By Hoth Giw Chan
April 12, 2018 (SSNA) — In their desperate move to contain the announcement of Gen. Malong, to form a new rebel Movement (South Sudan United Front), Salva Kiir, regime went to the media lately as a way of discrediting their fellow accomplice who was committing crimes with them in the ongoing South Sudan conflict. The regime’s desperation that led to an admission of guilt as well as self-indictment for atrocities committed by the same people in keeping South Sudan at ransom came as a surprise to many people because the regime has been on record denying the very thing that they are admitting today. The accomplices are now at war with each other—figure pointing at one another to shift the blames on who was responsible for committing most of the crimes. The blame game is on, which have allowed the truth to come out eventually. Makuei and Ateny, on one side blaming the former Army Chief of Staff, for the atrocities while the former Army Chief, disputed the blame as mere propaganda to tarnish his reputation and the reputation of his infant rebel Movement (Sudan Tribune, April 12, 2018). Either way, the cat is already out of the bag, as the truth has already come out, given the admission by the Salva Kiir Press Secretary, Ateny Wek and the regime’s spokesperson, Micheal Makuei, openly admitting government’s role in the massacre of civilians on the basis of their ethnic backgrounds.
Since July 2016 dog fight in Juba (J1), Salva Kiir, regime has been on record in denying what the evidences shows at the time about the plot to assassinate the First Vice President and the SPLM-IO Leader, Dr. Riek Machar. Both Ateny Wek and Makuei Lueth, in their capacities as spokespersons for the regime, came out openly on the media, denying the assassination attempt on the life of the Opposition Leader, Dr. Riek. This has also been a sticky point in the ongoing peace process as Salva Kiir, regime and the IGAD, placed the blame squarely for the failure of the Compromise Peace Agreement, on the SPLM-IO—though all evidences show otherwise.
The same regime had been on record for denying the December 2013, Nuer genocide, even when Salva Kiir, confirmed that the genocide was carryout as a revenge for the 1991 incidence. The regime advanced various theories about the genesis of the conflict, ranging from coupe attempt by SPLM Party dissidents, mutiny of some Presidential Guard (Tiger) at the base, plot from foreign governments to overthrow the regime, lack of patient from some leaders to wait for their turn to lead, other ethnic groups who want to take power by force, etc. When the dust settled, it became difficult for the government to sustained lying to the world. The coup story advanced by the regime to be the cause of the conflict faltered and unsupportive in the international forums. This was obvious when the Ugandan President admitted openly that “there was no coup”, contrary to what the regime have been preaching. Those who were accused for Treasons charges as to have carried out the coup were all acquitted by the Court due to lack of evidences connecting them with the coup. The other theories advanced by the government to have been the root causes of the December conflict were also knock out because these were not substantiated as well.
The final admission about the root causes of the South Sudan conflict came out from the SPLM Unification document signed in the Tanzanian town of Arusha, where various SPLM Party members admitted that Salva Kiir, and his SPLM faction were responsible for the cause of the conflict. The International Community had also tasks some investigative bodies to do a fact-finding mission as well as initiated investigations into alleged crimes against humanity committed by the parties. All of these bodies (UN Human Rights, African Union Commission of Inquiries, and other Non-Governmental Organizations) narrated the root cause of the conflict, disputing what the government was feeding to the public. This placed the accountability for what had happened in the country squarely on the SPLM shoulder, specifically, Salva Kiir, as the Chairman of that Party and as the main architect of the conflict. It had taken some good number of months while South Sudanese were maiming one another, for the regime to admit that Salva Kiir, and his close associate caused the current war.
Admission of atrocities committed by the government
The regime’s mouthpiece, spokesperson, Makuei Lueth, has recently admitted on VOA, that Gen. Paul Malong, who was the SPLA’s Chief of General Staff, “rang top on the list of corrupt official in South Sudan”. The Spokesperson has also confirmed that “Gen. Malong, was responsible for the atrocities committed by the SPLA soldiers in the course of civil war”. By admitting that there were atrocities committed by the government, the regime finally indicted itself and we now have it in the open what people were suspecting. General Malong, was committing those atrocities, implementing order of the government—with full knowledge from those servicing in the Cabinets—including those of Makuei, as he is on record for inciting ethnic hatred in the media and his role in the massacres of civilian in Bor, UN Protection Camp. In a way, he was carrying out a government policy with full backing from those who were serving in the government. This explain why the regime is under sanction for committing war crimes and crimes against humanity on unarmed civil population—thereby targeting them on the basis of their ethnic backgrounds. Definitely, those who had played key role in the conflict are responsible for committing war crimes and crimes against humanity in violation of international treaties, which requires each country to adhere to International Humanitarian Laws during the armed conflict. For instance, the Nuer Genocide of December 2013, was part of South Sudan government policy to exterminated Nuer as an ethnic group in the country and the ongoing massacres of Equatorians to justify regime’s control for the area.
