South Sudan: Demand for an Urgent Compromise to Prevent its Collapse

By Duol Wuow Rut

December 28, 2013 (SSNA) — As a citizen of this beautiful nation with rich heritages with countless potentials of becoming the world’s food basket, I refuse to give up hope and believe that one day our country would rise up and find a peaceful way to settle its differences like any other nations before it. But I have to admit that the situation is very tempting to led one chosen side over the nation. Countless numbers of you have made many wonderful suggestions as a way to resolve this conflict including calling President Salva Kiir Mayardit to resign. Although resignation of our once loved president sounds very undemocratic, it is the only thing that can protect our imperfect union at this critical time in our country history.

On December 24, President Salva Kiir Mayardit said, "I am ready for dialogue and to release […] these people. I can pardon them if you can [show] me someone who would be held accountable for atrocities they have committed in this senseless war. If I leave them to just go, who would be held responsible?" Mr. President, make no mistake, no one other then you who will be held responsible for the death of this 1,000 or more Nuer killing in Juba by your heartless presidential guards. I am profoundly saddened by this empty rhetoric of our president of believing that he was not the one that ordered the genocide of the Nuer who had overwhelming voted for him to become the first president of independence South Sudan. I know asking for the resignation of our president can seem downright impossible for some of you if you do not have the spirit of patriotism for our nation.  But believe me, it is the best immediate option to rescue our nation from sudden collapse. Otherwise, I am afraid that our nation is at the verge of failing or becoming another failed State.

It is unfortunate to see what was once started as a political disagreement between the SPLM leadership themselves on how to run the political party, sadly turn into unwanted genocide and on-going senseless war across the nation’s ten States. Dr. Riek Machar Teny was right in saying that the chairman and the nation’s president Salva Kiir Mayardit decision of dissolving the party essentially paralyzed the ruling political party. Indeed, he was absolutely right. The dissolution is what plunged our nation into war with itself and it is the main cause of the selective killings of the Nuer tribe by the presidential guards on December 15, 2013. It is equally sad that President Salva Kiir didn’t or chose to ignore to know that his decision to dissolve the party that many of us have left our homes in the 1983 to give our ultimate human sacrifice to free our people from the Islamic regime of Khartoum is dangerous for the new nation’s future. Besides, Salva Kiir Mayardit and his associates should have known better before uttering the word dissolve, that the party’s structures is fundamentally important for its success in politics.

Absent of these structures that hold it together always weaken the checks and balances that legitimize and adequately diffuse power within a political system. Again, I may be naïve of all the facts involves in the genocide of the Nuer community members on the street of our nation’s capital, Juba on December 15, 2013, but I know one thing though, it was a long planned genocide by no one other than our president, Salva Kiir Mayardit. The United Nation defined genocide as an acts committed by a group with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group. Always, the circumstances that lead to genocide in any part of the world are rarely simple, the circumstances usually involve very complicated histories, and the genocide that took place in Juba is no different because both Dinka and Nuer tribes have troublesome histories. South Sudan is a country that has 64 ethnic groups; the Nuer and the Dinka being the majority group with historical resentments against each other. In the case of Juba’s recent genocide; it was a selective killing of the Nuer tribes carried out by President Salva Kiir Mayardit’s Dinka presidential guards.

Through so many of your countless writings as a victim who has recently escaped the wrath of death from the street of Juba, or from an eyewitness account and/or telephone conversations with family members or a friend at home, it is now crystal clear that the genocidal killings of our Nuer tribe men, women and children in thousands that took place on December 15, 2013, and still taking place as I am writing this opinion piece is a planned genocide by president Salva Kiir Mayardit. As a citizen of this nation, I have the responsibility to inform you that this senseless killing is in fact a presidential order by our nation’s president, Salva Kiir Mayardit, carried out by his presidential guards who are predominantly from the Dinka tribe of Warrap State and Northern Bahr El Ghazal State. One of the many compromises should include the resignation of the president from presidency. Allow me to assume that all of us have learned that the main purpose of any Government is to govern, manage and protect the individual rights for its citizens.

