Contributor's Dak Buoth

Opinion: Will elected Panyijiar County Commissioner be removed without a fight? 

By Dak Buoth,

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

July 24, 2020(Nyamilepedia)Socrates the Teacher of Plato who in turn was the Teacher of Aristotle once said and I quote ‘‘if you’re a good listener you will benefit even from those who talk badly.’’  Again, the residents of Panyijiar County are abandoned and left in the cold; they are now grinding their teeth and licking their political wounds after the appointment of cabinet ministers and state governors by South Sudan President, Salva Kiir and First vice President, Dr. Riek Machar. 

Evidently, the two are behind our impoverishment thus they are our number one foes. As we jeered the two for neglecting the competence leaders of Panyijiar County, their supporters are cheering our abandonment and absence on the dining tables. We are telling these absurd laughers to go with their lucrative political slots slowly. And we shall remain with our dignity and peace in our land. Panyijiar is an island of peace in South Sudan. 

Everyone in South Sudan is searching for peace but these millionaires and power handlers cannot buy peace with their dollars. Panyijiar is the only place where you can spend the night with confidence that your tomorrow will comes unlike in Juba, Bor, Malakal and Bentiu where unknown gun men are roaming and killing indiscriminately and without accountability. 

In Panyijiar, your neighbor is your guard and guardian. This is an area where an old adage that ‘‘we are brothers and sisters keepers’’ apply. Soon time will come when the dining table will be turned around peacefully or violently by the downtrodden. I don’t know why President Kiir and Dr. Riek Machar are not learning anything from the fate of President Omar El-Bashir who is likely going to rot in jail in Khartoum or in Hague, Holland. 

There is no honor in exercising corrupt and bad leadership in the 21st century. The National Cake is not a preserve of the relatives and families of those who are in power. The Peace Agreement and the Interim Transitional constitution, 2011 are crystal clear on power and wealth sharing in the country. The persistent centralization and concentration of power and national wealth in the hands of friends and family members is a total violation of the principles of the Revitalized Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan (ARCSS). The state governors were recently appointed and sworn in, to execute different or mixed roles. Some were instructed to restore peace and steer developments while others were directed to maintain the status quo. 

Now, all eyes turned on county commissioners after they are through with governors’ appointment. I’m here reminding the so-called Appointing Authorities and their handpicked governor/s that the Panyijiar commissioner, Yohanes kujiek is dully elected area commissioner. Mr. Kujiek was mandated to serve Panyijar residents for four years unless otherwise. He was elected by all stakeholders in our region. 

My village Chiefs and Elders of greater Kol constituency had participated in this democratic exercise. It is on this background that i said commissioner Kujiek should just be reconfirmed as Panyijiar county commissioner in the Revitalized Transitional government of National Unity (R-TGoNU). For those who are unaware of the happenings in Panyijiar County, commissioner Kujiek was not appointed by the SPLM-IO faction. He was elected by his area members openly. At one time in 2018, the SPLM-IO overthrew an immediate former commissioner General, Tappuot Kang. Afterward, they tried to import and impose their preferred commissioner by the name John Gai Riek who is one of our members. 

However, the Panyijiar people rejected the latter by all means at their disposal. The ousted former commissioner General Tappuot is a revered General who on several occasions beat President Kiir’s treacherous SPLA forces hands down. 

General Tappuot Kang made Panyijiar County earn the glorious title ‘opposition stronghold’ during seven years’ war in Unity State. Instead of SPLM-IO which he was fighting alongside with to promote him by giving him more ranks, they plotted to overthrow and demoted him. They relegated him, and he is now commanding junior brigade within Panyijiar County. 

This scenario has never happen anywhere before. His relegation will not last.  Fortnight ago, the SPLM-IO Defence secretary who doubles as Defence and Veterans Affairs Minister, Angelina Teny bypassed Panyjiar County in her visit to Unity State. Her bypassing of panyijiar speaks volume.  Initially, we saw the coup against General Tappuot as an insult to all Panyijiar residents. We really fought against his overthrow but sycophants in our midst sided with his coup plotters, and they outnumbered us until they ousted him in a broad day light. 

The toppling of Tappuot was the start of the continued politics of betrayal within the SPLM-IO. They wanted to do away with his war legacies which override all opposition commanders in Unity State.  I have stated it before and I wish to reiterate it here and now, that the removal of an elected panyijiar commissioner will be treated as another coup in Panyijiar. But I’m sure the Panyijiar residents have learnt a lesson, and they will not allow this latest coup to succeed this time round. I know the Panyijiar residents will fight against his removal and replacement politically and with their pens. And should his ousters resort to guns and violence to impose their preferred commissioner the Panyijiar residents will not lie down and surrender. They will use responsible force to preserve their elected commissioner’s office. 

The Panyijiar people are not minority neither are they cowards. The Panyijiar geographical area is larger than you can imagine. I believe the newly appointed Unity State Governor, Dr. Nguem Monytuil will not lead this highly anticipated onslaught against kujiek because if he did so, he will be scratching the old wounds of 2001 war. 

In the 2001 battle, Panyijiar people faced a humiliating defeat due to laxity because the war was not headed by one of their own. The objection of Yohanes Kujiek’s removal goes along way with the protection of Panyijiar county commissioner office. In other words, I’m simply safeguarding the outcome of Panyijiar democracy that they showcase in time of war. 

Though Kujiek is my distance grandfather but this argument has nothing to do with him as a person. It is a just and honest defends for the dignity of his office and Panyijiar peoples’ choice. Believe it or not, this Writer has no contact or communication with the commissioner Kujiek. The last time i heard of him and his activities was when i was reliably informed that, he ordered an illegal arrest of his opponent, Stephen Gai Riek-Gaak who happens to be my pattern uncle. The latter has so far been released. 

Panyijar is only an island of peace but it is part and parcel of South Sudan peace agreement. In accordance with this peace accord, if Panyijiar is allocated to SSOA for instance, they cannot import someone unknown to panyijiar as her commissioner because that will be akin to planting the proverbial seeds on rocky ground. 

Equally, the SPLM-IG cannot purport to appoint commissioner for Panyijiar when they have recently rejected and refused to appoint Kuong Danhier who hails from panyijiar as governor of Unity State. They should just concentrate where they found its people darling to them. 

Lastly, the SPLM-IO will be ashamed to replace commissioner Kujiek when they are aware that Kujiek was elected. Whichever party that will say later that it was allocated the commissionership of Panyijiar should just reconfirm the commissioner Kujiek so that we can move on without any political tussle. 

The frequent removal of Panyijiar county commissioners since the onset of South Sudan independence in 2011 is what contributed to the lagging behind of Panyijiar residents in South Sudan, and it should cease forthwith. As we speak, there is no telecommunication network, roads and other modern structures that are exising in other regions in Unity State and beyond.

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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