Crimes against humanity charges (against human dignity) refer to “acts, before or during the war, that target a specific group of people, be it for their race, religion or political orientation that is condoned or even promoted by the government”. Salva Kiir, regime targeted Nuer as an ethnic group when carrying out the December 2013 genocide, which was promoted by the South Sudan government. The crimes of those who were massacred in Juba, at the time was because they were from Nuer ethnic group, just like the President’s political rival and his former Deputy. There were also other crimes committed by the regime in Wau, Raja, in Bahr, el Ghazal region. The same regime is currently on record for targeting people of Equatoria region, using the same strategy, as the regime considers them supporters of the Opposition Movement. This has been a regime’s policy of ethnic extermination, which has currently backfire, resulting to the current dispute by the regime and Paul Malong. The Hybrid Court to be set up during the implementations of the Peace will surely have easy time to gather evidences, which seems to be available from the concern parties. We will have to learn more when that time come as to the number of people who were/are involved.
July 2016 fighting in Juba and the conspiracy
The statement that “truth has it own way of coming out” is a reflective of what is currently going on with Salva Kiir, regime. It is not long ago, when the same people, the likes of Ateny Wek and Makuei Lueth, were all disputing the very thing they are admitting today. While the fighting was going on in July 2016, the regime’s mouthpieces were busy, lying to the world that it was Dr. Riek Machar, and his SPLM-IO soldiers who started the fighting in the Palace (Juba One). They even came up with false narratives and allegations, stating that “Dr. Riek Machar, had a Pistol in his pocket when he came for a meeting” as a way of connecting him with a plan to start the fight in that meeting. Ateny Wek himself advanced those lies during one of his tour in Melbourne, Australia, by telling the regime supporters there that “Salva Kiir give protection to Riek Machar, and was the lord who served Riek Mahcar’s life on that day”. Like a true and Professional Journalist who always covers the two sides of the same story, Ateny Wek, failed to also told his audiences that Dr. Riek Machar, had also served Salva Kiir’s life when Kiir, remained with no forces inside the Palace as his forces were disseminated by the SPLM-IO forces and was under the protection of SPLM-IO forces while his forces were outside the fence of the Palace. To the Juba regime, lying is a politics—a thing that can disturbs political science experts, who know that politics is an art of telling the truth in order to convince the opposing party to see things your way.
So, when Ateny Wek, speaking on behalf of the regime, uttered the following statements “the failed plot to pursue and kill the former Firs Vice President, turned rebel leader Riek Machar originated with Gen. Paul Malong”, to the media (radio Tamazuj) as a way of silencing Paul Malong, and to preempted him from forming a new rebel Movement. It was a final confirmation that South Sudanese and the international community have been waiting for. Most South Sudanese knew that the regime had planned the assassination attempt on the life of Dr. Riek Machar but were not prepared to hear it directly from the regime’s mouthpiece so soon.
Crimes of Solicitation & Conspiracy (violation of domestic laws)
Now that the regime had admitted that it’s guilty for committing crimes of Solicitation & Conspiracy, what are the elements of the conspiracy crime? The inchoate criminal offenses listed in the South Sudan Penal Code Act of 2008, includes offers, plans, and attempts to commit a crime that fails. Common law solicitation consist of encouraging another person to commit a felony or serious misdemeanor with the intent that the other person will commit the crime. The encouragement may only consist of words, either written or spoken—giving advice, command, convince, counsel, entice, incite, etc. The crime of conspiracy on the other hand is an agreement and plan to commit a criminal unlawful act. The legal requirement for the commission of the crime is at least one of the conspirators take a substantial overt step in furtherance of the conspiracy. For instance, providing supplies to use in the crime would be sufficient.
Salva Kiir, and his tribal cabinet of Dinka Council of elders (JCE) encouraged Paul Malong, in his capacity as Chief of General Staff, to commit the crime of assassinating the First Vice President, Dr. Riek Machar. They encouraged Malong, by advising him, convincing him as well as commanding him to carry out the stated criminal offense. All these steps are elements of committing the crime of solicitation under the South Sudan Penal Code 2008. The elements of Conspiracy are also met when Salva Kiir, JCE members and Malong agreed to carry out the assassination by providing money ($5 million) for the operation to get rid of the SPLM-IO Chairman. The fact that Dr. Riek Machar, survived the assassination attempt due to bravery of his forces who fought their way and took him out of the country, cannot excuses the Salva Kiir and his accomplices from facing the above charges. Then you also have Salva Kiir and his accomplices (JCE members) embezzling public funds ($ 5 million USD) from the government banks taken at night for the operation. This certainly did not follow the legal procedures of making a request as required by the law.
Ever since Salva Kiir, regime declared war on the people of South Sudan, its justification has always centered on the denial, thereby shifting blames to other people or governments of foreign countries. According to the regime’s thinking, the blames for the current mess in the country comes from somewhere. It’s a known fact that the regime has not been consistence in telling the truth to South Sudanese and the world that it bore the sole responsibilities of what is happening in the country. All the investigations that had been carried out about the root causes of the conflict confirmed that Salva Kiir, and his cronies bore the blame for the current suffering and the death of thousands of South Sudanese people. The two spokespersons (Ateny & Makuei) just confirmed what was known already. With the admission, comes the responsibility and accountability for the crimes committed in the course of the conflict.
The author can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.