Let President Kiir Release the Kilo 10-Maban Findings

Posted: July 29, 2018 by mayendengdit in Junub Sudan

Location of Upper Nile

By. David Mayen Dengdit, Denver-Colorado, USA

Saturday, July 28, 2018 (PW): Out of frustration and sense of marginalization, a few days ago angry youth from Maban took the law into their own hands and attacked offices of humanitarian aid organizations in Bunj, the capital of Maban. In response, the issue was discussed at the country’s National Security Council headed by H.E. President Salva Kiir during which a number of security reports were presented including one by the Governor of Northern Upper Nile State. The resolution thereof was to launch and send a high-level security committee to the ground for further fact findings.

While the events in Maban must be condemned in the strongest terms possible, we must ask ourselves as South Sudanese whether Maban has fully integrated into the country and whether the findings of this new high-level committee would be used to address the crisis in the region. Based on my own personal experience with a similar investigation on the issue of Kilo 10/Adar, I doubt that it will.

In September 2017 President Salva Kiir formed a higher-level  committee headed by non-other than the country’s Vice President to go to Maban to investigate a brewing conflict between Nyil Dinka in newly created Adar County and the Maban people (known as Burun, a name which they reject).  The committee flew to the area and stationed in Paluch from which it went to Kilo 20, Kilo 10, Adar oil fields, and Jamam (which is the second largest town in Maban) where we carried out extensive investigations and presented H.E. the President with the findings.

As one of two coopted members of a very competent committee (the other coopted member was survey Engineer James Laa), and being out of government, I feel a strong obligation as a concerned citizen to say that the situation has not been handled with needed urgency, care and prudence.  The least which could have been done was to put the border dispute over ownership of Kilo 10 and Adar to rest by making public the findings of the committee.

The implications of such findings go a long way in addressing greater parts of the strong sense of marginalization which the Maban (as they want to be called) feel. Considering their big population, their quest for recognition as citizens of South Sudan who have rights over their natural resources and greater employment opportunities in their own areas must be acknowledged as genuine.

One such implication of the Kilo 1-/Adar findings is in the constitutional right of 2% allocation of oil funds to producing regions. In that regard, the Dinka of Northern Upper Nile had been enjoying that money for long until it was suspended, while Maban received nothing. And in terms of employment, Dinka youth are disproportionately employed in Adar oil fields while Maban youth continue to remain unemployed.

The Kilo 10/Adar investigation was done in a very competent manner and on the ground. Its findings – which we handed to the President in the first week of October 2017- included GPS coordinates of the disputed areas. These coordinates were plotted into colonial maps to prove land ownership and, by implication, resolve the question on who deserves to receive the 2% oil money and get more employment in Adar DPOC.

The President may have his own security report which is keeping the findings rusted in his office, but security reports and operations must be subordinate to the political direction of the country, not superior to it. It is in my own humble opinion that the recent clashes in Bunj may have created a new political imperative to make operationalizing the findings of the Kilo 10/Adar investigation even more urgent.

Finally, the people of Maban are no less African than their Dinka and Nuer neighbors. They were equally marginalized by the Arabized Islamic regime in Khartoum because of being African and overwhelmingly Christian. I was surprised during our visit to Kilo 10 and Jamam to find out that most of their locals did not even know Arabic at all and needed translators to speak with us.

The Maban people claim of marginalization was strongly articulated by all of them and they threatened action if their employment case was not addressed. They have now started action to draw attention to their genuine economic grievances, just like South Sudanese acted against Khartoum marginalization before independence. Let that threat not be taken by the authorities in Juba with a counter threat but with political understanding of the root causes of such genuine frustrations.

David Mayen Dengdit is a former Vice Presidential Press Secretary and founder of Free Citizens Red Flag League (FCRFL) – a peace and development advocacy platform. He can be reached at mayen.ayarbior@gmail.com.

The opinion expressed here is solely the view of the writer. The veracity of any claim made is the responsibility of the author, not PaanLuel Wël Media (PW) website. If you want to submit an opinion article, commentary or news analysis, please email it to paanluel2011@gmail.com. PaanLuel Wël Media (PW) website do reserve the right to edit or reject material before publication. Please include your full name, a short biography, email address, city and the country you are writing from.

 

 

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