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South Sudan’s Rubkona youth, intellectuals warn of conflict with Parieng over land

Map of South Sudan bordered by Sudan in the North (File/Supplied/Nyamilepedia)

October 16th 2019 (Nyamilepedia) – South Sudan’s youth and intellectuals from Rubkona County have warned of a possible war with neighboring Parieng county over land dispute triggered by the division of the country into 28 – now 32 – states.

President Kiir in October 2015 divided the country into “tribal enclaves” and created many states leading to complains from many South Sudanese communities who say their land was given away by the action termed as “Establishment Order.”

Parieng county is an area in the defunct Unity state and is inhabited by the Dinka ethnic group. The president’s establishment order of 2015 created a state for Pariang and Abiemnom which never had a common border before and the new map introduced by the government of South Sudan curbed a part of Rubkona, Guit and Mayom to create a common border between Pariang and Abiemnom.

Rubkona – for its part – is a area in Northern Liech state (previously Unity state) and is inhabited by the Leek community. It has a common border with Sudan and that part of the border had been curbed and added to the newly created Ruweng state.

A delegation from Parieng county last week said Unity oilfields in Rubkona and some part of Guit county belongs to them. This has angered the Leek community and warned in a statement extended to Nyamilepedia yesterday that this will cause a possible conflict between the two neighbors.

They said the Leek Youth and Intellectuals “are on record to warn our neighbor from Parieng of a possible inter-communal conflict in the world’s youngest nation as a result of what we termed as “an aggression on us” by claiming areas that have never been on dispute for centuries. We had been living together and been under one constituency since old Sudan until the last election of 2010 up to the independence of South Sudan from Sudan.”

In the aforementioned last election, Hon. Majok Dau from Panarur, who is now in the Transitional National Legislative Assembly was elected my Leek representing our constituency to Khartoum National Legislative Assembly against Hon. John Dor Majok of Rubkona County. We have had elected a good number of your people from the time we were combined under one constituency from the old Sudan and that was not cowardice act from Leek, but rather it was a sign of unconditional love for all people, which you have had thought of as “inferiority and cowardness”. While being together for all those years, there have never been issues of land dispute because all of us were aware of our borders.

The attached map is the one we believe as youth & Leek intellectuals and not the one manipulated by the enemies of peaceful coexistence of communities. Rubkona County in the map comprised Leek and Jikany (GUIT), Mayom County for Bul and Dinka Abiemnom, Leer County for Jagey (Koch), Haak (Mayiandit), Dok (Leer), Nyuong (Panyijar) and Panrieng County for Dinka Panarur.

The government, under the leadership of comrade President Salva Kiir, formulated a policy that would devolve power and resources to the counties by creating 32 states through a presidential decrees. And when the president issued the presidential decrees, he made it clear that there are no boundaries drawn between the newly created states and such work will be done by independent border commission. This mean that there are no any authentic maps of those states, thus any claim being brought forward by any of the new states is baseless and unfounded and should therefore be considered as an aggression to Leek community. Such political development, which was solely meant for development, should not motivate you to take advantage beyond your reasonable capacities, as if our neighborhood relationships were not good.

The leadership of your state and the selfish motives of some of your members of parliament both in the National Assembly and council of states in Ruweng could not grant you absolute powers to take Leek land. It has just come to our notice that the government original plan for more states has been hijacked and replaced by a land grabbing spree, largely motivated by desire to control oil-rich areas, a dream that is unrealistic and unachievable under our watch in this twenty-first century.

Nothing could be more telling than the irresponsible statements and provocation from Hon. Mary Ayen of Council of states and the recent statement by the Petroleum Minster, Hon. Awow Daniel that Block 1, 2 of Budang county and block 4 in Kaikang belong to Ruweng state as appeared on the Dawn daily newspaper, October 11, 2019. Hon. Awow Daniel should be the one to advice Ruweng state officials and national parliamentarians to refrain from such activities and also to inform the country leadership of the unnecessary activities being carried out by some elements in Ruweng government including their national parliamentarians. South Sudan council of states summoned the Minister to explain the leakage, which we think was not the subject matter. They summoned him to explain the ownership of the area under spillage.

As youth & intellectuals, we were dismayed by Hon. Awow’s statement, and we hold a view that he should not have taken a biased stance as a national Minister. Hence, we consider these are deliberate statements meant to plant conflicts between the Dinka Parieng and Leek Nuer community who had been co-existing peacefully as neighbors even before oil exploration by Chevron Company in late 1970s.

It is worth mentioning that Unity oilfield, Toma South, ElNar & El-Har are areas of Leek and all were undisputable since then. When did Hon. Mary Ayen get such ownership? Hon. Mary Ayen needs to be advised and should not incite conflict that she would not manage if things come to worst. Let us be mindful of our social relationships and historical ties, given the fact that our permanent neighborhood is far better than the temporary self-centered interests.

Using political manipulation to annex parts of Leek Nuer community ancestral lands to your state is a declaration of conflict and a green light to embark in unnecessary hostilities between two neighboring communities. So we would like to make it clear to you to refrain from culture of violent and manipulation of political power, to avoid unforeseen inconveniences that may be brought about by such tribal practices.

It is in the best interest of Leek and Panarur communities to sit down peacefully through their states governments’ leadership and top community leaders, as well as elders who are still alive today that know very well boundaries, and border issues between the two communities, without external influence from outsiders or other opportunists. It is worth mentioning that respect for the neighborhood and the rights of others, is the essence of humanity and application of wisdom.

Dr. John Garang once said; “Colonizer has no color. Even your own brother can do the same to you” What he said before has today become a reality in our country. Our position as youth and intellectuals from the Leek community is to have a meeting or dialogue that will normalize the tension and call for peaceful resolution of border issues before the border commission swings into action.

In conclusion, we call upon the people of Panarur in general and the state leadership of Ruweng, as well as national parliamentarians to refrain themselves from such disastrous activities which may result into unwanted instability and the disruption of the peaceful coexistence of the two communities that we have been enjoying for decades.

We urge the country leadership under President Kiir to warn Ruweng state leadership and its other stakeholders to refrain from such aggression that may disrupt the operations of the oil companies in the said areas. We also call upon the country leadership to preach for peaceful coexistence among the various South Sudanese communities for a better nation. Tribal governments have never built great nations, thus we need to fight tribalism so that we build our great nation, not only at the interest of one community, but also at the interest of all communities following our well known slogan, ‘One People, One Nation.’”

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