Opinion: Plot to divert attention in Panyijiar County is afoot

By Dak Buoth Riek-Gaak,

Leaders of Panyijiar county during a meeting in Panyijiar headquarters(Source: supplied)
Leaders of Panyijiar county during a meeting in Panyijiar headquarters(Source: supplied)

Tuesday, Dec 1, 2020(Nyamilepedia)The Revitalized Transitional Government of National Unity (R-TGONU) derives its legitimacy in the second Khartoum Peace Agreement; and the agreement draws its validity from the ordinary people of South Sudan, who toiled and moiled for it until it was signed on 12th September, 2018. If the people reject this peace in their numbers it will be in a coma. It is surviving on the good-will of our people. This Peace Accord is superior to South Sudan Transitional constitution, 2011, and should there be any conflict between the Transitional constitutional and the Peace Agreement, the latter shall prevail. In view of this, the conventional politicians such as President Salva Kiir, vice Presidents and the likes who are exercising political power granted to them by this Agreement should act in a manner that reflect the wills and aspirations of the people whose consensus are contained in this document dubbed Revitalized Agreement on the Resolution of the conflict in South Sudan (R-ARCISS). 


The road to the successful completion of this agreement is zigzag and long. This journey to peace has taken us far and wide. We went to many destinations starting from Addis Ababa, Khartoum and up to the Vatican city of Rome to reach where we are today. This peace requires the hands and concerted efforts of all and sundry for it its objectives to be achieved and actualized. The drafters and guarantors are still calling on those unwilling to join its implementation process to do so without hesitation. This peace was meant to end war and restore sustainable peace which will offer hopes for a united and democratic South Sudan that has now been put to ruin by less patriotic and less visionary leaders who refused to rest and retire. 



 This agreement provides a clear roadmap for political reform, justice and accountability which are prerequisites for national elections scheduled for 2023. These provisions must be executed and exhausted before elections are held in accordance with this accord. The culprits and the perpetrators of war crimes some of whom are still in office will be tried in the hybrid court set to start soon. At the tail end of the judicial process, those that will be found culpable for violating Human Rights shall not stand in the forthcoming elections. Ultimately, these crooks and criminals shall be apprehended and put behind bars to serve their jail terms as the nation moves on. As I stated therein, the leaders of the warring parties have specific powers under the agreement to nominate and appoint leaders and people to fill vacant positions of power in the three arms of government. In two years’ time, the citizens will however get back their rights to elect their leaders of choice in 2023. But as we have seen and heard in the case of the Upper Nile State nominee, General Johnson Olony, the right to nominate is not absolute. If certain party leader nominates a person at the wrong time and at the wrong place to a sensitive position of power, it can cause delay and or rejection by the appointing authorities as well as the people on the ground; and if the delay and rejection comes from the grassroots, even the appointing authorities cannot do anything except to go back to the drawing board to reappoint another person suitable for the job.

These lead me to the case of Panyijiar County in Unity State. Panyijiar County by design or default happens to be the stronghold of Dr. Riek Machar’s party, SPLM-IO. And for a long period of time now, Panyijiar community leaders have been pleading for positions both in the SPLM-IO Party and the cabinets in vain. I had personally written letters to Machar on behalf of the Panyijiar community sometimes back but we hardly got a response. I recalled prior to the signing of the first peace accord in 2015, the Panyijiar community in Kenya sent a delegation to Safari park where Machar was residing at the time. 

