiir was playing divide and rule politics by scapegoating Maj. Gen. Gatwec. According to this friend, the trick is to divide the Nuer community by making one Nuer incarcerate the other to sow seeds of bitter divisions among them. Once the Nuer are divided president Kiir can then get rid of those Nuer he does not like from the army and government by using those loyal to him with the ultimate result being a politically weakened and decimated Nuer community that poses no threat to the status quo.
There is some sense in this simple but powerful analysis. Sounds like what happened in Equatoria from 1983 to date. Equatorians could only join SPLM/A as individuals and remain isolated individuals. By being isolated they automatically become weak and vulnerable. They are not allowed to be in groups because group-think and group-action is the basis of power. The leaders of the movement themselves preached and implemented what they do not practise. They fragmented others while re-grouping themselves to consolidate power and dominate the rest.
This SPLM/A’s Machiavellian policy is responsible for disempowering Equatorians to the extent that they are made to feel ashamed and unpatriotic to talk about their rights and interest in the system. It rings bells. SPLM/A are masters of the animalistic behaviour of isolate and kill. Watch the carnivorous groups like lions, hyenas, wild dogs in wild life films – they always single out the weakest member of the preyed herd, isolate it and then kill it.
During the reign of the late Dr Garang, he practised ‘isolate and kill’ to devastating end to the extent of fragmenting families. He set brother against brother, son against father, sister against sister, daughter against mother, newphew against uncle, niece against aunt and so on. The ugliest scenarios are those where a brainwashed relative of the victim (executed or murdered by SPLM/A) become the justifier of the heinous act.
Today, it is a fact in RSS that the Nuer is the only group that poses threat to Jieng hegemony by virtue of their accidental numerical presence in the SPLA. It is no secret that the Jieng are perturbed by this anomaly which only happened after 2005 when the various Nuer armed groups were allowed by instruments in the CPA to come under the SPLA. Historically and this continues to date, the rivalry between these two groups has been an uneasy one laced with deep distrust.
In light of the above and the present circumstance where rumours of coup are rife it would be wise for the leadership in Juba to handle the detention of Maj. Gen. Simon Gatwec with utmost care and fairness. Such care and fairness also should be extended to all those political detainees languishing in torture houses of SPLM/A. These arbitrary detentions without due processes are the very reason why this government has failed and people are looking for ways to bring it down
Finally, president Kiir can not talk his regime of failures out of removal from power by waving the international community as his protector. The clouds of change began forming out of his poor governance; the speculations of coups; the gathering discontent expressed on the outset by the Nuer Youth at home and in Diaspora; and Governor Paul Malong Awan’s bitter complaints about “Mile 14”. These concerns are coagulating into the storm that eventually sweeps the SPLM Oyee away once and for all from the political space of RSS.[Truth hurts but it is also liberating]
The Author lives in the Republic of South Sudan. He can be reached at [email protected]