The historical dangers of consistent lies: A response to Steve Paterno’s article

‘Why South Sudan Riek Machar is reneging on implementing peace agreement’ (part II)

By BB Biel

October 30, 2015 (SSNA) — This is the second part of my response and it continues to challenge the absurdity and lies Steve Paterno shamefully attempts to sell out without any success. In this part, as I squarely expose his lies, I continue to inform Paterno that Riek Machar’s courage is unchallengeable even at the risk of his own life. Riek Machar always stands up to oppose injustices and says things when others cover their colours in fear for reprisal. The examples of storms Riek Machar has resisted are insurmountable, including how he raised the reforms within the SPLM/SPLA jungle movement and currently fragmented ruling party. The conclusion of part I, was on non-implementation of Khartoum Peace Agreement 1997 by Khartoum regime.

Can Paterno recall what Riek Machar did in protesting the non-implementation of KPA by Khartoum regime? I guess, Paterno would ignorantly assume something different since he seems to fail simple historical facts of the liberation struggles. To help him and also to remind the reader of these facts, Riek Machar courageously wrote six(6) clear points to the President of the Republic of the Sudan General Omar Mohammed Hassan Al Bashir( Bashir) in direct protest of non-implementation of KPA. Riek Machar  outlined the violations of the KPA and  told Bashir point-blank that since his(Bashir) government reneged on the implementation of the KPA which guaranteed the right to self-determination for the people of South Sudan, then he(Riek Machar) and his forces, would have no choice but to return to the jungles of South Sudan to continue with the liberation war against Khartoum until North Sudanese could come to terms with the realities of South Sudanese long term political demand for the right to self-determination.

When Bashir addressed nothing on the 6 points raised by Riek Machar on the violation of KPA, true to his words, Riek Machar instantly returned to the bushes of South Sudan and formed the Sudan Peoples’ Defence Forces( SPDF), a body of armed forces which he commanded until John Garang, Salva Kiir and other unionists accepted the rationale that caused the 1991 split where peaceful solution is to be sought out with Khartoum in an agreement that would include the right to self-determination for the people of South Sudan(Paterno; read  the SPLM/SPLA minutes of Chukudum when Garang changed heart making the right to self-determination a key focus of liberation and for any future engagement with Khartoum government ). Garang read all the signs on the wall and grabbed the popular demand of the people.

The softening of the stance and acceptance of demand for the right to self-determination by Torit faction, led to the merger of SPDF under Riek Machar and the SPLM/SPLA under John Garang in 2002. This was ushered in by Washington and Nairobi declarations which the two leaders signed. Riek Machar willingly accepted the merger because his main points which caused the 1991 split were already embraced by John Garang and Salva Kiir and it was high time South Sudanese negotiated with North Sudanese a peace agreement that would include the right to self-determination. Shamefully, like the Paternos of today, the Paternos of 2002 soon called the merger ‘surrender of Riek Machar to Garang.’

If the right to self-determination was accepted by the godfathers of Steve Paterno and with such a provision being the major term of the Khartoum Peace Agreement and a significant ripening rationale that unlocked the 1991 split, all of which were championed by Riek Machar, than it logically follows that it is Riek Machar who should instead be known as a signatory of famous Peace Agreements rather than unsourced lying version which the likes of Steve Paterno blindly want us to believe.

The world should continue to be informed that, it needs no rocket-scientists to know that the terms of the KPA were simply replicated and rebranded as ‘Comprehensive Peace Agreement’ (CPA) which John Garang and the other godfathers of Paterno accepted just because this time, it was not led by an enlightened Nuer elite;  Riek Machar.  The hypocrites weren’t unlimited though!

The CPA is a copycat of the KPA which Riek Machar negotiated and signed with Khartoum, of which the likes of Paterno had rejected but later signed similar terms as CPA.  Then what would the likes of pretentious Paterno call this? Isn’t a grab and stealing of credits and placing oneself falsely at the annals of the history as President Kiir just recently did in pasting demand for federal governance under 21 states with his 28 states or ‘28 tribal enclaves’ outside the concluded peace agreement?  In the whole of 2014, Kiir rejected any discussion on the federal system of governance. Be it as should, how then the pompous Paterno shamefully exposes his lies, in his description of Riek Machar as a known signatory of many infamous agreements when he has been the one tuning fearful conscience on the demands by South Sudanese since 1947? Simply put, the reasoning of Paterno explains the pseudoic thinking of the choir of ‘Oyee!’ These childish adults would even call Jesus Christ as Riek Machar if He talks of reforms.