The delegation includes Opinion leaders, University students and women leaders. Also, Former Panyijiar commissioner, late Peter Gai Joak and Chief Nyuong Danhier Gatluak were in attendance. One of the delegation’s demands was for Machar to appoint one of their own in the SPLM-IO party secretariats then. They tabled the names of the persons they wish to represent them but Machar never heeded to their demand. Later, many concluded that perhaps Machar and company think our people are not ripe to lead outside Panyijiar County. It’s obvious that if Machar cannot appoint one of Panyijiar community members in the party positions, he cannot appoint anyone in the national cabinet. In 2016 cabinet appointment, Machar didn’t appoint one of Panyijiar members to a deputy minister despite being its stronghold. In this year 2020 cabinet appointment, Machar did the same with no sign of mercy thinking they will never devise a political option.  Unbeknown to him is that this stronghold can easily turn to his worse zone politically for the Panyijiar residents are witnessing the nepotism going around. These people are human beings, they can wake up one day and change goal posts against him, and in the end he can score dismally. Now as we wait to see them constitute both houses of parliaments state Cabinet, Machar and his surrogates know that Panyijiar community is having her eyes pegged on him. As of now, the community is saying let’s wait and see if he will leave us out again. It is due to this high expectation from the Panyijiar community that SPLM-IO decided to design a plot to divert their attention from their next appointment. Believe me not, this is not about Commissioner Dr. Kujiek Ruot and Justin Machien Luoi. The duo are being used as scapegoats for them to go scot-free. Right now, Panyijiar community entities are supposed to be presenting letters and petitions to Machar asking for their members to be appointed in senior state positions in both houses of parliaments and at state level. However, in various social media platforms, Panyijiar community is engaged in tug of war over an occupied position of Panyijiar commissioner. In recent weeks, I have been added to more than five different Whatsapp groups, and their agenda is about fighting for commissionership and not anything else. By the time they abandon this unnecessary fight over commissionership, Machar and his SPLM-IO shall have distributed all positions without them and without their knowledge. Panyijiar commissionership is automatic, meaning it’s not given by Machar. He is supposed to appoint any of Panyijiar members to other positions allocated to SPLM-IO party which Panyijiar community has lion share in terms of contribution during the war for peace in the country. In 2015, when the Panyijiar community asked him in Nairobi to appoint their member to represent them in the party, Machar replied saying he had appointed Michael Mut Diew. On hearing this Youth protested saying Honourable Mut was Panyijiar MP and was not appointed by him. Of late you heard Panyijiar County was one of the counties in South Sudan whose Area commissioner was nominated by SPLM-IO. This means the incumbent commissioner, Dr. Yoahanes Kujiek Ruot Top Loge should just be reappointed and reconfirmed as the commissioner for Panyijiar County in this R-ARCSS era because he doing well, and he is staying with the people right now in Panyijiar. Other competent daughters and sons should seek other positions at the national and state levels. In the midst 2018 Dr. Kujiek was unanimously appointed by Panyijiar Chiefs and other shareholders. He succeeded then Panyijiar Commissioner, General Tappuot Kang whom the SPLM-IO removed for no good reason. However, a fortnight ago, few members of Dr. Machar’s kitchen cabinet sent a post on Facebook saying that SPLM-IO Chairman Dr. Riek Machar had replaced Panyijiar commissioner, Kujiek Ruot with Justin Machien Luoi, former Panyjiar Community Chairman in the United States of America. I don’t know whether this message is genuine. What I know is that few people close to Machar propagated the information followed by congratulatory messages to Justin on his alleged appointment as commissioner of Panyijiar. Since then the latter has been thanking those who congratulated him though he didn’t mention it formally that he was appointed. 

This message has elicited mixed reactions in the Panyijiar community both at home and abroad. The reactions that are going around on social media over this matter are threatening peace and harmony in Panyijiar. Already People have gone to the extent of saying the county should be divided to avoid imminent conflict over the untimely removal of Kujiek. Over the years, the Panyijiar community depends on peace and Unity as their means of existence in South Sudan. Therefore any matter that will interrupt and interfere with our peace and unity should be avoided by all means. The position of panyijiar commissioner is not rotational neither is it a political position. It is a position given to someone who knows and understands the Panyijiar people so s/he can solve their internal grievances and grudges. Yoahanes Kujiek is a trained Medical officer who has worked in Panyijiar for a long time. He knows the people and their challenges better. Right now he is with the people during this terrible period of flood that has destroyed the entire county. Hence removing him at the moment will be a great disservice to the people. It will also be an exercise of injustice to Kujiek as a person. 


The reason why I described the message of his removal as a plot to divert attention is: one, why did they leak out the message of the commissioner’s replacement when other county members have no clue who will be their next commissioner. Second, if it’s true that Kujiek will be replaced, then the name of his replacement shouldn’t be revealed at this moment.  I see these as political schemes designed to set the Panyijiar community against each other so that Machar and SPLM-IO can continue to distribute other positions of power and wealth in Unity state without them. 


Kujiek should not leave office. If there are avenues in SPLM-IO where an aggrieved party member can launch a complaint, then Kujiek should challenge his alleged removal there. Meanwhile, thinking of launching his case, Kujiek should communicate his intention to the Unity State governor that he will not leave office so that the governor who is sole appointing authority cannot announce his replacement until the matter is resolved amicably. 


Just like I disagreed previously with General Tappuot’s removal, I also disagreed with kujiek early replacement without a reason. Even Justin machien should also be worried because he would not like to be removed and replaced next time without any tangible reason. Having said that, I want to aver that my objection to kujiek’s untimely removal and replacement should not be misconstrued to means that I’m against Justin. The latter is my friend that I shares a lot with concerning Panyijiar County. I know Justin Machien is a leader whose time has come. For the last decade, I discussed nothing with Justin but the affairs and plights of our people in Panyijiar County. Justin has tangible record in Panyijiar. At the time he was still in Panyijiar leadership in US, he mobilized resources to build modern library in Panyijiar, the first modern library in unity state if not South Sudan as a whole.  Lastly, I would say given Justin’s short stint in the Ministry of Defence, Dr. Riek Machar should just appoint Justin Machien as deputy minister of interior which fell vacant following the dramatic resignation of Mabior Garang De Mabior few months ago. Doing so would be a sign of recognizing the bravery of the Panyijiar people who made SPLM-IO Party have a stronghold which gave Machar negotiating grounds during the peace negotiation in Khartoum. If not then Justin Machien should go for National legislative position and or state ministerial position at State level. At the moment, Panyijiar community is short of competent people with thick skin who can represent its people at State and National levels. What is Justin Machien going to do in Panyijiar county position where others like Kujiek are doing well? I think Dr. Riek Machar like other leaders should listen to people, because it was the people who fought for this agreement that gives them powers. And without these people he would not have powers to appoint and make decisions for others as he did today.   

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 eligodakb@yahoo.com  

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