SPLM/A-IO slams report linking Machar to coups
The Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army in Opposition (SPLM/A-IO) has criticised the declassified report published on Tuesday by Steven Kay QC and his team at 9BR Chambers, London, UK, concerning the purported attempted coups of 2013 and 2016 in South Sudan.
The report of the intercepted communication claimed that twelve government officials, including Dr Riek Machar Teny masterminded the coup to overthrow the government but was foiled.
The Deputy Chairman of the SPLM/A-IO and the First Deputy Speaker of the Reconstituted Transitional National Legislative Assembly (R-TNLA), Oyet Nathaniel Pierino, told the City Review yesterday that the report was one-sided.
He argued that it did not mention the government and security officers who were also accused of killing civilians across the country, whose intercepted communications would have been published as well.
“The telephone interception, which the National Security claims to be attributed to my Chairman Dr Riek Machar and other citizens, we do not believe in it. It is cooked, concocted and has no basis. So, the report is baseless and unfounded,” Oyet stated.
“Why is it that the same investigation committee did not report on the atrocities committed by the SPLA, the National Security, the Police, and the Wildlife who attacked and killed civilians in Juba from 15 to 22 December 2013?”
Machar’s Deputy Chairman also expressed dissatisfaction citing the delay in its publication since 2013 and 2016 respectively, and thus, claimed that the report was concocted, baseless and unfounded.
“If the report was honest, why didn’t they report on this? So, this report we call it a witch-hunt which had been there in 2014 during the talks and even dismissed by IGAD, AU and the UN. And it doesn’t go well with confidence building among the parties, with reconciliation and healing among the citizens,” the SPLM/A-IO Deputy Chair said.
He called for the establishment of the Hybrid Court and the Commission for Truth, Healing and Reconciliation, and not the one from the National Security which he says was also accused.
“We shall wait for the hybrid court to be established, and the commission for Truth, Healing, and Reconciliation, other than receiving a one-sided report..,” he continued.
“We want the report of the truth, reconciliation, and healing commission also to be carried out, and all the citizens should know. All the citizens from all walks of life, the victims and perpetrators, must be given opportunities, to explain their side of the story, not through telephone interception. “
He concluded that the security had violated the rights of the individuals mentioned because no one is allowed access to personal communication without the consent of an individual. He called this a breach of individual rights and privacy by the government and the security personnel.
“No government has the right to infringe on the privacy of any citizen. Whether to check your email, or whether to tap your phone in order to listen to what you communicate with your loved ones, with your family, with your relatives, or at your workplace,” he concluded.
“Any government indulging in that is cracking down on civil liberties, and human rights, and is not abiding by the universal declaration of human rights and the international bill of rights, and even the national bill of rights.”
Attempts to reach the national minister for information, who is the government’s official spokesperson, Michael Makuei Lueth, and the presidential press secretary, Ateny Wek Ateny to give their comments on the matter were futile.
The report released on Tuesday indicated that the removal of Dr Riek Machar from his political position as the First Vice President was the reason for the war in 2013. It stated that Machar tried to campaign so that he could challenge or possibly replace President Salva Kiir in the 2015 presidential race.
“South Sudan became an independent state in 2011. It did not take long before tensions between Vice President Riek Machar and President Kiir rose, driven largely by Riek Machar’s desire to become the next President of South Sudan and his vocal criticism of President Kiir,” the report indicated.
It also claimed that since then, Dr Machar had been organising forces so that he could rebel or possibly overthrow the government.
“Throughout 2013, Riek Machar was planning and organising his forces in the regions in preparation for rebellion. This mobilization is why within 48 hours of the outbreak of fighting on 15 December 2013, Riek Machar was coordinating and mobilizing troops from Unity State in a bid to overthrow the government of South Sudan,” the report continued.
The report alleged that the purported coup of 2013 also contributed to the alleged attempted coup of 2016, also blamed on Dr Riek Machar and his allies.
“This report publicly releases from South Sudan phone intercept communications and evidence obtained by an investigation commission formed by Presidential Decree in 2014 to conduct a criminal investigation against twelve suspects alleged to have taken part in an attempted coup on 15 December 2013. That attempted coup precipitated the conflict that followed from that date into 2014 and beyond,” the report continued.
“The sources we have reviewed establish the truth behind the violence that broke out in South Sudan, not only on 15 December 2013, but also a further attempted coup on 8 July 2016 that continued the conflict. The evidence supports President Salva Kiir’s statements at the time these were attempted coups carried out by Dr Riek Machar and others, in which they planned to take control of South Sudan for themselves.”
It also claimed that the condemnation statements by UNMISS and AUCISS, were bias and could not reflect what took place in South Sudan.
“The question must be posed as to why the international community, particularly UNMISS and AUCISS chose to disregard President Salva Kiir’s allegations of a coup attempt? The issuance of critical press releases condemning both parties, reveal a bias and misreading of what had taken place in South Sudan,” the statement continued.
On Monday, President Salva Kiir Mayardit, stated in an address to the nation that the government must expose and try the perpetrators of the 2013 and 2016 wars, adding that there was a need for the establishment of the commission for truth, healing and reconciliation, as a joystick to gear the nation forward.
The president noted that it was the right time for the country to know the truth so that the past could be forgotten and the future exploited with ease.
“Personally, it is in best interest of the people of South Sudan, especially the victims, to know exactly what took place during those two unfortunate events,” he said.
“I would like to state that we are aware of and acknowledge the views of those who see the establishment of a hybrid court for South Sudan as the priority.”
The head of state-maintained that once the right documents were presented to the commission for truth, healing and reconciliation, the government would prosecute those who committed heinous crimes in 2013 and 2016.
“We have demonstrated this through our actions. We have prosecuted people and imposed considerable prison sentences on those who were found guilty, including our own soldiers,” said Kiir.
“For us as a government, we believe that more can be achieved if we can work collectively with our partners to strengthen the capacity of our institutions. We do not believe that it is helpful for each party to work independently.”