Last Tuesday (May 9th 2017) General Paul Malong was fired from his position as Army Chief of Staff by President Salva Kiir Mayardit . The tension in the streets of Juba had been evident for several days and many people feared a sudden showdown . In addition the president had been trying to get some kind of control over the growing rift between the Bor Dinka and the Murle in the East , a conflict not directly linked to the civil war but which the conflict has allowed to fester . Michael Makuei Lueth , himself a Bor Dinka had issued statements which the President did not accept and after a while the government itself , seen as “Dinka” (but which kind of Dinka ? There are a dozen main Dinka sections which are in fact like so many tribes) but nevertheless an actor in the conflict . This came just as the UN was announcing a figure of one million refugee children (and 1.3m moving about inside the country as IDPs) and off the record was estimating the number of casualties over the last three and a half years at around 300,000 . The combination of figures might be a bit exagerated in order to shock international public opinion into giving more than the 20% of the appeal already pledged but unfortunately the exageration is still largely within the realm of what is believable (no casualty statitistics have ever been gathered by any of the actors or observers , a very common fact for African conflicts) . After being fired , general Paul Malong had left Juba for an unknown destination in Lakes State , near Aweil . And then the meaning of what happened started to blur . Santo Domic , the SPLA Spokesman , said Gal Malong had left peacefully “and is not planning to rebel“. But then Ateny Wek Ateny , Salva Kiir Spokesman declared that General Malong was “near Yrol and that there are steps being taken to convince him to return to Juba” . Next came an undisclosed military source saying that General Malong had rebelled agaisn the government and that six generals — Charles Duot Akot , Akech Adim , Marial Nuor , Jiel Mangok , Yel Deng Nguel and Riny Tueny Mabior — had followd him into rebellion . This has pushed the security situation to a kind of complete upheaval. The “explanation” given to the conflict in 2013-2014 was that it was a war between the Nuer and the Dinka . Then a year later , as the Equatorias started to agitate , it was seen as a war between the Dinka and the Equatorians . Then this year as rebellions started to germinate in Bahr-el-Ghazal it was explained as a war between the Dinka versus the Fertit , the Jur , the Balanda and so on . Observers who dared to speak frankly began to say it war a war of all tribes against the Dinka . But now the Dinka seem poised to fight each other , not even between distant sections like the Bor and the Aliab but even between neighboring Dinka sections in Bahr-el-Ghazal itself . The government seems to have lost all control over the situation without any rebel faction managing to substitute itself to teh central forces . The result is near complet anarchy, a Hobbesian  war of all against all , to the accompaniement of a huge number of starving displaced and refugee civilians . It seems that the trigger point was unvoluntarily reached  by the deployment of  400 British Army logisticians . They arrived a few days ago (May 2nd) , in charge of building a helicopter landing site and a jetty on the Nile . Not a very martial task but it seems that Salva Kiir’s calculation was that the presence of these foreign troops would deter Paul Malong from directly taking to the streets . The President might have been right and Juba has been protected by this symbolical umbrella . But the only result seems to have been to move the faceoff from the capital to the Bahr-el-Ghazal region , where the future remains more than uncertain .

 

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