By: Riang Yer Zuor Nyak, SOUTH SUDAN, JAN/17/2015, SSN;
Whenever one decides to live one’s life on lies or by not telling the truth, either as a result of a disorder or whatever the reason might be, the big, slow-moving animal that we call TRUTH always find its own way to leap out of hand. This is a reality that the government of South Sudan should start realizing, if it has not yet done that.
Since the beginning of the war in December of last year, Salva Kiir, Michael Makuei, Paul Malong, Ateny Wek, Malak Ayuen and Philip Aguer have consistently led their group and supporters in the campaign of diverting the attention of the people of South Sudan from the reality of the war situation in the country. They have consistently referred to the SPLM/A and its activities as tribally motivated. By tribe, they mean the Nuer.
On many occasions, the war is portrayed, by them, as being fought between the Nuer and the other 63 South Sudanese tribes (at least, that is what they want others to believe). They kept repeating it as if members of the other 62 tribes (minus Dinka and Nuer) have no brains of their own to think and judge for themselves.
It is a desperate attempt to belittle the Opposition so as to make others perceive it and its activities as tribal affairs. They use the fact that the majority of the fighting forces on the SPLM/A side come from that tribe as evidence to support their propaganda.
They deliberately try to bury their heads, and brush aside what they did in Juba beginning from the 15th of December so that it does not look as the possible reason as to why the majority of the fighters on the SPLM/A side could come from the Nuer community.
The six have failed to see that others could deduce from their statements that since the majority of those fighting (Mathiang Anyor) on their side are from the Dinka community, then the other side of the tribal coin that they have been displaying is the Dinka tribe.
The simple thing that these six guys should understand is that if the SPLM/A can be referred to as a Nuer organization simply because the majority of the fighters come from the Nuer community, then the government can also be referred to as a Dinka business simply because the majority of those fighting on behalf of the government come from the Dinka community.
If this is how they see it, then there should be no public vilification of the Governor of Central Equatoria for saying that the war is between the Dinka and the Nuer. One cannot have it both ways. It is either this or that without a middle way.
Governor Clement Wani Konga
On the 9th of January 2015, Governor Clement Wani Konga made a statement to his government officials, which was basically asking the whole of the Equatoria region to stay neutral in the current war so as to assume the position of peace-makers. According to the Sudan Tribune, the statement spoke of the lack of value in joining the war, and that “It is the only chance for the people of Equatoria coming together so as to bring an end to this war between [the] Dinka and Nuer [tribes]”.
Ateny Wek Ateny
On last Saturday, a day after the Governor had made the statement, Ateny Wek Ateny (Salva’s press secretary) went public, calling the statement of the Governor “irresponsible”. In supporting his negative position, Ateny stated that “It is unfortunate governor Clement Wani Konga had failed to know he is part of the government to make such irresponsible remarks”.
He went further to say that “We believe the current war is not between the Dinka and Nuer, but a war caused by people who wanted to change the government through unconstitutional means”. In that same statement, according to the same source cited above, Ateny continued to state “Also with the rebels, there are people from different tribes, including people from Equatoria. There are also Dinka on the side of those in the rebellion”.
How I See the Thing
I want to state, at once, that I disagree with the Governor on his position that the war is fought between the Dinka and the Nuer. I believe that the war is fought between a people who have been mistreated and finally and systematically attacked on December 15, 2013, and a government that has proven itself to be anti-people and genocidal.
As for Ateny, I can only congratulate him for admitting that he has lost the battle by attacking the Governor for saying what he (Ateny) and his group have been using as a weapon in their propaganda campaign. On this, a brief analysis follows.
First, Ateny appears to suggest that being part of the government means one is not allowed to speak one’s mind. If this is the case, then that is mental bondage.
Second, if the government is not happy with describing the current war as tribal, then Ateny and his group should start leading the way by, first, publicly condemning themselves for have called it a war between the Nuer and other tribes, and, second, by promising the public that they will stop themselves from saying it again after. It is after this that they should be in a position to condemn and stop others from saying the same.
