The Frail Logic in Appointing South Sudan Governors
Parties to the agreement have shown their weakness in handling their war allied partners.
By Samuel T.
Juba: 23 November 2020
The Party of President Kiir managed to offload Gen. David Yau Yau who commanded Cobra faction of Murlei Militia in Pibor of Jonglei State. However, the President still fearing the consequences of excluding the controversial General from the administration of the Greater Pibor Administrative Area (GPAA). The appointment of another government general who has been siding with the regime during Gen. David Yau Yau war with the government is feared to reignite the internal Murlei loyalty politics. With ongoing combine Dinka Bor, Lou Nuer and Gawaar Nuer invasion of Murlei Country, the effect of David Yau Yau exclusion will still be awaited.
On First Vice President (FVP) Riek Machar SPLA IO things are not as easy as with President Kiir part. The SPLA IO. Nominated a slippery warlord as its candidate for the governorship of Upper Nile State. Gen. Johnson Olony is accused of riding two horses. The SPLA-IO on the one hand while maintaining an alliance that is linked to former SPLAM SG Gen. Pagan Amum Ukech and former SPLA Chief of Staff General Oyai Deng Ajak who are both in exile. Gen. Johnson Olony has been commanding his forces known as Agwelek in Upper Nile and has resisted integration into the wider SPLA IO. It was rumoured that Gen. Olony was on the verge of denouncing SPLA IO if FVP did not nominate him for the position of the governor which would have resulted in significant losses for the party of Riek Machar.
However, his appointment is contested by many including the Dinka Apandang who claimed ownership of Malakal town. According to some Apandang, the appointment of Chollo as governor of the shared state will not ensure fair sharing for the capital. It was expected that, in their view, a Nuer person should have been a governor instead of a Chollo or a Dinka Apandang to prevent suspicion. However, political equations in Riak’s disposal were minimal. He will now have to bank on the limited leadership ability of a brutal warlord to bring and maintain peace in Upper Nile State.
Gen. Johnson Olony has been overseeing the border towns of the Chollo with an iron fist, and many from there who suffered his imposed taxation will have no alternative but to be used to his parallel administration. It’s also alleged that Gen. Olony joined the gold mining schemes with General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo generally referred to as Hemedti another warlord from Sudan who is currently the Vice-chairman of the Sudanese sovereign council. This effectively gives Gen. Olony the leverage to withstand any pressure from Juba J1 or any new Pagak House.
The SPLA IO also has another blackmailing stand-off with Western Equatoria where another warlord and a man believed to have killed more civilians than soldiers in the 7-year war. General Alfred Fatiyo is from the border village of a western Bahr el Ghazal and Western Equatoria. His true identity is still contested by those from Western Equatoria which was recently amplified by the mysterious death of an SPLA IO Brig. Gen. Santo Ali. FVP Riek was facing desertion from Western Equatoria if he did not appoint the warlord who has never had any administrative or political experience of any kind. Gen. Alfred and Gen. Wisely Welebe had their legs out of SPLA-IO ship if one of them was not appointed governor of western Equatoria. They argued that they committed lots of atrocities and fear that if left without power, people will take revenge on them hence the need for protection. Both men started their work as youth warriors fighting LRA rebels and Dinka cattle invasions in Western Equatoria.
FVP Riek Machar’s logic was that to secure peace; we need to engage the warlords so that they are responsible for peace. His point is that we buy peace by installing warlord as leaders. Could Salva Kiir also be applying the same logic by retaining Gen. Louis Lobong to prevent the Toposa from joining the war? Time will tell if the retention of the longest-serving governor in the new RTGONU was the right choice. Many had expected Lobong to be brought to Juba like his colleague Hon. Rizik Zacharia to allow the emergence of new blood in Eastern Equatoria and Western Bahr el Ghazal respectively.
However, the recent changes replacing the controversial Gen. David Yau Yau of Pibor Administration Area is a show of dynamics which are driven by other political factors within President Salva Kiir’s camp. Much as it appears to have addressed the concern about General David Yau Yau ambivalent character within Jonglei, it is not entirely clear how it will work out. Moreover, it is yet to be seen how his replacement General Joshua Konyi will perform and how he will be perceived by the people of Jonglei and those in Greater Pibor Administrative Area.