By Reng’o Gyyw Reng’o, Addis Ababa
I wish to talk about Riek Machar’s hubris for power in South Sudan and how he wants to access the power. The “how” question, has been answered by the use of Nuer as the only mean for Riek to acquire power in South Sudan. The two have spoiled each other’s opportunities. The Nuer has spoiled opportunity for Riek and Riek’s failure every time spoils the image of the Nuer in the eyes of the South Sudanese.
Riek Machar attempts to seize power is ever diverted by the Nuer’s actions. First, in 1991 the coup against Dr. John Garang failed when the Nuer rose in support of their son Riek Machar, and in the process diverted their “revolutions” turned against the Dinka targets instead of the political leadership. This led to the Bor Massacre.
Again, Riek Machar challenged Salva Kiir’s leadership and when the Nuer soldiers in the presidential guards rose in support of Riek, it preempted the window of opportunity Riek had forged with a good number of non-Nuer politicians. The Non- Nuer colleagues of Riek would have canvassed nationwide support for him. This opportunity was again lost because the Nuer soldiers acted impulsively and diverted another opportunity for Riek Machar.
Peter Gatdet Yak and James Koang, two leaders who would act responsibly as national leaders, instead brought themselves down to the tribal level, created apprehensions in the minds of other tribes, when they declared their rebellions as revenges against the Nuer killings in Juba, of course which I think was true. The whole business became self-defence for other ethnicities. Riek’s opportunity was spoiled. Nuer defections from the army of South Sudan led to them being ostracized by the rest of communities. Riek lost support from the rest of communities. Hence he lost opportunity to access power.
Killings in Akobo, captured of Bor and killings, ethnic targets of non-Nuer in Bentiu at oil sites, Bentiu and Malakal towns made the Nuer’s revolutions senseless and ethnic in character. A leader with a national cause and moreover a community with a national cause would try its best to live above hatred and revenges, by even liberating and protecting those people who do not come from their own ethnic groups. Tit for tat, makes the national cause flees. Unless, the Nuer did not have the national cause as their agenda, their cause is trampled under revenges which is still ongoing.
While I condemn the target killings of Nuer in Juba and of recent in Bor, everything has become revenges against revenges. More target killings reported in Bentiu makes the whole thing visionless, directionless and unacceptable. The Nuer’s leaders and armed people are mobilizing other communities against them indirectly or directly. May I ask Riek Machar and the Nuer, was the real cause to avenge the Nuer killed by the Dinkas or national army or to liberate the country? I heard you talking about having ideological differences with Salva Kiir?
Don’t you think there is a big and clear gap between what you are pursuing and the actions of your ethnic soldiers. The Nuer, yes can conduct a revolutionary war on their own but not the way they have been doing it since 1991. You remember you were joined in 1991 by Dinkas such as Telar Riing Deng, Makeer Benjamin, Dhol Achuil, DengTiel Ayuel Kur, Dr. Achol Marial etc against John Garang, their own ethnic brother but when you and the Nuer launched the Bor Massacres, they redefected back to the Movement and rejoined John Garang. They said if the war was about the Nuer against the Dinka, then why should we be part of it?
Now, the eleven detainees were clearly your supporters against President Kiir. However, when your people overtook them in their support of you, they decided to keep aloof. They have refused to join you in the rebellions. And can I tell you and my people the Nuer, the eleven politicians refused not because your soldiers were and are Nuer but because of the nature of the destruction, killings and ethnic targetings in some places like Bor. Why killing in the church, mosques, mad people on the streets, hospital, the aged and children? Why?
I remember the words of an Old Gaawar man, Chuol who spoke during the Greater Upper Nile conference in Juba of recent, where he said, ” there is something unique with this blackman that makes him difference from the whiteman, the yellow man and the red man. This blackman easily forgives and easily forgets.” And Mzee Chuol added a question, ” what brought the Nuer to Bor?” To me, his message required soul-searching for a leader like you.
Like the 1991 group which had supported you, the recent groups were overtaken in support of you and not only that, they became secondary victims of your soldiers’ actions. Thus, they withdrew their support.
Unless, really your war is ethnic, which no one can help if it is, but if it is national in character and aims at rescuing all the South Sudanese, then the approach and methods are and have been wanting. You need not blame the South Sudanese for anything, you need to look inwards for mistakes. The Nuer have spoiled your opportunities. Advise them to stop killing their “enemies” for them to have wider support across the South Sudanese society.
And whenever you fail in your attempts, the Nuer as a community consequentially suffers because of those failures. The situation thus becomes a chicken and an egg issue between you Riek and the Nuer.
These are my observations. I am far away from both parties in the conflict.