By Riang Yer Zuor Nyak
April 12, 2015 (SSNA) -- It appears that whenever officials of the regime of Salva Kiir get any chance for one to open up one’s mouth to say something to the public, it is the kind that always betrays the regime. This is because they try very hard to blame everything negative on the war. Then that forces them to justify the war. But, any attempt to say something, in justifying the current war, is always a futile one. It almost always means having to say something about Riek Machar in connection with the war. One would just go on and on hoping to stumble on a magical word that can enhance the regime’s tattered image.
In his statement on Friday, April 10, 2015, condemning the alleged bombing in the northern parts of the country, Michael Makuei, the regime’s Minister of Information and Broadcasting, spoke about a lot of things as the reasons behind the motive for the attack. At one point, the motive of the alleged bombing was about Sudan transferring its own problems on to South Sudan; at others, it was about undermining the sovereignty and independence of the country; and yet at others, it was about supporting the SPLM/A and interfering in the internal affairs of South Sudan.
In that statement to the media, Michael did not even attempt to make these accusations look as several pieces of one big plan by the Sudan against the country. That shows how incoherent the regime can be. The regime can try to make anything negative on its part look as if Dr. Riek Machar and the SPLM/A are responsible without, first, finding a convincing connection.
In his press statement, Michael stated that “Sudan wants to transfer its internal problems by trying to make unfounded allegations to justify the cause for these attacks and the killing of innocent people.” Though this is not clear, it would not be outrageous for one to make a guess that Michael was talking about Khartoum’s accusation that Juba is hosting and supporting Sudanese rebels. This means that he read the alleged attacks as being carried out against Sudanese rebels in the areas. But why was he not explicit? Was he trying to hide something? Why was he explicitly stating that there were no Sudanese rebels in the areas in question?
In the same statement, Michael had this to say: “This belligerent act is a clear indication that Sudan wants to take advantage of the current war of Riek Machar, which is unacceptable. It is an activity aimed at undermining the independence and sovereignty of the Republic of South Sudan and the stability between the two nations.” There are two interesting points in this statement.
To begin with, the Minister started out by pointing out that by bombing, Sudan was acting to take advantage of the current war, and then he described the war as Riek Machar’s. First, he stopped short of mentioning what exactly it was that Sudan was going to achieve by taking the advantage. Second, by bringing Riek Machar’s name in his verbal attack on a foreign country, Michael was trying to get public sympathy by associating Dr. Riek Machar with the act by trying to connect alleged attack with the on-going war in the country. He was trying to make it look as if the alleged attack had some connection with the civil war and that Dr. Riek Machar, as the leader of the SPLM/A, is associated with the war.
Well, Dr. Riek Machar is associated with the war, as Salva is associated with the same. One leads the forces on one side of the war, and the other leads the forces on the other side. Anyone who tries to deny this has a problem. But, it is not a question of whether or not Dr. Riek is associated with the war; it is a question of how and why he is associated with the war. Dr. Riek Machar is leading a resistance movement that is resisting a regime that has committed and is determined to continue committing genocide. He did not initiate this war, he was forced to resist. Calling this war Riek Machar’s is the type of cheap politics (politics of name calling) that the tyrant and his cohorts have been engaged themselves in, for a long time, since the war started, thinking that, somehow, people will end up buying it.
The war is Salva Kiir’s. He forced the war on the people of South Sudan by attacking the people on December 15, 2013. He did it to interrupt a democratic political process that had begun during the first part of 2013 within the SPLM Party, and to serve his tribal hatred. He is still pursuing the people to this day. Whatever is going on currently is a war of resistance. Who is the author of such a war? Is it the attacker, or the resister?
The other point is that Michael Makuei talked of the Sudan as undermining the sovereignty and independence of the country. Can it really make sense for the regime’s officials to talk of that? Sovereignty and independence of South Sudan have been sold out by the regime in exchange for it to remain in power at the expense of the people of South Sudan.
