Kiir on offensive, Machar on retreat, then who shall have the last laugh?

By Deng Vanang

September 10, 2013 (SSNA) — Since my last article in mid July entitled: ‘’SPLM’s Split Portents Hope for South Sudan Fledgling Democracy’’ a lot of water has passed under the bridge on matters to do with Chairman Kiir and his Deputy Machar in SPLM politics. These pertinent issues that have already gone by are more about things that set them apart further than bring them closer to common understanding. The more contentious is the cobbling of a new cabinet after the previous one that was swept down a stream on 23rd July together with the former Vice President who is none other than Dr. Riek Machar himself. What made it acrimonious was one thing: being the roundly rejection of President Salva Kiir Mayardit ’s confidant and nominated Minister of Justice, Telar Ring Takpiny Deng over his alleged faked law degrees of which he reputed to no avail under the deafening uproar in the National Legislative Assembly. He lost out to 150 strong votes against 97 in his support and then his fate was sealed. Many agreed Telar’s woes might not necessarily due to his academic credentials than his burgeoning influence over the President which has seen many political careers crashed into the oblivion.

For in all fairness, if it is about his academic pedigree, he shouldn’t be only one to fail the acid test of being vetted into the position as President proposed. Many more whose C.Vs are shorter than an arm length or acclaimed certificates were not even accounted for couldn’t cruise through to the finish line. The betting parliamentary committee also failed to see the absurdity of one ethnic group having cabinet members more than other South Sudanese ethnic groups combined with a whole state of Western Bahr el Ghazal left out without having a full cabinet Minister. Needless to say a truly lean cabinet is aimed at being efficient which is why is always formed out of technocrats to supplement their less number. But the current cabinet is full of less schooled unlike the previous one.

Then came the new Vice President and Speaker’s abetment. The once emboldened SPLM internal opposition was seen to be on a hasty retreat if not tumbling down like a knocked deck of dominoes. Their previous winning streak couldn’t echo any more in His Excellency the Vice President James Wani Igga and Right Honorable Speaker Manasseh Magok Rundial’s abetment cases. Had it not been the fact that the President learned of an advancing opposition afar and subsequently devised the way to roll it back through rather unorthodox than democratic means. In so doing, he fought his own tailor- made transitional constitution seeing some of its clauses are not helpful to his cause while utilizing sections favorable to him. First, failure to table the removal of Machar as Vice President before National Legislative Assembly as he did initially when he appointed him in order to be approved by two-third majority was actually a travesty of both justice and constitution. Although the former Vice President admitted it later that his removal was within the President’s jurisdiction in the press conference he organized in his house was self-inflicting meant to avoid something more sinister for the good of the country. Machar did so to ameliorate political friction that might spill into public domain and turn somehow dangerous.

Again in violation of the constitution the President dictated the already smitten parliament with dissolution if his appointed Vice President Wani after forming a new cabinet, which is an additional infringement of constitution, could not pass the stringent vetting procedures. The once thought rubber stumped parliament went down further into an abyss of weakness. It is becoming more of a foot stumping, hands clapping and ululating Parliament proclaiming the crowning into office of the newly nominated officials. Then master minder of 2011 rushed and eschewed transitional constitution for posterity of one man became the next victim to have the taste of his own bitter dose. That is Justice Honorable John Luk Jok who in 2011 closed his ears with cotton wool and locked himself in the glass tinted house refusing respectively to hear and see the alternative version of his action while drafting a one man show constitution even against himself.

