Opinion by Mabior Garang
Tuesday June 16, 2020
The fall of Cpt. Kerbino Wol Agok, the leader of the recently declared October 7 Movement, has shocked the moral conscience of our nation. The indignation of our citizens – across ethnic lines and social class – can be felt throughout South Sudanese social media platforms. If our brother could look back from beyond the grave and see the spontaneous outpouring of love after his martyrdom, he would know he has a place as a national hero in the upcoming second Republic of South Sudan. There are conflicting reports surrounding the circumstances of Cpt. Kerbino Wol’s demise.
There is the harrowing story of the widow of the local youth leader who was hosting Kerbino in his homestead. There are also several stories circulating online purportedly narrated by bodyguards who were at the scene. The story which should be of most interest to us as citizens, is the official story by the SSPDF, the illegitimate army in the Republic of South Sudan.
The South Sudan Peoples Defence Forces (SSPDF) Spokesperson – Maj. Gen. Lul Ruai – in a recorded press briefing, informed the peoples of South Sudan about the killing of Cpt. Kerbino Wol Agok and his colleagues. In his statement, the army spokesperson admitted that the killing was a “surgical offensive operation against outlaws of the October 7th Movement” and that their security forces had “tracked down” Kerbino Wol Agoak and youth leader, Monydiar Maker Magar, killing them and some innocent civilians in the process.
The army spokesperson claims Kerbino was killed in a battle which took four days, while at the same time admitting that they tracked Kerbino and Monydiar and “neutralized them, killing them both”. The only other casualties reported in the statment are the son of Monydiar, who was killed and his widow and other son, who were wounded in the so-called gunfight.
The heartbreaking story of Monydiar’s widow and the chilling press statement of the army spokesperson, corroborate that this was most likely a cold blooded execution. This raises many questions; in peace time, who ordered the operation that killed the leaders of the October 7th Movement? What is the military policy of the Revitalized Transitional Government of national Unity (R-TGONU), is it dialogue or war?
The death of our beloved compatriots at the hands of rogue security forces is tragic. However, the struggle against injustice must continue. Notwithstanding the fact that we may disagree with the methods of struggle chosen by our compatriots, we all share their indignation for the rape of our motherland by the traditional elite. As we all know, Kerbino Wol was a business person- as many of us were before the outbreak of war. We have all experienced the mischief which passes for an economy in our country. It is nearly impossible to establish a successful business or get a decent job without having the right relatives in responsible constitutional posts.
The solution for our collapsed economy is provided for in Chapter IV of the Agreement – Economic Resource Mobilization. However, the failure to implement the Agreement has led to frustrations manifesting in new rebellions and whether we agree or disagree on methods of struggle, we can never question the bravery and commitment of our compatriots to the peoples’ revolution. They sacrificed their livelihoods, their families’ security and ultimately their lives for a better South Sudan. That is more than most of us will ever do. I salute their memory.
The martyrdom of Cpt Kerbino Wol and youth leader Monydiar Maker will not be in vain. This can be a teachable moment in the living history of our nascent Republic. There is no doubt in any of our citizens’ minds that we need fundamental change in our country, the status quo is untenable. The armed struggle waged by the various armed movements – from the SPLM/SPLA (IO), NAS and SSOMA – have failed to win an outright military victory. The armed struggle waged by the SPLM/SPLA (IO) did however, give us a negotiated settlement- the Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan (R-ARCSS).
The regime is terrified of this Agreement. This negotiated settlement contains provisions for radical institutional reforms which would ensure the right environment for the cultivation of peace in our society. In the absence of security sector reforms and economic reforms, peace will remain an illusion.
The revolutionary intellectuals in our country have exhausted the usefulness of the tool of armed struggle. It has however created a new, more useful tool in the process – the negotiated settlement. We must not allow the intellectual mercenaries of the power elite in our country to frustrate the peace process through propaganda. The regime is frustrating the peace implementation in order to provoke our citizens of conscience into armed rebellion where they know they can defeat us. This is mischief! We cannot fight the status quo using violence – their best weapon – they will win nine times out of ten.
The best way forward for the struggle for radical reforms and the best way to honor the memory of our fallen compatriots, is through non-violent action. This is the Achilles’ heel of the regime, the latest manifestation of which is the illegitimate R-TGONU. That the R-TGONU was sworn in based on a constitution amended by an illegal parliament, is not news to anyone.
In addition, it has been over 100 days yet the formation of the government is not complete. That the security arrangements have not been implemented and that there is no unified national army – making the SSPDF an illegitimate tribal militia – is also not news to anyone. There is no peace, it has become painfully obvious to everyone. Peace in Juba is only spoken of within the context of constitutional positions. Most of the politicians who claimed there was no peace in 2013 when they were sacked, today claim there is peace after their new appointments.
This is mischief!
In memory of Kerbino Wol, Monydiar Maker and the martyrs of the struggle for the Second Republic of South Sudan, we must ensure the implementation of the Agreement. Even if another armed rebellion were launched, they would end up in an Agreement similar to the current one since the problems we would be solving would remain constant. In loving memory of all our martyrs of the second liberation – from Isaiah Abraham, Aggrey Idri, Dong Samuel and more – we must continue the struggle to its logical conclusion- total liberation. If we don’t implement the security arrangements so that the army is not sectarian and is under civilian oversight, we shall continue to be victims of state sponsored terrorism. The implementation of the negotiated settlement is not a favour for the SPLM/SPLA (IO) nor for Dr. Riek Machar to become President. No! Our very lives depend on it.
In the absence of radical security reforms, our civil population will continue to butcher each other and rogue security forces will continue to hunt us down inside and outside the country as it has happened before and as warned by the spokesperson of the rogue SSPDF in his chilling threat. In the absence of economic reforms, we shall have no livelihoods. If the humanitarian crisis is not addressed, more than half of our citizens will continue to live in subhuman conditions in refugee camps outside the country and internally displaced in South Sudan. The regime is currently using the illegitimate Presidency of R-TGONU to dismantle the Agreement through voting before our very eyes.
They have succeeded in doing this due to our ignorance about the provisions of the Agreement and they have sold us supernatural solutions, while labeling the reformists as “demon possessed”, “anti-peace” elements. This is mischief! In order for us to save our nascent Republic from the abyss, it is important that we arm ourselves with knowledge of the Agreement. When we have a critical mass of citizens who are informed about the Agreeement, the regime’s propaganda will not prevail. This is our most sophisticated weapon.
The future of our country is no longer in armed revolution. The future of our country is in our citizens transforming our historic peoples’ armed revolution- which has almost become a culture – into a non-violent struggle. Nobody is coming from outside to save us; the mediation which should cheque the excesses and intransigence of the anti-people regime, has left us to the dogs, as it were. The IGAD joint monitoring mechanism has gone silent, ignoring the complaints of the opposition. This has given an unspoken green light for the regime to dismantle the Agreement with impunity.
We are on our own. The work of bringing about fundamental change will not be through politics or politicians alone. The political problems are a symptom of a larger social breakdown. The politicians come out of the society and until we fix what is wrong with the society, we shall continue to recycle the same old leaders. The solution is a Renaissance, a cultural revolution.
A luta continua!