Hating him for being a visionary and charismatic leader is ironical

By Gathuoy James Pou

August 13, 2013 (SSNA) — The struggle for self determination of the people of South Sudan dates way back to 1953. It was in that year that the first bullet was fired to spark off a long period of war against Egyptian-British-Arabs domination and oppressive rule in Sudan. This was for the freedom of black Africans in the Southern part of the country. From that first bullet, many Southerners lost their lives, this was not in vanity, but it was the high cost of freedom of the present generation and the coming ones. Blood had to be shed in order for there to be a complete salvation.

It was Hon. Both Diu who first conceived the dream for the self-determination of the Black Africans and a complete secession from the Arab North. Both Diu demonstrated the wish and desire for self-determination for the Southerners in 1955 when he metaphorically wore a pair of shoes; black and red colours to the Parliament. When asked by the British and Arabs why he did so, he explained to them graphically that it was a message indicating the aspiration of the South Sudanese for a separate country. Both Diu was a citizen of South Sudan and Nuer by tribe. According to him, it was an indication that South Sudanese would one day demand their own sovereign nation and a total divorce from the oppressive Arabs domination. That selfless sacrifice for the attainment of independence of the Southerners was seen to have been dipped into the den of lice, but wisely enough was resurrected and carried on by a visionary leader, namely Dr. Reik Machar who took the mantle for the struggle in the 1984. Dr. Garang who first joined the rebellion before him in 1983 was, with no any single grain of doubt have his mind fixed for the liberation of the whole Sudan which was otherwise from Riek’s vision for self-determination of the south. But preferably, we should not only thank Dr. Machar in isolation of our father Dr. Garang who adopted the grounded vision for the south Sudan self-determination from Riek on 6th day of January 2002 which came into full force in 2005.

Dr. Riek Machar fell out with fellow commorade and compatriot Dr. Garang de Mabior, the Great in 1991 over a disagreement on the whether, the Southerners should fight for their own liberation or for the liberation of the whole Sudan, the former wanted secession for the blacks whereas the latter preferred liberation of a single United Sudan. To Reik Marchar, this was unattainable and unviable owing to the total incompatibility of the two races. This fall out between the two leaders albeit unfortunate, nonetheless helped to shape a common agenda and mission. If truth be told to a candid world, both Reik and Garang adopted and pursued a common position for the self determination of the South, though after a numerous disagreements between them. They both held meetings in 1998, 1999 and March 2000, all in Kenya, at which each of them persistently stood his ground of not sanctioning each other’s vision. They only converged under one driving force on 6th day of January 2002 to advocate for S.Sudan’s secession. Therefore, in that regard, they deserve applause for reaching a consensus on the future of South Sudan. After the sudden and sad demise of our great leader Dr. Garang, the surviving pioneer of the dream for self-determination Dr. Reik Machar rolled on with the vision. It is on this premise that credit should be given to a charismatic and visionary leader in the character of Reik Machar, who never abandoned and lost track of our dream for independence. It is very imprudent and abhorrent to say the least that obscurantist people do not recognize and appreciate Reik for that great sacrifice.

Dr. Riek Machar was persistent and relentless in his pursuit of self-determination for South Sudanese. This caused a deep division between him and Dr. Garang which regrettably did not only led to loss of lives, but also derailed the liberation struggle. We should accept that the forces of either side did not understand that the disagreement was based on ideology rather than tribal hatred. It’s totally misconceived for many writers whom I do sometimes read their un-informed and often misconstrued information on the 1991 incident. They have with biased minds closed their right eyes and only open the left ones which narrowly afford them to give false account regarding the lose of lives of the people of Dinka Bor community, if they were only balance and opened to the truth, then they would recount that nearly 7,000 lives were also lost in Phou, Latjor, and Lou Nuer communities. I wholeheartedly believe that the two leaders had no ruthless intention to see their own people kill each other; that killing was perpetuated due to the fact that the forces of both sides failed to understand the nature of the disagreement between the two leaders that was why they ended up recklessly exaggerated the scale of the conflict.

