Today, President Salva Kiir Mayardit, the Republic of South Sudan and their government has decided to change their name of their military arm. This arm has been since before the independence and while being a guerrilla or a militia who fought for decades to get freedom from Khartoum. Certainly, this is tainting the legacy of Dr. John Garang, but also trying to consolidate the power even more. If not he has gotten advice from President Yoweri Museveni, who himself changed his rebels into the Uganda People’s Defence Force (UPDF) from National Resistance Army (NRA), the military arm of the National Resistance Movement (NRM).
“President Kiir yesterday renamed the national army, the Sudan’s People Liberation Army (SPLA) after former militia led by Riek Machar and Paulino Matip in 1990 and early 2000s. Through Republican Order Number 12/2017, the President restructured the Command of the SPLA. As the Republican Order was read out on SSBC, the subtle change of reference from the Chief of General Staff to Chief of Defense Forces marked a new change to the official reference of the army as the SPLA to South Sudan Defense Forces. The title South Sudan Defense Forces (SSDF) was previously the name of a pro-Khartoum militia first led by Riek Machar as Commander-In-Chief and later on led by the late Paulino Matip that fought against the SPLA for more than 15 years. The SSDF was the first militia to be integrated into the SPLA in 2006” (The National Courier, 16.05.2017).
Certainly, the name and structure is now different. But their acts still are the same. The renaming itself and the change of structure doesn’t stop the violence and the killings. So this might be a trying of enforcing a different approach, but for the moment it is more fiction, than reality. As the deaths, the man-made famine and the fleeing refugees will not see any different between an SPLA or a SSDF. It is a noble idea, but not life-changing. Until, the army is an institution and a vital part of government. Not a free militia run-by warlords and former rebel generals. That is the situation right now and therefore, the skirmishes and fierce battles, as the collaborated opposition is making the situation even more futile. Until the civil war ends, there aren’t really much to win, as the rebuilding and the create stability will take enormous time, as the warfare in the region has happened for decades upon decades without any end.
If he kicked off King Malong for this reason, as he knew the former general wouldn’t be satisfied being a leader of a national army and being re-branded. That is unknown, as there been indications that he wished to topple President Kiir, but nothing that has come to the surface. However, the government wish to “box” him in. So it is not like the government doesn’t fear that man and his allegiance.
Because of this hours after, the SPLA changed their minds, and didn’t change after all, since the same agency sent this to world, because they knew the issue of changing it:
“The office of the president has issued a statement saying that the name of the national army has not been changed from the SPLA to SSDF. The presidential spokesman, Ateny Wek Ateny made the announcement on SSBC despite having told a National Courier journalist this morning that the name has been changed. The NC called Ateny to clarify on the new title of “Chief of Defense Forces” whether that meant the name SPLA has been dropped of which Ateny said it indeed has been changed to SSDF. Ateny told the NC that no country has maintained the name of its liberation struggle army giving several examples before adding that the change was long overdue. He said it was in accordance with recommendations of defence review committee. This was met with mixed reaction of equal praise and ferocious condemnation. In a statement clarifying the whole saga, Ateny said the name has not been changed only the structure” (The National Courier, 2017).
So the kid didn’t change name, apparently and the shadow game or whatever it was a few hours of mocking and also the truth. The SPLA and SPLM are the same, one is the military organization and the other political one. If there is a close difference or different procedure between them is surely only known by the ones who deserted or rebelled. There are certain some aspects here that the Office of the President Kiir changed his mind, as he knew what this would mean for him and his respect. Therefore, he didn’t dare to do so today.
You can wonder if the President Kiir will release the Republican Decree 12/2017! This should be seen as a historical document of a failed approach or wishful dream of making a swift change from a rebellious past, into a modern Republican Army. Instead, the SPLA and SPLM are still the same the famous SPLM/A. Certainly, the SPLM-IO and all the other rebel outfits must feel with joy that this maneuver. Who even didn’t last a day and the Spokesperson Ateny has really made himself look vulnerable. Since the last report ot the National Courier, really seemed like saving face after the bravado of changing name of the army came into full-effect. Peace.
NEW YORK, United States of America, May 15, 2017 – On the margins of the London Conference on Somalia, the Secretary-General discussed the situation in South Sudan with a number of international stakeholders. In this respect, on 10 and 11 May 2017, he met with the Chairperson of the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD), Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn of Ethiopia, President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda and the Chairperson of the African Union (AU) Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat.
In the course of these consultations, the Secretary-General reiterated the United Nations’ deep concern at the prevailing security and humanitarian situation in South Sudan, highlighting the untold suffering being inflicted on the civilian population. He underlined the imperative of renewed regional and international efforts to bring to an end the unfolding tragedy in that country, in particular through the immediate cessation of hostilities, unfettered humanitarian access to the millions of people in need of assistance, freedom of movement for the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) and the promotion of a credible and truly inclusive process involving all the opposition forces in line with the principles enshrined in the August 2015 Agreement for the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan.
