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Opinion South Sudan

Opinion: Somalization of Panyijiar County politics is blamed on SPLM-IO

By Dak Buoth Riek-Gaak

Leaders of Panyijiar county during a meeting in Panyijiar headquarters(Source: supplied)
Leaders of Panyijiar county during a meeting in Panyijiar headquarters(Source: supplied)

Jan 15, 202(Nyamilepedia) —– ‘Somalization’ is a terminology that is derived from the term ‘Somali’ which means the native and the original Cushitic speaking people of the war tone Republic of Somalia. The word Somalization is referred to as the chaotic political concept based on clan rather than ideas.

When we fled from Sudan, now Republic of South Sudan many years ago following fierce civil war, we thought Sudan was the only African country engulfed in war. But on arrival in the refugee camps, we found fellow refugees from other African countries who also ran away from their respective countries due to armed conflicts. The moment we reached and found refuge, the next important thing we thought of was to go to School and enroll at various levels of education.

For some of us, being chased away from our country at tender young years later became a ‘blessing in disguise’. You will agree that if we were not chase away from Sudan, many of us would never enter the door of class one and or form one let alone going entering tertiary institutions. Soon after getting enrolls in Primary schools, we met and studied with Somalis, Rwandese, Eritreans, Zairians and or Congolese pupils.

At the beginning, we had a beef with Somalis because of their Islamic faith. By then we thought all Muslims were bad because our people were maimed, killed and chased away by various successive Islamic regimes in Khartoum. But as time goes, we realized they are different and innocent people who had their own unique problems like us. So we continue to cooperate and coexist as brothers and sisters in those UN camps. As we continued to study in school, we learnt English and Kiswahili which are the national languages of instructions in Kenyan schools. In the course of our studies and interactions we could share stories of our journey of wars with our classmates from Somali, Rwandese and Congolese.

It was from these stories that we learn that our former Sudan was not the only country at war in Africa. We came to learn about Rwandan Genocide, independent war of Eritrea plus the clan and religious war in Somalia. Their conflicts were new to us, but they were aware of the war in Sudan because the war in our country was old one that all Africans are privy to. We could explain our war stories, and says that, we ran away from Arabs that were fighting us with help of their fellow Arabs in the middle East; that they were bombing, killing and denying us of our independent because they want our natural resources; that the Arabs were occupying our oil-rich land in Bentiu and elsewhere in Southern Sudan now republic of South Sudan; that they were marginalizing us and imposing their Islamic region and Sharia laws on us by forced of armed. On our sides, we got convinced of the war of independent in Eritrea, ethnic conflict in Rwanda and war of change in Zaire, now Congo. However, the war that we did not appreciate up to now is that which is still going on in Somalia. At least you can understand that the Eritreans were fighting for their right of self-determination from Ethiopia.

In Rwanda, the minority Tutis were fighting for their space in the then Hutu dominated regime. The Zairians were fighting to overthrow the dictatorial regime of the late Mobutu Sses seko who betrayed and killed Congolese founding father and Pan Africanist, Patrick Lumumba. After the toppling of the former Somali President, Said Bare in 1991, the Somalis went on to engaged in unending clan and religious war among themselves. The Somalis many of whom are in South Sudan are from one tribe and one religion. One would wonder and ask why they are fighting for so long. The answer we got was that each clan in Somalia wants to produce a leader of the country at the same time, something which is impossible and impractical. They can only have one national leader at a time. They have to change this clan and religious based politics for war to stop in Somalia. I know the Somalis are great and hardworking people with strong family and socialist values. If they can cease fighting and go back to develop Somalia, their country would be great economic hub in Africa.

This brings me to our case in South Sudan. In the past, we were fighting for our inalienable right of self-determination with clear vision to govern ourselves democratically and constitutionally. However, things changed rapidly when the ruling SPLM abandoned the concepts of democracy and the rule of law. The independent immediately became a Dinka thing which is now using state machinery to push members of other tribes to the peripheries of the country.

The war which broke out in Juba on 15th December, 2013 due to the failure of ruling SPLM adhering to fundamental principles of our liberation has caused an irreparable damage to lives and properties. People fought and as result the ruling SPLM party split into factions namely SPLM-IG and SPLM-IO.