Machar with an ambition of attaining self-determination for South Sudanese signed two landmark Accords with the Khartoum Government (Political Charter) on 10th day of April 1996, and Peace Agreement on 21st day of April 1997, where he visualized that there was no any reasonable explanation for the South Sudanese to have only 3 regions, i.e. Upper Nile, Equatoria and Bar-el Ghazal regions. While nursing the dream for self-determination at the back of his mind, he persuaded Khartoum to create the present ten states which we today have in South Sudan. He was granted this demand because of his exemplary political bargaining power and strategy. The agreement contained a period of four years transition upon which after its expiration we could hold referendum. That wasn’t possible because of the reason I will introduce you to shortly. While the two leaders were pursuing their visions divergently, they were urged by the International Community to regroup again if they want to gain self-determination, Dr. Riek could not achieve it alone, and neither could Dr. Garang with his vision for a United Sudan. History has indeed exonerated Reik Machar from any naïve blame for the occurrence of the past events, for it is evident that his dream for an independent South was viable and it has been achieved. It is therefore, illogical that Reik who conceived of this dream and relentlessly fought for it should be labeled a traitor. If we are not coaching ourselves to bury the truth, then we need to embrace that it was only Dr. Reik who consolidate and protected the gains of this independence of our country.

N.B. Let us have a brief look at these resembling events; when the God seen his people have irritated him unforgivably, he sent his own beloved son, Jesus Christ to reconcile him (God) with his people. Jesus was born as human being, but unique, his baptism in the River Jordan was very strange as was seen when the power of God came down from heaven like a dove and landed on his shoulder. Likewise, on 21st day of April 1997 in the parliament of Sudan, when Dr. Riek Machar picked his pen and placed it on the Peace Agreement documents for signature, a dove descended from where no one knew and landed on his shoulder. That unique sign astonished those who were in parliament. That might meant a lot for south Sudan which I wouldn’t dare to exhaust at this stage for my knowledge in respect of that event is very wanting. The few following individuals were the witnesses of what transpired;

George Kongor Arop, was the 2nd VP of Sudan in 1996, Moses Machar, Sanuel Aru Bol, Magar Ajiek, Kaway Kawei, Nyadeng Keribino and Engineer Shiek Bay. These witnesses were all Southerners.

On the 9th day of January 2005 the CPA was signed in Kenya , on the preliminary processes of the CPA, Dr. John Garang was advised by his loyalists to weed Dr. Riek out of the peace negotiating team, but Garang because it was not his agendum to advocate for self-determination, he had no documents to tender for negotiation, he had to contact Dr. Machar for the techniques of negotiation through phone calls, and finally he asked Dr. Riek to give him the documents he had signed with Khartoum government in 1996 and 1997 which contained the facts of the agreement, all conditions and procedures for self-determination, Dr. Machar gave him all those documents, and consequently, Khartoum could not deny them, and had nothing to do other than succumbing to the demands for self-determination asserted by the negotiating team. From those uncontested facts, can we South Sudanese afford not to appreciate and thank Dr. Riek Machar for his physical and ideological fight for the freedom of this nation? All those brave steps that he had unreservedly undertaken led to the 9th July 2011 Independence of South Sudan are plausible. Therefore, if we fail to thank him, as I do occasionally seen, then we are bankrupting the principle of telling the truth, and instead resorting to jealousy and obscurantism in our politics. We should give credits where it is due and not be myopic and blindfolded by greed and tribal bigotry.

I have personally seen and heard from what I hereunder refer to as biased writers and commentators, that Dr. Riek is a selfish man who conversely procures and execute his personal agenda. This is a pack of baseless and unfounded lies whose truth, if you happen to take your time and investigate, will definitely surface to you. The fact remains that Riek Machar has, and will never be a selfish figure even if you fabricate and cooked your biased facts. Only the evil forces and darkness that has besieged our beloved nation for selfish gains would want to believe that they will strive by peddling lies that Reik Machar is a selfish leader. Like, it always happens, truth will eventually catch up with lies.

