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South Sudan leaders competing over the communities of Upper Nile

Dec 12, 2020 (Nyamilepedia) —  following the SPLM/A-IO sixth conference resolution to hold a conference in Fashoda to resolve the controversy over the appointment of Lt. Gen. Johnson Olony, a presidency meeting on Wednesday has resolved to meet the communities of Upper Nile State to consult them over the appointment of Johnson Olony.

Kiir, Machar after meeting in J1 (Photo credit: Supplied/Nyamilepedia)

The meeting of the presidency was attended by H.E. Salva Kiir Mayardit, President of the Republic, H.E. Dr. Riek Machar Teny, First Vice President of the Republic, H.E. Dr. James Wani Igga, Vice President for Economic Cluster, H.E. Hussein Abdelbaggi Akol, Vice President for Services Delivery Cluster, H.E. Taban Deng Gai, Vice President for Infrastructure Cluster, H.E. Rebecca Nyandeng De- Mabior, Vice President for Gender and Youth Cluster, Hon. Tut Gatluak Manime, Presidential Advisor on National Security Affairs, and Hon. Dr. Elia Martin Lomuro, Minister for Cabinet Affairs.

According to the Minister of Cabinet Affairs, the presidency resolved that the RTGoNU shall hold the conference in Juba to resolve the issue of Upper Nile State.

“The Presidency resolved that, the Revitalized Transitional Government of National Unity shall hold a conference in Juba for all the communities of Upper Nile State to discuss ways and means of resolving any tribal or communal differences and to engender harmony in the State prior to a final decision on the appointment of the Governor of Upper Nile State.” Read part of the statement that was released by the Minister of Cabinet Affairs, Hon. Martin Lomuro.

Although it remains to be decided how and when the communities of Upper Nile will be consulted, the decision by the presidency seems to come in the way of the SPLM/A-IO resolution to hold their conference in Fashoda of Upper Nile State.

Reacting to this decision, Dr. Lam Akol, the leader of the National Democratic Movement(NDM), joined the conversation, criticizing both leaders and proposed his own resolutions.

“In relation to exempting Upper Nile State from getting its Government, this action has no justification apart from the failure of the two Principals to R-ARCSS to agree on the appointment of the Governor of the State.” Dr. Lam said.

According to Dr. Lam Akol, the appointment of the governor of the Upper Nile State should not be tied to the reconciliation among the communities of the Upper Nile State.

” Tying the appointment of the Governor to the reconciliation of the communities in the Upper Nile State would mean that the purpose is for these communities to agree on the appointment of a Governor which is not their business and on which they are unlikely to reach consensus.” Lam said.

“More importantly, their differences had nothing to do with who should or should not be the Governor in the State. In fact, tying up the two is the surest way for the reconciliation to fail while two of the Parties to the Agreement continue with the stalemate on the appointment of the Governor at a time when the masses of our people in Upper Nile State continue to suffer including unnecessary loss of lives.” He continued.

On the other hand, President Kiir believes that Johnson Olony is a warmonger who is likely to incite violence in Upper Nile if he is appointed a governor and thinks he would be blamed if Olony’s governorship fails the communities of Upper Nile State.

“If it is somebody who will cause fighting or conflict, like in Upper Nile, I say ‘no’, because it will be on my neck later in the day,” said Kiir at the swearing-in ceremony of the state governors last July.

But according to Dr. Lam the two parties should just resolve this problem among themselves without getting the communities involved.

“The two parties should sort this matter out among themselves, and the sooner the better,” Lam said in an article extended to Nyamilepedia.

Joining the conversation, Hon. Michael Makuei Lueth, said the conference is the only surest way to resolve the controversy.

“When the conference is conducted, they will decide and tell us if they like Olony or not. But the ultimate decision maker are the people of Upper Nile state, if they said yes to Olony, the President Salva has no any objection, but the truth is we can’t foretell the outcome,” Makuei added.

Although the South Sudanese leaders may agree to disagree, the issue of Upper Nile state has stemmed down to ethnic affiliation where President Kiir stands to defend the interest of his ethnic Dinka minority in Upper Nile State and Machar stands to defend the interest of ethnic Chollo minority.

If appointed, this would be the first time a Chollo politician would lead Upper Nile state but according to president Kiir that may never happen under his watch.

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