The fate of General Paul Malong and the Fate of South Sudan


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By GERARD PRUNIER
May 18, 2017, Two weeks ago I was writing in this blog about the possibilities of a Paul Malong rebellion . To be frank I was wondering whether the Dinka hardliners had lost their good sense because in the incredibly tragic South sudanes landscape a fight between two segments of the dominant tribe seemed — without passing (yet) any judgement on what they have done , to be , in the least , a tactical mistake . Since the Dinka are presently at war with almost all the other tribes of South Sudan , starting another fight between two sub-sections of their number seemed like sheer madness .

Paul Malong was indeed in a state of mental and personal secession from the Government probably due to his hostility to the deployment of the new RPF international force and to the fact that he felt his word should amount to a writ of law in his camp. Hence his angry leaving of Juba without any contact with the president and his bizarre declaration of self-decided “retirement” . And hence the security precautions made by all the Juba-controlled authorities along his way to Aweil . But no , finally , he did not mutiny . He even accepted to come back to the capital and to talk to the President (even if their meeting was far from cordial) .

Why ? Probably because any other course of action , whether he would be “successful” in the short-term or not , would have amounted to suicide in the medium term . The Jieng Council of Elders , seen as “patriotic” or “evil” , depending on the political wing looking at them , is , in any case far from stupid . Some of his old tactitician members like Bona Malwal could not condone such a rash decision . But does that mean that “things are OK” inasmuch as such a term can be used in South Sudan ? Probably not. The Dinka hard core is now so sure to be if not victorious at least unavoidable , that it displays the typical hubris of the blindly succesfull .

The fact that they stand on a quickly melting micro-iceberg does not seem to have entered their mind . Meanwhile there are 832,000 refugees in Uganda , 170,000 in South Kordofan 287,000 in Ethiopia and 80,000 in South Darfur . The UN demand for finacial contibutions ($1.66bn) has only been 18% funded . And there are 1,793,000 IDPs .

Do General Malong , the JCE and Salva Kiir even care ? The notion that the rebels share the blame is ridiculous : Riak Machar is under detention , Thomas Cirillo is so far incapable of mustering a coherent force and the other components such as Colonel Bakosoro or Lam Akol , are only paper organizations with very little military capacity . And yet the war does not stop .

Why ? Because the South Sudanese population , in its majority (and that means all tribes) , refuses to obey this unelected government made up of tired Dinka warlords who simply got fat on stealing the product of 370,000 bpd of the pre-2013 oil production (today according to Oil Miister Stephen Dieu Dau , it has fallen to 130, 000 bpd ) . Even if a conference of rebel leaders were to be organized to-morrow , it is not even sure that those who are fighting now would obey their call of laying down arms . South Sudan is not into a planned and coherent rebellion , it has exploded , it is shredded from the bottom up . And pushing the angry genie of popular discontent back into the bottle will need more than a minimum of attention to the complaints.

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