APPLYING THE ‘KONKOC THEORY’: Do Not Bomb Gen. ‘King Fall’ into Another Conflict Conflagration!
By Jon Pen de Ngong
For South Sudan, what has already come around will always come around in order to go around, war without end, world without end! I mean, the same lobbying group that trooped between Nairobi and Yei in the case of Garang and Kiir in 2004 is now doing so between Juba and Yirol on similar fallout between Malong and Kiir. Here we go…!
But before we go, allow me to warn us. This is May, the month of rebellions in Africa in particular and the world in general. This is the month during which Kerubino, Garang, Kiir, Malong, Kuol, Ajongo, and most of us violently broke up with Nimeiri and Jallaba. Our war of liberation started in the military barracks, like that of December 15. God, please, forbid it…because Kiir won’t, will he?
So I am going to write brief sentences on how such internal conflict cases were handled on past leaders like Cdr. William Nyuon, Gen. George Athor, Dr. Riek Machar on the one hand, and Gen. Salva Kiir, ‘Gen.’ David Yau Yau, and now Gen. Malong Awan Anei Tong on the other hand. But before I give you this synopsis on these personal vendettas gone national with the war going viral, President Kiir, who just reported (May 12, 2017) that Gen. Malong (now from ‘King Paul’ to ‘King Fall’) was talking to him while in a ‘war mood’, has summarized his own throne ascension history this way:
“When I was appointed by Dr John in 1992 as the SPLA Chief of Staff after the rebellion of William Nyuon, I didn’t take over from anybody. In the same vein, when the SPLM elected (wrong wording!) me in 2005 to succeed the Late Dr John, nobody handed over to me the position.”
Dear reader, let us now begin from back there. William Nyuon Bany Machar did indeed defect, and whether he was provoked into defection by conspirators’ frustration is not my concern here. The incident happened when I was a small soldier-pupil in Eastern Equatoria and we were affected — displaced from Palotaka to Pajok in the Christmas season of 1992 by Cdr. William Nyuon’s forces, the Deputy C-in-C of SPLM/SPLA. Immediately, Cdr. Salva Kiir replaced Cdr. Nyuon’s deserted position. Alright.
This piece of history is recorded in Panchol Deng Ajang’s musical story: “Wɔ ye nyuc ë thöi ci ke waan yiic. Thöny ë aci jäl röng ke Kiir ë Mayäär. Bɛ̈ny Thälpa, Bɛ̈ny ee yin akɔɔr thööc…!” Translation:… “We sit in vacated seats. This seat is then fit with Kiir Mayar. Sir, Salva, it’s you the seat wants.” That song came out in the aftermath of Cdr. William’s defection…as if it were a confirmation anthem for Salva’s swearing in. Artists are prophets!
History to its future books, my concern here is the way William Nyuon’s conflict was mishandled, as Nyuon was himself militarily manhandled. I mean the situation must have been exaggerated and accelerated? Suppose it was Cdr. Salva Kiir or Cdr. Kuol Manyang that was ‘defecting’, would the story be different in Pageri that time? Would the history be the same in Juba this time?
One autumnal afternoon, Cdr. William Nyuon stormed out of Pageri towards Ame, an IDP camp between Magwi and Pageri. By his good design, which showed that he did not want bloodshed, William’s convoy bypassed the 1991 Bor IDP-based camp in Ame, but was heavily ambushed near Panyikwara, a few kilometres from Magwi town. the same happened to Gen. Paul Malong who passed through Bor IDP Camps of Minkaman. Correction, he was not ambushed on his way to Yirol or before or after Terekeka.
Take note: ambushing a defecting general midway means sparking off the fight, and complicating the situation, altogether. Signpost: I am driving towards ‘Peace Ambush Camp’ in this piece of mine for our peace of mind. But let’s continue with the historical analogy.
Cdr. Nyuon survived the ambush and went and overran Magwi garrison, killing many SPLA officers. If power wrangle did not cause a foul play here, it is believed the SPLA would not lose so many men on both sides of the internal conflict, men meant for the liberation war from our modern colonialists. I am just saying here, the SPLA with its complementary ‘M’ lacks conflict moderation etiquette, the ‘Konkoc’ or ‘Kon-madang’ theory of the Bor folks’ one-on-one conflict resolution culture. Or the SPLA has but applies it sparingly if not ethnically.