The LRA-Uganda Peace Talks 2006-2008:

We need to further expose the ignorance of Paterno in his assumption of LRA-Uganda peace talks. He assumed such talks were single-handedly Riek Machar’s own making. On Paterno’s lies, one wonders as from where on earth would a person who is not the head of state be the one to initiate an issue of international nature? Even if an opportunity of doing so, availed itself then, would Riek Machar do it single-handedly without the approval of President Salva Kiir and warring parties? The claim is mind-boggling and Paterno knows it pretty well that he is lying on this! ‘Ila’ Paterno is not himself at all!

Could Paterno’s insecure argument a cover up of his ignorance of the main function of international law that governs the affairs and relationships between independent states and not individuals?  Since the year 2005, South Sudan was semi-autonomous region with its own President. One of the President’s roles is to oversee foreign matters. With this direct reasoning that the matters which are of foreign nature  squarely fall on president’s office, then it is not mysterious to know that the peace talks between LRA and Uganda, were initiated by the then Government of Southern Sudan headed by the incumbent President Salva Kiir. That be as it was, Riek Machar was only delegated by President Salva Kiir to mediate on issues between the Ugandan warring parties. The main person who okayed the peace processes remained Salva Kiir and Riek Machar was only a mediator who reported to President Kiir. Besides, the Peace Talks were owned by the parties and not Riek Machar. 

Current Uganda’s Prime Minister Dr Ruhakana Rugunda who was the head of the Uganda’s delegation recognised the role of the Government of Southern(South) Sudan(GoSS) in brokering the talks  when he told the media during the peace talks that;

the Ugandan government reiterated  its commitment and support to GoSS initiative of mediating for finding lasting and durable solution to ending hostilities in northern Uganda, that has slipover to its neighbouring countries.

Paterno should take it from here that it was because of courage and wisdom of Riek Machar that enabled South Sudan and Uganda to technically relocate the LRA forces from northern Uganda and eastern parts of South Sudan to some specific areas in Western Equatoria State and borders of Democratic Republic of Congo(DRC). The rationale of assembling LRA was to avoid clashes with Uganda army and its allies and to give peace a chance. Dr David Matsanga who was the head of LRA negotiating team, has written extensively in appreciation of the role Riek Machar has genuinely played in ensuring that South Sudan brought peace to northern Uganda through its mediation of the parties. Honourable Beatrice Anywar of Uganda’s current Parliament in my recent interaction with her, like David Matsanga, could not hide her appreciation and gratitude of the Uganda’s Acholi people towards Riek Machar for his courage in ensuring peace prevails in northern Uganda and South Sudan. These are Ugandans talking!

The claims and lies by Paterno that LRA was on the verge of extinction constitute his continued propaganda of comparing unrelated events. LRA was not defeated by both the Uganda army and SPLA for over 20 years. Instead, my experience in northern Uganda is that LRA was most feared by the Uganda army in real battlefields.  When LRA attacked a village, Uganda army would only come in, once they knew the attackers were long gone.  I am evidently an eyewitness as I schooled there in the north.

It was the Juba Peace Talks brokered by South Sudan under Riek Machar’s wise mediation that cleared of LRA elements, northern Uganda and Paterno’s own Eastern Equatoria State. The LRA forces were technically transferred far beyond the bushes of DRC, Central African Republic and some parts of Western Equatoria State. Sadly, the SPLA and other regional forces who were then so obsessed of eliminating LRA militarily, have hitherto failed to defeat the LRA while they were so drunk in 2008 to destroy peace talks  to opt for war(Refer to my  article of 14 December  2008 where I predicted that military options against LRA would end in fiasco: .

