South Sudan National Security report released on March 29, 2022 is misleading, readers will find the truth of 2013 and 2016 incidents in this article.

South Sudan National Security report released on March 29, 2022 is misleading, readers will find the truth of 2013 and 2016 incidents in this article.


By Lul Gatkuoth Gatluak

March 30, 2022 — South Sudan’s National security Service Report that claims Dr. Riek planned the 2013 alleged coup with Taban Deng and planned another coup in 2016 in an attempt to topple Salva Kiir from power is a made-up story that sugar coated the real causes of 2013 and 2016 incidents. Initially, the NSS report was created to shut up the leadership of the SPLM/A-IO in Juba. Last Tuesday SPLM-IO suspended its participation in the security mechanisms components namely; “the Joint Defense Board, Joint Transitional Security Committee, Joint Military Ceasefire Commission, CTSAM-VM as well as the National Transitional Committee and R-JMEC.” SPLM-IO cited the suspension due to continuous attacks on their cantonments and training centers in Upper Nile and Unity state by forces allied to SSPDF. Later in the week, media reported representatives of the South Sudan Opposition Alliance (SSOA), Other Political Parties (OPP), and SPLM-Former Detainees (FDs) boycotted a scheduled RJMEC meeting in solidarity with SPLM/A-IO. Base on the above parties’ withdrawal, UN, Troika, RJMEC, and a myriad other entity came out to condemn the fighting and demand for the proper and uninhibited implementation of the revitalized peace agreement, principally Chapter Two which details security arrangements and the creation of unified forces which are supposed to morph into a national army. The fact that SSPDF had faulted for orchestrating the fighting, Salva and his cohorts get mad and show their angry by deploying army around Riek Machar residency, dispatching his respected National Security advisor to Khartoum to bribe the government and urged the National Security to release 2013 and 2016 report which they entirely faulted on Dr. Riek Machar. Is it true Dr. Riek, Taban Deng and those who sided with them plotted a coup against Salva Kiir? And is Salva Kiir innocent in the mess that started in South Sudan since 2013 and present? This writer will remind the readers of what had taken place starting from 2013 to 2016.

Succinctly, the genesis of the party power struggle that led to this current crisis is not just an occurrence that came by surprise; this agony has been expected since the death of the late SPLM founder Dr. John Garang. However, the transition from the death of John Garang was very smooth due to the fear of Arab threats; it was not necessarily emerging out of an agreement on the leadership. On March 5, 2013, members of the political bureau, which is the highest organ of the party, convened a meeting to prepare for the next awaited SPLM party convention. In that meeting-chaired by the chairperson Salva Kiir in presence of all senior members, the deputy chairperson Dr. Riek Machar had revealed his intention to run for party chairpersonship, that revelation became the trigger of everything. Salva began to work against Riek. Hence, on April 15, 2013, Salva Kiir issued a presidential decree to withdraw powers delegated to the vice president which include stopping him from conducting the “National Reconciliation” that was stipulated in the Comprehensive Peace Agreement to be carried out in order to heal the bitter hatred that had built among Sudanese communities during the wartime mainly between South Sudanese. A week later, Salva Kiir has sugarcoated the move he had taken by delegating Dr. Riek led a team of delegations to Khartoum to iron out some outstanding issues between South Sudan and Sudan, especially oil reproduction and Abyei demarcation. After the delegation had returned, there was no signalling changes of the party’s internal agony; only rumors had heavily occupied Juba from end to end and masses were bragging on implications new political development will bring.

It was an anxious political development waiting to be resolved once convention is ultimately convened. Promptly, the month of May 2013 that party elections supposed to be conducted had arrived and Salva Kiir tactically delayed the function. Instead, he had decided to “influence” inner circle confidential individuals to conduct regional conferences. Urgently, Equatorians and Bahr el Ghazalians began to conduct conferences and declare their support to Salva Kiir. A move Riek Machar had rejected. He discouraged Upper Nile conference conduction, saying, “Conferences should be conducted on political parties’ bases rather than regional bases” which sound so logical to those who understand democratic functioning process. In that particular period, negative accusations were interchanged and the atmosphere in Juba was cracking sluggishly. While the issue of party rivaling dominated the media, suddenly on June 18-19, 2013 Salva Kiir had decided to sack two political bureaus members—-Kosti Manibe and Deng Alor Kuol.

