By Fanwell Edward
UNT – Vice President Dr. Riek Machar has unfortunately never missed an opportunity to unintentionally convince the public that he is a hypocrite of the worst kind. The hypocrisy the VP has displayed on recent occasions is breathtaking. After travelling to New York at the end of September to deliver South Sudan’s speech at the 67th United Nations General Assembly on behalf of President Kiir, who was bogged down in negotiations with Sudan’s president in Addis Ababa, Dr. Machar went to the American Mid-West to address the mainly Nuer South Sudanese community in Omaha, Nebrasaka. He, among other things, urged his audience to work together as South Sudanese regardless of their political affiliations. But in the same breath he announced to the same audience his intention to bar the registration of SPLM-DC and charge the leader of the second largest political party in South Sudan with treason. The VP claimed that SPLM-DC Chairman Dr. Lam Akol is a leader of a group of militias fighting the government of South Sudan, and as such Dr. Akol must prove his innocence, failing which the Vice President of the Republic of South Sudan will charge him with treason!
This kind of talk, which late Dr. Garang would call ‘loose talk’, is symptomatic of the utter failure of the current crop of our leaders to transition from the liberation mind-set to the mind-set of statesmanship guided by the rule of law and democratic principles. It is therefore, urgent for the VP to appreciate the fact that neither he nor his office can usurp the powers of the judiciary to arbitrarily bar a political party from operating in South Sudan or compel Dr. Lam or any other South Sudanese, for that matter, to prove their innocence vis-à-vis trumped up charges. Contrary to the VP’s ill-advised pronouncement, it is known worldwide that the persecutor is the one who bears the burden of proving his/her case in the court of law that the accused is guilty beyond a reason doubt of the charge (s) brought against them. This is the practice in all democracies around the world, and anything short of this is nothing but the rule of jungle, abuse of power and utter political intimidation that must be treated with deserved contempt and outrage.
The VP’s talk about treason rings empty in light of the fact that known rebel leaders who terrorized and killed countless South Sudanese citizens before and after independence of South Sudan have not been charged with even homicide let alone treason. Generals such as Tanginya remain in military cells without charges of treason brought against them. In this respect it is to be remembered that was none other than the VP who announced to the world in December 2011 that General George Athor was killed after a seven-hour battle with SPLA soldiers in Central Equatoria’s Morobo County in South Sudan. According to the VP General Athor and an aide (an American citizen of South Sudanese origin) were the only actualities resulting from the pitch battle that purportedly took place in the jungles of Central Equatoria. VP’s sources displayed a photo showing the General’s body in a pool of blood. That was no doubt that the body belonged to the former SPLA general, but there were some glaring discrepancy regarding the photo and the circumstances of the general’s death. The General, who the VP claimed was engaged in a seven-hour long battle with the SPLA was clad only in civilian clothes with a pen visibly shining from the top pocket of the African suit. The photo and the unscrupulously managed ‘battle’ scene belied the VP’s claims of a long battle and confirmed the claim advanced by many informed South Sudanese that the General’s death was a direct result of a cold-blood activity by neighboring Uganda. No wonder there has not been any further details about the General’s death Just as there has not been further detailed investigation into the cause of the 2005 crash of late Chairman John Garang’s Ugandan ‘presidential’ chopper.
One will be forgiven to assume that the holder of a high political office such as that of the Vice President of the Republic of South Sudan would be endowed with sound judgment, a very sharp sense of history and a keen awareness of the need to weigh his/her words delicately before they uttered. Words such as treason cannot and must not be uttered carelessly for the sake of scoring political points against political foes. Also to hold the ax of treason charges to the neck of any citizen who has not been so charged in a court of law is reckless and irresponsible especially when such utterances come from a ‘leader’ whose checkered political history and current leadership record bear more holes than a Swiss cheese does. In fact, Dr. Machar has the dubious distinction of being the only southern Sudanese ‘leader’ whose agreement with the government of the Sudan carries the name “Khartoum”, whereas other agreements go by names such as Niavasha, Shokodum, Addis Ababa, Abuja, Asmara etc. Even the peace agreements signed by Dr. Lam were called Frankfurt (agreement for self-determination for South Sudanese) and Fashoda (signed in front of the Shilluk king in the seat of the Shilluk kingdom in Fashoda). For four long years (1997 – 2001) Dr. Riek Machar served as the assistant to President Omar Elbashir as well as being the de’facto ruler of southern Sudan. Therefore, unless one suffers from an advance case of political Alzheimer it is incomprehensible how one dares make such hypocritical, reckless and self-defeating pronouncements.