Taking such a step should not, now, be difficult since Ateny has already made a concrete admission that there are Equatorians and Dinka on the side of the Opposition as there are on their side. The problem has been that the government has always been in denial when it comes to the realities of this war.
But, at this point, an admission is made on the issue of the nature of the parties to the war. This issue now seems to be settled.
The other issue is that Ateny, in his statement, has redefined the war as one “…caused by people who wanted to change the government through unconstitutional means”. It is interesting. Who are these “people”? To him, people in his statement refer to the leaders of the SPLM/A. By “unconstitutional”, he is referring to the discredited story of a coup attempt.
At the time when things just got started, the coup story was a big thing to talk about. The government insisted that it had evidence pointing at those who were arrested in Juba as collaborators with Dr. Riek Machar, Gen. Taban Deng and Gen. Alfred Lado Gore who had already been declared as principals.
They insisted that the detainees be tried for their part in the alleged coup attempt. At the end of the trial, the detainees were released, forcing the court to stop making its judgment. That decision was made in anticipation of a court decision that was going to be unfavorable to the government, given the enormous lack of credible evidence. That formally ended the coup story.
As for the three leaders who were not present during the trial, it was said that their case would remain open as there were alleged evidence pointing to them as masterminds.
However, evidence as disclosed by Gordon Buay turned out to be recordings of communications with the troops long after the war had broken out. Is that really an evidence of a coup attempt that was supposed to have taken place before the war? One does not need to be a lawyer to throw this out of the file. It is just rubbish.
The truth of the matter is that Salva Kiir and his group are the ones who have resorted to an “unconstitutional” means of maintaining power. Instead of going through legitimate processes, he decided to go violent on his political opponents and interrupted a democratic political process within the SPLM Party; he went on to commit genocide by systematically going after one tribe that he perceives to be a natural constituency of one of his main political rivals.
From the statements made by Ateny, it appears very clearly that the government of Salva Kiir does not have one consistent way of explaining the war to the people of South Sudan in particular and the international community in general.
Their position is determined by the audience that they find themselves talking to. Sometimes, it is a war between the government and coup-plotters; sometimes, it is a war between the Dinka and the Nuer; sometimes, it is a war between the Nuer and the other 63 tribes of South Sudan. They find it difficult to get the magic explanation as to who is fighting who.
This inconsistency on the part of the government in explaining the war is an embarrassing evidence that the war was actually cooked by a few who had failed to ask themselves the question of how to explain the whole undertaking to the people of South Sudan once it happened.
The main thing to them was to come up with the plan to get rid of the unwanted elements of the society. They were simply going after the idea of being the unchallenged power center in the country. Can such a people be allowed to lead a country, such as South Sudan? It is one of the most unfortunate things there are.
The war in South Sudan has been raging on for more than a year now. For all practical purposes, it is a war between the people of South Sudan and an anti-people government. All can see it. Those who have courage speak out about it; those who do not have the courage have resorted to keeping silence, just to avoid confrontation with a murderous government.
On its part, the government, mostly through the six individuals mentioned above, it has been a war between the government and coup-plotters, or between the Dinka and the Nuer, or between the Nuer and the other 63 tribes of South Sudan. Over time, the same government has gone through some elimination process. The coup story has crumbled; the tribal card now seems to be out based on the statement made by Ateny in response to the statement that had been made by Governor Clement Wani Konga a day previously.
With the coup story out of the way and with the characterization of the war as tribal, the war stands now in the eyes of everyone involved as a national crisis that must be faced for what it is.
The interesting thing at this point is that it takes Governor Clement Wani Konga’s statement for the government to change its position and tell the truth about the nature of the parties to the war. That is one of the strange ways that TRUTH can force itself out.
The author is a South Sudanese. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.