By Dak Buoth Riek-Gaak,
30th April, 2021(Nyamilepedia) — On 21st February, 2021, the President in consultation with the principal stakeholders to the Peace Agreement, issued a decree, appointing seven county commissioners of Unity State namely, Chuol Gatluak for Mayom county, Kawai Chany for Guit county, Gordon Kong Biel for Koch county, Stephen Taker for Leer county, Gatluak Wechar Nyak for Rubkona county, Gatluak Nyang for Mayendit county and William Gatgiek Mabor for Panyijiar county.
Weeks after their appointment, they hurriedly left Juba for the State capital, Bentiu for swearing-in by the Governor Dr. Joseph Nguen Manytuil. Subsequently, six out of the aforementioned commissioners quickly left for their respective counties of their jurisdictions. However, Panyijiar county commissioner Hon. William Gatgiek Mabor did not even attempt to travel to Panyijiar county. Reason being there is an existing military Junta, Michael Lot Gatluok based in Ganyliel, who declared himself as Panyijiar county commissioner, citing unfair political representation and other administrative reasons for his installation. So far, the junta has vowed to stay put.
Michael’s suo moto declaration was prompted by First Vice President, Dr. Riek Machar’s rejection of the three nominees for Panyijiar commissionership. When the discussion and lobby for the appointment of county commissioners commenced late last year, stakeholders in Panyijiar county selected and forwarded names to the SPLM-IO for nomination.
Unfortunately, the leader of SPLM-IO who is an appointing authority under the peace agreement failed to nominate one of three names brought to him from Panyijiar county. Instead, he hand-picked his long-time aide Hon. William Gatgiek Mabor as commissioner for Panyijiar.
As a matter of fact, the people do not really have a problem with William as a person nor do they doubt his capabilities for the job. Many are only aggrieved and unhappy with the unjustified rejection of the names of those who had earlier shown interest to lead the county at this time. Those who had expressed interest to lead include the immediate former commissioner, Hon Kujiek Ruot who had already stepped down to give way for William Gatgiek Mabor. We had earlier addressed Dr. Machar on various platforms confirmed the incumbent commissioner to prevent possible crisis but he defied our views. Dr. Machar has perfected the arts of not heeding to the voices of Panyijiar people. Always his actions, decisions suggest that they are novice whose opinions cannot be considered even on affairs that matter to their lives. The staying in exile of commissioner William Gatgiek because of the Junta factor is one thing, and the growing opposition to Dr. Machar’s rule is another.
In an attempt to bring this bitter political contestation to its logical conclusion, dozen senior members of Panyijiar including this writer, unanimously decided that Hon. William Gatgiek should wait outside the territory of Panyijiar county in the meantime, unless or until the Problem is amicable resolved, to avert or avoid unnecessary clash or confrontation over the less lucrative and temporary Panyijiar commissionership position.
As we converse now, the Panyijiar commissioner, William Gatgiek lives in exile in Unity State Capital, Bentiu. Over the years, Panyijar county was wittingly left behind and it’s going to remain behind from the activities and development programs of the Unity state unless otherwise.
So far, the governor and the leadership of the state made a tour of all the counties except Panyijiar due to these unresolved issues. In order for Panyijiar county and its people to catch up, something vital ought to be done speedily by its Leaders, ordinary members and friends of Panyijiar county.
I’m privy to some underground reconciliatory initiatives spearheaded by ideological Panyijiar sons and daughters. For a couple of months now, they had been involved in an in-depth ‘soul-searching’ to reconcile the factions in Panyijiar county, with a view to redirect and rally them to confront the historical political marginalization and oppression once and for all.
At the onset of the initiative, the underground group that I had just referred to wanted a pure Panyijiar people’s dialogue among themselves, without involvement of others. But at one point, it was realized that the First Vice President and Leader of the SPLM-IO whom some people are pointing fingers on, should be involved or represented in the upcoming dialogues that are about to commence in Panyijiar headquarters and its environs. In these deliberations, Dr. Riek Machar was made aware, and he appointed people to represent him in the reconciliation team that flew and landed on Panyijiar yesterday.
In the same vein, it’s no longer secret that Panyijiar people apportion blames on various successive regimes Unity state leaderships. Panyijiar lacks many vital things namely telecommunication network, roads network, hospitals to mention but a few. We have to know that the current governor does not know Panyijiar county; he never visited Panyijiar before.
Perhaps, he only saw and read in books that Panyijiar county is the largest county in the map of Unity State. But he never steps foot on its land. He is just an innocent inheritor of these challenges. And this is not to exonerate him at all. I simply think that it would be fair and advantageous to involve him in the dialogue physically or through his representative.
As things goes now, Panyijiar people are murmuring and whispering that enough is enough; that they will not continue to play second fiddle; and that they want to break away peacefully from Unity State to form their own, to manage their resources and affairs, if people keep turning deaf hears to their historical and systematic grievances.
In the last few months, I have had communication with him by virtue of the office I hold as Unity State community Leader in Kenya. In my recollections, Dr. Nguen seems to be humble and understandable; perhaps it’s that dirty politics in our country has soiled his name and everyone else. We could see from his public utterances. He speaks less and hardly makes inflammatory statements. In this regard, I think, if we could involve him, he will listen; prioritize and take appropriate action on these emotive issues that Nyuong are continuously talking about. And who knows, he can even back Nyuong’s idea of breaking away from the unity state if our leaders and elders stand firm. More importantly, this dialogue must be guided by the principles of inclusivity in the Khartoum agreement of 2018. As such, those who should have been involved to listen and put their inputs ought to be invited to the ongoing talks in Panyijiar. It would be inappropriate for Governor Nguen to hear of stories and committee’s resolution or report from the third party.
So, I’m of the view that he needs to send someone who has his ears in the talks. I can tell you that the convincing idea for informing and involving the First vice President in the dialogue was that the Reconciliation Committee headed by Dr. Mabor Nyak, Nyuong Danhier and other big names like Gen. Ruot Chuol, Gen. Kwer Kai alias ‘Cha-Bany dor’, Ezekiel Wow Kuol, Lady Nyathor Muot, Bentiu Yar and Michael Kuany Bol to mention but a few will ultimately report to him as head of SPLM-IO that control the area. Relatively, Dr. Nguen ought to be involved or represented by virtue of him being the governor of Unity State who swore in the commissioner, William Gatgiek. In support of this idea, I would say that, even as our people went as far as talking about splitting from Unity State like Parieng and Abiemom counties, we remained cognizant of our sisterly and brotherly relations with other countries and people of Unity and lake states. There is no beef with our people in other parts of Unity State. It’s just a matter of justice, equitable distribution of resources and development for the growth and well-being of human beings which are envisaged in the Human rights charter.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org,
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