Supposedly, as the government of the people, for the people, by the people, it should ensure the proper use of force by specifying laws, to clarify the use of force when enforcing laws. Without boring you with statistics, take a minute to imagine a place with no government of this type. In this place, there would be no laws to protect people and their property but only kings have rights to decide who to accuse of crime, or should be killed for reasons only known to them. There would be no way for people to peacefully settle their differences or disagreements.     There would be no elected leader to make decisions. There would be no police to help keep people safe and their properties. In a place like this, genocide is possible and that is what happened on December 15, 2013, in our nation’s capital, Juba. With better leadership, these senseless killings of our people could have been prevented. On this December 15, 2013, President Salva Kiir Mayardit has failed to ensure the proper use of force by specifying laws when ordering his presidential guards to go out and arrest individuals he believed rebelled against his government as well as ordered the selective killings of Nuer or anyone appeared as Nuer. These presidential guards went out and killed Nuer women, men, children with impunity, destroyed their properties and looted them too. This is what a failed leadership always resorts to. Our government under the leadership of President Salva Kiir Mayardit, has miserably failed our nation and not Dinka as a tribe. These presidential guards may have elements among them that hate the Nuer for whatever reason known to them but make no mistake, what happened on December 15, 2013 was not a tribal war but an ordered genocide by our democratically elected president, Salva Kiir Mayardit, against the Nuer. Truthfully, it is a fact that cannot be denied by a prudent person.

Anyway, by now we all have learned fairly well that what was once called by President Salva Kiir Mayardit as a coup by Dr. Riek Machar and his group was not a coup but a long planned genocide by not any other than the president himself to cause tribal war as a mean to get away with all the mischief his government has done to this nation. On December 15, 2013, this break loose by the violence that erupted between his bodyguards, who are predominantly from the Dinka tribe, whose attempt was to disarm their Nuer colleagues under orders of the president, leading into the selective killings of the members from the Nuer communities regardless of their status in the government. This had resulted in the killings of thousands of Nuer women, men, children and alike. This cold-blooded killing has caused our nation to take sides as loyalists, patriots, Dinka and Nuer. In fact, this should not have been the case, as it was a coup made up by the president and his cronies to hide their refusal to settle their differences. Our president Salva Kiir Mayardit was once a beloved leader and admired by many, myself included, but slowly his popularity dwindled and now he is a despised failure, incompetence, intolerance that hides his failure through made up coup. If our allegiant is to our country and not our ethnicity, then, we must rise up and rightfully reject such a leader regardless of their tribal allegiance.

For fairness sake, we should bluntly admit that it is a mere failure of collective leadership of both the President Salva Kiir Mayardit, Dr. Riek, Machar Teny, Pagan Amum Okiech and James Wani Igga and many other more of our comrades that was once in power within the party leadership or the government that deprive our nation of its people on December 15, 2013. However, at this time, the blame is on President Salva Kiir Mayardit because he failed to uphold his constitutional responsibilities to safeguard our imperfect union, has not ensured justice, domestic tranquility, and has not provided for the common defence of our people, nor has he promoted their general welfare, nor secured the blessings of their liberty and their posterity that are grantee by our nation’s supreme law, the transitional constitution. As a leader myself, I have read so many books on leadership, including the Nelson Mandela’s biography: Long Walk to Freedom and found that leaders are usually distinguished by their ability to think big and strategically to achieve their goals and objectives. But as their focus shifts, their thinking shrinks and sadly, this is the case with our President Salva Kiir Mayardit. This shrinkage of thinking led to the order of genocide as a short cut to stay in power. There were plenty of warning signs ahead of this sudden explosion of our nation due to the very failure of Salva Kiir Mayardit as a president of a free nation. I am going to briefly explain these warning signs in our president’s leadership failure through an eye of a counseling psychologist, SPLA veteran and an SPLM leader.   

