Contributor's Opinion

Opinion: Who should be the best governor for Lakes state

By D. Benjamin Mabor

Former governor of Eastern Lakes state Gen. Mangar Buong (Photo credit: Supplied)
Former governor of Eastern Lakes state Gen. Mangar Buong (Photo credit: Supplied)

June 24, 2020 (Nyamilepedia) – Last Wednesday, June 17, 2020, the principal parties to the R-ARCSS brought an end to a standstill on the allocation of States. This marked a comprehensive resolution of what appeared to have been a fear-inspired intransigence when the SPLM/A-IO leadership objected to the decision of the Presidency citing irrelevance in regard to the Agreement’s provisions pertaining to subnational power-sharing modality.

As a principal party to the Agreement, the SPLM-IG’s soft, comprehensive and diplomatic approach was quite optimal; more perceptibly obvious for an organized political organization with unmatched liberation legacy, historical might; a party whose peoples’ critical situation rests at its deepest core. Despite the fact that this view remains controversial in the face of the party’s very recent past, it is highly perceptible that the SPLM will certainly stand the test of time. The latter view remains laden more significantly on a diplomatic standpoint rather than the unreasonable pursuit of violent military confrontation as a panacea to trivial political differences.

In this regard, the SPLM-IG led by H.E President Salva Kiir Mayardit exercised a responsible move-away from cheap political grandstanding by not imposing an earlier decision though it was unanimously arrived at by almost all the parties to the R-ARCSS. The President saw it more pertinent to resolve the stalemate by seeking comprehensive resolution with SPLM-IO leadership as a people-centered way of avoiding struggling farther into the spillage.

However, the SPLM-IG’s ultimate acceptance of the IO’s position to take states of their desire in the former three southern regions is highly commendable. Though not entirely compatible in states where diversity plays a critical role in foiling efforts aimed at inclusive power-sharing modality and land ownership, it remains a challenge for any party at the helm of affairs in such locality to respect equitable power-sharing ratios and pursue a more responsible approach to ensure sustainable peace among the local people. Equally important, having a neutral local government at their arms-length would make things a little easier for the downtrodden masses who have nothing to do with a political party this or that but to live peacefully and raise their children in a more promising, conflict-free environment.

It remains a widely accepted principle in conflict resolution that he who resolves differences amicably must not have been engaged or taken side with either parties involved in a disagreement previously. This means that someone neutral is always required to resolve the dispute between two or more dissidents.

A leading example is the current Revitalized Agreement on the Resolution of Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan (R-ARCSS) where Uganda, though a great friend of South Sudan, was not allowed a critical role in the negotiation processes by IGAD member states partly because of its alleged role in siding with the government and partly because the international community saw it pertinent enough to engage the conflicting parties on a more leveled ground.

This brings the reader to the spine of this article more particularly on the question of Lake State which has been much into inter and inter-communal conflicts deeply inspired by cattle raiding and endless revenge killings. The issue of grazing lands could have played an important role in current communal antagonism putting every single government policy to a test. This arises question as to who could bring about a lasting solution to Lakes State’s internal problems.

The widespread inter-communal conflicts in Lakes State are more predominant in former Western Lakes and Gok States and there could be wider communal antagonism should the governor come from either of the communities inhabiting these political entities. It, therefore, requires a Governor who is more neutral to the differences on the ground for the communities of Lakes to live peacefully and resolve their long-existing problems comprehensively.

If at all it is in the SPLM-IG’s policy to bring an end to the conflict in Lakes State, it would serve better to shift attention to the principle of neutrality as the most significant criteria for nominating the Governor. The most obvious option as regards this view twists inarguably on the direction of former Eastern Lakes State being the potential bid for gubernatorial post.

However, having a governor from Yirol per se would not be a remedy for ending the culture of cattle raiding and violence in Lakes State. This is because the state government does not only prosper simply because its citizens do not engage in violence. It requires a son of Yirol (to be Governor) with proven integrity and rare personality preceded by the will to make desirable changes in the state whereas applicable. Where you find a person of a particular ability without the other, there can be no change in the hope for the change we desire.

In this regard, a person of high integrity and outstanding leadership values like Hon. Mangar Buong Alueng, the former governor of Eastern Lakes State could be a unifying figure that would make a successful Governor for Lakes State. Gen. Mangar Buong with his neutral position including in Yirol’s past trivial communal differences can undoubtedly be a better governor for Lakes State given his proven self-distancing from instigating local community conflicts. Equally important, his long experience in the military service makes him a preferable candidate for Lakes State as the question of disarmament remains a very challenging factor.

For the current agreement to be fully implemented at the grassroots level, it needs politicians who are less violent, less arrogant, and less corrupt. Being the only clean military general without corruption records and having distinguished himself as a most selfless public figure in recent past, Gen. Mangar stands the chance of making a better Governor for Lakes State especially at this time when each of the former three states’ communities would desire to dominate the unified civil service in all ministries.

Since the Agreement needs to be fully implemented in letter and spirit, Gen. Mangar’s neutral and understanding personality could help the State government establish more inclusive bureaucratic institutions. This will certainly help the central government coordinate peace policies to meet the needs of the grassroots skilled staff and working population without many complications in job allocation and subsequent formation of an inclusive, egalitarian government.

The writer works at Anthony T. Ohiri and Advocates. He has also been working as a freelancer in the field of human rights and good governance being published on several sites and newspapers. He is reachable via dengbenjaminmb@gmail.com

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