SPLA’s Rejection of South-South Dialogue Caused Malakal Fighting
Equatoria’s Professionals in Europe (EPE)
Dec. 2, 2006
First and foremost, the Equatoria’s Professionals in Europe expressed condolence to those who lost their loved ones in Malakal as the result of fighting between the SPLA and SSDF. The untimely death of those Southern Sudanese is a great loss to all. The time will come when those who instigated fighting by provoking SSDF will be brought to justice for criminal negligence causing death.
It has to be clear to international community that the cause of fighting in Malakal is the rejection of dialogue by President Kiir. After the signing of Juba Declaration in Jan. 2006 between the SPLA and SSDF faction of Paulino Matip, President Salva Kiir closed his doors and refused to continue dialogue with SSDF faction under the leadership of Major Gen. Gordon Koang. Kiir forgot that inclusiveness and power-sharing in the South are the cornerstones of maintaining the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA). The tribal chauvinists in Juba who made Kiir their prisoner continued with corruption without realizing that ethnic domination can destabilize the South by causing dissatisfaction among various nationalities.
The international community needs to know that South Sudan Defence Force (SSDF) was formed by Riek Machar and other political groups that signed Khartoum Peace Agreement in 1997. The KPA was signed by six political groups with their own separate armies. After the formation of Coordinating Council for South Sudan (CCSS), the armies of various movements were united under the umbrella of SSDF. The SSDF is not a Nuer army as some tribal chauvinists want the World to believe. Maj. Gen. Peter Lorot is not a Nuer but Equatorian. Moreover, Gen. Tom El Nur is a Pertit from Bhar El Ghazal. The misrepresentation of SSDF by the Dinka elite is nothing other than extreme tribalism against the Nuer. The SPLM’s tribal chauvinists never mentioned that Gen. Deng Kalai and Mohamed Chol—the SSDF spokesman—are Dinkas from Bor and Renk respectively.
It should be recalled that President Omar El Bashir has never officially declared the demise of Khartoum Peace Agreement. What he said in 2005 was that the KPA is complemented by the CPA. The fact that SSDF was formed as a result of KPA calls into question the logic of Ceasefire Protocol of the CPA. The security arraignment of the CPA calls for Other Armed Groups (OAGs) to either join Sudan Armed Force (SAF) or the SPLA. SSDF was created as a force to protect the South. If its leadership refused to join SPLA, it cannot join SAF because they are not Northern Sudanese who are required by the CPA to go to North. The logic of security arraignment is flawed because it calls for Southern Sudan other armed groups who refused to join the SPLA to join Northern Army denying them their motherland.
Based on the logic of security arraignment, only Northern Sudanese who are part of Joint Integrated Units (JIUs) should remain in the South while the rest are redeployed to the North. In 2005, President Bashir announced the inclusion of 9,000 SSDF forces into the JIUs. However, the status of the rest of SSDF was not clarified. It is estimated that the number of SSDF under Gordon Koang throughout the South who are not part of JIUs is well over 50,000. Can more than fifty thousands armed Southern Sudanese go to the North along with the Arabs? Only tribal chauvinists would delude themselves that SSDF under Gen. Gordon Koang would be deployed to the North.
In Oct., Major Gen. Bior Ajang Duot told the Juba Post that SPLA cannot integrate 20,000 SSDF forces of Peter Lorot in Equatoria. If SPLA does not want SSDF, where do the Dinka tribalists think they would go? The SAF cannot disarm SSDF without causing a civil war. Nor would the SPLA do so without risking a bloody South-South conflict. It is abundantly clear from the response of Major Gen. Bior Ajang (Asuad) that the SPLA Dinkas do not want either the Nuer or Equatorian SSDF forces to be integrated into the SPLA for fear that the Dinka would be a minority. An example to support this is an attempt of SPLA chief-of-staff in Oct. to reject 200 graduate of Paulino Matip to be integrated into the SPLA.