Through another presidential decree and order, they appear before an investigation committee to answer questions relating to the transfer of nearly 8 million dollars to a firm called “Daffy Investment Group Limited.” According to the report, the money allegedly said to have been transferred to buy special fireproof materials for the government offices. While the two men investigation process was pending, Dr. Riek and Pagan Amum continue to be vocal, criticizing Kiir’s arbitrary actions. Sooner thereafter, on July 23, 2013 Salva Kiir issued another presidential decree dismissing Dr. Riek Machar from vice presidency, dissolving the whole cabinet and suspending the SPLM party Secretary General Pagan Amum and subjected him to criminal investigation over corruption charges. Pagan suspension came as the result of his outspokenness against the dismissal of Manibe and Alor in addition to many remarks he previously made about the ruling party’s failure attributed to kiir mismanagement and dictatorial tendency. Ultimately, the party had sharply divided with majority members siding with Riek demanding the reforms.

As power struggle was continuing, the nation became deeply concerned and worried that this political maneuvering might result in something uglier. Some elders, particularly the church group, made many attempts to persuade both leaders to rise beyond their differences. Thus, efforts to reconcile the differences between the two rivaling groups were ignored especially from the members of the faith groups who made many attempts—urging leaders to sort out their differences. As the situation was turning here and there unbearably, Salva traveled to Khartoum on august 2, 2013 and reportedly promised Omar El Bashir that he would have suspended all aid to the SPLM-North, which he always denied providing. In South Sudan, he began touring Bahr El Ghazal region preparing for worse days ahead. In Akon his hometown, where he addresses a large group of people in Dinka language, which was aired on SSTV. He had the following words to say. “Look, this power which I have belongs to you. You fought and died for it, now some people want to snatch it from me, will you accept that?’ The whole crow replied by saying “ace be gam” meaning we will not accept. That trip lasted by him requesting 15,000 militias he had secretly trained under the watchful eye of Paul Malong Awan to be deployed to Juba. The move caused disagreements between Salva and James Hoth Mai. Hoth opposed the nature of illegal recruitment of tribal militias without his knowledge as a chief of general staff and urged the army to stay away from political influence.

On December 6, 2013, a group of senior SPLM politicians sacked by Kiir on July 23, 2013, held a press conference at the new premises of the SPLM Secretariat Kiir had just opened while Kiir was on an official visit to Paris. The group is led by the former vice president and the deputy chairperson Dr. Riek Machar in present of Rebecca Nyandeng Chol Atem (widow of the late John Garang), Pagan Amum Okiech, Deng Allor Kuol, Alfred Ladu Gore, Oyay Deng Ajak, Majak D’Agoot Atem, Madut Biar Yel, Gier Chuong Aluong, Peter Adwok Nyaba, Chol Tong Mayay, Taban Deng Gai, Ezekiel Lol Gatkuoth, John Luk Jock, Kosti Manibe Ngai, and Cirino Hiteng Ofuho. They called on Kiir to hold a meeting of the SPLM Political Bureau—which he declined calling since the March meeting—to discuss differences over the management of the party. They accuse Kiir of dictatorial tendencies. They also announced a public rally would be held on December 14, 2013 in Juba, at the site of John Garang’s mausoleum. By hearing that a rally is going to be held on the 14th, Salva Kiir and his group had subsequently announced that the SPLM’s long-awaited Political Bureau meeting had to be conducted on the same day. The fact that Salva had conflicting days by scheduling the meeting on the day Riek group scheduled their rally, Riek issued a statement on December 13, 2013 declaring that the planned rally by his group will be postponed until 20 December, aiming to allow more time for the dialogue. He did this for two reasons. Once, he did not want to conduct a rally while Salva was convening a parallel meeting and second, he was responding to calls by the elders and religious leaders who were demanding more dialogue between the two groups.

Then, on December 14, 2013 Salva convened a meeting despite the calls for delays, Riek, Rebecca Nyandeng and some members in their camp attended the meeting. In the opening remarks, Kiir gave a combative speech referencing every word to the 1991 split in the SPLM, which had been led by Dr. Riek Machar. Instead of taking time to discuss internal tensions, Kiir deviated from the spirit of dialogue and left the good gesture for dialogue on democracy in the party rendered by senior leaders of the SPLM party and dwell on the negative aspect of the situation. His tone was so hostile leaving no room for political dialogue. Beside Salva Kiir combative speech, some basic documents such as the manifesto and the constitution were passed without any objection. On the next day , December 15, 2013, the National Liberation Council (NLC) reconvened the meeting. Dr. Riek and his group did not attend the function and justify their decision by saying, “they don’t want to participate in the dismissal process of the party’s suspended secretary-general,” Pagan Amum who the president suspended and form a committee of investigation team headed by the 2nd Deputy Chairman of the SPLM and the Speaker of SSLA James Wani Igga in membership with three other members of the politburo. He was tried in absentia by the above-mentioned handpicked committee appointed by Kiir.