Honorable Luk in his blind hate for Machar and in anticipation to reap a bountiful reward later from the President for a job well done failed to learn from international experience on how to make a better a constitution. For first of all, politicians make laws poked with loopholes to become future escape routes when the going gets tougher. But in Luk’s constitution, no escape routes to flee the newly introduced draconian biases and totalitarian dictatorship. Secondly, he failed to compare notes with old hand in the constitution-making and constitutionalism just across the Kenyan border. That is Charles Njonjo, the former powerful Attorney General of Kenya who tempered with Kenyan constitution in late 1970s in favor of the then Vice President Daniel Torotich Arap Moi. At the time the nation was on a tenterhook awaiting news of an octogenarian President Jomo Kenyatta dying any time, a situation which threw up an intense public debate countrywide. The Kenyatta’s ethnic group, the kikuyu regarded Moi from minority Kalenjin as non presidential material to succeed Kenyatta. They wanted another Kikuyu but not Njonjo who is also from a Kikuyu tribe. That became the reason which propelled Njonjo to warm up to Moi whom he thought after making him succeed Kenyatta through his pigeon hole constitution he would later bulldoze him out of power via unconventional methods. Then Njonjo ruled out as a flagrant crime in a raft of constitutional amendments and utterances that everyone imagining President’s demise let alone debating who to step in his big choose after death. His plan of self-aggrandizement went through and Moi became President after Kenyatta’s death. The Mercedes Benze chauffeuring Moi up and about as the President in the city of Nairobi in a long Presidential motor Cade was nicknamed Matatu, a public transport Nisan bus into which Moi and Njono inseparably squeezed themselves. Moi was just learning the ropes of power management from the tutor, Njonjo before he could jettison him out of speedy matatu.

After getting all he wanted from Njonjo, a few years later Moi implicated him in a military coup which he said was mounted by junior military officers in August 1982 at the behest of Njonjo. Then Moi turned to the constitution once made for him by Njonjo to slap the ban on him for life from politics. There are many more examples but let this single one experience be enough to save space. In our case, John Luk fell out of favor of Kiir for whom he made the constitution and saw himself outside the fence when he was removed as Minister of Justice during July 23rd cabinet onslaught. His attempted return to the system through Parliament was spotted and thwarted in its trek despite belated lobbying of MPs on his side to elect him the Speaker. There was no election he envisaged as President read the riot act to SPLM’s MPs and all members of Parliament to unanimously endorse a new comer to SPLM, Honorable Manase Magok Rundial as the next Speaker together with his two deputies. Rundial is from Machar‘s oil rich home state of Unity. As politics develops as day breaks and sun sets in Juba the political resistance in Machar home turf of Nuerland seems to be over as I wrote earlier in previous articles in favor of the President in the two organs of government being Parliament and Executive. That is after John and Machar joined former Unity State Governor Taban Deng Gai in limbo without any expected reinforcement from Simon Kun Pouch in Upper Nile State who has ever since sarcastically turned parrot praising the President’s every ridiculous move in defense of his much savored gubernatorial docket. The acting Governor of Jonglei Sate Hussein Mar Nyuot couldn’t be expected to spoil the opportunity of becoming Governor after winning years of long wait either by weighing in support for his beleaguered Nuer colleagues. The pertinent question on everyone’s lip is who is wiser now between the President on the one hand and on the other superb lawyer John Luk Jok and PhD holder in civil engineering Dr. Riek Machar Teny – Dhurgon whom the President used to do all his taxing errands for which he took the credit only to dump them eight years later.

The President successive wins were seen coming courtesy of his lightning war by using one Nuer to eliminate another for him. Undoubtedly it has born its intended fruits as the duo is parked at home and groaningly seething with rage and shame of being used and dumped by an academically challenged President. The President’s Machiavellian strategy is akin to that of Adolf Hitler in conquering one country against another at a time during the Second World War. Introspect, usually in defeat people get down to self-reflection, turn around, ask and blame themselves why an otherwise impossible happened. Machar who has the Nuer support all kept in his pockets as well as being the family head every community member looks up to for political direction with subsequent strategy can take the lion share of blame. Despite having all it takes for any veteran politician to reach the panicle of power in terms of political power base, a bulk of army behind him and money, Dr. Lam Akol with limited resources seems to be faring better than him politically in defending much smaller Shiluk kingdom and its interests in the face of combined erosive military invasion of Dinka Padang and government.

