By Gai Mayen Luk
I woke up this morning and found my news feed awash with the posts by my South Sudanese brothers and sisters condoling with the American people and in particular, the Bush family who have lost a statesman in the name of George H. W. Bush, popularly known by the diminutive Bush Sr. Our countrymen have hastily taken to the social media to mourn the death of someone they think was a good friend of South Sudan during his administration. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Bush senior was a one term president who came to power in early 1989 following the descent of Ronald Reagan and whose landmark achievement in history was his charged momentum towards the felling of the Berlin Wall and the subsequent collapse of the Soviet Union. In that light, he succeeded when the leader of the USSR Mikhail Gorbachev buckled under the pressure of the so called New World Order and struck a deal with the administration of Bush Senior to dismantle the Soviet Union.
It goes without saying that the ascendancy of Bush Sr. coincided with the time when the SPLA was almost running out of steam because of dismal geopolitical and international isolation. But this was not a mere coincidence anyway because to the administration of Bush Senior, SPLA was an insurgency backed by the Soviet Union through its surrogate regime of Mengistu Mariam. Needless to say that the Bush administration then was never in good humor with the SPLA because of its overt alignment with the USSR.
In that respect, the radically Islamic NIF regime under the aegis of Al Turabi and Bashir as the figurehead seized the chance of the prevailing international political situation as an opportunity to wage a putsch on the government of Sadiq Al Mahdi that was actually on the verge of arriving at a consensus and signing a peace agreement with the Koka Dam coalition which included a plethora of Northern political parties and the SPLA.
Turabi and his henchmen of Islamic fundamentalists were supposedly incensed by the fact that Prime Minister Sadiq was almost agreeing to the repealing of Nimeri’s September Laws (Sharia Laws) and instituting of secular policies as was strongly demanded by Col. John Garang and his associates in the Koka Dam Declaration. As the world watched, including the very administration of Bush senior itself, the watertight Koka Dam went into tatters, the Islamic bigots succeeded and the hopes of realizing sustainable peace in the Sudan were shattered once more.
What then followed from the very onset of the NIF ascendancy to power–and during the administration of Bush senior– was unimaginable human carnage, systematic pogroms and wanton destruction on the Southerners by the death machine that was the NIF regime. All this happened with complete impunity. With the fall of Mengistu Mariam in 1991, SPLA lost its only ally and it was driven out of its key outposts in the South , only to regroup near the borders in an attempt to re-strategise the war, at which time Bashir is popularly quoted to have said mockingly ‘I am going to clear the last pockets of Garang’s border war.’ Fortunately, the mighty SPLA withstood all the trials and tribulations and sailed through those tough days until 1997 when Commander John Garang went to Washington to make amends with America, and that was during the Clinton administration which had defeated Bush in the 1993 midterm elections.
Fast forward, Bush Jr came to power in 2001 and that was the period when the Sudan got the lease of life, with the kick-starting of the peace negotiations, which finally yielded to the CPA in 2005. To crown it up, we could say that Bush Junior whose administration indicted Bashir for committing war crimes and crimes against humanity in the South and Darfur and pressurized him to sign the CPA, is our friend. His father George H. W. George who has passed away today was not our friend.