Frankly speaking, if this man was, and has been selfish, for what reason could he then have wasted his time advocating for self-determination for all south Sudanese yet his own family had no any problem staying in London UK? Look! As of now, we have South Sudanese who personally own the latest models of American and Japanese automobiles in the names of Prados and Hammers, and other types of costly cars, which even the Khartoum Government perhaps, do not have. Would this have been possible if we were still under the stinky armpit of Khartoum? Our buttocks would have never kissed, and would never enjoy the seats of the aforementioned cars, if we have not separated from the north, but now here in the south we are enjoying the toils and sweats of Reik. These are all because of his selfless efforts which brought self-determination for all south Sudanese. The future of our country can only be safe in the hands of a selfless, democratic and anti-tribalistic leader, like Dr. Reik.

In 2005 after the signing of CPA, Dr. Machar was having another rough time with Khartoum negotiating team and SPLM Political Bureau. Both the former and latter were interested in appointing one of the SPLM members to be the first Vice President of Sudan, and appoint a different person to be the President of south Sudan. In that context, Dr. Garang was in tandem with Khartoum and SPLM Political Bureau, to be the president of South Sudan on one hand, and had a blue print to make Dr. Riek as a first Vice President of Sudan on other hand. That move was unanimously welcomed by the Khartoum for it suited its political hidden agendum of dispensing with the implementation of the CPA. Appreciably enough, Dr. Machar was at odd with those camps, and reasonably diverged with them, which divergent view required him to take his time, and neatly explained to Dr. Garang and SPLM Political Bureau the risk they were going to regret if they could have a southerner as a first Vice President of Sudan different from the President of South. He smartly told them if South Sudan could sanction the move and have two different leaders, in respect of Khartoum and of Juba, the former would plant a seed of discord between first Vice President of Sudan and South Sudan’s President whereby we would engage ourselves in conflict until the six years period elapses when we have not prepared for referendum, and therefore, the consequence would be the cancellation of referendum. This would have been a very grave mistake that South Sudan could ever commit, and I suppose, if it had happened, it would have been the end of our claim for self-determination and freedom.

Thus, if you read those facts as laid thereon, you will, for the first time realize that Dr. Riek is not only a visionary South Sudanese, but also a great saviour of the South Sudanese’s rights and freedom. It was his magnificent vision and foresight which enabled him to foresee the Khartoum plan of destroying the scheduled South Sudanese’s Referendum, and at the same time convinced Dr.Garang and SPLM Political Bureau to appoint Dr. Garang as the first Vice President of Sudan as well as the President of South Sudan. Garang held the two fat posts till his sudden demise in 2005. Where else can we call Dr. Riek a selfish? I do only see that we called him so and hate him for being a visionary figure, which is really myopic.

To prove that Riek was and is not selfish, he in 2005 was appointed by Dr. Garang to be the Governor of Western Equatoria State. That move did not go well with many generals in the army and even hit the SPLM Political Bureau spectrum, but because Dr. Riek had no any selfish agenda rather than the self-determination, and for the sake of peace in the country, he accepted the Dr. Garang’s proposal. In an apparent contrast, when our current President was appointed as Governor of Bar-el-Ghazal, State of warab, he as a man, his whole body shook in panic and experienced a sudden rise in high temperature, his body’s veins were jetting out blood from vein to the other, his hair stuck out of the nests, the eyebrows were flashing, and swiftly flapped over the eyes ball, the sweat boldly fused out of the body, his AK47 with/by which he killed a good number of Arab forces was panting, ready to vomit its bullets, it was just a matter of ordering that tiny organ of the gun which I called in our language “shul” you like to called it a barrel. Consequently, the autonomous state was in the state of imminent political and military earthquake whose price would have been very heavy and hard hitting for South Sudanese, if it was left to take its course. Dr. Riek whom some of us blindly hate for being a visionary leader had to rush to Bar-el-Ghazal to quell down the glowing fire from the man who fears no one, and advised him not to put the remaining few south Sudanese lives at stake. Kiir as a man, who was politically teased by his long time serving boss, could hardly be persuaded by Dr. Riek until Dr. Garang retired behind heavy load.

My fellow beloved citizens, from the foregoing facts, I am seeing nothing that can excuse us from appreciating and honouring Dr. Riek Machar for what he intended to do for us, which we collectively accomplished with him. Briefly, evaluate the visions and deeds of the three men and find out whose ideas brought us to the Promised Land, and whose deeds portray vanity and selfishness contrary to what many writers and commentators pin on this public platform.