While he was a powerful Vice President he remained silent as the Dinka elites under his watch were steeling themselves with oil revenues from Nuer dominated states for a fight by taking over the national economy through local and direct foreign investments which as a result have become owners of the most expensive everything money can buy from Hammers, sky scrapers to real estate businesses. That is besides the rampant takeover of juiciest government positions both political and technocratic. The icing on the big cake is the educational opportunities through wide spread building of schools and other supportive infrastructures in Dinka homeland and foreign scholarships to study abroad that will in the next few years earn the community the best technical personnel such as Medical Doctors, Engineers, information technology wizards, lawyers, etc. in the country. The state we all fought for and sacrificed men, women, children and property is lost to one ethnic group of 62 by virtue of the fact that this single self-interested community controls key institutions and resources that make a state what it is. It is therefore, illogical as equally non-imperative for the whole nation to have committed dear lives and valuable material resources to an adventure that eventually benefits a single social group while the rest are enslaved to its free will of living a luxurious lifestyle.

Despite all the above telling signs, Machar was by no means unmoved as he remained mute while Kiir engaged in dress rehearsal before the big battle against him in uniting some Dinka groups plus other minorities desperate for survival. Machar seems to turn a blind eye despite being a good reader of books. He ignores the fact that history being the crucial subject in social sciences with which politics is managed repeats itself be it through local or external experience. What is happening now in South Sudan already became true in Kenya when in 1966 Jomo Kenyatta in an infamous Limuru conference dissolved once powerful Jaramogi Oginga Odinga’s Vice Presidency into eight Vice Presidents representing all Kenyan eight Provinces. In so doing he made his rival Luo Vice President, Jaramogi Oginga Odinga resign in frustration, current Kenyan opposition leader Raila Odinga’s father who helped Kenyatta to the extent that he turned down British colonists’ offer of being made Prime Minister for a soon to be declared self-government in the run up to independence in 1963. Odinga instead went overboard by calling Kenyatta his hero as well as composing a slogan saying ‘’no Kenyatta who was then rotting in jail no Uhuru’’. In 1966 Odinga resigned over the issues similar to the ones he and Kiir argue about on how best Kenya could be run and replaced him with Daniel Torotich Arap Moi, leader of the little known KADU party as the Vice President. And never to return to the government until death in January 1994 permanently confined in opposition. The upcoming SPLM’s 3rd National Convention or the extra-ordinary meeting about to take place soon in Yei can be Machar’s version of Limuru Conference. The same can be said of Machar who risks becoming yet another Hassen el-Turabi who was removed in 1999 as second powerful man in the old Sudan by Omar el-bashir and there is no hope of el-Turabi returning to the helm as natural process of old age and ever increasing state power of el-bashir have caught up with him.

Machar’s religious obsession with foreign democratic processes and elections over which he has no control baffles everybody leave alone they don’t correlate with local way of doing things unless he is the one implementing them. Such baseless obsession is his Achilles heels as all indications point to the fact that Kiir is no respecter of democracy and all its tenets if his currently rampant constitutional violations are anything to go by. Already the institutions governing the elections are controlled by his Dinka allies and any serious presidential candidate cannot believe or even participate, if need be, in an election whose result is pre-determined let alone his main competitor doubles up as the referee controlling all the aforesaid institutions such as Political party council, National Election Commission, NEC, Judiciary and the mainstream media. Kiir can use political party council in the midst of elections to disqualify parties and candidates threatening his hold on power and he thinks violate the electoral laws he clandestinely sets by proxy. NEC can also be another tool in his dubious hands to carry out unfair voter registration among other numerous tricks in his favor as was done recently in Kenya. In which late start and early closure of voter registration was conducted in opposition strong holds and vice versa. The objectivity of the Media cannot only be compromised but also media itself could be made to play up the negative flip side of its mandate. That is propaganda war against opposition while government could be made to appear the heavenly angle Gabriel in the eyes of mostly gullible and ignorant South Sudanese publics in all its dubious dealings. Judiciary is yet another tool to reverse opposition electoral victory if the incumbent appeals his defeat as it happened in Ivory Coast elections in 2010 when an incumbent Laurent Gbagbo ordered the Judiciary to slash his rival Ali Hassan Outara’s number of votes in the north as null and void. Only to be reversed by Outara’s party’s military wing, the former New Forces rebels and French who helped him foil Gbagbo’s ill will.