Moreover, discrimination of non-Dinkas within the SPLA is a daily practice. Paulino Matip was able to get money to pay SSDF soldiers in Oct. by declaring a war. If Matip did not give Kiir deadline to pay his forces, a war could have broken out in Juba. The only thing that diverted confrontation between him and SPLA Dinkas was the issuance of money to SSDF forces. The mistreatment of SSDF forces of Paulino Matip shows the rejection of non-Dinkas by President Kiir’s leadership. The tribal chauvinists in Juba do not want SSDF forces under Gordon Koang even if they agree to join the SPLA. The strategy of tribal domination is what informs the leadership of Kiir daily. South Sudan nationalism is secondary.
Whenever legitimate issues such as the need for equality in the South are raised, the Dinka elite would brand their opponents as “agents of Jellaba”. According to tribal chauvinists in Juba, Gordon Koang is not fighting for equality but money from Jellaba. Ironically, it was the same Gordon Koang who signed peace with SPLA in 1987 as the leader of Anya-Nya II. He captured many garrisons from successive northern regimes after the conclusion of peace with late Dr. Garang. If he is a man fighting for money, why would he abandon Jellaba in 1987? Was it not the same Gordon Koang who formed Anya-Nya II in 1975 with Benson Kuany before people like John Garang, Kerubino Kuanyin and William Nyuon realized that Nimeiri was not serious for peace?
The threat to peace in the South is Dinka tribal chauvinism and the psychology of domination. When Joseph Lagu was the president of South Sudan High Executive Council, there was no complaint from any tribe in the South. As soon as Abel Alier came to power illegally via his friend Nimeiri, the Dinka elite started saying that “Dinkas are born to rule”. The discrimination they imposed brought about Kokora by uniting the Nuer and Equatorians. It is when a Dinka is in power that South Sudan experiences polarization on ethnic lines. The letter of SPLM’s Nuer Caucus to President Kiir in Sept. 2005 speaks for itself. Kiir was accused of institutionalizing not only tribalism in its ugly form but also Dinkanizing the South politically and economically.
Labeling critics of SPLM as “agents of Jellaba” will not change situation in the South. Calling Gordon Koang “Nyagat” will not stop SSDF from fighting for equality and justice. In the 1950s, white racists in the U.S. labeled Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. as racist and bigot. However, today the white Americans celebrate his birth day as a hero who stood up against white exclusion of blacks from the state. Nelson Mandela was considered terrorist by the apartheid regime and jailed for twenty seven years. Today, he is considered the most popular and enlightened statesman the World has ever produced.
President Kiir and his tribal chauvinists need to look inward and stop blaming National Congress for all the problems in the South. It is not Jellaba who is grabbing Bari lands in Central Equatoria State. It is not Jellaba who is misappropriating public funds in Juba. It was not Omar Bahir who appointed corrupt officials with criminal records as ministers in the Government of South Sudan. It is not NIF that is beating and chaining opponents of SPLM in most states in the South. National Congress may be responsible for twenty per cent of the problems in the South. However, eighty per cent of troubles are created by tribal and corrupt mindset of the SPLM’s leadership.
If Salva Kiir cannot talk to statesmen like Joseph Lagu, how could peace prevail in the South? Daniel Koat Mathews, who mediated peace between the SPLA/M and Anya-Nya II in 1987, is still alive and could join hands with Lagu to mediate between the SPLA and SSDF. However, the Dinka elite are not interested in peaceful resolution of South Sudan differences. Kiir and his henchmen need to ask themselves why Equatorians and the Nuer believe that a leadership of a Dinka is a curse for the South. They need to reflect and find out why nationalities in the South have trouble with Dinka leadership.
Therefore, the Equatoria’s professionals call up on President Kiir to dialogue with SSDF. It is impossible for SSDF to join SAF that would be redeployed back to the North. Southern Sudanese in the SSDF have constitutional and inalienable rights to live in the South. They were born in the South and will die in the South. Anyone, be it George Bush, who is calling for their redeployment to the North, is inviting South-South conflict.
Dr. Luka Odiong
Chair of Equatoria’s Professionals in Europe (EPE)
Email: [email protected]