Unfortunately, I will not mention all of these warning signs because of lack of time and as well as the fact that these things may not be relevant at this critical time. First, it has been my experience as a leader that when leaders lose sight of what’s important, they meddle; get caught up in intricacies, and surrender to perfectionism in inconsequential decisions that should have been better left to others to take care of. Many of you may have over looked our president’s demeanor for good reason, but as a clinician, I have lately seen his behavior to be the cause of all this chaos that is presently unfolding in our new nation. President Salva Kiir Mayardit has made many unfortunate decisions, including removing of two elected governors without sufficient reasons that warranted their dismissal, the dissolutions of his entire cabinets that has left the nation with power vacuum, removing of an unspecified responsibilities from the former vice president, Dr. Riek Machar Teny, sudden retiring of military generals in a war time, secret deploying of a tribal presidential guards without the prior knowledge of the SPLA’s Chief of General Staff, Lt. Gen. James Hoth Mai to patrol on Juba street during his removal of his former vice president, Dr. Riek Machar Teny and the recent dissolution of the SPLM party structures and the list goes on. We were very fortunate; otherwise, our nation could have been engulfed with this senseless war a long time ago with all this reckless decisions our President and his cronies has made. Anyway, psychologically, this type of behavior leads so many leaders to forget that their greatest influence flows from inner vision and integrity and in the case of our president; he has recently become obsessed with actions, such as those senseless decrees and, in the process, he ended up losing touch with all-important developments of character.

Again, as a clinician, I greatly attribute our President Salva Kiir Mayardit’s leadership failure to lack of self-care, failure to take time to reflect privately on all the decisions, actions, and carefully scrutinize all the counsels he receive from all advisors, who surrounded him, and especially consult with other leaders for advice on conflict resolution before the problem escalated to unmanageable stage. If a leader doesn’t take care of him/herself, no one else will. Unless a leader is blessed with unusually perceptive followers, nobody will pick up on signs of fatigue and stress and it seems that our president is not fortunate enough to surround himself with such groups of wise people but only with individuals full of hate to our nation’s ethnic makeup. Though leaders are counted on to produce, our president has done very little domestically and our people did not put too much pressure on him because they knew he is not superhero with limitless energy. As a leader myself, I know even though leadership is energizing, I am also aware that it is in fact very tiring at times. As a reminder to all of us, we should know that like anyone other mere mortal, leaders are susceptible to feeling drained, depressed, and demotivated. As a result, those who neglect their physical, psychological, emotional, or spiritual needs are headed for disaster and this is what leads President Salva Kiir Mayardit to order genocide of the Nuer tribe. For those of you who are currently in leadership or aspired to become a leader in the future, though you may be busy now, my timeless advice to you is to make time for refreshment and replenishment. As a leader and a clinician, I always take care of my mental needs and I encourage you to do the same, as self-preservation isn’t selfish; it’s vital to the health of those you lead. Recently, William Pay Tuol-Giel, president and executive director of South Sudan Community of Arizona, characterized President Salva Kiir Mayardit as “a warm and an intimate man with a great listening ability but the people around him had mission to destroy him.” Well, William as a leader should know that it’s unfair to blame leader’s failures on other. Though Salva chose to listen to people like Gordon Buay Reath, Telar Riing Deng and likes, it is up to a leader to lead outside of his inner vision and integrity and should refrain from blaming others for president mischiefs. Yes, it is true President Salva Kiir has had successful attempts to manage to unite South Sudanese by giving countless amnesty to all South Sudan rebels against his government, successful referendum that resulted into overwhelming vote for independence. However, all these victories have created unnecessary pressure to our leader for need to achieve more at the expense of the nation. 

As a leader, I am interested in learning more as a means to enhance my knowledge and think big. Through my experiences as a leader as well as through literature, I found that the longer a leader is successful, the higher his or her perceived cost of failure will be. An example is Saddam Hussein, former president of Iraq, Mohamad Gadhafi, former president of Libya, Mengistu Haile-Mariam, former president of Ethiopia and the list goes on. It is a known fact that when a leader is driven by the fear of failure, he/she certainly would be unable to take reasonable risks. This is what happens to President Salva Kiir Mayardit as he limits himself to tried and proven pathways such as this order of genocide of the Nuer tribe. This order of genocide has wiped off his records of success or future leadership as a democratic president. Personally, I don’t believe president Salva and his cronies even made an attempt to ask themselves a simple question, what is more important among all the options available to them at the time of dark hours. The President neglected to ask himself and his associates, do we still want to take reasonable risks? Typically, a prudent leadership should have asked all these simple questions as a mean to avoid these reckless killings, but instead, his fear of Dr. Riek Machar and his associates to possibly defeat him in a democratic election should he decided to give the party convention a chance to take place. The fear of possible defeat from the chairmanship of the SPLM party by Dr. Riek Machar Teny has paralyzed the President Salva Kiir Mayardit and his associates to the point in which they eventually resorted into ordering the genocide of the Nuer tribe as the easiest way to escape the election. I am very sure, our nation, through us, will ensure justice is done and done swiftly.

