By Ariik Atekdit, Tonj, South Sudan
December 17, 2016 (SSB) —- It is now three years since 15 December 2013, when the country slipped into a badly deteriorating conflict. Never did we know that the conflict which was totally of the SPLM’s big House dispute would turn into a nationwide civil war with thousands of people killed and millions others displaced within and without the country. I just don’t want to bore the readers with a lot of the crisis’ statistics of human and properties destruction, however, the truth remains that this nation has had a very bad experience at the age it was supposed to continue with the spirit of struggle that has kept South Sudanese together for the last two decades before the CPA and beyond.
The unity was first lost to the street at the SPLM House long in April 2013 when Dr Riek Machar spoke to international media outlets declaring himself that he would rival his Party Chairman, Mr. Kiir at the SPLM convention that would grant him a ticket to contest in 2015 Presidential elections. With a lot of tensions in the Presidential Palace of J1, President Kiir Mayardit issued a decree dismissing all members of his cabinet including his deputy on July 23 and suspending his party long serving Secretary General, Mr. Pagan Amum Okiech. The move brought about a bulky density of security and political tensions as fear of unknown continued to rise and surface in Juba and villages.
The fault was that the President dismissed a huge group out of the cabinet that made the weight of the opposition in one party so difficult to control, so indeed the opposition activities against Kiir overlapped and war became the choice while Kiir’s critics were optimistic that they were going to overpower the government that they have officially declared as bad-type and called for people to disown Kiir.
Initially, the President was better to get rid of the SPLM House detractors to only dismiss them one by one instead of a whole trash out at one time. However, the Presidential Advisors at the time thought it so, and it caused us now a very huge political and social destruction nationwide. The SPLM-FDs and those in SPLM in Opposition planned to cooperate not for being friends but because at least their common enemy was one after all they were political jobseekers. In reality they have no one familiar objective in the political affairs of the country; they are far apart and have more parallel political agendas to carry any successful war against President Kiir.
What happened was that the leaders that were in the government did not give a full-size attention to the fear caused by the growing irritation from the SPLM members who lost their ministerial jobs to Kiir’s annoyance against them until when war sparked in Juba with supporters of Kiir calling it a coup d’état spearheaded by Machar and loyalists while Machar’s Camp claimed it as a move engineered by Kiir and supporters to destroy the political reputations of Machar and the groups.
Since then the common citizens had never known who was wrong and who was right but they had continued to experience the sufferings – only the citizens paying the heavy price for the SPLM’s house difference of opinions.
I am one of the guys who was directly affected by the conflict and was stranded in Malakal in December 2013 and I was to die not because I had done anything wrong in my country but because of my ethnicity. When we heard that the crisis had spread to Bor, Nasir, Akobo and Bentiu, we knew that we were waiting for our dear death at the minutes it could arrive.
I fled to Juba to struggle with life after leaving behind all my properties including my personal clothes, the beddings and a computer. I locked my house at Hai Malakia in Malakal with everything in it and never returned until today. We came to only wear rags at Juba streets and begin to call for peace. Yet the agreement which was signed in August 2015 did not bring us the full amount of peace we desired in the country.
With my ten fingers, I came to Juba only to start again from the scratch, most of the people who came from Malakal and other war affected towns in Greater Upper Nile experienced the same scenario; a business that has continued to occur even in 2016. Several towns now have become war-torn places from Malakal, Bentiu, Nasir, Akobo, Yei, Kajokeji and even Wau; a widespread crisis indeed.
The Addis Ababa’s August 2015 peace Accord has seen Mr. Riek Machar taking over the First Vice President office but later got displaced to DR Congo, Sudan and latter to South Africa and his Peace Negotiator became the substitute. While Machar struggles now to escape in South Africa to ignite a new conflict in South Sudan, Yei town and Nimule have witnessed a perilous displacement and many more are killed at different highways on their way to and from Juba City.
The Arusha Agreement of the SPLM Re-unification concept has seen Pagan Amum returning to take over his post but swiftly ran out of the country only to declare that the nation must be handed over to the United Nations’ Trusteeship system and Amum claims to plan for South Sudan re-born policy. With President Kiir working cooperatively with his new FVP, Gen. Taban Deng Gai, he (Kiir) thinks that things are ok but not indeed.
All along the business have been the appointments of the old renegades to replace old friends that quickly switch to be the new rebels and pursue new hostilities against the government and the people of South Sudan. The question is: are we looking for answers or the solutions to South Sudan conflicts? From David Yau Yau to George Athor rebellions and Abdallbaghi Ayii to Gatluak Gai to Peter Gatdet in 2010 and 2011 insurgences; we could conclude that the appointment of disgruntled generals and politicians is only an answer to South Sudan conflicts but not the solution.
Yes, we know that they are looking for public position; that is why they take arms; however, appointing them is not the solution because tomorrow by tomorrow other people can use the same method of rebellion as the simplest technique to attract Mr. Kiir inscribes a presidential order of amnesty followed by a decree of appointment in big public office. Many times guys have used that means and they had gone into public offices without submitting their qualification documents for appointment but have only shown the number of their guns and the soldiers that fight along with him.
Now this is December 2016, three years after the conflict sparked in Juba and the catastrophe is still on and even increasing now caving in almost the whole of Greater Equatoria. Why? Why should the nation accept to be crippled by the ethnic based differences?
The recently declared national dialogue by the President is a positive move and guys must be engaged to produce final solutions not only answers. Answers are always temporary but we must be looking for solutions – even the permanent ones. If I have a hole on my roof that leaks during rain, the answer is to place a bucket to control the dropping water on the ground, however, the solution is to seal out the hole completely on the roof – this is what South Sudan must learn to be doing.
The ruling regime must take up control of the nation. Today South Sudan is being controlled by local illiterate chiefs that are easily confused by the disgruntled groups. Every politician nowadays run to recruit youths in villages at the time they are dismissed from the government. I encourage the government to control the nation regardless of our ethnic background and elites will be free to govern the nation. The best way of controlling a population is the provision of services and the security. Therefore, everybody will be engaged and men will dare not to incite war to avoid their wealth destroyed.
I would also suggest that every person that claims to be a politician or a high ranking officer must be asked to bring back their children to the country if they want to take up important offices in the government. I am saying this because some politicians and generals cause war in South Sudan because they know that their children and wives won’t be affected and moreover their properties are located in foreign cities.
This is very dangerous for our poor local population that always witness atrocities brought forward by officials whose children are kept abroad. The President must learn to be tough; there should be no way to compromise anybody at the expenses of the poor local citizens of South Sudan.
It is now three years while the conflict degenerates in South Sudan. The SPLM party which is the ruling regime must think deep to itself to bring peace to the country, because the dispute started first at the SPLM house.
You can reach the author via his email: Atekdit Mawien <firstname.lastname@example.org>
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