Editorial Analysis, FEB/14/2013, SSN;
QUOTES: “Riek is weak. He lives in a world of dreams.” A former Nuer commander declared.
“Riek’s imagination went no deeper than a pop song or a Hallmark card.” Rory Nugent. from “EMMA’s WAR”
Indeed, Riek Machar, the nation’s vice-president and the caller of the so-called ‘National Reconciliation’ is an enigma in the country’s political jigsaw. Once again, he now hoodwinking the nation with another of his ethereal and fallacious project that’s already stillborn before it takes off.
As the next person in the leadership, what has Machar ever achieved decisively since 2005 to pacify or bring some harmony and civility in the lives of the peoples of greater Upper Nile, his former fiefdom, who up to date are mercilessly slaughtering themselves like some Stone Age savages when their leaders like Machar are comfortably quarantined in limousines and palaces in Juba?
What else has Machar done besides always appealing to UNMISS and international NGOs to intercede and resolve problems in South Sudan as if there isn’t a government in the country?
Many South Sudanese suspiciously wonder whether Machar’s last-hour move and intent on this venture are some cheap and duplicitous political prostitution to prepare his acceptability for the grand ambition of ascendancy to the national presidency in 2015.
Maybe it’s also an attempt to willfully exculpate himself from the shame of past betrayal, complicity in engendering the tribal divisions among these very people and from the guilt of genocide which he unleashed on the people of Bor and other areas of South Sudan.
Verily, it’s presumptuous of Machar to arbitrarily assume the moral high ground to champion this national reconciliation conference. If Machar’s justification was that he had already publicly apologized specifically to the Dinka Bor for the horrendous 1991 massacre, then why doesn’t he also publicly apologize particularly to his own Nuer, the Equatorians, Shilluks and the greater Dinka community, all who bore and suffered the bloodiest brunt of his past political lunacy?
Who or which tribes have actually reciprocated and forgiven Riek Machar or other leaders in South Sudan for their human crimes?
Absolutely, Machar repentance for his past sins and transgressions is incomplete and insincere, and as such, disqualifies him from peace-making; instead, he and others in the nation’s leadership should stand trial now in the court of public opinion.
Quite blatantly, Dr. Peter Nyaba had no fear to write down in his book, quote, “that Commander William Nyuon was assassinated in cold blood on Riek Machar’s orders because he chose to disengage himself from collaboration with NIF…” Such incidences, definitely were numerous and the perpetrators must be reconciled with their past deeds (The Politics of Liberation in South Sudan).
Anyway, examining the current proposed Machar’s modality of the so-called national reconciliation, one may rightly surmised that it’s utterly untenable and futile.
First, what are the motivations for the so-called national reconciliation?
South Sudan can best be described as a resource-rich but governance-poor country that has the misfortune of being ruled from its first day of independence by a gang of heartless, shameless and greedy leaders who assumed power with the unholy ambition of amassing wealth as quickly as possible, and as a result, they totally neglected to tackle issues of good governance.
Inexcusably, our nation is gripped in the phenomenon known as ‘Conflict Trap,’ as a result of the legacy of the long war of liberation. Machar stands accused in the eyes of the public of engendering, exploiting and exacerbating many of the causative factors that are today impacting on the fatal inter-tribal and inter-communal wars in Jonglei State specifically and the nation at large.
In retrospect, quoting Dr. Peter Adwok Nyaba in his famous book, ‘The Politics of Liberation,’ “the lawlessness that reigned in Nuerland culminating in the Lou-Jikany conflict is attributable to the weak leadership of Dr. Riek Machar…..and his inability to impose his leadership on the Nuer people;” if this assessment is extrapolated to the present, it explains a lot about the hopelessness of Machar’s motivations to embark on this endeavor.
Arguably, it’s questionable if Machar now really has the overall wider support of the people of South Sudan or even of his own Nuer entities, given the reality of the unpopularity of his leadership trail in the past and the present.
Disappointingly, many citizens in the nation had expected him to stand apart from and or vocalize his opposition of the corruption and misrule of the Kiir’s junta, .
According to Machar, the national reconciliation will focus reportedly on victims of cattle rustling, ethnic violence, sectarianism and other conflicts. How pathetic!
However, without addressing all problems from the war era to the current insecurity across the country, tribal hatred and animosities, land grabbing and migration and so on, there won’t be any comprehensive resolution coming out of the national reconciliation.
Rightly, Dr. Peter Nyaba, now a cabinet minister, aptly described, “Riek is two characters within one person. Behind the facade of a smiling and benevolent Riek, there is another Riek Machar who was ruthlessly ordering the murder of Dinka officers at Nasir. Riek pretended he was innocent of all these crimes, but nobody has been tried for the murders that took place under his nose at Nasir.”
Although we’re no longer in that horrific era, Riek Machar’s double-faced character is still conspicuous, the smiling Machar today can still successfully mesmerize and cajole the Hilda Johnsons, the Susan Pages and the venerable NGO’s all the times to sponsor his dream projects.
But true to his past character, the nation’s vice president is unapologetically oblivious of the endemic corruption blatantly being committed by all fellow ministers, the persistent harassment and killings in Juba and across the nation, the torture of journalists and suppression of press freedom and other egregious state-sanctioned crimes.
Evidently, Machar’s primary motivation for this national reconciliation is to diabolically cleanse his soul and then calculatedly ingratiate himself to the greater Dinka community so that he may successfully accomplish his ambition of becoming the next president.
Second, who’s supposed to be reconciled with whom?
Frankly, the urgency for any national reconciliation must be primarily and rightly targeted on reaching comprehensive resolutions to all the problems afflicting the nation, from cattle wars to governance issues to cross border migration that only worsen the unity of the people.
