By Changkuoth Gatluak,
Nov 3, 2014(Nyamilepedia) — South Sudan people unlike any other have their own unique characters, behaviors and ways of handling their issues. The issues of south Sudan need to be handled carefully and with care especially when it comes to a conflict such as the ongoing one. Each tribe has its own way of handling its issue but there is one common practice amongst all the tribes is that once people agree on one particular dispute it therefore has to be implemented accordingly. There are consequences in regards to not complying with the agreed upon rules which could ultimately change the dynamic of the case.
A little background on the current crisis that led to the involvement of the IGAD.
I would like to thank the IGAD and other partners for the 10 months of trying to bring about peace in South Sudan. However, given the situation so far there are two main roles not being performed by IGAD to resolve the current conflict and which led to the failure of IGAD to mediate the south Sudan conflict.
- Although there were many difficulties to even bring both warring sides to the signing of the agreement. IGAD did not manage to implement the 1st Ceasation of Hostility (CoH) agreement that was signed on 23rd January 2014 which stipulated that the foreign forces invited to fight for the government namely UPDF, JEM, SPLM-N, M23 and Blue Nile forces be withdrawn immediately so that the agreement implementation could be abided by both parties. To date, the CoH of 23rd January 2014 has not made any significant change on the issue but the IGAD, US & other international community on the other hand are quick in condemning both the government and the rebels for the violations. Both sides will remain trading accusation on each other because they know that there is no seriousness on the implementation, hence the SPLM-IO commanders in the field are aware that the 23rd January CoH agreement was simply on paper since they are always in confrontation with the invited foreign forces of Uganda and Darfur rebels of Sudan.
- UPDF stated clearly that it will not withdraw its forces till another African forces is replaced to take over and it had already been agreed on 23rd January 2014.
- The government is also confirming directly that the forces will not leave South Sudan.
- On 9th May 2014, the re-dedication agreement is again signed by both parties that the remaining issues that were not implemented in first agreement of 23rd January 2014 be implemented. Nothing changed as the above forces are still fighting for the government. The question is – what is so difficult for the IGAD members in whom Uganda is part of, for it to withdraw its forces?
- Most of the towns including Nasir town were under control of the SPLM-IO during the signing of the CoH on 23rd January 2014, then they were taken afterwards by the government together with their foreign forces. Why did IGAD not condemn the act while the agreement is already signed? Was that because of Museveni’s influence is very strong that blinded the IGAD members?
- IGAD and other mediating members (Troika) and the likes did not come out publicly condemning the massacre of more than 20,000 Nuer ethnics in Juba alone that was carried out by the government. What is behind this? Is the world glad to see the Nuer ethnics be finished like what had happened in Rwanda in 1994 genocide? Nuer ethnics alone are fighting the whole 64 tribes of South Sudan that are in the SPLA Juba, as well as the invited foreign forces. I am still wondering…..
- IGAD and the likes did not even condemn the cluster bombing of Nuer in Jonglei State by UPDF of Ugandan air force.
- IGAD did not condemn enough the attacks and killing of more than 100 IDPs at Bor UNMISS PoCs camp by armed Government youth of Dinka Bor.
- IGAD did not condemn the killing of UN & other NGOs workers in Maban by the Maban Defense Forces (MDF) that were rearmed by the government to target the Nuer in the town and yet there was no action taken by the IGAD.
- IGAD did not condemn the recent abduction of UN and other UNMISS workers in Malakal. In other words, is UN mandate still valid if those who are abducted are killed by the government? What if the other side does the same, will UN or UNMISS or even UNSC react when they fail to implement their mandate and Nuer UN workers were taken in their watch in Malakal?
- The root cause of the conflict is not addressed in any of the meetings by IGAD. As the world knows so far more than 20,000 Nuer ethnic group were massacred in Juba which later escalated to other towns where Nuer were found namely, Malakal, Bor and Bentiu for a reason still unknown. Their families and relatives are the ones fighting the government in the field in those fronts and they will not stop their guns until the reason why their loved ones were murdered is answered or till the leader that ordered their massacre is out of the lead.
