The killings in South Sudan must stop now!

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By David K. Mafabi

Posted  Tuesday, December 31  2013 at  02:00

In Summary

Dr Garang told this writer that his hope and guarantor of the New Sudan, was a cadreship developed in the SPLA through the years. Where is that cadreship today? What is it doing?


Africa must very urgently give the leaders of South Sudan across the political/ ethnic divide a louder, unambiguous and unequivocal message: the killings simply must stop! The message must also say that impunity by whosoever perpetrated will be halted and punished.

The African Union Summit must meet in emergency session - to harmonise the way forward. An intervention force of the Union must be immediately assembled and deployed in South Sudan - with a more robust mandate and rules of engagement than the United Nations “peace keepers”. The point, very simply, is that the wanton bloodletting unfolding in South Sudan, which is increasingly directed at non-combatants and with an ethnic dimension, must not be allowed to degenerate into a Rwanda 1994 horror.

All the protagonists in the tragedy unfolding in South Sudan claim to be members of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM). I use the word “claim” deliberately, because a committed and ideologically clear member or leader of a liberation movement cannot be party to anything approaching war crimes, crimes against humanity or genocide. The good African peoples of the Dinka, Nuer, Shilluk, Murle, Anyuak, Kachipo, Bari, Didinga, Lotuka, Acholi, Toposa, Zande, etc - cannot be willing parties to such tragedy - they could only be misused and abused to such ends by the elite pretenders to their leadership!

How can the ‘leaders’ very quickly forget the millions of Sudanese who have died in the internal conflagrations since 1955? How can any “leader” of the SPLM/A forget the sacrifices of the field commanders, combat officers and fighters - the heroes, wounded heroes and martyrs - of Battalions 104 and 105? Of the divisions: Tiger, Timusa (Crocodile), Shakush (Hammer), Agrab (Scorpion), Zalzal (Earthquake), New Cush, New Funj, etc? Of the Special and Mobile Forces, Campaigns, etc - like the Bright Star Campaign? Shame!

In a word, Africa must be decisive about stopping the bloodletting and assisting to get the people of South Sudan onto a new political road map - because our elite there may not be up to it on their own. Under the Constitutive Act of the African Union, the Union can intervene in conditions of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.

But, what is the fundamental problem in South Sudan today? Is it ethnicity? Is it purported shortcomings on the part of President Salva Kiir? What are the lessons for Africa?
What is absolutely clear is that the entire South Sudan elite is gravely afflicted by the malaise of ideological disorientation. The SPLM in their manifesto in 1983, set out to build a united and democratic New Sudan. The strategy of achieving the New Sudan, according to Dr John Garang de Mabior writing then, was to “transform the backward movement for the secession of southern Sudan, into a progressive national liberation movement”. To paraphrase him, the struggle was not about replacing the “Arabised” petty bourgeoisie from northern Sudan, with their “African” counterparts from the south.

In 1992, after the first National Convention of the SPLM, I brought to the attention of Commander-in-Chief Garang in a private discussion, that much as he had been resoundingly re-elected leader, the revolutionary line he stood for had been in clear minority on the convention floor! The majority of the delegates had no interest in the “New Sudan’, except in as far as getting rid of “jallaba” - the “Arab enemy”, was concerned. I was worried that as soon as that was achieved in one form or the other, the apparent “unity” in the bush would dissipate.

Already, in 1991, two members of the Political/Military High Command (PMHC) of the SPLM/A - commanders Riek Machar and Lam Akol - had announced a “coup” from the town of Nasir, declaring “Garang must go”, and promptly linked up with Khartoum to fight Dr Garang in the name of ‘self-determination’! Also, the Nasir group firmly linked up a then little known called Joseph Kony, with Khartoum! At a meeting of the remaining 11 PMHC members in Torit, Dr Garang wryly but accurately observed that the Riek Machar “coup”, was theoretical.

In all, in 1992 and through the subsequent years up to the last time we talked in Kampala in 2005, Dr Garang told this writer that his hope and guarantor of the New Sudan, was a cadreship developed in the SPLA through the years. Where is that cadreship today? What is it doing?

Mr Mafabi is the Private Secretary/Political Affairs - State House.