Saturday, May 16, 2009

Is GOSS/SPLM/A detaining Lt-Gen. Matib in US?

It has come to the knowledge of this author that Lt-Gen. Paulino Matib Nhial, the Commander of the Sudan Peoples' Liberation Army (SPLA), is missing. Lt-Gen. Matib has been missing since his travel to the United States for treatment. Lt-Gen. Matib joined the SPLA in 2006 in a dramatic move that was known only to Lt-Gen. Matib and SPLA leadership.
Lt-Gen. Matib has been battling a number of diseases. He had been taken to South Africa and while in that trip, rumours engulfed South Sudan that Lt-Gen. Matib had died. These rumours were not only received with mixed reactions but Juba other parts of South Sudan like his Unity State experienced an immediate insecurity dangers. These rumours were quickly neutralized by the Sudanese Embassy in Nairobi, Kenya, which is led by an SPLM diplomat as its ambassador.
"The media advisor at the Sudanese embassy in Nairobi, Ms Sumaya Abdelsadiq told the official SUNA that General Paulino was currently in Nairobi at the Grand Regency Hotel. He had arrived on Friday May 4 coming from South Africa from a regular medical treatment trip. Sumayah said she met Paulino this evening at the hotel he is residing in", (
According to Al-Wifaq daily newspaper of May 17th, 2009, page (1), Lt-Gen. Matib is missing. The paper said: "…and (Riek) Machar will enter the Sudan Peoples' Liberation Movement (SPLM) conference hall in Rumbek – where 1st-Lt-Gen. Salva Kiir Mayardit, President of the Government of South Sudan (GOSS) and First Vice-President of the Republic, opened SPLM conference held on May 17th, 2009) – and would look at the empty seat of Lt-Gen. Matib……America had detained the Passport of (Lt-Gen.) Paulino so as not to reach the South."
"The GOSS Mission to the United States of America was privileged to receive H.E Lt. General Paulino Matip Nhial Deputy Commander of the SPLA and his wife upon their arrival to Washington D.C Sunday August 3rd, 2008, on a private visit for medical treatment", (
Mr. Ezekiel Lol Gatkuoth, Head of GOSS Mission, accompanied General Paulino Matip Nhial to Rochester, Minnesota, to commence his medical treatment. Upon completion of his treatment, Lt. General Paulino Matip Nhial will be meeting with the US Government officials to review the efforts and support to transform and strengthen the SPLA by the US Government. H.E. Lt. General Paulino Matip Nhial will also meet the Sudanese communities in USA", (
Who is detaining Lt-Gen. Matib against his will in America since his trip to the US was partly official as seen from the statement above? This question does not judge the book from the cover. Unless the Al-Wifaq daily newspaper's report was baseless; otherwise "detention of Matib's Passport by America" means that the US Administration is detaining Lt-Gen. Matib's Passport. How could anybody refer to such an act? Isn't the "detention" against Lt-Gen. Matib's will? There are two actors from where the answers to the questions above could come: US Administration and GOSS/SPLM/A.
This author would try to find out why is the US Administration detaining Lt-Gen. Matib? It will also look at the fact that the "detention" cannot take place without the agreement of both the US Administration and GOSS/SPLM/A. If the US Administration did the "detention" of Lt-Gen. Matib without the knowledge of the GOSS/SPLM/A, then what has GOSS/SPLM/A done to address the situation. Lt-Gen. Matib is the Deputy Commander-in-Chief of the SPLA and the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) recognises this fact, which includes SPLA officers and men.
"As part of a peace agreement and in order to end the war, the Parties agree that the two forces, the SAF and the SPLA shall remain separate during the Interim Period, and further agree that both forces shall be considered and treated equally as Sudan's National Armed Forces during the Interim Period" (
Having learned that the US Administration cannot detain Lt-Gen. Matib against his will, it would be important to note that GOSS/SPLM/A could be behind Lt-Gen. Matib's "detention." It is known to the entire world that the US Administration normally announces their suspicion of world leaders they consider as violators of human rights in their countries. The US Administration does not grant entry to the US of anybody they consider as war criminal or otherwise. Lt-Gen. Matib has never been mentioned by the US Administration as one of those war criminals. Thus it would be difficult to accept that the US Administration acted alone to detain Lt-Gen. Matib.
Let us assume that the GOSS/SPLM/A called the shot to detain Lt-Gen. Matib. Another question would impose itself: why has the GOSS/SPLM/A detained Lt-Gen. Matib? Well, it is common knowledge that Lt-Gen. Matib had fought the SPLM/A through his defunct Anyanya Two Militia organisation which became part and parcel of the South Sudan Defence Force (SSDF). SPLM/A views all those who collaborated with the government of Sudan (GOS) during the war in the South as sellouts and should not be welcomed in the South, GOSS, SPLM/A; unless they rejoin the SPLM/A.
But it seems to appear that rejoining SPLM/A does not mean forgiveness either. What does it mean then? By accepting him and many others in its rank and file, however, SPLM/A was not only trying to deprive them of alliance with Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) but had other plans such as detaining some of them within the South and banishing others like Lt-Gen. Matib to the US.
Let us again assume that the GOSS/SPLM/A are not aware of Lt-Gen. Matib's detention in the US. What have they then done to address the situation, now that it has become a public knowledge? It is morally correct of any government to officially address – through diplomatic channels – the detention of any of its members. GOSS/SPLM/A has not made any such statements concerning the reasons for Lt-Gen. Matib's failure to return home from the US.
The GOSS/SPLM/A had sent Lt-Gen। Matib to the Republic of South Africa (RSA) for medical treatment. Even though the rumours of his death in RSA were so strong, Lt-Gen. Matib came back alive. The question the people of South Sudan, especially the relatives and the entire Nuer of Unity State would be asking is that: is Lt-Gen. Matib alive in the US or dead. This column does not intend to reactivate the rumours of Lt-Gen. Matib's death in RSA but warns that GOSS/SPLM/A's failure to inform the people of the South of the whereabouts of Lt-Gen. Matib could lead to similar rumours as those created when he was in RSA.
The US has no interest at all in detaining Lt-Gen. Matib. Therefore, if the "detention" of Lt-Gen. Matib in the US is a decision of the GOSS/SPLM/A and executed by the US Administration, then the US Administration would be wrong. It is illegal for the US Administration to detain Lt-Gen. Matib; let alone the fact that no US citizen can be arrested without formal charges. Even if there are formal charges, such a citizen will have to be brought before a court of law to answer for those charges. Since Lt-Gen. Matib does not have any formal charge brought against him by the US Administration, his continued "detention" would be illegal and that would mean that the US is violating Lt-Gen. Matib's basic human rights.
South Sudan is going through one of the most difficult periods in its history. There are conflicts everywhere in the South, including some signs pointing towards an early rebellion. It seems that this kind of situation would be increasing in worsening by the day. If there is anybody within the GOSS/SPLM/A who thinks that his group, tribe or community would be better placed to resolve the current crisis in the South, s/he would be lying.
The crisis in the South is caused by mismanagement of GOSS and SPLA. The origin of this mismanagement is tribalism. Thus the resolution of these kinds of problems caused by tribalism need the leaders of all tribes in the South, including Lt-Gen. Matib, to end the crisis. In other words, Lt-Gen. Matib and other prominent leaders from other tribes need to seat down to search for a solution to this crisis threatening to turn the South into yet another Somalia within the Horn of Africa region.

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