BY: Michael Thon Mangok, South Sudan, MAR/02/2014, SSN;
These are the first days of the month of March and the conflict that started on 15th December last year that many thought it would last for a few days have no sign of ending soon. Those who had wanted to keep power as their own and those who wanted to take power by any means, thought that it was going to be an exercise that would last for a few hours.
This conflict was seen coming but both sides turned a blind eye to any preventive measures. What each camp was seeing was the advantage that is coming with the conflict. Each side was calculating the victory of their own.
Camp A was seeing it as an opportunity to keep power and chase away the undisciplined group. To them it was “we will keep this power and you will never get it.”
In camp B it was an opportunity to introduce conditional democracy, cause chaos and get the power by force if need be. Their data was showing them that they have 75 percent of the army and it would only take an hour to go to State house should the democracy fail. So everyone was seeing victory on their side.
The only person who knew what was going on was Archbishop Paulino Lokudu. In the liberation Council meeting on 14th Dec, he said to Salva and Riek, “please, do not put the country into crisis in the Christmas season.”
He said, “there is tension here now in the room.” He prayed but may be God could not answer his prayers because the two did not join him in prayers from their hearts.
However, what both camps did not calculate was the level of the destruction that would come with what many thought was a disagreement in the SPLM party in Juba.
The SPLM has liberated this country but now it is the very SPLM that is destroying the country and that is the irony of this conflict.
The level of destruction in upper Nile region within two month has gone far beyond than in the last 22 years of the civil war against Khartoum.
The mass grave in Bor is our first experience. We did not bury many people like that during the war. What does that mean to the people of upper Nile region?
Am not a supporter of regional bloc the way Bar el Ghazel and Equatoria conferences had been on for some years but this crisis is forcing me to pose a question to the people of Upper Nile region.
Does it worry us that Upper Nile now does not exist?
There is no Malakal, Bor and Bentiu to speak of right now. A child who should have been to school now in Malakal is in the bush and his/her fellow age mate in Wau is in school.
A mama in Bentiu who used to sell local foods in a restaurant to pay the school fees of her children is now struggling for her life in the bush while her counterpart in Yambio is thinking about how to expand her business next year so that her children can go to better schools.
A business man who has lost everything in Bor is now thinking whether there is any reason to live in this world while his counterpart in Torit is thinking on how to expand his business to nearby counties of Eastern Equatoria come 2015.
All these are happening in Upper Nile region and the rest of parts of the country is moving on. That is why the three governors of the Equatoria region met and released their joint statement.
“We don’t want war in our land,” and nobody asked who are they? It did not stop from there!
The Western Equatoria governor Bakasoro said, “You Dinka and Nuer go and fight your war elsewhere, we don’t need war here,” and Eastern Equatoria governor Luois Lobong said, “Dinka IDPS are headache to my government.”
All these are hate speeches but nobody cares to talk about them.
If things continue like this, the Upper Nile region will be a war zone and the rest of the region will continue with the development.
As we speak, there is a construction of the airport going on in Rumbek with the cost of $137 Millions while children and women in the bushes around Bor, Bentiu and Malakal could not access water and food.
The crisis management committee in Juba is busy spending millions of pounds on travel allowances.
Instead of moving to the affected areas, they travels to safer zones like Wau, Yambio, Kuajok, Torit etc.. to spent a lot of time explaining that what happened in Juba was a coup while the people who’re supposed to get food from the money for crisis are dying.
The leaders and the young people from Upper Nile should begin to rethink about the ongoing conflict. We need to ask ourselves why the war always in Upper Nile region?
What is the cause of division among the communities? And what is the way forward?
Bar el Gahzel and Equatoria are moving on with their regional agenda and whether Upper Nile likes it or not, they must come together.
Bar el Ghazel regional meeting does not recognize Bor and Ngok because they are not from that region.
To rebuild what was destroyed in the three capitals cities in Upper Nile will require a hard work of twenty years or so.
If people of Upper Nile don’t open their eyes and have honest debate then this will be the beginning of the marginalization of the region.
The message here from the rest is simple: “Keep on busy killing yourselves and we will keep on developing our regions with the money of the oil produced from upper Nile.”
When I think about this my heart bleeds.