The VP showed his hypocrisy again recently when he dwelled on the issue of land grabbing during a speech he gave at the thanksgiving prayer celebrating the return from Germany of the ailing governor of Central Equatoria State Mr. Clement Wani. The VP babbled at length and waxed eloquence about the widespread practice of land grabbing in and around Juba. In a poorly scripted scenario Dr. Machar, faking concern and interest, called on the Governor to fight the vise.
It is either the VP believes everyone is a fool or he in fact suffers from serious illusions and hallucinations. Did he really think that the Governor and the people of Central Equatoria to whom he preached vigilance against land grabbing did not know that the VP himself is believed (rightly or wrongly) to be immersed from head to toe in grabbing the precious land of Central Equatoria State. Anyone who happened to innocently walk around number 7 neighborhood near Munuke could not miss to notice the crowds of VP’s fifth columnists unlawfully occupying tracks of land. Who is fooling whom or is the VP trying to deflect scrutiny by attempting to put additional wedge between the Bari and the Dinka?
The third incident of the VP’s glaring hypocrisy concerns his attempts to downplay the amount of four billion dollars that president Kiir said was stolen by former and current government officials. For reasons known to him alone and without quoting an alternative amount or pointing out who misappropriated the amount, Dr. Riek Machar argues that the missing amount is less than four billion dollars. While one does not know for sure whether the VP is among the 75corrupt officials who received president Kiir’s infamous letter, the VP’s pronouncements on this grave matter throws cold water on efforts to shed more light on the loss a staggering amount of public funds.
Finally, Vice President Dr. Riek Machar allowed himself to be guided by self-interest and therefore allowed himself to be manipulated by Abyei Talibans (Dr. Luka Biong Deng, Edward Lino Abyei and Deng Alor) to present to the court of arbitration in The Hague a map of Abyei that recklessly included Heglig (Panthou). As the head of the southern Sudanese delegation and as a prominent citizen of Unity State within whose boundary Panthou lies per the January 1956 borders, Dr. Machar could not raise a finger against the flawed map for the fear of retribution from the powerful Abyei cartel. As expected, the judges at The Hague rendered their judgment on 22 July 2009 excluding Heglig from the territory of the nine Dinka Ngok. As a result of that judgment the international community was outraged when SPLA troops captured Heglig on 10 April this year. Universal condemnation of Juba actions poured in from all directions including from the so-called ‘our friends’, forcing the leadership in Juba to frantically grope in the dark for friends before beating a hasty humiliating retreat from the oilfields. It is worth mentioning that Dr. Riek had camped in Bantiu during the ten-day crisis presenting a picture of an army general directing the military campaign on our northwestern war front. Things did not go well there and Dr. Riek fell silent as soon as the big guns fell silent in Panthou.
Now that the Panthou war and the crucial rounds of Addis Ababa have claimed Panthou, Abyei and Mile 14 as it most prominent casualties and have left them in the hands of Khartoum, the VP is nowhere to be seen or heard on these matters. Instead, like Nero who sang while Rome burnt in AD 64, Dr. Machar harped on an old song while he travelled in faraway lands. He is still peddling nonsense in America’s corn-belt whereas his former SPLA colleagues-in-arms from Northern Bahr elGhazal are up in arms against the inclusion of their territory in the latest security arrangements agreed with the Sudan in Addis Ababa on 27 September 2012. Instead of mobilizing the people of his own home state against the current status of Panthou and other territories, the VP continues to characteristically speak and foam from both sides of his mouth on matters of serious concern to the people of South Sudan. And instead of working diligently to unite the people of this young nation the VP is hell-bent on creating disunity through his hypocritical pronouncements. The VP does not understand that the people of South Sudan are too intelligent to be fooled by a hypocrite.
Contact at email@example.com
NOTE: The Opinions expressed herein are entirely for the author of the article. The Upper Nile Times has no authority on the contents published here.
The Upper Nile Times