Another failure is a poor or lack of communication between the president, his subordinate, parliament and other institutions. This has led all of his subordinates, Dr. Riek Machar included to possibly not understanding the president’s intentions on certain national issues. It is interesting to find out the president himself isn’t even sure what it is! With all the evidence I have gathered, I can conclude that President Salva Kiir Mayardit has deluded himself into believing that his committed followers can sense his goals and carry out his government wishes without being told. The president’s mismanagement and poor leadership has resulted into misunderstandings, causing him and his close associates to blame his subordinates for lack of effort or commitment rather than recognizing his own communication negligence that caused the rise of misunderstanding within the SPLM and the government institutions. What Salva should have done in the first place is to salvage this looming situation in the nation. He should have said what he meant, and meant what he said, but regrettably, it must be preceded by knowing what you mean! And I don’t believe the president has what it takes to do this. My timeless advice to all of you potential leaders out there or the President himself is, clarity of purpose is the starting point for all effective communication.

Most importantly, as president Salva Kiir took people of South Sudan for granted, he did not realized for a long time that he has lost credibility, integrity and public trust he had enjoyed since 2005. This was a due to his lack of competent revealed by his reckless decision making and blurred character. Ethically, President Salva has been on the slippery slope of failure for a long time, creating an integrity problem with public and his subordinates, community of nations on foreign policy. As we know, the highest principle of leadership is integrity but our president has lost touch with reality and should silently resigned and apologized to the people of South Sudan for all host of mischiefs, including this genocide.

All too often, leaders see their followers as pawns, a mere means to an end and that is how President Salva Kiir Mayardit sees us. As a result, he confuses manipulation of his heartless associates with leadership and this resulted to a rapidly loss of respect. These types of leaders are dangerous because they cease to be people perceivers and become at times, people pleasers, using popularity to ease the guilt of lapsed integrity. This is what President Salva Mayardit has done when he re-instated Telar Riing Deng as his legal advisor after he was rightly rejected by the people’s parliament as a minister of justice due to a lack of his legal credential. I think it would be a disservice to you without mentioning one line about this disgruntled gentleman who thinks he is the president. Well, you be the judge! Tragically, we all know very well that Telar Riing Deng is an architect of all this chaos that is presently taking place in our nation.

I think most of you may have learned from the recent letter that was leaked out to SPLM Forum by other than the president’s encircle and through other sources within the government. This letter has detailed intelligent conversations between the president and his close associates.  Mr. Telar Riing Deng’s overtone seemed to be troublesome. Ironically, Telar Riing Diing always presents himself as the president and his actions reflect this observation. The letter spoke volumes of his evil plans to destroy individuals within the party, the government and rather distorted the image of our beloved nation. Anyway, this communication is not about Telar Riing Deng but the president. However, we should not forget that, some of the president’s mischiefs are in fact Telar Riing Deng’s unpatriotic advises against individuals he deem to be his enemies or those who have criticized the president. This genocide was avoidable should the president decided to ask himself, are there areas of conflict between what I believe and how I behave dealing with my party or the nation’s national issues. These senseless killings came about because our president had abandoned his leadership directions and only listened to people like Telar Riing Deng, Paul Malong Awan, current governor of Northern Bahr el Ghazal, former Deputy Minister of Interior, Salva Mathok Gengdit, and former rebel spokesperson of SSDF, Gordon Buay Reath and their likes. Although Gordon Buay Reath was a young man, the president has seen him as potential leader with undisputed intellect, commendable education and multiple leadership abilities that make him an internet guru who is not interested in anything else but barrage of character assassination of Dr. Riek Machar and his supporters as if he was campaigning for presidency.

While I do not agree with Mr. Gordon Buay Reath in politic, I still admired him as a highly educated little brother, who is politically informed. I knew him very well that he has some talents to falsely destroy, accuse, and defame someone he deems his enemy or of his interest and vice versa. He has demonstrated this countless time with Dr. Riek Machar and his likes. Remember, we need him too as an American needs their Rush Limbaugh and his likes. Again, should you decide to disagree with me on my description of Gordon Buay Reath as such, you are entitled to your opinion of him. Let me get back to our president. In any capacity of leadership, the hard work should be fulfilling and fun but this was not true for Salva Kiir Mayardit. As the president divorced from his dreams, he finds the responsibility of leadership to be frustrating and fruitless and is no longer motivated. In order to rescue him from this, his close circle should have encouraged him to stick to what he loves and rediscover what compelled him to accept the mantle of leadership in the first place when Dr. John Garang perished from the plane crash eight and half years ago.