In contrast, Cdr. Salva Kiir’s similar near-defection conflict with Dr. John Garang in 2004 was quietened beforehand. Take note again, Kiir has by record fanned many similar circumstances into full-swing rebellions. It is a fact well known to us from the liberation war. In Yei, Kiir had actually taken a ‘fighting mood’ but Garang played it cool. Garang rebuked and restrained rumour smugglers and warmongers from exploiting the situation. Dr. Garang first suggested Yirol as the negotiation ground (mark the role of Yirol in our internal conflicts) but Kiir turned it down. Rumbek was finally the destination, and the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) was saved one month to the grand finale (signing). Dr. Garang, being the top peacemaker himself, saw the interest of the long-suffering South Sudanese people above their personal interest. Dr. Garang apologized for ‘angering’ Cdr. Salva Kiir and promised to go ahead for our nation’s common good. War profiteers were therefore put to shame. We know them by name, and they played again for such a gain the December-2013 game.
This approach of ‘Konkocism’ could have been done with Dr. Riek Machar and his group in December 2013 or July 2016, just the way Garang did it to him (Riek in 2002) in 2002, an act that led to CPA signing, hence the independence referendum for our country.
As shown in many independent reports and as witnessed by the citizens during the showdown at the Nyakuron Cultural Centre’s impromptu SPLM National Convention, the conflict was drummed up with war songs and hate speech by the president, himself. The president’s bodyguards’ clash that evening was exploited to perpetuate the war to some quarters’ advantage. And we are here today!
As if that is not enough, the J1 (presidential palace’s) flare up in July 2016 was also due to such power struggle machinations. What if Kiir had sent multitudes of lobbyists and mediators to the so-called ‘Pagak II’, Dr. Riek’s residence, on the aborted independence day (July 9) and possibly subdued him peaceably? Would Gen. Malong and Gen. Gatwich turn that situation into this full-scale war? Alas, he possibly did it forcibly as seen in the letter by Gen. Malong above. We are into it, kalas!
What if the group now meeting Gen. Paul Malong, the immediate former SPLA Chief of General Staff, in Yirol had sat down in December and decamped to Bor ahead of Riek Machar’s arrival there? With the help of IGAD ministers and UN, with diplomatic personalities, who had trooped to Juba on December 18 to cease the fire, Dr. Riek Machar, Taban Deng Gai and the lot would have been contained in Bor by peaceful means. Of course, without that sinister motive of arresting the so-called G10, which arrest Gen. Kiir commanded in full glare of world cameras, there would be no ‘December War’ today. Would there be?
Take yet another note, the same cohort of Aleu Ayieny, Awet Akot, Tilar Ring, Garang Mabil, etc. who forced President Kiir into a fake coup attempt narrative to spark off the civil war in 2013 (just as they almost did it in 2004) are now sitting around Gen. Malong Awan in Yirol. Embarrassingly, they are using the JCE card (tribal) of the Bahr al Ghazal Dinka; Ngok and Bor excluded, to persuade the fiery general into unconditional submission.
Don’t ask me what would follow after he follows them to Juba. Malong will be detain for not attempted defection but for leaving without orders from his boss as well as for misusing government assets. That move of begging Gen. Malong into submission would be faulted by the non-Dinka leaders who do not deserve or enjoy that much effort of persuasion and negotiation. Unfair, indeed, which does not augur well to the spirit of our nation building, I mean that post-independence neglected effort of networking all our ethnic entities into a single-cell animal called ‘The Republic of South Sudan’. Remember the July 10 negotiation by helicopter fire! If Gen. Malong were a Nuer or Acholi defector, would he be sent a single-engine caravan plane in Yirol instead of an armored helicopter bomber, the type in Malong’s order letter to Gen. Mangar Buong above? Not sure, yet!
Imagine how J1 handled David Yau Yau’s war. It ended with Yau Yau getting all his demands, including the rank of a militarily untrained general. This was not the case with the slain Gen. George Athor Deng Dut. What if President Kiir’s effort was weighed meaningfully on Gen. George’s negotiation, since he was now in East Africa? That Yau Yau and Athor’s comparison, plus others that we know of, prove that Gen. Kiir has all the powers to start and stop any war in South Sudan using the same efforts on others that he is now using to peacefully subdue his fellow Dinkas. Can he do so with Gen. Malong’s?
Yes he can!