Last August , after Riak Machar had nearly been assassinated the previous month in Juba while trying to implement the South Sudanese “Peace Agreement” and had walked to the Congo , he had been exfiltrated from Goma by a Sudanese plane , together with his wife , son and a number of top-ranking SPLM/IO officers . This then led to a bizarre diplomatic choreography where Riak was at first sent (at his own request) to Addis Ababa . But there he was told he could not stay and had to go back to Khartoum . In Khartoum he was re-deported to Ethiopia with the message that he could not come back to Sudan . Stranded in Addis , he was finally picked up by the South Africans who sent him to Johannesburg where he still remains under house arrest to this day . What were the reasons behind this bizarre ballet and why do they still matter ?
The key reason was John Kerry’s insistence that the former South Sudan VP had to be “cleaned out” so that Salva Kiir’s picking up and promoting Taban Deng Gai as a new VP representing the opposition SPLM/IO within the Peace Process could be sold to international public opinion as legitimate . By doing this , President Obama hapless Secretary of State was trying to kill two birds with one stone : (a) promoting the lifting of sanctions against the Sudanese regime so as to accelerate its “normalization” , regardless of its atrocious real behavior (b) push forward a Canada Dry version of the South Sudanese “Peace Agreement” where the Nuer Quisling Taban Deng Gai would be promoted as a genuine “opposition” article and finalize the so far bloodily deficient “Peace Process”. To achieve these dubious policy “breaks” , Kerry had a clear request : both Khartoum – hopeful for a sanction-free US policy – and Addis Ababa – a large recipient of US aid and diplomatic friendship – were told to cooperate ; and they both did . But these were programmatic gesticulations , not real actions impacting real reality . So Khartoum kept behaving as usual , bombing civilians in the Nuba Mountains and using chemical weapons in Darfur ; and so did Juba , buying more weapons in the midst of an officially-proclaimed famine and massively killing civilians in the Equatorias . John Kerry fluttered away , swept by the Trump hurricane , Beshir kept being Beshir , trying to crush SPLM/N best as it could and Salva Kiir kept being Salva Kiir , proclaiming a “national dialogue” in which he refused the participation of the opposition . As a result , life just went on . Delirious Trump never gave a fraction of a thought to Sudan (does he know it exists ?) Beshir arrested more opponents and subcontracted some Janjaweed killers to Saudi Arabia so that they would go and kill Yemenites instead of killing migrants in the Libyan desert (see another posting of today) and the Crisis Management Committee (CMC , the body supposed to supervise the implementation of the ghost August 17th 2015 “Peace Agreement” stole its own budget . Yes . You read correctly . The CMC “Peace Committee” , true to its South Sudanese governmental syndrom , stole its own funds and pocketed them , sharing the loot between sixty different persons . The CMC is presided by Juba’s Vice-President James Wani Igga and comprises six ministers and many high level civil servants . The total amount stolen is a modest $14.75 million at the official exchange rate , much less if we calculate the stolen South Sudan Pounds at the rate resulting from the roaring inflation . Adut Salva Kiir , daughter of the President, was the top scorer who got 14 millions devalued pounds from the kitty . Mr David Kueth, was the loser in the hierarchical split , getting only $705 at the official rate, probably just enough to buy some cookies for his breakfast at the black market rate . But now General Thomas Cirillo , the only Equatorian military heavyweight in the SPLA , jut defected . His defection is in the way of totally remixing the cards of the rebellion and has started to question Riak Machar’s role as symbol of the South Sudan rebellion . So the Kerry deal does not look like it has produced the fruits the US Secretary of State expected .