By: Thon Palek Akol, South Sudan, DEC/27/2014, SSN;
About a year ago, the youngest world new Nation was in the flames of fire and still going. Now all lenses are reflected toward Addis Ababa where opposition led by Riak Machar and government of South Sudanese are trying to iron out their differences after substantial loss of innocent lives. However, what is going on behind closed door in Addis Ababa is not exactly what ordinary South Sudanese people want to hear.
With respect to IGAD body, one cannot deny their firm willingness by standing tall during Comprehensive Peace Agreement about ten years ago. One was hoping to see the same kind of trend because they have what it takes due to their copious experiences for solving East African problems.
According to my understanding, IGAD is mandated to solve our regional problems by being “beneficent and non-maleficent” that means to act in the best interest of South Sudanese people and do no harm. South Sudanese people need peace and peace for all, and that is a crystal clear message to the World bodies and IGAD.
Putting pressure on both contending parties is not a stigma; the stigma is when the world organizations and IGAD want to reward a single ethnic with what they want. Which I believe it will create other political uprising and leave the rest of 63 tribes with no options but empty hands.
The stigma is when South Sudanese people are dying day and night for over 365 days without solid possibilities of cease-fire, and the world is watching. That is a “stigma”, and that is what bothers me and pounds my heart in the middle of the night. I believe you should all do the same when you all sit around the negotiating table.
Now what is different between Riak Machar and ISIS if he is holding the whole nation life hostage because his demands are not met, and the nation is going down the drain?
Riak Machar demands do not yield edible fruits instead his demands are a future potential fuel for another outbreak. I heard him talking about democratic change, but I realized he would not make a democratic change by having two armies in one nation.
I love change, but change will not come from Riak Machar because he does not see the coexistence of other tribes in South Sudan on his monolithic vision. Change is imminent when people are ready for a change, and that is the vast majorities of South Sudan people to make a significant decision.
All of his demands are contradicting with what he called his “principles.” That meant there is no sympathy and compassion coming out from him, and for those who are living in harsh conditions in bushes, and refugee camps.
His long lists of demands will prolong peace process and hasten other burdens on our people. People of South Sudan are not looking for positions that Riak is craving. IGAD should do more to reduce the anguish of our population because even if you give Riak all of his demands it will not suffice the lone Wolf of South Sudan.
Riak’s camp and the government of South Sudan will agree on this today and tomorrow Riak’s camp is going to come up with more strains. A good example should be our detainees. They are silenced and burning inside not because they do not have voices. They do and even if you allocated them with 0% they will take it for the sake of the population and the nation to get back on her feet “that is the principles”.
Principles of, not options of armies and being stewardship by standing behind with innocent’s people and that is what we should respect not principles with a handful of innocent blood.
When you look at his proposal, two armies will not solve our internal problems. Our domestic problems will be solved by the most affected people. By giving a chance to people of Greater Upper Nile region to make wise choices for coexistence of the communities for them (Dinka Bor, Dinka Padang, Nuer, and Mabans people) to forgive Riak Machar and Salva Kiir Mayardit.
Direct communication will also be essential to nurture broken hearts with a smooth approach, and that is what people will need to heal wounds.
I will give you an example in the recent war; I lost my maternal cousin from Shilluk with his wife and five kids when the opposition captured Malakal during the second occupation. Leave alone uncalculated death on my paternal side. Now we are coping with this tragedy because the whole family has been sent to their early graves.
Therefore as families from two interracial ethnics, we forgave their killers because not all Nuer are killers and vice versa not all Dinka are killers. Even if we see his killers, we will still forgive them, and I hope other families who lost their loved ones are ready to do the same.
People do not need what will prolong war and add more burden. We want to relieve pain by forgiving one another. Forgiveness is a duty of the nation and communities who have been severely and profoundly damaged. What happened in Juba should not be a license to kill innocent people in Bor, Malakal, Renk, Baliet, Pigi, Akaka, Maluth, Panriang, Maban, Unity State, Panyakang, Tuonga and by opposition as we all witnessed.
I believe all of these communities are not going to demand anything one day, just for the sake of peace to emanate. They are not interested in what Riak is doing. They know the value of a human being cannot be replaced with positions or properties. They just need genuine reconciliation. Dinka and Nuer have a universal mutual friendship since our ancestors placed us along the Nile.
Yes, history can tell us that Dinka and Nuer do regular fights, but not a destruction fight like what we have witnessed in the past year. South Sudan will not bring back those people who vanished, but we are going to get back properties we have lost because South Sudan is naturally rich with natural resources and agriculture schemes.
It’s supposed to be a time for us to pay the world back, not for the world to give us everything we need every day. We have agriculture capacity that can produce anything we need, and the rest of the world as Dr. John Garang mentioned it in his thesis that South Sudan is the “bread basket of the Middle East”. South Sudan is so blessed, but I am so sad because we do not see that blessing.
Compensations of Properties:
Another fishy scent is what oppositions describe as properties compensations. Ultimately it’s another loophole of corruption opposition presented to enrich themselves in the future, with the South Sudan resources and to cement their kingdom. If he is for a democratic change, he should demand by balancing societal efficiency against interests of the ethnic. And then make properties compensations for a national consideration in the near future.
Pope Francis asked the question this way, “Who am I to judge?” So who are we going to pay properties compensations? Paying properties compensation will not alleviate deep pain that already settled thick down on the bottom of hearts.
Instead, it will be an incentive for others to do the same thing because South Sudan bushes are still not yet full of rebels. IGAD should look back and see what happened during Naivasha Comprehensive Peace agreement. Dr. John Garang did not ask about properties compensation from Khartoum, and he was not a blind man.
Dr. John Garang knows society interest is above individual’s interest, and that is why he stood firm for the right of majorities and minorities alike. All of the nuisances going on in Addis Ababa should cease in order to allow the peace process to prevail and to reduce suffering. Peace is the only hope people are looking.
If Riak knows there is something called properties his forces should not turn the main cities and villages into gravel or ashes.
IGAD as the judging body should dismantle rewarding the demanded packages if they want a peaceful solution in a long run and to end the yearlong senseless war. Peace with no hope how to end the war, and healthy solution for South Sudanese people is a “Nightmare”.
All of the Riak camp demands for are an invitation to another disaster or to prolong war that does not benefit anyone but his “principles”. Unless if IGAD wants to see another bleeding again after this one. Let us again build strong love, acceptance, understanding, generosity, kindness, and above all forgiveness for one another. This war should not weaken us, instead it should give us strength to heal the disarray of the hearts.
Thon Palek Akol is a concerned South Sudanese
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