By Gen. Salva Mathok Gengdit
OPINION — The recent interview done by the Kenyan journalist Jeff Koinange to H.E President Salva Kiir Mayardit made me respond to one of his questions, saying, “are you the unifying factor of this country (South Sudan)?” This was Jeff asking H.E President Kiir.
President Kiir responded to the question nicely and I would like to expand his answer to this question for any one concerned to know more on the answer to this question.
Yes, Gen Salva Kiir Mayardit is the symbol of unity of this country because of the following reasons:
In 1983, late Akuot Atem and late Samuel Gai Tut emerged with serious crisis of the leadership at the beginning of the struggle with an aim to cause a downfall the movement. Gen. Salva Kiir Mayardit stood firm with Dr. john Garang De Mabior to keep the movement strong, functional and united.
In 1987, at Longkuei (Ethiopia), late Kerubino Kuanyin Bol tried to claim the leadership of SPLM/A. gen Salva Kiir Mayardit went and detained him.
In the same year, the so-called Progressive Officers came up with a mere coup. The same Gen Salva Kiir Mamardit spoiled the coup and detained all those officers.
In 1988, late Arok Thon Arok came in with a coup agenda, a very serious one. Salva Kiir stood with the chairman, late Dr John Garang and arrested late Arok Thon Arok in Raad.
In 1991, Dr Riek Machar and Dr Lam Akol made a coup, the so-called Nasir faction. Again, Gen Salva Kiir Mayardit mobilised almost fighters who came from Bahr el Ghazal and stood with Dr John Garang. The year 1991-1995 was a bad period, defection within the movement, enemy (NIF) gaining territories, recapturing towns that were under the main movement (SPLM/A) control, Chukudum SPLM conference and SPLA command meeting in 1994 and 1995 strengthened the unity of the movement.
In 1992, another rebellion occurred when the late William Nyuon Bany came from Nigeria, Abuja, rebelled and later joined the NIF. All those who rebelled joined Khartoum government after being defeated by the SPLM/A.
Nasir coup occurred after the overthrow of Ethiopia’s Gen Mengistu Haile Mariam. All the refugees (children) were on the run towards Pachala Boma. We lost our logistics which we reserved at the borders (training sites). The internal policy was confused, SPLA soldiers fighting Nasir faction, NIF merged out in a good way with convoys, the family of SPLA soldiers with his/her family unknown. In that situation, Gen Salva Kiir Mayardit managed the situation. One of the best examples was that he established an airstrip for relief in Pachala and Boma.
Yei commotion that was created by the people whom I know ended peacefully after Gen Salva Kiirv Mayardit accepted dialogue for the interest of unity with Dr John Garang.
Elections of 2010 with 362 cadres opted as independent candidates. Gen Salva Kiir managed it until elections were held leading to the referendum that led us to achieve our independence in 2011.
Those coups were based on sectional/tribal basis. Example, Nasir faction relied on Nuer, Kerbino Kuanyin with greater Bahr el Ghazal fighters, Arok Thon Arok with Koryom who were mostly Bor, Progressive officers wanted a support from communist countries like Cuba by then and William Nyuon with purely Nuer.
With all divisions, Gen Salva Kiir never thought to support neither, stood with the leadership of Dr John Garang. I should be frank, from 1987 to 2005, the majority of fighting force was from Bahr el Ghazal in particular from 1991 to 2005. If Gen Salva Kiir Mayardit was not a unifying factor, he would have taken over, as you know our tribalism in the movement after Nasir faction coup.
The above few points I mentioned made me to say strongly with confident that President Kiir is a symbol of unity of this country. He accepted to sign the R-ARCSS and it was a dangerous agreement for the country. He signed that agreement for the sake of unity for the people of South Sudan to have peace although it is a dangerous agreement for the country until now.
The writer is a liberator, former caretaker governor of Warrap State, Deputy Chief of General Staff of SPLA, and Deputy National Minister of Interior. He is serving currently as R-TLA National MP. He is reachable via +211925571888.
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