After the falling of our father Dr. Garang, the appointment of his successor was somewhat a political deadlock as there were many potential SPLM elephants. But, more importantly, most of the SPLM members and the entire nation were hoping and eying for Dr. Riek Machar to succeed the great man as the first Vice President of Sudan and the President of South Sudan, despite the amount of political support that the SPLM Political Bureau seemed to have offered to Dr. Riek to be the President, he graciously turned down the offer of support of the party and the nation, and with no reservation, suggested and endorsed Salva Kiir to put on the shoes of our father, instead of him. At that meeting, Kiir grew extremely thin, because he knew that in the SPLM hierarchy, he is the next President, but the great man had never spared him an opportunity to practice politics, he was largely trained to be a pure professional soldier who has never bothered himself with much political activities of the SPLM.

Therefore, he could not envisage himself to be one of the preferred successors for the presidency after the demise of Garang. After Dr. Riek played down the wish of the nation, and instead seconded Kiir to succeed Dr. Garang; Salva Kiir at that juncture took in a fat amount of breath and wheeled out another lazy cloud of the same kind. Kiir, thanked Dr. Riek for that appointment though in the heart, everybody knows that he did it. For those who shamelessly label Dr. Riek as selfish, how could he let go that chance so opened to him, if he is selfish? I am therefore convinced that calling him so is a device of creating negative impression that is intended to lure other south Sudanese with thin intellectual ability to critically analyze and interpret facts, like my humble mother to belief that the man is indeed selfish, and blur them from seeing the naked truth.

On 30th day of July 2007 Dr. Riek was tasked with eight additional functions by President Kiir to perform which among others inter alia, Supervising and monitoring the implementation of the CPA, Supervising the conduct of the population census, general elections and referendum in South Sudan. Dr. Riek had successfully executed those additional duties. Unfortunately, on 5th day of April 2013, President Kiir issued a Presidential decree in which he announced the withdrawal of the foresaid delegated functions from Riek which was in turn misinterpreted by many South Sudanese as a removal of Dr. Riek from being the Vice President. Dr. Riek questioned the existence of the delegated functions which the President purported to recall, because most of those functions have been executed, Dr. Riek was wondering as to what kind of delegated functions was the President claiming to withdraw from him, the given answer by the President was vague. But, simply, Dr. Riek came out and told the nation to remain calm, there was no problem with the decree, only that the President did not before, he issued the decree defined what the delegated functions were, thus, Dr. Riek watered down the tension.

Justice should not only be done, but should manifestly and undoubtedly be seen to be done”

On the 21st day of January 2013, President sacked the Governor of Lakes State, Chol Tong Mayay. This is a constitutional power confers on the President by article 101 (r) of Transitional Constitution of the Republic of South Sudan, 2011, which the President have mistakenly taken as an absolute power forgetting that he can only remove the elected Governor if that state which the Governor in question in charge has a crisis which threatens national security and territorial integrity of the country. Thus, the circumstances which led to Chol’s removal were not at all clear on one hand, and if they were clear on the other hand, the subsequent appointee to act as a Governor in that state where its elected Governor were removed must constitutionally be called a caretaker, according to Article 101(s) of the same Constitution until the fresh election is held within the period of 60 days, which 60 days in this case have already gone, and no election have ever been held in that respect, simply because the Constitutional powers have been abused, and the self-given discretionary powers are now on the play.

On 8th day of July 2013, he dumped off the Unity State Governor Taban Deng Gai from being Governor using the same article 101(r) of the Constitution; no concrete reason was given by the President. Dr. Riek called all this moves as unconstitutional, truly speaking, even a peasant, like my mother who is just a cultivator deep down there in one of the Unity State villages can now understands that the powers by which the President use to remove the elected Governors are not enshrine in our Constitution, and therefore, are regrettable. Those who blindly use to argue on vacuum, and support every move the President undertakes, and continuously condemn Dr. Riek when he refutes the President’s action without acquainted themselves with, and consult the Constitution are the aiders of the rapists of the Holy Gospel of the Republic of South Sudan, 2011. On that unjust removal, Dr. Riek advised Taban not to react negatively after all the Unity State appointed Caretaker is a great son of that State. Therefore, in respect of this unfair unilateral removal of the two governors, it convinces me that our President has suspended the Transitional Constitution of the Republic of South Sudan, 2011 without the consent of the of the national parliament of this country. However, despite this unjustified gross violation of the constitution, the removed governors still have legal avenues in the S.Sudan Constitutional Court.