During his opening speech at the NLC meeting, Kiir said the committee that investigated Pagan, had recommended his dismissal and urged the members to act on the report. In that regard, Dr. Riek called on other members of the NLC to withdraw from the meeting due to its undemocratic process. They consult each other and plan to review the party’s current situation in light of Kiir’s lack of enthusiasm for political dialogue within the party to resolve some contentious issues on democracy in the party. Due to Dr. Riek and his group absent in the next day session on December 15, 2013, Kiir got mad and began to instruct Major-general Marial Chanuong; the commander of the Presidential Guards, to disarm the Guards who are Nuer within his residency. During the disarmament that evening, fighting broke out in Giyada between Dinka and Nuer elements within the presidential Guards.

The incident that had happened in Juba in 2016 was not unexpected. Since the return of the SPLM-IO guards to Juba, tension began to develop day after day. Before all SPLM-IO guards could finish arriving at Juba, Paul Malong Awan: the chief of general staff of the government forces, shuttled to Bhar El Ghazal to bring 7,000 additional forces to already militarized Juba as a signal of preparation for anticipated war. As both SPLM/A-IG and SPLM/A-IO forces congregated in Juba suburbs, mistrust between the government and opposition was high and the unity government made little progress on key outstanding issues on the peace deal. The process of peace violation started when the government forces began to harass SPLM-IO forces wanting them to be furious and react negatively so that they would be seen as peace violators. The first alarming incident was when Dr. Riek motorcade was stopped by the government security forces personnel while he was going to work in the morning. Second, on May 6, 2016, at the first council of ministers meeting, Mabior Garang was expelled from the meeting, and the reason behind the expulsion was that he dressed inappropriately, which was not the case, Mabior was well dressed with suit and a bow tie. However, Salva and his backers wanted to humiliate him intentionally.

The third incident was when Dr. Riek guards’ motorcades were shot at, in that shooting only one car’s tire was hit by a bullet, people were unharmed. Following bodyguards’ motorcade shootout, SPLA-IO groups were dismayed and disappointed with the government forces, and the perpetual harassment and intimidation of their members whenever they were traveling in Juba. Although they did not respond negatively, tension has increased because the government denied the establishment of a security arrangement where joint patrol police would have been set up to provide security in the city. Article 5:1.3 in the Compromise Peace Agreement indicated, “Joint integrated police shall be deployed to protect civilians.” Instead of forming a joint integrated police as stipulated in the peace document, Salva Kiir’s government had decided to set up checkpoints around Juba checking everybody including Dr. Riek Machar forces who should be their partner in carrying out such a duty. Due to the establishment of these checkpoints, many SPLA-IO security personnel were detained and their; where about was unknown by their comrades. Even though the above-mentioned intimidation were inflicted, SPLA-IO was tenacious in avoiding returning evil for an evil and Salva Kiir’s security did not stop inflicting wounds on them. To make the situation even worse, on July 2, 2016, government security forces had decided to kill George Gismalla and Domach Koat for no other reason than to scare opposition forces from commuting in Juba. The death of these two SPLA-IO members fueled the already fragile security situation and the two sides were only waiting for the trigger to be ignited. Then on Thursday July 7, around 8:00 PM, a group of SPLA-IO soldiers were going to the town to bring food to their fellow soldiers who spend the night at the First Vice President’s office as they do every evening. When they approached a checkpoint at Lou Clinic in Gudele, government security forces stopped them and blocked them from entering the town. While the opposition group of ten tried to resist, the government soldiers began to fire at them and in the same manner, SPLA-IO soldiers started firing back. That confrontation ended with two wounded from the SPLA-IO side and five pronouns dead on the government side. After skirmishes, the two-side retreated back to their camps blaming each other as to who triggered the squad. During that night, tension was skyrocketing and the government security forces began to detain and arrest anybody from the Nuer ethnicity including Nuer who remained on the government side since 2013 when the war started. The government does not care whether you are a Nuer who supports them or not. The above explanation was the process that led to J1 which was also dubbed as “J1 Dogfight” based on the above facts of what had taken place in 2013 and 2016, readers will come to their sense that South Sudan National Security did not tell the truth. It is biased for them to leave Salva Kiir out of the mess in South Sudan.

In Conclusion, South Sudan’s National Security Service report released this morning which claims Dr. Riek Machar had planned another coup in 2013 and 2016 is another government cheap fabrication. Salva Kiir is not innocent. He is the one who does not want to implement peace entirely. What he really wants is to implement the deal without changing anything in the current tyrannical constitution. Kiir does not like the agreement, he specifically hates the ‘security arrangements’ section. What he really wants is to accommodate anyone. That is why he bribes individuals with money and positions so that he remains unopposed. There is nothing that can be taken seriously from Salva Kiir’s mouth. Logic tells us that everything Kiir says about peace implementation is questionable. His strategy about peace is all about deceiving and lying. This is what National Security had adapted.


Lul Gatkuoth Gatluak

Lul can be reach at or


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