By Duop Chak Wuol
June 15, 2018 (SSNA) — Empires come and go, regardless of whether they are good or bad. One of the chief measures employed by historians is an investigatory examination into the legacies the empires leave behind — these legacies are always methodically scrutinized by the people who the empires once ruled. In South Sudan, the final report of Salva Kiir’s regime is already written on the wall. Kiir’s leadership is not just troubling; it is a kingdom of destruction where his regime’s policy is heavily influenced by tribal interests instead of issues that are of national importance.
South Sudan cannot be a stable country if we do not tell the truth. Kiir’s presidency is indisputably an ethnic one. The man is not a president for all, although he claims to be such a leader only when he sees a real threat to his leadership. Kiir surrounds himself with known tribal hooligans who have hate towards other South Sudanese ethnicities. For instance, the notorious Jieng Council of Elders (JCE), that is by default a co-president of South Sudan, is consumed by a twisted belief that the Jieng should be the only tribe to lead South Sudan. The South Sudanese believe that Kiir and the JCE do not work for all South Sudanese—rather, they work for JCE’s interests. This seemingly ethnic thinking is also maintained by Defense Minister Kuol Manyang Juuk, information minister Michael Makuey Lueth, and Presidential adviser Nhial Deng Nhial, among others. But if one asks these three men if they are for a tribal supremacy, they would deny it and even try to kiss the soil to prove that they are not tribalists. Kuol, Michael, and Nhial are known tribal freaks who always talk diplomatically during the day and tribally at night.
Salva Kiir always claims to be a man who cares for unity in South Sudan. History tells us that a good leader who cares for his or her legacy tends to focus mainly on policies that unite people and develop the economy. Kiir is a heartless tyrant who cares nothing for the suffering of the people of South Sudan because his immediate family members and close relatives do not suffer the same way other South Sudanese do. In addition, it appears that Kiir will only accept peace or act with care and consideration if, and only if, he is confronted with a real threat striking at his very doorstep. The man has been making surprisingly absurd claims about his leadership. Kiir believes that the people of South Sudan should recognize his leadership as the legitimate moral authority of the country. However, investigations into his regime demonstrate that these claims are inconsistent with an actual, material state of affairs. Surely, any leader who cares for his people would not destroy his or her own country and demand respect from people at the same time. What is clear is that Kiir’s main focus is an imposition of a tribal supremacy on other South Sudanese tribes. This is a monumental mistake on his part. He forgets the fact that his presidency will be gone and that he is placing an irremovable stain on his legacy and family members. Kiir is not the good person he always wants people to believe. His background is spoiled with appalling crimes. In public, Kiir will pose as a national figure who deserves to be trusted by the South Sudanese. But in private, he is a very dangerous man. In Kiir’s world, anyone who glorifies his tyranny is a good person and anyone who questions his cruelty is a bad person. This is like a madman trying to blame his mental issue on bystanders.
In 2004, the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A) was fractured by rumors and factional interests. Kiir himself was furious about former SPLM/A leader, the late Dr. John Garang. When the leaders of the SPLM met in Rumbek in late 2004, Kiir accused Dr. Garang of controlling everything in the movement. Kiir, who was second in command of the SPLM/A at the time, also dispelled rumors about him being against chairman Garang. He admitted during the conference that he was for peace because his people, the people of Bahr El Ghazal, were the ones who were hit hard by famine and attacks from Arab militias. Kiir also blamed Garang for allowing uncoordinated leadership conferences to take place.
A methodical analysis of Salva Kiir’s speech at the 2004 Rumbek meeting shows that Kiir is now doing the very same things he once accused Dr. Garang of doing. For instance, he cunningly changed South Sudan’s constitution to make himself an absolute dictator, imposed some provisions in the SPLM’s by-laws that allowed him to appoint his allies to the party leadership, and gave himself powers to appoint some members of the national parliament, including state governors, among others. So Kiir’s claim of being a rational leader who wanted the democratization of the SPLM/A during the 2004 conference was a pure deceit and merely showed that he is more dangerous than the people he always accused of wrongdoings.
Kiir’s tyranny did not begin when he took over the leadership of the SPLM/A in 2005. His brutality began in the late 1980s when he was the head of the SPLA military intelligence. His ruthlessness later developed to a serious stage. In Itang, for example, Kiir was known as someone who would summon any military commander he hated to his headquarters and execute him or her, using surprisingly similar techniques to those he now uses. Another method was that Kiir would abruptly tell a commander that he or she was ordered to immediately go to a frontline, claiming some changes in military command had taken place. When such an officer agreed to go, Kiir then ordered his own killing squad to eliminate the officer on the way. For instance, Kiir would tell the targeted person to travel in an SPLA car with a few bodyguards, carefully choose a road the individual would travel, and when the person began his or her fake assignment journey, he or she would be stopped on the road by Kiir’s thugs and silenced for good. After his orders were fulfilled by his killing squad, Kiir would then turn around and lie to the family members of the deceased that he or she is still fighting on the frontline. But when Kiir knew the family of the person he secretly eliminated was skeptical of his elaborate lies, he would fabricate a story that the person in question was killed on the frontline. As you can see, Kiir’s use of unknown gunmen today is deeply rooted in his blood. If there are people who believe Kiir was a good leader then, does this make you wonder why he is a bad leader now? But as you can see, Kiir’s background speaks for itself.
Salva Kiir’s ambition to become an absolute dictator is real. For instance, when Dr. Riek Machar spearheaded the national reconciliation in 2012, Kiir was noticeably furious. He employed his trusted sycophants who publicly accused Machar of running against Kiir. The irony is that Kiir now wants the national reconciliation he once labeled as “Machar’s campaign strategy” to oust him from the party leadership. Kiir’s campaign of trying to hide behind a false concern for the nation can easily be tested if a non-Dinka tries to run against him for the party leadership or presidency. This was what happened in 2013, when it was clear his then deputy Machar was going to take over the leadership of the SPLM. This was where Kiir’s political madness exploded. At that time, most South Sudanese forecasted that there was going to be blood on Juba’s streets. This prediction occurred in late 2013, when Kiir unleashed tribally-motivated attacks on Nuer civilians in Juba under the pretext of a bogus coup. What some people do not know is the fact that Kiir’s decision to prevent Machar from contesting the party leadership was tribally-motivated.
Kiir is a very cunning person. If his current First Vice President Taban Deng Gai decides to contest the chairmanship of the party while Kiir is a candidate for the same post, I guarantee you that Kiir will go ballistic, and Taban and his followers will be slaughtered the same way Kiir massacred innocent Nuer in December 2013. Kiir’s presidency is all about tribal reign, but because the case is somewhat sensitive, Kiir would claim that he is not a tribalist. But nobody would believe him except his tyrannical ring-lickers. Kiir’s strategy is not only limited to Dinka and Nuer decades of rivalry. This could happen to any non-Dinka person who tries to run for a position Kiir holds. If you wonder why, then try to convince James Wani Igga to run for Kiir’s position and see what happens. Kiir has built a kingdom that is too destructive for the country. The people of South Sudan must stand up against this atrocious regime to free themselves. We did not fight against Khartoum’s regime only to face the same brutality again. Kiir must be forced to accept peace or be confronted militarily until he is buried in the same coffin with his doomed presidency.
The author can be reached at [email protected].