“We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the vitriolic words and actions of the bad people, but for the appalling silence of the good people” Martin Luther Jr. a letter from the Birmingham jail.
By James Pui Yak,
March 19, 2014(Nyamilepedia) — Many observers inside and outside south Sudan would wonder why the government in Juba do not back down from its static uncompromising position since the war erupted a year and some months ago in spite of the relevance of the issues put forward at the negotiating table by the SPL/M IO in the context of the current political situation in the country. In order for the readers to have an insight into the various reasons behind this intransigence let me shed some light on some historical, cultural as well as contemporary events leading to this situation.
- Historically, since time immemorial Nuer and Dinka are known to be bitter enemies though traditionally the two tribes have cultural similarities unique to them which distinguish them from the rest of the Nilotes. However, social structural rivalry over who should be superior to the other created this animosity. The Nuer sees the Dinkas as a bunch of cowards who cannot stand on their way when it come to dueling and this believe had energized Nuer young marauders over the years to continuously raid Dinka home land taking away their cattle, abducting their wives and children as this quote from the writing of Evans- Pritchard explains “as far as history and tradition go back, and in the vistas of myth beyond their farthest reach, there has been enmity between the two people. Almost always the Nuer have been the aggressor, and raiding of the Dinka is conceived by them to be a normal state of affairs and a duty” (Evans-Pritchard on the Nuer: a description of the modes of livelihood P 107). On the other hand, the Dinka sees themselves as superior to the Nuer as far as education and other intellectual abilities are concern and it is for this reason that Salva Kiir and his Dinka Kleptocrats could not contemplate relinquishing power to Riek Machar who is a Nuer. The Dinka Believes they should rule over the Nuer and not the other way round.
- In 1991, when the struggle against the successive ruling regimes in the north was at its peak, the SPLA/M leadership disagreed on the philosophy and the ideology for fighting the war. These cleavages within the leadership culminated into the division of SPLA/M into two factions which were then called Nasir faction headed by Dr Riek Machar who is a Nuer and Torit faction headed by Dr John Garang a Dinka – this faction was later on renamed SPLA/M mainstream. Though, the split was basically engendered by a clash in ideology in which members of the movement would affiliate with the side they most identified with in term of their political views yet, the conflict turned tribal and fitted the two major tribes in south Sudan the Dinka and the Nuer against each other. Unfortunately, the internecine conflict that ensued left a trail of devastation of unimaginable proportion particularly in lives and properties on both sides to the conflict. However, during this conflict the balance of power tilted in favor of the Nasir faction and the Dinka were defeated only to sought refuge in both Kenya and Uganda, the war nonetheless, is seldom forgotten by the Dinka that is why it keeps vibrating in the mind of Salva Kiir especially when giving political speeches.
- When peace was signed in 2005 and the subsequent attainment of the country independence in 2011, the leadership of the country was trusted to Salva Kiir following the tragic death of Dr John Garang in a helicopter crush. The Dinka under the leadership of Salva Kiir sought to revenge their past defeat by marginalizing the Nuer and this had to be implemented by denying this community members access to key government positions including the presidency. Eventually when Dr. Riek expressed his interest to run for the country presidency in the upcoming elections scheduled to take place in 2015 the president was so bellicosed that he triggered the war by ordering the disarmament of Nuer members within the Tiger battalion so as to pave the way for the arrest of Dr Riek Machar and his group. Inevitably, the move was resisted by the Nuer members of Tiger battalion who refused to disarm hence sparking the current ongoing conflict. However, to the surprise of many, immediately after the shooting spree in the army barrack , the president own recruited militia called “Mathiang Anyoor” and “Duod Ku Bany” went on rampage in Juba killing every Nuer member they could come across particularly in the highly Nuer populated neighborhoods of Gudele, Miya Saba and Manga. The purpose of this mass killing was primarily carried out in order to revenge for the Dinka killed in 1991 as well as to silence the Nuer against any further attempt to express desire for the country leadership. To substantiate this claim the President divulged his inner intention for the massacred in Juba when he said in a Public rally recently conducted in the country capital on March 19, 2015 and I quote “there were people who supported Riek for 1st vice President position so that his people who died in Juba are compensated. If it is about compensation, did Riek compensate the Dinkas he killed in Bor in 1991”
- In order to consolidate his grip on power, the president call in troops from Uganda, SPLM north, and Darfur justice and equality movement (JEM) rebels using the oil money to finance those mercenaries. Some Nuers who were in the Republic of Sudan commanded by Lt Gen Bapiny Manytuil a dissident militia commander who had been living in Khartoum even after the independence of the south were in the process to join the south got the same preferential treatment using the same money so that these militia were later use to fight their own brothers and acting as a buffer to check any Nuer advance toward Dinka land – a slave against slave scenario kind of. Apparently, the whole purpose behind all these efforts is to upset the balance of power between the Nuer and the Dinka so that it could be possible for the Dinkas and their allies to overpower the Nuer by outnumbering them in both manpower and fire power thus making it easy to revenge the Dinka people killed in 1991 and further destroy Nuer land as exemplified by the magnitude of destruction carried out in the upper Nile region at the onset of the conflict.
- Salva Kiir, given the enormous power at his disposal does not want to negotiate peace with the Nuer (as this is the only way he define those who are currently in the SPLA/M IO) but strive to defeat them in battle so that the Nuer will not once again show their superior might against the Dinka. Perhaps, he reason if he leaves the Nuer unfinished they would one day rise up and resume their unending animosity against the Dinka. Therefore, the President is busy employing every military strategy as well as using the meager country resources only to achieve that tribal goal. It is however a pity that Salva Kiir is exploiting individuals Nuer efforts who obliviously purports to be his staunch loyalist to achieve the goal of Nuer nation extinction to which these supporters are members.
In order for Salva Kiir to come to his senses and accept to negotiate peace in good faith, the African Union and the international community should do the following:
- Force the Ugandan President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni to withdraw his Ugandan forces from south Sudan before the upcoming round of peace talks in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
- The money obtain as proceeds from the oil revenue should be kept in the custody of the world bank and must be denied to reach Salva Kiir and his elite till peace is attained in the country.
- Similarly, the Sudanese opposition forces operating inside south Sudan must be pressure to withdraw from the territory of south Sudan.
- Salva Kiir government should be denied the purchase of arms and other military hardware by the imposition of arm embargo already stipulated in UNSC resolution 2066 as well as other financial loans which they may use to that effect – where on earth a President of a nation state uses state resources to accomplish a tribal hegemony to the detriment of other tribes within the same state.
In conclusion, if the African Union together with the international community implemented those measures this will send a very powerful message to Salva Kiir that in the event he don’t negotiate a peaceful settlement to the conflict he will risk defeat in the battlefield from the rival party and possibly a trial at the Hague for his war crimes committed during this conflict, It is without any doubt that President Salva Kiir would come to his common sense by accepting peace without any hesitation. As far as Salva Kiir is concern, negotiating with Dr Riek Machar at the peace talks remind him of bad old days when the Nuer bully the Dinkas into submission using their might and in consequence His vision and common sense are always blared by these nasty memories of animosity and hatred against the Nuer forgetting he (Salva) and Dr Riek are not representing their two tribes per se but the aspiration of the south Sudanese People, moreover, the president also forget that the seat he is now occupying is not a Dinka seat but a seat belonging to the president of the Republic of south Sudan. Finally,It is a common believe among the majority of south Sudanese people that the efforts exerted by the international community to bring about a lasting and durable peace to south Sudan would just be a waste, with Salva Kiir still in power in south Sudan peace will never prevail in this young nation.
The writer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.