In the absence of a strategic leadership of the wise, now our nation is in verge of civil wars and ongoing genocide taking place in Juba, Bentiu, Bor, Malakal, and most of its counties including Ulang, and Nasir. This chaos has given President Salva Kiir Mayardit and his government a card to categorize our people as loyalists and rebel supporters. Presently, those who supported the presidential order of genocide, the arrest of the president’s political opponents and declaration of former Vice president, Dr. Riek Machar Teny as a fugitive or rebel as loyalists. Whereas those who supported Dr. Riek Machar Teny, the group of high level politicians in prison, those called for the release of these members and condemned the genocidal acts are called rebel supporters instead of being call patriots. These people that are branded as rebel supporters are in fact the patriots calling for the implementation of democratic government of the people, by the people and for the people.

With this unfortunate situation that has currently taken place in our nation’s state capital, Juba on December 15, 2013, and now continues to spread into other States, such as Bor, Bentiu, Upper Nile and soon more, probably will be plunged in our nation into unnecessary civil war that could have been prevented should President Salva Kiir Mayardit choose to perfect the imperfect union of our nation. Most of us know, if not all, too well that the histories of Nuer and Dinka is full of contradictions and its always like walking on an egg shell. Despite all this chaos and uncertain future, we should remain hopeful and continue to advocate for peace in South Sudan.

Finally, you should know that it was once said, “The history of every country begins with the heart of a man or a woman” (Willa Catther, O Pioneers). Thus, your good heart with our nation pride is highly needed in these trying times of our country history. Again and again, I would like to remind you my compatriots that it was once said eloquently by most beloved United States former president; John F. Kennedy that, “Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.” Today, this quote by American President, John F. Kennedy spoke volumes to our current situation at home in South Sudan. With this, I am here to remind all of us that it is our collective responsibility as citizens to rescue our new nation from collapse in the hand of a 21st century dictator, President Salva Kiir Mayardit. In order to do this and bring justice to our citizens who have been killed recently in Juba, Bentiu, Bor and Malakal, all victims, our diverse freedom fighters, our freedom champions in the prison in Juba, our nation and to save the fate of our people party, the SPLM, we as the resilience, peace lover and democratic people of South Sudan in Diaspora and at home in South Sudan from all sixty four tribes, I urge all of you to rise up and demand resignation of President Salva Kiir Mayardit along with his associates like Michael Makuei Lueth, Gordon Buay Reath, Telar Riing Deng, Dr. Riek Gai Kok, Kok Ruea, Dr. Marial Benjamin, Kuol Manyang Juuk, just to name a few, and give back the government to the people parliament to prepare the nation for general election within a year time. Also, it is imperatively important that we continues to strongly advocate for the release of our freedom champions, like Pagan Amum Okiech, Oyay Deng Ajak, Geir Chuang Aloung, Majak D’ Agot, John Luk Jok, Cirino Hiteng, Chol Tong Mayay, Ezekiel Lol Gatkuoth, Deng Alor Koul, Madut Biar, and Kosti Manibe who were falsely accuse by our president of staging a foiled coup.

Without these democratic demands, peace will not be realized for a long time in South Sudan. Lastly, free men and women of my country, our way out of this system of tyranny, is to resort into democratic protests such as a mass popular uprising in all ten States even though it is risky given the absent of democracy and possibility of a repeat genocide. We should remembers that it was once said by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., that, “Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.” With this, it is clear, we must demand our freedom.

May God rest their souls in peace and bring His comfort and gracious mercy to their families and upon the victims of this senseless genocide.

May God bless South Sudan and its resilience people and soon peace and stability shall prevail.

With deep sorrows,

Duol Rut, MA, is a former Chairman of Nebraska SPLM State Chapter, a License Mental Health Practitioner and a post-doctoral student in Psychology with specialization in criminology and legal studies at the University of the Rockies, Colorado Springs, CO. He can be reach via his E-Mail: [email protected].

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