Uganda People’s Defense Forces (UPDF) have called South Sudan their home; SPLA-North of both the Nuba Mountains and Southern Blue Nile has called South Sudan its home; Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) of Dar Fur has called South Sudan its home; and Sudan Liberation Army (SLA) factions of Dar Fur have called South Sudan their home. All of these foreign armed forces have areas that they control within the South Sudanese borders. Only God knows what these foreign forces are meting out against South Sudanese in those areas under their control. In addition to this, the rest of the country is divided between the government controlled areas and SPLM/A controlled areas.
Salva Kiir forced the war (the one that has made it possible for the country to be divided into government and SPLM/A controlled areas) on the people. Later, he invited foreign forces (each in its own specific territory of control) to establish themselves in the country and help him fight the war that he started. With a situation such as this, where is the sovereignty and independence that Michael Makuei was talking about as being undermined by others? The regime has undermined the sovereignty and independence of this country. Michael Makuei (if he has suddenly come to the realization that independence and sovereignty of one’s country are important) should have begun by condemning his government before condemning others of doing the same. It is hypocritical, irresponsible and a double standard to condemn others for doing the same thing that one does without, first, condemning oneself.
Michael Makuei also expressed the amount of patience that the regime has allegedly had with Sudan. He stated, “We have been patient for so long while Sudan continues to train, host and provide arms and logistical support to the rebels of Riek Machar.” He might have been trying to insinuate that Sudan has been doing many things against South Sudan by coming up with the stories of training, hosting and providing arms and logistical support to the SPLM/A. But, he failed to indicate what he and his colleagues are ready to do in retaliation. It is just the usual empty threat.
The truth is that Michael does not have evidence to support the accusation. As to the training, the SPLA has many military officers who are capable of, and have been, training SPLA soldiers in the bushes of South Sudan. It does not need foreign military personnel to provide training. Therefore, the statement that Sudan trains “…rebels of Riek Machar” is unfounded. The SPLA under Dr. Riek Machar, simply, does not need foreign trainers.
As to the hosting, every South Sudanese who is familiar with the geography of the country knows that SPLM/A is not hosted by any foreign country. SPLA bases are within the South Sudanese borders. Foreign countries such as Ethiopia, Kenya, Sudan and Uganda are hosting only South Sudanese refugees. If Michael Makuei considers refugees as parts and parcels of the SPLM/A (in fact, Salva himself once accused IDPs in the UN protection sites as rebels of Riek Machar), then he should have also accused Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda of hosting the SPLM/A.
Michael Makuei also failed to substantiate his accusation that Sudan supplied SPLM/A with arms and logistical support. Maybe he wanted the public to take as evidence that there are SPLA forces around the border with Sudan. But the problem is that there are SPLA forces around the borders with Central African Republic, DRC, Ethiopia, Kenya, and Uganda. Is Sudan providing those forces with arms and logistical support? Or, is he (at a later time) going to accuse those other countries of providing SPLA with arms and logistical support, just by being around their borders? It is not the responsibility of foreign countries to clear South Sudanese bordering areas of the SPLM/A. The anti-people forces of the regime have to go themselves to do that, if they are capable of doing it.
The truth behind these kinds of accusations against foreigners is that Michael Makuei and the rest of the regime are embarrassed and perturbed by the fact that they have failed to crush the resistance movement with all the arms and foreign armed supports that they have at the regime’s disposal. They want to give an impression that the pro-people forces are surviving because of some foreign hands behind them.
Michael Makuei also claimed of Sudan’s interference in the internal affairs of the country. He stated, “This is a clear act of sabotage and interference in the internal affairs of another country, which is unacceptable under the international law.” He, definitely, continued this from his claim that the SPLM/A got support from the Sudanese government. But, if he cannot support his positions with evidence, will they not remain as meaningless as the statements were coming out of his mouth? Can he really prove that the alleged aerial attacks have any connection with the support of the SPLM/A? Can he prove that the alleged attacks were not targeted at known bases of the Sudanese rebels operating from South Sudanese territories?
The burden of proof remains on Michael Makuei.
The author is a South Sudanese. He can be reached at