The Secretary-General is encouraged by the commitment of all his interlocutors to further enhance their efforts towards ending the violence tearing South Sudan apart, bearing also in mind the need to prevent further negative repercussions on regional security and stability. The United Nations looks forward to working closely with the IGAD and the AU in the period ahead to identify practical steps that would help arrest the current downward trend towards greater fragmentation of South Sudan, escalating violence and deepening hardship and sustainably put the country back on the track of peace and reconciliation.
New York, 12 May 2017
There are certainly not any clear indications of good news coming from Juba, the continued civil-war and warfare isn’t stopping, the death toll and the countless refugees are telling their own stories. As the state are grappling with the laws of staying in power, by any means. President Kiir, uses all the tricks in the book to stay and have loyal men in power. As there been rumors that King Malong had also plans to overpower him and therefore was sacked, but none by sources that is credible yet. But there are other, whom we can look at with interests. As the flow of information and uncertainty is there. This being the Opposition trying to make the government look foolish and evil, while the government tries to with their military operation annihilate them. Therefore, these latest reports proves there some sudden approaches, that should worry President Kiir. Just take a look!
What U.S. Intelligence report says about South Sudan:
“Clashes between Juba and the armed opposition will continue, heightening ethnic tensions and exacerbating the humanitarian crisis and famine amid a declining economy. Both sides’ use of ethnic militias, hate speech, and the government’s crackdown against ethnic minorities raise the risk of additional mass atrocities. The government will probably continue to restrict political freedoms and civil liberties and obstruct humanitarian assistance” (Coates, 2017).
Opposition groups consolidating to topple Kiir:
“A group of seven South Sudanese opposition movements said they had agreed to work closely against the current government in Juba. Signatories of the agreement included Henry Odwar, deputy chairman of the SPLM-IO faction led by Riek Machar, FDP party leader Gabriel Changson Chan, Thomas Tut Doap of UDRA, SPLM-FDs member Kosti Manibe, SSNMC leader Joseph Bakasoro, and NDM leader Lam Akol, as well as Thomas Cirillo Swaka, leader of the newly formed National Salvation Front (NAS). “There is great value in working together and, as a result, the opposition groups will actively work together with a view of seeking a united front on common strategic and operational issues, the group wrote in a joint statement dated 11 May” (Radio Tamazuj, 2017).
Legacy of King Malong:
“Major General Khor Chuol Giet, the Commander of the SPLA-IO 5th Division, told the South Sudan News Agency that Awan is responsible for recruiting ethnic militias who mercilessly kill civilians with impunity. “Awan is the one who recruited Mathianganyor militia group. Anyone who knows the story of this bloody-thirsty ethnic militias should not celebrate his [Awan] removal.” Giet said” (…) “However, one senior government official who asked for anonymity because of fear of reprisal told the South Sudan News Agency in Juba that Awan is capable of causing chaos in Juba and even overthrowing Kiir. “I wonder why Kiir wanted him back after he left Juba. But I understand the fact that the President probably realized how powerful Awan is after he sacked him on TV,” the official said. The South Sudan News Agency has learned from a reliable source that Kiir will ask Awan to serve in his government, adding, “The post will definitely be a boxed one.”(SSNA, 2017).
Clashes in Fashoda State:
“The number of civilians who died of thirst after being forcibly displaced from their villages in Panyikang County in Fashoda State due to clashes between government troops and rebel fighters in late April, has reached to at least 50, according to an opposition official” (…) “Speaking to Radio Tamazuj on Friday, Morris Orach, the Minister of Information in the rebel-controlled area in Fashoda, said the 50 dead bodies were found along the Fashoda-Tonga road” (Radio Tamazuj, 2017).
Ukraine arms trade:
“It said the aircraft manifest indicated that it contained two L-39 jets and engines provided by Musket OU, a company based in Tallinn, that were overhauled, and that the flight was operated by the Ukranian Defence ministry. “Subsequently, the government of Ukraine confirmed to the Panel that the two jets were listed as being operated by the Ugandan military and that the end user certificates indicated that the aircraft were to be used only for advanced piloting training,” the report reads. However, PoE disclosed it was investigating if the aircraft were transported to South Sudan following reports that there was a new military plane with obscured marking, parked at the Juba International Airport” (Oduha, 2017).
These initial signs are not of strengthening the republic, as the power is still all in the hands of President Salva Kiir Mayardit, who have again used his hands and changed leadership roles to be in-charge and not question of his authority. While this is happening, all of the famous rebels and rebel groups have decided to gather together in one unit. To all consolidate and work to topple President Kiir. Therefore, the insecure structure of opposition is now on a clear path. In the midst of military operations and the skirmishes. This is all creating the famine, the destruction of institutions, if so also stopping the build-up of government and local government operations. As the armed battles and military operations are the most important and imminent importance.