On 16th day of April 2013, President cancelled the processes of national reconciliation proposed by Dr. Riek on the ground that Machar would use it as one of the political campaign mechanisms. For God’s sake, how could he turn the national concern as such if he really values the harmony and peaceful co-existence of our citizens in South Sudan? Dr. Riek came up with that agendum for he knows that the only way to get South Sudan diverse conflicting communities back on the same peaceful chapter is the initiation of that peace, but unfortunately, our President hammered it, and ignoring that it’s his first duty constitutionally to protect the lives of his citizens who every day kill themselves unreasonably for there is no peace among and between them. Therefore, it’s very unfortunate that our parliament is folding its hands and just watching, as if it is a stranger in S.Sudan. This will tomorrow drag us on rough road for another struggle for freedom.

Let us have one quick look at Pagan’s issue; Dr. Riek condemned the suspension of the SPLM Secretary General (SG). This was not because he seeks to win Pagan’s political attention, and rides on his support, but because of what the S.Sudan Constitution says, article 19, (1) which stresses that, an accused person is presumed to be innocent until his or her guilt is proved in accordance with the law. SPLM Constitution of 2008 says, especially Article 27(2), it’s only the SPLM National Liberation Council and Political Bureau that has power to remove the SG, not the Chairperson of the party. There is no any provision in our constitution and SPLM constitution or any laws in south Sudan that empowers the Party’s Chairperson to suspend any party’s member, leave alone the Pagan’s issue. It was equally another ugly mistake for the President to appoint committee to investigate Pagan. The members of the committee include Wani Igga, Kuol Manyang Juuk, whom he knows are openly known to be hostile to Pagan prior to this case, and they would obviously use the grudge against him to suppress justice while the SG is in suspension. This as well convinces me that the President has proved the guilt of Pagan without giving him an opportunity to defend himself before an independent and impartial tribunal. The President should dare to know that there are non-derogated rights which, municipally and internationally are not subject to any constitutional and Presidential immunities if violated as he did.

Therefore, in respect of this case, our President automatically is bars from claiming such immunities in Court. This reminded me of the case of Uganda’s Prime Minister and two other ministers in 2012 who were ordered by parliament to step aside (purportedly to have been censored) on allegation of bribery pinned against them. Seeing that the constitution had been abused by parliament, one concerned citizen Severino Twinobusingye petitioned the Uganda’s Constitutional Court challenging the constitutionality of the resolution of parliament which set up an investigating committee to investigate the trio suspects. The trio suspects’ Counsel contended that the resolution of the parliament which set up the committee to investigate the suspects was a clear violation of article 28 (2) of constitution of the Republic of Uganda. That article resembles article 19 (1) of Constitution of the Republic of S.Sudan. The Constitutional court stressed that the parliament from which the investigating committee emanated was polluted, biased and was not up to the tenets of the Rules of Natural Justice particularly that one of fair hearing as provided for in the Constitution. Therefore, in the Pagan’s case, the investigating committee appointed by the president, if you permits me to borrow the preceding word, was polluted and biased, and if it’s so, then it’s inconsistent with the aforementioned article which grounded one of the non-derogated rights, and the cardinal principle of natural justice that “no one should be made a judge in his own cause”. I suppose the polluted and biased committee appointed by the president, for the purposes of justice, is not therefore fit to investigate Pagan’s case, hence let Pagan seek remedies through legal means as he has heretofore began. I would love to remind the Honourable Justices of the Supreme Court of S.Sudan of what the Lord Denning said in 1969 that “Justice must be rooted in the confidence and the confidence is destroyed when right-minded people go away thinking: The judge was biased.”

