Opinion Politics

Opinion: The looming breakup between Dr. Riek Machar and the Chief of Staff, Lt. Gen. Simon Gatwech Dual

The looming division between Dr. Riek Machar the chairperson of the SPLM/SPLA-IO and chief of General staff 1st lieutenant Gen.Simon Gatwech Dual does not surprise many of us given regular fragmentation among the Nuer.

By Lul Gatkuoth Gatluak,

First Vice President, Dr. Riek Machar Teny and the Chief of Staff, Lt. Gen. Simon Gatwech Dual(Photo credit: courtesy image/Nyamilepedia)
First Vice President, Dr. Riek Machar Teny and the Chief of Staff, Lt. Gen. Simon Gatwech Dual(Photo credit: courtesy image/Nyamilepedia)

July 13, 2021The first two weeks of July 2021  are hectic given manifest disagreement in files and rank of the SPLM/SPLA-IO. People are worried that the disagreement will result in dangerous violent fragmentation. Oftentimes,  the fragmentation of the Nuer society among politicians, commanders, all officers in military attires and civil-population to some extent, culminated into physical confrontation between the factions. 

Political injustices that result in violations of human rights within the Nuer society are always raised and committed by Nuer politicians and commanders. In that regard, my aim and purpose to write this article is to criticize and condemn those who call themselves “Nuer politicians and commanders” for trials, tribulations, peril destruction and injustices or an enormous pain they always inflicted on the Nuer society. Those who may argue and try to deny these facts in a sense that wrong this author’s point of view, would be deemed as short sighted individuals in our midst who just want to lie and do not want to admit the fact. Our community misdeeds surpass cover-up motives, given that our so-called modern Nuer politicians and military officers had ruined Nuer reputation and decency to the maximum. 

 On countless occasions, Nuer, particularly those who called themselves politicians, are usually set against each other and start to bring harm to the Nuer general public. For how long are we going to be manipulated, set against one another, used and certainly discarded once we are not useful anymore? 

One has no immediate answer. We have done enough damaging to our society. The challenges facing our community are greater than ever before. If Nuer, particularly so- called politicians, military commanders and those in urban cities do not change their way of thinking and focus more on what should be done to rehabilitate the destruction, injustices, and enormous pain we are inflicting on ourselves, our population will shrink and be reduced from where it used to be. We need to sit down and compromise our differences that is when this peril destruction and unmeasured pain should be solved. Our bigger worry is that, whenever political dissatisfactions aroused between these so-called politicians and commanders, they usually retreated and recruit their sectional kinfolks to back them up and help them achieved whatever they want to achieve. It is commonly recognized that Nuer political leaders, soldiers as well as some civilians who engaged in those dangerous violent activities, have to be held accountable for perpetrating injustices, destructions, and unmeasurable pain among the Nuer society.

During the course of SPLM/A tenure in the bush, Nuer adopted a sycophantic behavior following the leadership disagreement in Ethiopia between Samuel Gai Tut and John Garang. As early as the movement was formed, William Nyuon Bany and John Kolang Puot were set against Samuel Gai Tut and William Chuol Deng. After the split of 1991, Nuer politicians were set against one another. 

In 2013, Gathoth Mai was used and dumped in 2014. The same scenario goes to Gaat-Muenytuil, Kun Puoch, Marial Benjamin, Taban Deng, the list is long; are these people thinking? Don’t Kuol Manyang’s words find their true meaning? When he said, ” they have wasted money for Ugandan soldiers who are not good fighters as Nuer. Had they used those money to bribe Nuer in the beginning of the war, the war would have finished already.”

Is there any quick fix to Nuer internal fragmentation especially among politicians and military officers?

As far as this author is a concern, the answer is no. There is no quick solution to peril destruction, tribulations, injustices and unmeasurable pain Nuer are inflicting on themselves. The Nuer community has a long way to go in order for it to reach its true designation. 

Why do Nuer always turn South Sudan National issues and make them bitter struggle between themselves? Is there any justification Nuer politicians, military officers, and urbanized Nuer folks aim to divert national controversy and personalize them as their private matters?

 We need to change the course of our actions given that one way or another each and every one of us may have contributed to the cause of these tribulations in our community, especially the leaders. Is there any Nuer politician and military officer who are clean and blameless or all of them are trapped and should be blamed and held responsible for the chaos the Nuer land have been witnessing since the early 1980s? Will the Nuer ever learn from the intra-Nuer fighting, divide and rule tactics which the SPLM/A employed since the disagreement of the leadership in Ethiopia in1980s, the 1990s, 2013 and present?

This war has affected the Nuer entirely. It has never been before that Nuer can live in concentration camps where life threatening conditions are beyond description. As we speak, Nuer are under seize in UN Camps in Juba, Bor, Bentiu, Malakal, Waat, Nasir, Maiwut and Pagak on the farther east of the country. Many Nuer children have died and continue dying for diseases such as malnutrition, cholera, malaria, hepatitis and other curable diseases. Others who are living outside of the country are dependent on relief assistance and on the financial handouts from their relatives who are living overseas. Insecurity in Nuer land has reached its highest and unacceptable stage given that the Salva Kiir government has armed Nuer to the teeth to finish each other. These are serious problems Nuer leaders should avoid fighting among themselves for.

The priority for any Nuer Politician and military commanders should be to think about the extermination of the Nuer society. They should understand that their fragmentation will always bring destruction and injustices rather than well-being to the Nuer community.  One of the reasons why this war has had a greater effect in Bentiu was a hatred that developed between political rivalries. Since the war started, It has been circulated that Gaat-Minytuil chooses to remain with Salva Kiir because they hold grudges against Taban and those grudges could prevent them from serving the same master. Why are they serving the same master this time around if that was the case? Isn’t it true that we are easily set up against one another and that became a heck of a bigger deal?

From the inception of the SPLM/A onward, our important leaders, Gai Tut Yang, William Nyuon Bany, William Chuol Deng, Baling Kaway, John Bang Gatbel, Manyal Kueth, Panon Banypiny, Pathot Dup, Tuach Lual, Kach Nyang Kier, Gatluak Gach, and many highly trained, experienced, unnamed senior military officers, private soldiers and innocent Nuer civilians were and are still being killed as a result of Nuer disunity. We look at each other as pure enemies leaving our cousins laughing at us daily.Are Nuer really thinking?

Someone may argue lack of education is a factor that contributes to the mess Nuer society is facing. Why is it always hard for Nuer to compromise their differences? No matter where we live, whenever we disagree, it is easy to divide ourselves rather than working hard to find a solution that will keep us undivided. Such division has been a trend among our politicians, military commanders, sectional communities, clan communities, Nuer community and even our churches always fail to find common ground disagreeable issues.

Finally, for the Nuer community to change in a good direction, all Nuer leaders particularly those who called themselves politicians and military commanders need to reevaluate their way of doing things past and present that brought unmeasurable suffering to the Nuer society, learn from such events and approach national politics differently. They need to sit down and adopt a political compromise strategy, which means they need to learn how to forgive one another for whatever mistake they have committed against each other. They should accept collective responsibility for whatever disasters and catastrophes they had created in the Nuer land since the beginning of the 1980s. They can apologize to Nuer civil populations for all injustices, peril destruction and unmeasurable pain they had inflicted on the Nuer society for decades. I hope we have ears to hear otherwise, we are doomed!!!


Lul Gatkuoth Gatluak 

The author is a political commentator who follows South Sudan political events closely.  He can be reached at lulgatluak09@gmail.com,

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