Let’s be sincere and unequivocal in asserting that it’s the greater Dinka, Nuer, Murle people and to a lesser extent, the Shilluk, today, who’re the main tribes that are still engaged in deadly wars of attrition and needless killings either among themselves or against one or the other, or they’re crossing state or county borders to malign and commit aggression on other tribes.
Taking Jonglei State as a shameful paradigm of our nation, neither its governor nor the president with all the so-called ‘might’ of the SPLA can bring any peace there and what’s perplexing is that the former ‘butcher of Equatoria’ hasn’t yet been ejected from the governorship as more citizens are dying daily in his State than in dismissed governor’s Chol Mayay’s Lakes State.
Whereas some of the causes of the restlessness being witnessed in these communities can be indirectly retraced to the 22-year long liberation war era where some leaders now in government, including Machar, were implicitly or directly implicated, however, the persistence of insecurity and killing epitomizes the failure of the state to holistically bring peace and development in those areas.
In retrospect, it must be sincerely admitted that all the so-called leaders, including Dr John Garang, Dr Riek Machar, Dr Lam Akol, commanders Kerubino, Nyuon, Kiir, Matip and many dead and alive SPLA generals, all in one way or another, partook in the aggravation and perpetuation of the deadly internecine wars, pitching one tribe or clan against the other, or launching revenge or retaliatory killing wars for or against the other.
Then, of course, there was the shameful slavish role on the behest of jellaba Arab rulers played by Machar and company that exponentially exacerbated the animosities among many of these tribes mentioned above.
However, it’s unfortunate for South Sudan that this dark history is rarely mentioned, but it’s very significant. Whilst it took the commendable effort of Catholic Archbishop Paulino Lukudu Loro to bring reconciliation between President Kiir and the late militia warlord, Paulino Matip, many pro-Arab killers were silently appointed into the Kiir’s government or the Army without any of these treacherous men and women making any ‘mea culpas.’
Coming to the nitty-gritty of this so-called ‘National Reconciliation,’ it’s imperative for all stake holders and spoilers in the impacted and volatile areas be involved.
Interestingly, the three Equatoria States are literally up in arms against the current regime and system of governance under Kiir specifically and vociferously complaining now about marginalization and aggressive land grabbing in the three states; and if things continue to persist in their current confabulation, the nation should be prepared for a probable political redivision (Kokora) imbroglio.
Unfortunately, however, despite the preponderance of irrefutable evidence, the dysfunctional Kiir-Machar government hasn’t charged or prosecuted a single politician from any of these communities for abetting or direct provocation; the only plausible deduction is that no a single so-called leader, be it president, minister, governor, general, etc.. can come out clean or holy from ‘sins’ in soul or body.
Lastly, what are the right modalities to achieve a comprehensive national reconciliation?
The intractability of and the deleterious effects of these inter and intra-tribal wars, besides the unacceptable fatalities, include economic retardation, loss of cattle and disruption to agriculture, but more importantly, there is the impulsive displacement of people and cattle and the fear of revenge and retribution.
More seriously, the displacement of people and cattle to other states, counties or payams will have a profound deleterious impact in those areas and on the native peoples there. As already experienced in Greater Equatoria, internal migrations of people and cattle have heightened tensions and even led to more attrition between the host and migrant displaced communities.
The call by many citizens for justice first before this bogus Machar’s reconciliation is imperative. There is blatant criminality which must not be bypassed, be it murder, assassination, cattle hustling, or grand looting of the 4 billion dollars by Kiir’s officials and supporters. It’s only justice that can ‘reconcile’ these crimes.
Furthermore, instead of Machar and his dubious commission appointing outsiders, the focus should be to engage all ministers and members of parliament, particularly those from the restless areas must be directly involved.
These people must be deployed to their respective areas for a reasonable period of time to interact with their people and also across with their belligerent neighbors first, not just watching and waiting in their luxurious mansions in Juba without physically experiencing the realities of their cousins who are tending their massive cattle wealth in those Eighteenth century conditions.
Never will a hundred Desmond Tutus bring the desired national reconciliation, say between the Murle and the Nuer, it’s the direct and sincere efforts of these tribes’ so-called leaders (politicians) who can truly consummate any peace among themselves.
Many a times, great suspicion has been placed on the roles of the SPLA (the national army) and other security agencies in exacerbating the inter-tribal killings and as such, these national agencies must be properly screened before deployment in those instances of tribal strife.
Once again, instead of inviting Tutu and other foreigners who are totally irrelevant to our predicament, the Commission for this reconciliation must be chaired and headed not by Machar or his enfeebled appointees, but by Godly-purified in body and soul South Sudanese, either their Holinesses Cardinal Zubair Wako and/or Archbishop Paulino Lukudu of Juba.
Last but not the least, those of President Kiir, Vice president Machar, most ministers, all jellaba Sudan ex-ministers now in Kiir’s government, many generals and security personnel involved in past killings and whoever has some blood on his or her hands, must be called to account for and apologize for his/her past actions.
This way, the aggrieved party or parties, be it an individual, a father, wife, son, daughter, brother or sister, will come to peace and accept to forgive the alleged murderer, whether the act was willful or on orders from someone else. There will be forgiveness and reconciliation, and only then will peaceful coexistence and justice that are so much desired today in our new nation will be attained.
Unfortunately, most citizens will remain truly skeptical that any good will come to bear especially since the ruling SPLM/A has the notoriety of presumptuousness and dis-ingenuousness of never acceding to its sins in the past in a nation where billion-dollar thieves and murderers reign free. Perhaps, a total regime change would be preferable.