May 27, 2018(Nyamilepedia) —– In the evening of May 18th, 2018, Mama Rebecca Nyandeng de Mabior, the widow of Dr. John Garang de Mabior, a founding member of the SPLM/A and a senior South Sudanese politician, took a bold decision to visit Hon. Michael Makuei Lueth, the South Sudan’s government spokesman, deputy chief negotiator and a Minister of Information and Broadcasting, who also doubles as the Chairman of the Dinka Bor community, to discuss matters of alcohol consumption during peace talks.
Visiting in the interest of peace and with hopes to bridge wider gaps between government delegation and oppositions, Mama Rebecca took it upon herself to address an issue that is usually ignored at the South Sudanese peace talks and that is the issue of drugs and substances abuse such as alcohol, which is a known visitor in South Sudan leadership.
Many South Sudanese politicians including the president, Salva Kiir Mayardit, are known for excessive drinking and smoking even on regular work days and the Peace Talks venues have not been spared either.
Some South Sudanese politicians, while in Ethiopia for Peace Talks, have been seen taking short-lived vacations to have a few shots of hard liquor or dating on the sideline to make good use of their evenings while the peace talks lasts.
According to observers and critics, this phenomenon has become very popular among the government delegation, which is taken for a sign that Juba is no longer interested in peace negotiation but more to pass time while building its status quo.
The leading delegates on the government side, Michael Makuei and Dr. Martin Elia Lomuro, according to observers, have appeared to have high hangovers a few times in the past, which derailed past negotiations, and this provoked the SPLM-FD leaders, Mama Rebecca and Dr. Majak Agot, to approach their son and community chairperson, Michael Makuei Lueth, to politely ask him to slow down on alcohol during peace talks to give peace, which Michael believes has been “around the corners” for almost 5 years, a chance to come home.
The conversation, which was recorded by a CCTV, between Mama Rebecca and Hon. Makuei, took place in the evening of May 18th in what appeared to be the lobby of the Desalegn Hotel, where many delegates were accommodated.
In the lobby, Mama Rebecca coincidentally ran into Michael Makuei, who was trying to leave the hotel while Mama Rebecca was coming to meet him at his residence. Makuei was not informed, it was a surprise visit, an insider said.
“It was a motherly visit. Maybe mama Rebecca wanted to catch Hon. Makuei red handed drinking or drunk that evening, who knows?” Said the insider.
“Kudual menth nyankai” Mama Rebecca opened the conversation with a gentle smile. It was a polite greeting in Dinka language meaning “how are you son of my sister[nephew]”.
Although showing a sense of guilt, Makuei responded saying that he was fine. More political greetings were exchanged for another minute or two in a mixed of English and Dinka dialect before Mama Rebecca dived into her topic with a sense of urgency.
“Michael, my son, you have always been a good child. Today, I’m talking like your mother, I don’t know what exactly happened to you, Michael, but as my son I’m not shy to tell you that your voice means a lot in South Sudan and our community.” Mama Rebecca said.
“For the sake of peace, Michael, we have to sacrifice, we have to leave some habits for our people to get the peace they deserve. Our people are suffering, our country is on its knees, we need peace, Michael” Mama Nyandeng continued.
“Yes, we need peace, our people need peace, it is only Riek Machar and his group that do not want peace” Makuei responded.
Although he knew what Mama Rebecca was driving at, he decided to float for a minute as usual and that pushed Mama Rebecca even harder.
“My son, I mean habits like drinking, drinking alcohol. I talked to our president a few times on the issue of alcohol when I was his advisor. Alcohol has ruined our country, alcohol is killing our people, and alcohol has failed all of us. We need to stop it even if it means only for a few days to bring peae to our people. This peace talk is our last opportunity” Mama Rebecca said extending her right arm out and looking deeply into Michael Makuei’s brown eyes.
With his jaws clinched and his pupils withdrawn, for the first time, the loudly outspoken Minister felt aggrieved but lacked words to respond.
Having passed on her message, Mama Rebecca went on to say that being a flag bearer of their Dinka Bor community, the chairman is obliged to set good examples and leave a good legacy for his people.
Makuei had very little to say in self-defense, however, his frequent drinking habit is not a secret within his inner circle.
Whether the Minister fully abide to Mama Rebecca’s advice remains uncertain but stakeholders confirmed that the Deputy Chief Negotiator was sober for most parts of the 5-day long talks.
The talks did not produce the most needed peace agreement, however, they were conversations were calmed and friends. No protests or major complaints were observed compared to earlier phases!
Upon his return to Juba, the Minister confidently attested that the talks bridged gaps between the parties and that he believes was a progress.
Hon. Michael Makuei is sanctioned by the international community, especially members of the TROIKA and the European Union for his negative influence in South Sudan conflict and peace talks.
Both Hon. Makuei and Dr. Elia have also appeared on the recent asset freeze and travel ban by the United Nations Security Council.
Article edited by the Stuffs’ Writer on behalf of the author, Akuen Bol Akuen.