“Riek Machar has always been setting our efforts back,” a top official in the South Sudan government has said.
“Always, it is his greed, treachery and defections that have been bleeding the country,” the official added while chronicling the now deposed first vice president’s undying “defection syndrome” and how it has cost the youngest nation both in terms of money and human lives.
According to a senior military official from Bilpham, SPLA headquarters, in July 1991, SPLM/A had only three towns to capture in the whole of South Sudan.
Machar with a PhD in mechanical engineering had in 1984 joined the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A) during the Second Sudanese Civil War (1983–2005).
The movement to break away from the Arab dominated north was led by then SPLM/A leader John Garang.
On 28th of August 1991 Machar, with Lam Akol and Gordon Koang Chuol declared a coup against Garang and formed a splinter group, the SPLM/A-Nasir.
He marched on Bor, the capital of Jonglei state and massacred thousands of Dinka Bor civilians.
He then started capturing towns and handing them to the Arabs.
By that time, SPLA had camped around Juba with the aim of capturing the capital and declaring an independent country.
“But thanks to Machar, SPLA by 1993 had lost all towns in South Sudan except for Boma and minor towns in Western Equatoria. When he made his coup against Dr John Garang he called his movement SPLM/A-Nasir.”
His SPLM-Nasir went on to fracture into so many factions; Lam Akol went on to form SPLM-United, Kerubino formed SPLM-Bahr el Ghazal while Arok Thon SPLM-Bor Group.
Machar then went on to change the name of SPLM-Nasir to South Sudan Independence Movement (SSIM).
Before the movement could even achieve anything, Machar rushed to Khartoum within few years and signed a Khartoum Peace Agreement (KPA) with Sudan leader Omar al-Bashir.
The 1997 treaty with the Government of Sudan made Machar the head of the government-backed South Sudan Defense Force (SSDF).
“But he fell out with Bashir and was welcomed with open arms by Garang in 2002,” the official said.
In 2000, Machar left the SSDF and formed a new militia, the Sudan People’s Defense Forces/Democratic Front (SPDF), and in 2002 re-joined the SPLA as a senior commander.
After the death of John Garang in July 2005, Riek Machar became vice-president of the autonomous Southern Sudan.
He became vice-president of South Sudan on 9 July 2011 when the country became independent, but was dismissed from office by President Salva Kiir Mayardit on 23 July 2013.
The current second vice president Wani Igga gave up his seat and he became number three in the Juba government.
In December 2013, a political power struggle broke out between President Kiir and his former deputy Riek Machar.
The president accused Mr. Machar and ten others of attempting a coup d’état.
Machar denied trying to start a coup and fled, calling for Kiir to resign.
Fighting broke out between the SPLM and the SPLM – in opposition, igniting the civil war.
Ugandan troops were deployed to fight alongside South Sudanese government forces against the rebels.
In January 2014, the first ceasefire agreement was reached. Fighting still continued and would be followed by several more ceasefire agreements.
Negotiations were mediated by “IGAD +” (which includes the eight regional nations as well as the African Union, United Nations, China, the EU, USA, UK and Norway).
A peace agreement known as the “Compromise Peace Agreement” was signed in Ethiopia under threat of United Nations sanctions for both sides in August 2015.
Machar returned to Juba in 2016 and was appointed vice president.
Up to 300,000 people are estimated to have been killed in the war, including notable atrocities such as the 2014 Bentiu massacre.
Mr. Kiir’s Dinka ethnic group has been accused of attacking other ethnic groups and Mr. Machar’ Nuer ethnic group has been accused of attacking the Dinka.
More than 1,000,000 people have been displaced inside South Sudan and more than 400,000 people have fled to neighbouring countries, especially Kenya, Sudan, and Uganda, as a result of the conflict.
Machar removed as FVP second time
In a decree on Monday July 25, 2016, Kiir deposed Machar as first vice president and replaced him with his in-law Gen Taban Deng Gai who was proposed by SPLM-IO officials.
Machar has since fled the capital and stationed his troops outside although he promises not to resume war.
Machar’s camp claims Kiir’s soldiers are currently hunting him down with lethal intent.
When Dr Garang was asked about his opinion of Machar, he said: “Even if I forgive them, they will be known in history as people who stabbed the movement in Southern Sudan in the back. They will be known as people who at the point of victory, when we were going to win in Juba, this was our next target, still is, they stabbed us in the back. The people of Southern Sudan and the people of Sudan will judge that.”
“Historically, Machar never achieved anything. When he went to Khartoum, his soldiers with help of Matip Nhiah killed thousands of Dinkas in Parieng and Heglig and displaced them so that Bashir could drill oil.”
This happened in 1999 after Riek signed KPA in 1997. He was with Taban Deng Gai in 1991 [Deng last evening replaced Machar as first vice president].
“They are not trusted by those in SPLM/A because they are seen as traitors. Especially Riek and Lam Akol and many of those who defected with him.
Machar’s defection syndrome
- In 1991, he was SPLM-Nasir
- By 1994, they had all split and he was SSIM etc
- 1997, he was SPDF
- 2002, he was SPLM
- 2013, he was SPLM-IO