The vast South Sudanese majority who were aggrieved rallied behind former vice President Dr. Riek Machar who signed the peace accord dubbed Revitalized Agreement of the Resolution in South Sudan (ARCISS) on 12th September 2018. For the second time in a row, this Peace Agreement offered and afforded South Sudanese a chance to enter into power sharing arrangement as a mean to stop war. Since its signing in Khartoum, it has witnessed a number of delays and violations to its key provisions.

The values of this agreement are transparency, sharing and reconciliation. It’s unfortunate to see that the principal signatories namely President Salva Kiir and First Vice President Dr. Riek Machar are frequently acting in total defiance and disregard to these fundamental values of our peace agreement. The former’s party, SPLM-IG cannot be blame so much for lack of change of heart and attitude. Perhaps they probably doesn’t know what change means. But the latter that purports to lead the proponents of change is consistently making political blunders by committing political offences such as nepotism and inequality in their political nominations. SPLM-IO has normalized nepotism. Dr. Machar’s political nominations are meritless to say the least.

The way Dr. Machar is nominating people is unjust and unfair. Can you imagine most former constitutional post holders who defected to fight the war that return him to office are now out in the cold? Dr. Riek has replaced them with political novices who have no face in our national political landscape. The SPLM-IO’s political blunders are widely seen in one of its stronghold, Panyijiar County.

In 2018, they removed Area commissioner Gen. Tapuot in a hasty manner that was likened to a coup. Now as peace is gathering and gaining momentum, they resolved to remove and replace Gen. Tappuot’s successor Dr. Kujiek Ruot with one Justin Machien. A few weeks later, SPLM-IO was heard saying its revoke Justin’s nomination; and that they nominate Dr. Machar’s former security aide Gatgiek Mabor to replace incumbent Area commissioner Kujiek. Dr. Machar’s SPLM-IO is not rational and consistent in their decision on Panyijiar.

What they are doing is a recipe for chaos. They better heed to wise counsel. Moreover, as they partakes these political shenanigans, they hardly give reasons for these unnecessary political changes. Consequently, SPLM-IO political actions have so far generated clan politics in Panyijiar County. Their actions are unleashed to cause incitement, dislike and disharmony among the peace loving residents of Panyijiar.

As we talk each sub-clan In Panyijiar wants to produce an Area commissioner. Just the other day, Panyijiar Elders from one of our Ganyliel Payam sat and nominated Michael Lot Gatluok as an Area commissioner.

The group which made the nomination of Michael Lot was accompanied by armed youth that were holding AK-47 and spears, an act which suggest and demonstrate that they want to make Michael Lot an area commissioner by hook or crook. Having studied all these bad actions by Dr. Riek’s SPLM-IO, you would be very naïve to doubt that SPLM-IO is not out to implant war in Panyijiar by introducing clan politics that they know is source of leadership squabble and wrangle in most parts of Africa. We already blamed SPLM-IO top brass. And should there be chaos in Panyijiar County they won’t go scot-free. They have already sabotaged the Panyijiar county leadership with their activities.

I’m sure whoever becomes commissioner will face it rough because of these administrative errors emanating from the SPLM-IO. Of course Panyijiar is known to be an island peaceful in South Sudan. Peace is natural phenomenon that needs to be pampered and preserved like eggs. Once people play with elements of peace it can get out of hands.

The solution is for Dr. Machar’s SPLM-IO party to rethink by making an attempt to minimize the problem of division and sabotage which he created with his lieutenants. And to achieve that, SPLM-IO should nominate an incumbent Area commissioner Dr. Kujiek Ruot top loge as Panyijiar commissioner during this RTGoNU era of peace. These messes were created during his leadership, and he is the right person to find and fix the emotive issues before he vacate office when RTGoNU tenure expires. I therefore advised that the earlier the SPLM-IO does this the better for the people of Panyijiar. Commissioner Kujiek is still popular among the residents of Panyijiar. In 2018 he became Panyijiar commissioner through hotly contested process that involved all our stakeholders. Thus he should be allowed to continue to advance peace and forgiveness in our beloved county without hindrance and interference from inside and outside Panyijiar.

The Writer is the Chairman of Liech Community Association in Kenya; the views expressed here are his own, and he can be reached for comments via eligodakb@yahoo.com

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