By Kuach Tutkuay,
August 27, 2014(Nyamilepedia) — Having obtained and scan through the IGAD written document to solve the crisis in South Sudan, I felt like they are hard of hearing, if not understanding, the bone of contention in the South Sudan crisis. I suppose it would be very difficult, if not impossible, for IGAD to find an amicable solution to end the crisis. This is based on my experiences with the South Sudan conflict dynamics. I have stayed for four months with the IDPs trying to implement rehabilitation and peace building activities in Juba IDP camps, this gave me an opportunity to jot down as many stories as possible which allowed me to understand the conflict from a different point of view.
The conflict in South Sudan has two dimensions: the political dimension and the ethnic dimension. The political dimension, though was the root cause of the problem, was overwhelmed by the ethnic dimension. Despite the fact that the commanders of the two factions deny this fact about ethnic dimension of the conflict, many fighters in the frontline confessed that the conflict is ethnically motivated. This has recurred several times in South Sudan and, more often than not, people make mistakes of addressing the political differences and overlook the grievances of the affected tribe. This does not only create mistrust, but it also pulls the country apart. By rewarding an individual leader because his people have been killed does not solves the grievances of those who lost their love ones. Perhaps accountability would be the answer. The victims would be happy to see the perpetrators held accountable for their acts.
In the word of Nyadeng, a victim who lost her only child in the conflict, “I came to Juba in 2012. I was exchanging dollars in the black market to support my son at school; neither my son nor I know Riek Machar in person, neither of us knows about SIALEM (as she calls SPLM) or any leader. We are just normal citizens working hard to earn a living. The worst happened on 17th December when my son was pulled out and deliberately killed because he is a Nuer. Now all the happiness I had of having a son is gone, I am an old woman who could not bear any child again and I would soon die. Not anyone will know an old woman named Nyadeng had once exist. All the hardship I faced as a widow in raising my son became an endless sorrow. The leaders will always be happy yet a small person down their feet is crying but no one dare listen. I know these people are powerful and no one can judge them or punish them, but I believe there is someone above us all who can give a poor woman her dues and punish any wrongdoing; that person is only God Almighty”.
Knowing that the woman will soon be forgotten, provoked me to think of the lives our leaders erased completely on earth who committed no sin, I could not help containing my tears. There is, surely, a horrible bitterness in the hearts of people and rewarding only one man without punishing the wrongdoing is not a correct remedy. But since our societies tend to listen only to the voice of guns and not to the voice of the innocents, we are tempted into believing that it is the perfect remedy. How long this solution will last, no one dare question. It might end in more lives of innocents being lost again. Where justice did not prevail, the other option is revenge; and in most cases revenge is more destructive than the initial offend. I wonder why the world is so passive of finding a lasting solution such that no more lives are lost in South Sudan.
I have had the chance to talk to many rebel generals and what I learn is that, immediately Dr. Machar is tempted into accepting a leadership with Kiir, he would be integrated alone and the rebellion will continue. What have we solved here? The problem is never about the positions. Kiir and his government wanted to finish the Nuer, as said by Michael Makuei, the information minister, “we will finish them; they thought they can hoist a democratically elected government”. If that is the root cause, would it not be a folly to return to Juba and pretend that things are okay under the same leadership? Was there a coup or not? Then what is the relationship of the coup and a murdering of an innocent widow’s son? According to Peter Gatdet, “if IGAD could not ask Kiir to resign, my gun will ask him to do so”.
As a concerned citizens of South Sudan who cares about it wellbeing, I have repeated over and over again in all my writings that the two rival leaders should not be part of the transitional arrangement, though Kiir’s side would maintain the presidential post and Machar’s side maintain the Prime Minister post with a 50-50 power sharing and both would be eligible to contest in the upcoming election. When we voted in 2010, the duo was running mates and whatever went wrong between them should not result into the death of our people. By acting this way, IGAD is creating an environment in which the “survival of the fittest” is exercise where powerless are maimed at will. To avoid recurrence of the conflict and continued lost of lives, IGAD need to view this crisis through the victim’s eyes not the perpetrator’s eyes. This will only perpetuate the problem.
IGAD have a choice, anyway, they will either save two men—Kiir and Machar—or save 8 million population of South Sudan. In the words of Ruach, a rebel fighter, “Kiir, throughout his leadership had armed his tribesmen to teeth. He went as far as training 15 thousands all from his tribe just to kill us. This rebellion is an opportunity for us to get weapons to protect ourselves from him. Now that I have the gun, I will hand it over only if Kiir is removed or I die”. As mentioned by James Kopnall in his article that in South Sudan there is only tribal militias, Kiir himself is the architect of the tribal militias. He started by forming the Gelweng, a group of armed cattle-keepers, then Mathiang Anyor, a group of armed community guards, and finally the Kuony-bany, the 15,000 presidential guards. These groups possess all heavy weapons you could ever find in the army and are all from President’s tribe of Warrap and Norther Bahr el Ghazel. These weapons were purchased with national resources. Out of fear, the other tribes like the Murle, the Maban, the Shilluk and the Nuer were forced to create tribal militias with varied names from tribe to tribe, to protect themselves. The president, by acting tribally, destroyed the national army, the social structure of the country and the inter-tribal relationship and trust. With him in power, the gun will never be silence in South Sudan because with his tribal leadership no tribe will dare trust him. It is up to IGAD to either please Kiir or the populace.
Base on my experience in the country as a citizen, if IGAD is going to impose Kiir through military means, they will surely be committing a massive killing which they will regret at the end.
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