There is no indication of peace and rebuilding the state, as the arising power-structures are still bound by two warlords, this being the President and Dr. Riek Machar, who has two armies and soldiers battling in different states, now with deflectors and other smaller rebel-groups standing together with the SPLM/A-IO fighting the SPLM/A. This is not the look, the President, nor the hierarchy in Juba administration wants to see. We can only think of the consequences, as the President will continue to buy arms and use connections to be able to fight this, though Ukrainian or Ugandan counterparts, who deliver gladly for profit bullets, planes and rifles to the SPLM/A.
We can just wonder and hope when this will end, as so many innocent civilians has fled their villages and patches of lands, for a bit of hope in refugee camps in Uganda, DRC, Sudan and Ethiopia. This is not the reactions anyone want to see, but they don’t want to stay home, when their fields and patches becomes battlefields between armies. As well, as these battles also comes to the refugee camps, where even the killings appear. There is only uncertainty, and lack of will to generate peace, because two men and their allies are more keen power, than trying to forge peace. Peace.
Coates, Daniel R. – ‘Statement for the Record Worldwide Threat Assessment of the US Intelligence Community – Senate Select Committee on Intelligence’ (11.05.2017) – Director of National Intelligence, United States
Oduha, Joseph – ‘Ukraine on the spot over arms sale to South Sudan’ (14.03.2017) link:http://www.africareview.com/news/Ukraine-on-the-spot-over-arms-sale-to-South-Sudan/979180-3926538-xjvisf/index.html
Radio Tamazuj – ‘South Sudan opposition groups agree to work together against Kiir’s government’ (14.03.2017) link: https://radiotamazuj.org/en/news/article/south-sudan-opposition-group-agree-to-work-together-against-kiir-s-government
Radio Tamazuj – ‘Thirst death toll rises to 50 in Fashoda State, official says’ (14.05.2017) link: https://radiotamazuj.org/en/news/article/thirst-death-toll-rises-to-50-in-fashoda-state-official-says
South Sudan News Agency – ‘Rebel General blasts ousted army chief over recruitment of “blood-thirsty ethnic militias”’ (13.04.2017) link:http://www.southsudannewsagency.com/index.php/2017/05/13/rebel-general-blasts-ousted-army-chief-recruitment-blood-thirsty-ethnic-militias/
“I have been allowed by President Salva Kiir to mediate the warring factions in South Sudan. I will use the IGAD monitoring report and work with the IGAD chairman, Ethiopias’ Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalgn to see that those who abuse the ceasefire are talked to,” the President said in a one to one meeting with Mr. Guterres at the sidelines of the International Conference on Somalia at Lancaster House in London” (Okello, 2017)
There are no possible good ending, even as the hyper-inflation marked with the Kenyan Central Bank (KCB) leaving South Sudan. The longstanding conflict and the ruin it has created, the million refugees, hundred thousands in refugee settlements and land in Northern Uganda. Therefore, the Ugandan Republic and the National Resistance Movement are involved in the conflict, even if they doesn’t have brigades on the ground.
President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni has sent in the past Uganda People’s Defense Force (UPDF) to sort out the issues of President Salva Kiir Mayardit and his Sudanese People’s Defence Movement/Army (SPLM/A). These was known and done without any international acceptance and made sure to stop the rebels under the leadership of Dr. Riek Machar and the Sudanese People’s Defence Movement/Army In-Opposition (SPLM/A-IO).
There been reports during this year that the UPDF have helped out with arms export to the SPLA and also helping with operations in Aboko and Bieh State to get technical assistance and also made sure they could use chemical warfare in state. This happen in mid-April 2017, not so long ago. The UPDF involvement is in clear violation and also supporting the government in war-crimes. This have been again paid secret agreements between President Kiir and President Museveni.
That these too men knows each other and has traded is well-known. President Museveni has been helping the cause of SPLM/A for so long, therefore, for some of us it was special when President Omar Al-Bashir showed up last May 2016 at his inauguration. Because President Bashir knows that Museveni helped the SPLM/A and has done for long while. This because President Museveni wants influence and also earn on arms export to the Republic.
With this knowledge, that he is partial and collaborating closely with the Kiir Government and SPLM/A. How will he impartial and be able to fix the amends, try to mediate and understand all the rebellions in South Sudan? The biggest is still SPLM/A-IO, but the others National Salvation Front (NSF) and National Democratic Movement (NDM) has been established during the recent year. There are others as well, both leaders leaving the SPLM/A-IO and SPLM/A. Therefore, the status and complex context are evident.
