Press Release on the Security Situation in Upper Nile State:
Juba, May 15, 2015
The Collo (Shilluk) Community (CC) has been following the negative unfolding militarized events in and around the Collo Kingdom with great concern and worries, especially after the unfortunate attack of Lul Village by Akoka Dongjol Dinka in April 2015. The deadly event was even made worse when the same attackers ambushed and assassinated SPLA Gen. James Bwogo Olew with his thirteen body guards on their way to the fighting scene to contain and resolve the problem before it escalates to undesirable endings.
Not only that, but also three drivers of the World Food Program (WFP) who hail from Collo tribe went missing and are believed to have been killed on Malakal-Akoka road by the very Dongjol Dinka attackers.
Moreover, some workers and traders in Paloich and Melut who hail from Collo tribe were targeted and killed. At the same time, deadly shells were launched to Lul, Kodok, Detwok and Wic Rek areas, killing and wounding many innocent civilians (women, children and elderly).
A military committee was dispatched from Juba to Malakal in the same dark April 2015 to investigate the matter but before it could release its report and recommendations, another fighting took place inside the capital town Malakal between the bodyguards of Upper Nile State Governor, Simon Kun Puoch and SPLA Gen. Johnson Olony Thubo, with more escalation that included involvement of some other armed forces and with regrettable loss of innocent civilians in the cross-fire, in addition to the losses on both sides of the fighting armed government forces themselves. May their souls rest in eternal peace!
Some initiatives of peaceful settlement attempts were conducted by the SPLA General Headquarters in Juba, the National Security and Intelligence Bureau, Prominent Businessman Obac William Olawo, and Collo King H.M. Kwongo Dak Padiet himself, who traveled to Malakal twice to see to it that peace is prevailing over war mongering.
Thereafter, it was announced in the media that Gen. Johnson Olony has not rebelled against the government as propagated by some ill-intentioners, and would be coming to Juba for more briefing and presentation of his grievances to the SPLA leadership.
However, the agreed expected time for the arrival of Gen. Johnson Olony in Juba has expired and, hence, the CC is getting more worried of another deadly clash in Malakal and Collo areas around.
War is never good and it often doesn’t solve problems but complicates it with bitter undesirable consequences at the end.
It is within this belief that the CC is urgently urging the two armed sides in tension to avoid war and uphold the spirit of dialogue, particularly for the sake of the vulnerable civilians who are supposed to be protected and kept safe by their very Government and also the United Nations Missions in South Sudan (UNMISS).
The CC would like to assure the public that the differences and clashes that have occurred in Malakal between the SPLA Gen. Olony’s forces and other SPLA forces has nothing to do with the entire Collo people as a tribe.
The Collo, as an important people and a third majority tribe in South Sudan, has no other leader apart from their only one King at a time. Thus, Collo should not be victimized for the created problems by the fighting armed forces and should never be associated to any other person.
The CC would like to appeal to H.E. Salva Kiir Mayardit, the President of the Republic of South Sudan and the C-in-C of the SPLA, that the Collo people are law-abiding peaceful citizens, who should never be targeted or punished collectively for isolated incidences.
The unfounded claim of some Dinka sections over the territories of the Collo Kingdom is not a new issue. It should not be mixed up with politics in the government or differences within the SPLA.
This could be resolved through courts of law or established traditional local conflict resolution mechanisms that existed between the Collo and Dinka since time immemorial.
The CC is hereby maximizing its efforts to see to it that dialogue always prevails with a strong belief that no problem is impossible to resolve if the good-will is invoked prudently.
Whatsoever the differences, the Collo will always remain a strategic neighbor to Dinka people on the basis of peace, justice and harmony if pursued jointly & mutually.
Prof. Joshua Otor Akol,
Chairman of the Collo Intellectuals Committee,
On Behalf of the Collo Community, Juba