Recently Mugabe triumphed over the opposition for the seventh time in the Zimbabwean elections with head of election monitoring team, former President of Nigeria Olusigun Obasanjo declaring elections peaceful, free and fair. But later in the day Zimbabwean civil society organizations found truth of the matter after some soul searching and thorough digging. Ghosts and dead voting for the ruling ZANU-PF while in the opposition strongholds elderly women and men were found to have been wrongly assisted to vote for Mugabe in a country whose literacy rate is 90% and something. It was unbelievable for the stunned elder state man Obasanjo who couldn’t even find the mouth with which to recall his words. And even if he found his lost mouth, it is already a done deal.

If all failed to use the above mentioned examples and the President is defeated, he can use the army to bulldoze his way back to power as he ever since independence has been busy purging Machar’s allied military officers, especially the Nuer from the national army, SPLA. Currently he is doing so in an extremely larger scale and in high velocity as he has already passed on his criminal charges about the alleged Murle civilians’ massacre to some generals who are currently on the run and have thrown protective cordons around themselves to evade an eminent arrest, but for how long will they be on the run? The ethnic state can just relieve them from an active duty and if they resist handing in government equipment and command, they will be leveled renegade, a rebel equivalent to be fought. Those concerned officers must learn from experience that our problems are our own shadows from which we can’t run away. We must confront them head on. If President becomes successful in removing the generals he doesn’t like, then his plan to make SPLA a fully allied army to himself at the top will beget another strategy of using it as a launch pad for full pledged dictatorship of either no elections or rigged ones.

The President has already succeeded in diplomatic front in isolating Machar from regional neighbors and now he is bathing in his own sweat in the windowless and door less tukul. Since Museveni is already Kiir’s man who is running South Sudan as one of Uganda’s administrative regions. He also used Museveni to make him befriended to Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya who is beholden to Museveni in order to help him out of his present ICC’s predicament. Kiir has his daughter married to a citizen of Ethiopia, a South Sudan traditional ally. That personal attachment will certainly help him get politico-military assistance from Ethiopia in case of any eventuality. Don’t talk of Sudan to which he hitherto offered Abyei in silver platter in exchange for oil follow to Port Sudan knowing very well he needs the money since he has an immediate enemy to fight inside the house more dangerous than the far away Sudan.

West is not bankable as true ally albeit its human rights and democracy rhetoric Machar is trying to promote. It only supports one conscious of its strategic interests it can achieve from him. Case study is the Nasir declaration when all his hope was that Garang being a socialist and a dictator West would certainly come to his aid as new kid on the bloc flaunting Western values of democracy and human rights. The hope turned vain. Even the West can only be with him for the time being so long as he will be in power before three years to come. Otherwise west can likely shift its support to Kiir in the events that oil pipe line is rerouted to Djibouti and then Kiir can chase away Chinese and call up on the Americans with their chevron to takeover oil concessions they desperately want to have if Machar ascends to power through their help. In this case Machar can see his last strong hold give way and with it his quest for Presidency since Sudan government after feeling tricked wouldn’t be in a stronger position to help him as it will be busy fending off SPLM/A north with full pledged help of Kiir and the Americans. The tide will turn against him and won’t be any longer in a position to stake claim for a luxury called Presidency. Instead he shall be an endangered species looking for a place to hide in order to save his skin and soul. In this case Machar should start thinking of where about of my party’s leader, Dr. Lam Akol Ajawin.

