By Dr. Gatluak Ter Thach, Nashville, TN, USA, APR/19/2016, SSN;
People in Juba and around the globe stayed late last night because they were hopeful to receive the First Vice President Designated, Dr. Riek Machar to finally arrive in Juba, South Sudan and be sworn upon his arrival for the country to achieve a harmony after 2 and half years of a distrust and disastrous conflict that has affected communities in all sectors.
Friends who had never been in contact to each other for a long time started to reach out to each other last night across divided communities to reengage themselves as reborn members of a destroyed country for reconciliation and trust building.
Though the weekend was difficult for me personally since my family lost immediate members, as well as hearing Murle Massacring of the peaceful Gajaak community in Ethiopia, which caused lives of over 200 people in addition to 100 children abducted, I was in a superb mood in wishing innocent people of South Sudan realizing a peacetime they were waiting for.
With all these excitements, the government of South Sudan on the other hand, through her spokesperson, Mr. Makuei Lueth, seems to be playing a different game than what the whole world has known how to play.
The SPLM-IO Chairman, Dr. Riek and his Gen. Chief of Staff, Gen. Simon G. Dual, were denied enter into Juba yesterday, according to Mr. Makuei, because they were coming with extra soldiers and their unallowed weapons. The government of South Sudan in Juba wants Dr. Riek and his Chief of Staff, Gen. Simon G. Dual to come to Juba with 40 guards and “walking sticks,” I believe and not their appropriate weapons.
Mr. Makuei claimed the government would not allow Dr. Riek and his Chief of Staff to come with additional soldiers since they have 1370 with their light guns already in Juba as guard protection and security of the Juba.
My question to Mr. Makuei is, when did Juba government renegotiate the figures of security forces of the IO? Where did new numbers of IO troops of 40 destined for Juba renegotiated that Mr. Makuei was talking about?
What I know from the document for sure and I believe still what everyone knows is that IO team is approved for 2910 combined forces in Juba for a security of the city and protection of their Chairman. These forces were supposed to arrive in Juba with all of their arms before the IO Chairman and his higher level commanders arrived.
When did this agreement change? I believe the figure still stands at 2910 from which the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (JMEC) transported 1370 of them. Why would it be wrong for Dr. Riek and Gen. Simon to come with a few extra hundreds of their agreed forces since they are not going to exceed their approved 2910 since any number in a surplus of 1370 and remains below the agreed threshold of 2910 of Addis Security Arrangements’ Workshop is within the agreement framework?
Why would appending of a few hundreds of the IO to come as the Chairman’s personal security guards and Gen. Chief of Staff be an issue when it is already agreed upon in the signed document?
Mr. Makuei and the government stated they have called upon the international partners to place pressure on Dr. Riek to “come with civilians” since they are the ones who will work in his office, and if Dr. Riek does not do that it will be a “violation of the peace.”
Is Mr. Makuei really kidding? What magic would he use to allow this dream to come true? The government also wants IO to come with light weapons since IO would not be allowed with “arsenal arms, inter alia, anti-tanks, laser guided missiles and new machine guns.”
Mr. Makuei and the team in Juba must adhere to the signed peace and not anything else, but this demand makes it difficult for the people of South Sudan to easily achieve the peace dividends they are eager for.
It is true some of these guns may not be appropriate for a city life, but does government forget it has all these plus weapons and many more already in the same city, and if the peace partners want to build a real trust among their arms, IO should come with their armaments but create a partnership environment whereby forces are looking forward reunification of their ranks as national arms of the same country instead of looking for themselves as forever enemies?
It is through a trust that allows warring parties to live and re-engage in peace, as well as work toward a common objective and not on intimidation or threats.
Unless the Juba government has a hidden agenda; otherwise, the man must be allowed to come to Juba with what he has in order to rebuild a working trust among warring communities. Please do not delay the peace; it is badly needed by all affected citizens of South Sudan!
Gatluak Thach, PhD is a concerned member of South Sudan. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.