Peace cannot hold with Kiir as president for life!

By: Anderson Riek

Nairobi, May 16, 2014 (SSNA) — Since this crisis started in December of last year, and the months preceding this, I had decided to go underground, for reasons best known to myself. It wasn’t because there was nothing to write about – a lot of stories and events that needed another person view/bird’s eyes. Since then, a lot of water seems to have passed under the bridge. South Sudan, a country born in 2011, is now in flames. Only God knows when and how this conflict will end, but as its now, only innocent women, children and the elderly bear the brunt of this senseless war imposed on the people by Salva Kiir and his cronies.

The events which unfolded before the December 15th meant that we were headed for a serious crisis, one worse than any other crisis (es) in history. We all knew that the actions (the unpopular, so-called presidential decrees and the vile threats at the December 14th SPLM national liberation council meeting) of the then president Kiir were antithetical to peace and stability in South Sudan, and any right minded person would have concluded that it was a declaration of war on those deemed as his opponents or stumbling block for him to cling on power endlessly.

What happened on the night of December 15th in Juba was not a coup attempt by any definition, as attested by many witnesses who have written before this little author. It was a premeditated plan to eliminate all the political opponents of Kiir, and a plan that went terribly wrong, as it didn’t hit the right targets. Yes, they managed to arrest some innocent political leaders of the party, who only woke up to the guns rattling at night and didn’t know what was happening. The prime target, on hearing gunfire at the presidential guards unit, had to look for escape route as his dear life was in danger – knowing fully well that it was all about him.

What started as an internal fighting within the presidential guards unit, turned out to be tribally motivated killings of innocent Nuer civilians, because the man they wanted to kill had escaped unharmed. They had to use a tank to crush/kill the children, women and whoever they found in his house on the 17th of December when they realized that he was not in the house. The records we have at our disposal put the number of innocent Nuer civilians killed in Juba alone at 17,000. Most people were killed at their homes during the door-to-door search for Nuer by Kiir’s militias from Bhar el Ghazal with strict orders ‘shoot-to-kill’. Others were killed as they tried to go to UNMISS compounds. The author narrowly escaped on the 16th of December and bear witness to what happened.

A shaky cessation of hostilities agreement was signed in January and on the day of its signature, the pro-government forces went on the offensive, attacking the anti-government forces in multiple fronts, in total disrespect of the agreement. They burned Leer town to ashes; and raped, killed women and children on the 6th of February. They looted the town and took everything they could find around – heck!, they also looted UNICEF school’s bags, which attracted UNICEF condemnation from their HQs. But then, judging from what has been said by the so-called ‘international community’, the world is simply not fair!

A certain guy called Toby Lanzer has been promised renewal of the contract by Kiir’s government but on condition that he had to report falsified information regarding the alleged atrocities committed by the rebels. When more than 200 innocent (Nuer) civilians under the protection of UN in Bor were killed in broad daylight, the death toll was reduced to 60 people; so as not to disgrace the UN, while treading on a fine line not to arouse Makuei’s wrath.

When civilians were targeted and killed in January (in Bentiu) after the JEM and pro-government forces recaptured the town from the anti-government forces, Toby Lanzer never opened his mouth to condemn it. Likewise, civilians were pulled out of churches and hospitals in Malakal and killed in huge numbers after the town was recaptured by the government forces and the UN never said anything about it. It has become abundantly clear that the UNMISS is doing according to the whims and caprices of the illegitimate government of Kiir and Makuei, with regards to the ongoing conflict in South Sudan.

Its either the so-called “international community” is blind to the truth or doesn’t want to know the truth. After all, we didn’t want somebody, who decided to be blind to the truth, to tell us that so and so is the legitimate president when his hands are full of blood from innocent’s civilians killed, with his full knowledge. If there is still something called “international community”, they should start calling on this illegitimate president to step aside in order for peace to prevail over chaos and anarchy, as evidenced now. The only acceptable transition is one without Kiir as president of South Sudan. Otherwise, we are wasting resources (time, papers, inks and money) in Addis Ababa hotels, trying to negotiate peace that will not be achieved in the foreseeable future as long as the conditions are not ripe for it!

The truce cannot hold with Kiir as the president unless we are not seriously for peace. The US and the wider international cannot just impose an impractical and forced peace while turning a blind eye on the glaring and blatant violations by Kiir’s government. The truce cannot hold with Kiir who has conspicuously and categorically declared he is president for life, as he tightens his grip on power and extend his contract beyond 2018 or thereabout. The truce cannot hold with Kiir who does not believe in peaceful resolution of this conflict but believes in crushing the rebellion through the bought mercenaries – the Ugandans, JEM, SPLA-North and Egyptians with vested interests; and the world doesn’t see anything wrong with this.

Salva Kiir is bent on exterminating ALL the Nuer in South Sudan so that he can rule for life, and nobody will question his dictatorship tendencies; and the US cannot see it because they have decided to be blind to the truth. What is happening now in South Sudan has all the hallmarks of genocide in it. The world is not fair because when 17,000 innocent Nuer civilians were massacred in Juba alone, nobody bothered to condemn or talk about it.  The world isn’t fair because when more than 200 innocent Nuer civilians, mostly children and women; who were supposedly under the protection of UNMISS in Bor were killed by government soldiers, nobody condemned it much.

I just cannot understand it; and thus, don’t envisage peace in South Sudan as long as Kiir is still claiming legitimacy that has gone to waste with the 2011 referendum papers. Needless to say he burned his card/credit when he killed 17,000 civilians in Juba in December 2013, and many more elsewhere since January up to now.

The author is a civil society activist based in Nairobi and can be reached via: [email protected].

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