There illicit crimes appearing as civilians are fleeing, the man-made famine and loss of lives. The lacking structures and trust in the central government, combined with more guns and bullets, than healthy chickens. Therefore, this is land of warlords and not of peacemakers. The land where it easier to pick up the rifle, than discussing the issues and negotiations. The latest deal went down the drain in a massive attack on Juba and a fleeing Dr. Riek Machar to Democratic Republic of Congo, and later in exile in South Africa. There is also a base and important station of SPLM/A-IO in Nairobi, Kenya. As the Kenyan are also involved in the UNMISS mission in South Sudan.
This complex and condition of the state are not only fragile, but hold in the hands of Kiir. President Kiir who is known for getting help and buying support by President Museveni and his UPDF. So why should someone who hands over guns and technical arms to SPLM/A try to negotiate with all of the partners in the crisis? The supplier of the government and trading partner suddenly become friendly to all of the actors inside South Sudan?
I don’t have faith in the motives or initiative from President Museveni, he will together with President Kiir. Find ways of getting the rebels inside corridors or inside valleys where he can blast them into oblivion. He will find the weakness of the enemies of the President Kiir and then use the tools to deceive and try to seem peaceful, but that will back-fire with golden attack that will destroy them. That is what Museveni has done in the past. He first talks, than finds it and than uses the positions to gain more control.
If the bilateral talks between United Nations Security General Antonio Guterres will certify President Museveni to do the peace talk. Than he is naive or trying to forge relations so he looks wise. Neither, has others, if they want Museveni to really help out. Museveni only helps out if he can earn, get money and huge profits on the crisis. He will also use the South Sudanese refugees as pawns to get more donor money to the government. Not really help them out, they are needed pawns for the failing economy in Uganda.
President Museveni shouldn’t be considered or play parts of the negotiation and peace-talks in South Sudan. He is already invested and has been invested in the SPLM/A agenda as he wants the loyalty of President Kiir. In the regard, the international community should look for someone like Kofi Annan or even Thabo Mbeki, to try their magic wand to fix the crisis. President Museveni isn’t fit or the right man. He is only the right man if we want President Salva Kiir Mayardit to be armed to his teeth and annihilate the rebels. Peace.
Okello, Dickens H. – ‘Museveni to Mediate South Sudan Conflict; Mobilises $2bn for Refugees’ (12.05.2017) link: https://www.chimpreports.com/museveni-to-mediate-south-sudan-conflict-mobilises-2bn-for-refugees/
Today, there we’re a shocking news from Juba. As the SPLM/A and the President Salva Kiir Mayardiit who ordered through Presidential decree to sack his Chief of General Staff in the SPLA. That means the Army chief has been sacked in midst of civil-war, as the rising rebellions not only of SPLM/A-IO, but all the other rebels who works to dismantle the government of the President. Therefore this should be not seen as strengthening the Central Government, but more how fragile the powers of the President is at the moment.
“President Kiir has fired Lt. General Paul Malong Awan from his position as the Chief of General Staff of the national army SPLA. Through Presidential Decree number 77/2017 he appointed General James Ajongo Mawut as bus replacement. General James Ajongo has been promoted to the rank of 1st Lieutenant General and will assume office tomorrow. He served as the Deputy Chief of Staff in Charge of Administration under 1st Lt Gen. Paul Malong” (The National Courier, 09.05.2017).
SSNA reported this tonight:
“Tension is very high here in Juba as soldiers loyal to President are deployed on Juba streets and plainclothes national security agents drive in and around the capital telling people to go inside their houses. The South Sudan News Agency has been told by a senior government official that any politician from Aweil community suspected of being a supporter of the sacked army General has been detained. The official added that nobody knows what will happen as factions of the SPLA loyal to Awan have also blocked roads leading to Awan’s residence, warning, “If he [Awan] refuses to surrender his power peacefully, then Juba could burn.” (SSNA, 09.05.2017).
Truly, the consequences of this move isn’t certain, the motives behind it, if it was giving away guns to Dinka’s, the rumors in late April of a coup against the President. The son of the General who used stashed away government monies in Las Vegas and buying luxurious cars. The reason of fear of rising star and capabilities as General, could also be play the President saw. As he has seen people rise and get ambitions. Therefore, the reason for the sacking isn’t certain, what this can end in, are unsure, but certainly not create more stability. Something the youngest Republic needs. The Sacking will only create more uncertainty as soldiers are loyal to him and maybe not to President Kiir. So who knows what these soldiers might do or whose orders that matters the most? Will they fall in line of Kiir or will they follow Gen. Malong? Will these become rebels or will they still be part of SPLA?
How this plays out and what is President Kiir’s plan with this actions, that is only in his mind. We can only know that he appointed someone else from the same area. But not the knowledge of what intelligence and reasons for the sudden sacking. If it was for his threats to the Governors of States, who still was stationed in Juba, instead of the State Headquarters. It is not easily to know. What we do know is that this has created tensions in the capitol and the end-game will play out over the next few days. Peace.