BY: AKOL AYOM WEK, Press Secretary to NBGS Governor, FEB/14/2013, SSN;
Reference is made to Mr. Ateny Wek Ateny’s article entitled: “NBGS Governor on offensive against the expert’s role in the issue of Mile 14,” published by Citizen newspaper on February, 6th, 2013. In the said article, Mr. Ateny made many serious and unwarranted claims. This article is written to clarify misrepresented facts by the author as well as disputing attempts made to tarnish the image and personality of Mr. Paul Malong Awan, Governor of Northern Bahr El Ghazal State.
On the outset, the issue of Mile 14 should not be politicized for the sake of personal glorification. This is about the land and should be treated as such. The position of Paul Malong and the larger Aweil community both in South Sudan and around the world with regard to Mile 14 was very clear: Mile 14 has never been disputed area.
This position was already made clear to the government of the Republic of South Sudan and the international community through public protests, letters and series of meetings both with President and other stakeholders.
It was clear that upon the signature of cooperation agreement, there was wider anxiety among the people of Northern Bahr El Ghazal State. This anxiety sparked public protests in Aweil and Juba.
As a result of unprecedented anxiety and confusion among the public, Paul Malong took initiative to invite all stakeholders in the State including Cabinet members, MPs, Commissioners, chiefs, youth groups, women groups, intellectuals and elders in order to shed light on the issue of Mile 14. In that three days consultation session, the Governor informed the participants that their concern had been heard by national government and that the matter should be left in the hands of central government to tackle. Up to this point, neither the Governor nor the Aweil community believe that Mile 14 is disputed.
It beats people’s conscience when Mr. Ateny claimed that Gov. Paul Malong had changed his mind with regard to popular belief in Northern Bahr El Ghazal State that Mile 14 is not disputed area. Contrary to Mr. Ateny’s argument “if the governor knew the issue of Mile 14 may one day be a matter for the two presidents and therefore no need for anybody less than the president to have talked about it,” there was need for the Governor and entire Aweil community to register their rejection of the inclusion of Mile 14 into claimed and disputed areas.
What is more surprising in Ateny’s article is his claim that the protests were “partly or wholly sponsored by the state government.” One can’t help but ask Mr. Ateny Wek Ateny, who was a key member of organizing committee of Juba demonstration: was organizing committee for public protest in Juba formed and sponsored by State government?
And who in particular in the government of Northern Bahr El Gazal State invited Mr. Ateny Wek to join the organizing committee and demonstration?
Contrary to Ateny Wek’s claim that Dr. Dhieu has helped the case of Aweil, we believe that Dr. Dhieu has stabbed the community and the nation at the back by distorting historical reality about Mile 14.
Historically and as per Wheatly-Munro agreement, Mile 14 was confined in present day Aweil North County of Northern Bahr El Ghazal State and current Eastern Darfur State. Other Counties of Northern Bahr El Ghazal were not included in Wheatly-Munro decision, let alone Abiemnhom and Raja as Dr. Dhieu erroneously believe to be the case.
It has to be stated here that Dr. Dhieu is not an expert in this area because there is no conclusive research work he conducted in this area. In fact, his thesis is only a “cut and paste” kind of document that carries no authoritative information whatsoever and so he can’t be an authority in the area.
Furthermore, the information Dr. Dhieu is manipulating as his own work particularly areas along the border was provided to him by Northern Bahr El Ghazal State Department of Research and Documentation (DRD). Yet, he is not making any slightest reference to the source of the information he has, what kind of expert is he?
One will not be surprised if he is sued by the Department of Research and Documentation under Intellectual property and copyright laws.
Mr. Ateny went on claim that Dr. Dhieu is an expert because he has “written thesis for his Masters and PHDs in the historical relationship between the nomad Arab tribe of Riezegat and the Messiriya in one hand and the Dinka Malual…”
One may ask here: where in the world is one allowed to write one thesis for two degrees: Masters and PHD? If Dr. Dhieu has done it, then it is simple to conclude that he did nothing.
Finally, it has to be reiterated that Governor Paul Malong and Greater Aweil community still believe that Mile 14 is not a disputed area and is not part of outstanding issues of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement. Mr. Ateny Wek Ateny needs to know this fact.
Akol Ayom Wek is the Press Secretary for the Governor of Northern Bahr El Ghazal State and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org