Here is another hot slap for south Sudanese, now that Dr. Riek and Pagan are out of negotiating team in respect of Abyei and Heglig issue. This is another ripe receipt for disaster for the country as Khartoum will enjoy this state of quagmire, for she knows that the two big negotiators are now out of sight, and therefore, she will be able to oscillate the minds of whichever young team that is going to be appointed by the President Kiir to settle Abyei and Heglig issue. The young team will be green, and know nothing about how Abyei and Heglig negotiated issues have been framing, and will equally not be able to trace Khartoum tricks of planning to cheat south Sudan. It is so lamenting my dear countrymen, if it’s not because I am running out of time, I would have written a lamenting poem on how our precious part of the land is heading to Sudan, maybe next time, if time grants.

Dr. Riek Machar, is still struggling to harmonize the most two valued items, id est, the lives of south Sudanese and the quest to attain freedom for them. This was self-evident he surfaced to the whole world on 23rd and 24th days of July 2013 when the President announced the decree on 23rd July 2013. The sky was soaked with grieve-breath of worries vomit by every living body in South Sudan, the city streets were deserted, and homes were divorced by the owners for forests for lives preservation, the international communities within and out were swallowing their tasteless saliva in pain, and the religious leaders both in and out south Sudan thought the God and His Son have forsaken the citizens of our country. Dr. Riek’s network phone was jammed by phone calls from every corner of the world; God was forcibly preparing a portion of the paradise to host the forceful pending-ascending-lives of the innocent citizens. Juba city was enveloped by Military vehicles pregnant with young men who were equipped with all types of machines ready and thirty to spill the blood of whoever/whichever comes their way. But contrarily, the saviour, Dr. Riek came out repeatedly and told the nation to remain calm, what a leader he is! On the same chapter, his removal by the President was thinly constitutional, but not in good faith. Article 104 (2) of the constitution empowers the president either to remove the Vice president at his instance or remove him with the approval of the 2/3 majority of parliament. Therefore, because Dr. Riek has not, at any point forgotten as to why he had advocated for self-determination for south Sudanese, he then chooses to ignore all those dramatic hot events. Thus, with this manifested vision demonstrated by Dr. Riek, I get convinced that he will be another Mandela of south Sudan in terms of democracy. On the other note, I am wondering why there are some South Sudanese who are advocating for war and preaching it on public platforms, many of them are projecting a likely outbreak of war between the Nuers and the Dinkas, they think that since the Nuers comprise 75% of the South Sudanese army, then they ought to have revenged on the Dinkas. They question why they have not attacked the Dinkas yet. I have to tell you that whoever is advocating for violence has no vision and love for south Sudan. And again, you my friends! This is not all about Nuer struggling for power as you shallowly perceive, this is a national concern, it has nothing to do with Nuer nor Dinka, and I have to tell you with no reservation that if you are supporting Dr. Riek or President Kiir because he is from your tribe, you are on the wrong side of history, and you are equally of no use for the development of South Sudan. In short, Nuer people are not ready to use the national army to spill the precious blood of their fellow south Sudanese, unless it happens by its own or planned by God, and if only Dr. Riek cannot, by all means control it, maalech. Therefore, to tack in the tail of this point, it will be a collective wish of all S.Sudanese to choose who they think can fulfill the call of their motto as it says, “Justice, liberty and Prosperity.”

I am aware that there are those who are still enslaved by their own lazy and evil thoughts, whose thoughts will not permit them to evaluate potentiality of any person who can lead South Sudan to the level of prosperity, and make us realize our dream which compelled us to fight the Arabs for over 51 years. It’s foolhardy for someone to use tribe as a weighing machine to determine the capability of any person to lead the country as president. My fellow citizens, I am very optimistic that, we shall remain as South Sudanese. I call upon all of us to support our leaders based on personal capability and compassion for, and to lead South Sudan comes 2015, not on the basis of tribe. History will judge us harshly if we don’t correct any mistakes forthwith as we see them, and we should not afford to blindly mortgaging the welfare and rights of our children which will be an enormous burden for them to rectify tomorrow.

Conclusively, I thank our beloved President Salva Kiir Mayardit for what he has so far achieved, and I wish him to be guided objectively and rationally in steering South Sudan until his term constitutionally ends.

Finally, when all is said and done, I thank Dr. Riek Machar Teny Dhergon for his clear vision for S.Sudan. I pray; God will keep you safe despite all the planning against your vision. Do not opt for any war unless it’s automatic and run out of your control.

The author can be reached at [email protected]

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