BY: ISAIAH ABRAHAM, JUBA, OCT. 19/2012, SSN; Juba leadership position on the Cooperation Agreement has started to be dismissive and abusive to those questioning some pieces in the agreement. Some of our lawmakers have joined the fray and are out to condemn whoever criticizes the agreement. They have even cracked as there are calling some sections of our society Northern Bahr El Ghazal people versus others. Legislators everywhere have a moral duty to protect the larger interest of the nation and not just their local constituents.
A constituent bigger like South Sudan is what binds us all. It was uncharacteristic, just unfair therefore for lawmakers to abandon local national pressing matters to specific individuals or groups to fight it out. Why leave the border matters to states affected, I have asked such question many times?
MPs for the areas of Mile 14, Abyei and Panthou, Hofra Al Nahas and Kaka are like any other MPs in Western Equatoria, Jonglei, Lakes, etc, whose lands have no dispute with the North.
I found it cruel when the matters in question were left to people affected to sort it out, while the rest of the country goes indifferent. This should not have been the case. The issues of Mile 14, Abyei, Panthou, Hofra Al Nahas are for the entire nation called South Sudan for Northern Bahr El Ghazal, Western Bahr El Ghazal, Western Upper Nile or Northern Upper Nile.
People everywhere are not happy that the negotiators allowed Khartoum a foothold on these lands. We have made a mistake to sign away Mile 14 under the pretext of a buffer zone. No amount of explanation will extinguish the fire of anger against the President and his team on this matter of Mile 14, Panthou and Hofra Al Nahas.
Abyei, Mile 14, Panthou, Hofra Al Nahas and others are becoming disputed because some has entered them by force. These places are 100% South Sudan lands. Our negotiators succumbed to pressure, and hence a failed test for our leadership.
President is to blame squarely on our lands being occupied by Arabs, and now he has gone further to sign away Mile 14. His statement that he will not cede an inch of land to the North comes too late, too little. We are not buying this belated chest thumbing statement from the man we all know his frequent promises. We know him better. No one has faith in Arbitration Court courses.
Who is this that wants to fool us that the argument is not about land but military disengagement? Someone argues that it is just a temporary arrangement to allow forces to disengage and later on the border demarcation will determine the real owners of the land. That is a lie.
Buffer Zone practice is applied when the two sides lay claims on an area. Mile 14 if it becomes a claim area, then we have already such claims areas where one side is left alone – recall Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) is firmly in Panthou, Hofra El Nahas, Kaka and Kofi Kingi, why did the policy of buffers not apply there?
The same way mediators avoided Panthou, Hofra Al Nahas and other lands that are disputed, where Sudanese Armed Forced are embedded or firmly in control, it should have been the case for Mile 14.
Mile 14 has never been a disputed land as do the Southern occupied lands. Mile 14 is used by Rezeigat Arabs during the summer, demilitarizing it after Sudan Army was chased away from there makes it an automatic disputed land.
Badme, a disputed territory at the heart of conflict between Ethiopia and Eritrea was awarded in 2002 to Eritrea by UN backed Commission but to date the Ethiopians troops are firmly on the ground. Is that scenario not going to repeat itself in our case for Mile 14, Pantou, Hofra Al Nahas and other disputed areas? I do think so.
Majority of our people are stricken with fear that someone has not articulated well to protect the right of people on our land. We have lost out our rightful lands to Sudan through cowardly and ignorant decisions or both.
Why is it that our leaders want to play politics in the face of an anomaly? This is arrogance at best and skulduggery.
Our leaders know where the truth is, but are not telling it. The issue of Mile 14 and other disputed lands is not a small thing for the head of state to dare sarcastically the people who oppose the deal to go to war.
Sir, people will go to war with you first if you do not stop your clumsy approach to such critical matters of our existence. Khartoum has found a weak character they can manipulate.
In the face of challenges our president has clearly become another challenge to our people. Our people did not elect Kiir to give away our land, and then spew disparagingly at his disgruntled people.
Mr. President sharpened his derogatory remarks against those opposed to the agreement during his address to security officers on Tuesday that those who are unhappy with the agreement are people who were with the Jalaba/Diaspora, and never had time to fight with him in the bush.
How about me, sir, I was with you in one of the battalions (Tiger/Tumsah) you led, what will you say about me? I participated in the demonstration on Monday in Juba, all the way to parliament, to denounce the buffer zone dog for Mile 14. I went there but for reasons known to all. We had expected our lawmakers to reverse the arrangement on Mile 14 and go with the rest of the agreement.
To us, we thought that someone have given away our land in exchange for oil deal with Khartoum. The document should not have gone like that, people. Unfortunately, little did we know that Kiir has become another (Abyei Chief) Deng Majok who exchanged his ancestral land rights for a single meal.
Shame on Kiir and his cohorts! Kiir must go! He is a useless leader this country could have. His foul mouthing is not tolerable anymore.
Get it right and just to emphasize the matter we are trying to say, we are not rejecting the Cooperation Agreement with the Sudan, especially for an agreement that will last for a few years. But if the matter touches land, it becomes so complex to clear even after the expiry time.
The agreement is not all bad. People became happy that at least the oil production will flow again for the economy to resuscitate and that there will be relative harmony between Sudan and South Sudan, once belligerent countries.
But look, there are eight (8) agreements for the intended cooperation, but the one known as security agreement has spoiled the rest. The agreement has no meaning if the issues of Panthou, Kaka, Abyei, Hofra El Nahas and Mile 14 are not resolved. The security agreement should have been thrown out of the window by the lawmakers until grievances or grey areas surrounding these matters are resolved.
This is where we are coming, the issues of land are so grave for anyone to dip his/her fingers into.
Our president should own it up. This is what we are saying and he got to fix it. He failed to show leadership, so do the lawmakers in our land. Our legislators could have torn the document and made amendments before ratifying them.
What is this argument that if the president signs it the document, it cannot be challenged. Who is this god in South Sudan that when he does something it cannot be reversed? Whether Kiir or Garang signed it, people are more supreme. They can redo what has been botched for the good of all.
Mile 14 and Panthou are sold out for no reasons at all. Oil or no oil, we have been cheated by a ruthless clique in Juba. To them the agreement is excellent, the agreement has not been understood, the media has failed to articulate it to the people, reactionary forces are behind the rejection of the agreement, insignificant number in our society, people who objected to the agreement are diaspora and that they also opposed CPA but later cheered it when the flag was raised. That is utter nonsense.
Majority of our people are not opposing the agreement for the sake of it but had hoped that the leadership in Juba would do the necessary changes before going for a law. Bad deals create more troubles than solutions and hence uncalled for under the face of realities surrounding our rights.
My people have suffered under President Kiir and his heartless clique, I have no kind words again against these people. The demonstration we made as people of South Sudan on Monday, not as Northern Bahr El Ghazal people, will go down in history as the beginning of things to come.
Mr. President is not apologetic and this is worrying. The people of this country deserve a leader that respects their views. We have never had problems with him since he accidently ascended to power in 2005, because the situation dictated that people exercise patience.
For the past eight years we have learned bitterly that Mr. Kiir is the problem and should be removed. He has failed us in many fronts, and on this matter of land he must not be forgiven. Our men in uniform in Mile 14 therefore are to remain in their places and let Mulana Makuei, Mbeki or Pagan come and dislodge them by force. AU must deploy any troops around Mile 14. We will see how to go about Panthou and Abyei now that someone is selling our lands to Arabs.
(Disclaimer: The views expressed above are those of the author and not the website).
Isaiah Abraham lives in Juba; he is on Isaiah_abraham@yahoo.co.uk