The assemble-areas for LRA forces were not designed by Riek Machar but by the warring parties being the LRA and the government of Uganda. So the lies cooked by Paterno that Riek Machar negotiated Eastern Equatoria as entry route for LRA from Uganda and Western Equatoria as escaping route for the same, remain unfounded and shattered vilification attempt. It portrays Paterno’s ignorance or refusal to appreciate the separate role of a mediator. Should his version be believed, it would seem to anybody to suppose that Riek Machar as mediator was also a member of the parties who negotiated. This is untrue. How then could he negotiate for LRA routes if not at the consent of the warring parties themselves? Paterno should stop his jumpy guesses, leave fictions and respect the intelligence of his readers.

Without any shame, Paterno further venoms that Riek Machar self-cashed the funding of the said LRA-Uganda Peace Talks and currently, Riek Machar is asking for funding for forces that are not there. Here there are issues which should be tackled coherently concurrently in Paterno’s ignorant argument.

First, was Riek Machar handling cash during the LRA-Uganda peace talks? Certainly no! The main funding came not only from GoSS but also from the international donors and other regional partners whose interest was to see a peaceful northern Uganda and accountability for committed crimes. Assuming for a minute that Riek Machar were in control of the money, still a team would be there to ensure accountability for such donor funds in his control. If Riek Machar was not even the finance chief for the funding of the LRA-Uganda peace talks, then the question of him siphoning funds coined by Paterno, demonstrated an ugly flattery and a futile attempt to assassinate character of the man who rarely owns even bank accounts. 

No sane human being should believe Paterno’s thuggery argument entwined in trajectory of malice and lies. Paterno reasons and writes as though he lives in his own planet!

In the same weight, that Riek Machar is currently looking for funds for himself in the name of his troops as the lying tongue of Paterno initials, should equally be disdained as job-seeking maneouvre. 

Just simple information to Paterno, Riek Machar served in most salaried senior positions. Under the Khartoum Peace Agreement, he was the Vice President of the Sudan and chairman of the Coordinating Council of Southern Sudan, besides being the Commander-in-Chief of the united forces under South Sudan Independence Movement and South Sudan Independence Army(SSIM/SSIA). From 2005 to 2013, he served as Vice President of South Sudan with sizable salary. When he headed GoSS Ministry of Lands, Housing and Public Utilities, his ministry was one of the ministries rated well in its performance.

Besides, Riek Machar has a manageable family that does not offer temptation like in the case of Paterno’s godfathers, one of whom has over 60 wives whom he presumably feeds from public funds. Riek Machar has no record of greed for money. Riek Machar’s quest for top leadership,  which the likes of Paterno assume as greed for power has always been his genuine thirst for reforms. That is why it is no doubt that if Riek Machar becomes the President of South Sudan today; he would likely go for only one or two terms in his presidency and within the purview of the Constitution. Paterno’s argument in defaming Riek Machar as looking for money to pocket, is not only pathetic but also significantly uncouth. He is attacking the man in one of the virtues where his strength lies. 

We shall then soon expose Paterno’s lies that Riek Machar has abandoned his forces and lives in hotels in foreign capitals.

To be continued in part III.

About the author: BB Biel is lawyer; he holds Master of Laws degree of South Africa’s University of Pretoria, Bachelor of Laws degree of Busoga University, Diploma in Law of Makerere’s Law Development Centre and Diploma in Journalism of International Institute of Business and Media Studies, all in Uganda. He is 2013 Columbia University Human Rights Advocate at Faculty of Law’s Institute for the Study of Human Rights; where he studied Transitional Justice, human rights, law and development in New York City, United States.  He is former co-chair of the National Human Rights Forum with South Sudan Human Rights Commission. He also served as official spokesperson and Secretary General of the South Sudan Civil Society Alliance; a coalition of over 50 national and grassroots South Sudanese civil society organisations. He worked before as columnist with The Nile Fortune Magazine and the then Sudan Tribune English daily. Biel had also previously reported for South Sudan’s The Citizen English newspaper. He has been heading, as its executive director, the South Sudan Human Rights Society for Advocacy (SSHURSA), an outspoken national human rights organisation.However, the views expressed in this article, are of his own and not of any of the institutions he is associated with.  E-mail:[email protected].

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