Numerous case studies abound that West is only after material and strategic interests than democracy and human rights. In Congo in 1961 American CIA dealt with popularly elected Patrice Lumumba as socialist and first Prime Minister of Congo whom they believed was going to hand over his country rich in minerals to their rival Soviet Union. They used his defense chief General Joseph Desire Mobutu or in his another name Mobutu Sesseseko to over throw him, arrest and hand him over to his political rival Moshe Chombe in secessionist mineral rich Katanga province to execute and mutilate his body by a fire squad on February 11, 1961. The same occurred in Latin America’s Chile in 1973 when the first democratically elected socialist President in the world; Dr. El Salvador Allende was bomb shelled to his death in his Presidential palace with artillery weapons by his military chief, General Augustino Pinochet. His quilt was planning to expel Americans multi-national companies. In the face of an inevitable expulsion by Allende, companies decided to bribe the military to eliminate Allende so that business of exploiting the Chileans could continue as usual. The same Americans built Saddam Hussein to be the brutal dictator he was while paid no considerable attention to massacring Kurds in their thousands with chemical weapons on March 16th 1988 in Halabja while at the same time hanging his political opponents of Shiite religious sect en mass. The West only woke up in its deep slumber when Saddam invaded Kuwait to be another province of Iraq in 1990. Their fear was that by controlling Kuwaiti oil coupled with that of Iraq, Saddam would sit on the largest oil deposits in the world and begin to dictate the prices in the world market at the expense of United States and its western allies. From that powerful position, he would move to control Arab world with a bigger say in world politics. Closer home we have Museveni who has been in power despite his poor human rights records and rampant abuse of democracy because he is made to be the blue eye boy to change and keep Great lakes region as an Anglo – phone for America and Britain as against the French and Chinese interests.

This tells us self-defense and might is right are means through which America and other four permanent members of UN Security Council rule the world; raving and ranting about democracy and its accompanying human rights matters as defensive mechanisms for the weak notwithstanding. By the way they were not elected by the world body, UN they created in Sans Francisco in 1945 to advance their interests except their sheer might of emerging as the conquerors of Nazi Germany and Italy at the end of world war Two. Then they unilaterally decided to arrogate themselves the legal status of becoming the world police men.

Kiir is currently in the throes of forming a formidable alliance with political parties and tribes. Those that will not barge shall be pistol – whipped into line through carrot and stick strategy. However, there is window of opportunity still left open for Machar since the Dinka elite by any strain of imagination as history taught us are not reliable allies but proved to be cunning to any other potential political partners. Because of this the currently developing unity between them and some Equatorian tribes shall in the long run turn out to be a charm in which the latter are only endowed with positions minus real power to make independent decisions of their own. There is no likelihood an Equatorian like any other South Sudanese shall succeed a Dinka as the President as history teaches us that no top Dinka politician worth his salt under normal circumstances has ever fought another Dinka in defense of another politically inspiring Southerner. And therefore, this unity may unravel as soon as those Equatorians will have at long last realized the tricks and changed camp. If it is not, the isolation and pressure under which Kiir is trying to place the Nuer and their allies will in turn work against him and his allies. The desperate act will prevail as politics says fight your enemy but don’t push him to the position of despair where he has no breathing space left for him to maneuver. Because that will make him resort to desperate act of violence to survive which is what the Nuer and their allies can turn to and shall have nobody to blame them among the observers. That is the likely use of physical force and in his defeat, Kiir and his people shall not only loss power for a good number of decades if not century but goes with it shall be manpower and economic investments they have ill-acquired through power of incumbency, land grabbing and financial corruption. More of Equatorian supporters can only help Kiir election wise in the stable atmosphere but in the situation of brute force may not be ready for such an unfortunate scenario. Instead they will change tag for the winning side, probably the opposition as is generally the case in the third world and in particular Africa which normally gains its sweet victory in state of chaos, be it peaceful or violent.

Deng Vanang is a Journalist and Executive member of South Sudan leading opposition the SPLM-DC. He can be reached at:[email protected]. Note: All the views expressed above are solely mind and cannot be attributed to SPLM-DC.

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