Therefore, without the root cause being addressed at the peace talks there will be no agreement regardless of the many times the ink is poured on different papers whether in Addis, Arusha or elsewhere. IGAD should be made aware that this conflict, (although may sound political), is blended with other social elements. Anybody in South Sudan can easily analyse and solve this crisis and can come up with a concrete solution as it has been done many years ago by elders. With the current president’s strange practices, a desperate invention of the December plan is concluded to be obvious. If IGAD covers this up by creating leadership positions to the wronged as a means to bribe them then it shall be known that this will be the new normal and culprit will continue doing what they please and vengeance will continue to the generations even if it will finish them to the last man.
Some might think that the root cause of this conflict is an SPLM issue. Yes it would be if the Nuer ethnics were not targeted, but the dimension of the conflict has changed from SPLM to a different stand. If it was an SPLM issue as many might think; all the SPLM political bureau members from different tribes were there with Dr. Riek Machar on 6th December during their conference. As you can see the names below other tribes were present but not targeted in Juba massacre and other places:
- Rebecca Nyandeng Garang, cde. Gier Chuang, cde. Chol Tong, cde. Madut Biar, cde. Deng Alor & cde. Majak Agot all are from “Dinka ethnics of Bor, Lake and Aweil”
- Pagan Amum, cde. Oyai Deng Ajak & cde. Peter Adwok Nyaba are from “Shilluk ethnics”
- Kosti Manibe & Cde. Gen Alfred Lado Gore are from “Equatoria ethnics”
- Riek Machar, cde. Taban Deng Gai, Cde. John Luk & cde. Ezekiel Lol Gatkuoth are from “Nuer Ethnics of Bentiu, Upper Nile and Jonglei ”
If it was an SPLM issue then all the above SPLM members’ tribes would have been targeted by Salva Kiir Militias. The manner in which the killings were carried out was indeed an obvious intended massacre.
And if it was a coup as stated by the government in Juba, why were the other tribes of the members above not targeted if they had participated in the alleged coup as was said by the government?
If it was that Dr. Riek Machar wanted to contest for the SPLM chairmanship so that he can run for the presidency in the next general elections of 2015, why were the Dinka tribe of cde. Rebecca Nyandeng Garang, the Shilluk tribe of cde. Pagan Amum and the Equatoria tribes of cde. Wani Iga not targeted and they also declared themselves for the same seat to unseat the chairman of the SPLM cde . Salva Kiir Mayardit?
One might ask a question: Why did 99.9% Nuer tribe run to the bush and to UNMISS camps during the December 2013 Nuer massacre in Juba? Let it be clear that it is not that Dr. Riek Machar instructed the Nuer to do so. This was because all the Nuer in Juba, Malakal, Bor and Bentiu including Dr. Riek Machar run for their dear lives since every Nuer was targeted whether they supported Salva Kiir, Dr. Riek Machar or any other political party. All Nuer were targeted by the 18,000 militia of Mathiang Anyor, Gelweng, Dot kubeny recruited by the president and are all from Dinka Bhar Ghezal , the home of the president; and half of Dinka Tiger battalion that started the fighting in Juba.
The government especially the president is always stating in the media, UN Assembly Meetings and IGAD submits that they are committed to the peaceful settlement of the conflict and yet they fail to implement the 23rd January 2014 CoH agreement. Is the president really serrious about the peace to come to his country?
In conclusion I would urge IGAD, US, Norway and other international community who are involved in the mediation process to do the following:
- Push both parties to address the root cause of the conflict so as to achieve a lasting peace that both side will agreed on.
- Put more pressure on the government to accept the few demands of the rebel and implementation of 23rd January CoH agreement if it wants to resolve the conflict in south Sudan peacefully as president Salva Kiir always said in the media and his meetings.
- Condemn the government of violating the 23rd January 2014 CoH agreement by attacking the rebel positions including capturing of Nasir, Mathiang in May 2014 to mention some.
- Exert pressure to the foreign forces of UPDF, JEM, SPLM-N and M23 to withdraw their forces ASAP from South Sudan as stipulated in the CoH of 23rd January 2014 and again signed on 9th May 2014 so that both side will not trade accusation again. Government forces will not attempt to attack the rebel for fear and the rebel will not attack the government as they will observe the agreement.
Failing to do the above, IGAD will have a hard time bringing peace in South Sudan. It would be more recommendable to hand over the mediation to AU or UNSC.
Changkuoth, an SPLM/A –IO freedom fighter, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org