No Genocide in South Sudan
By Peter Lokarlo Marsu*
May 14, 2006 — A recent press statement issued by the SSDF General Secretary alleging genocide in South Sudan is fraught with spiteful and incongruous assertion. The statement preambles by a demand from the SSUDA/SSDF that the UN General Secretary, Mr. Kofi Annan summarily dismisses Jan Pronk, the UN special envoy to Sudan, for failing in his mission in South Sudan. The other culprit strongly recommended for firing is Dr. Francis Deng. The arraignment goes as follows:
‘Mr. Jan Pronk, the former Dutch Minister for Overseas Development has failed in his current assignment as the UN Special Envoy to Sudan and should be fired. The UN Secretary-General should fire Mr. Pronk and Dr. Deng. He categorically failed to report the ongoing SPLM/A perpetrated genocide not only in Upper Nile but also throughout South Sudan to his boss Mr. Kofi Annan and the UN Security Council.’
This is undeniably a fascinating as well as a serious contention that is worthy of scrutiny and explication. The Secretary general of the SSDF party would certainly be absolved from culpability, as he acted out of downright emotion and odium of SPLM, a phenomenal characteristic in the Party in its turbulent political history in South Sudan, but obviously the entire Party will regrettably stand in the dock basically for reckless public statements proclaimed by its leaders either ingenuously or knowingly. For everyone who is honestly familiar with the truth on the ground, would swiftly scoff at the SSDF’s charge of genocide committed by the Government of South Sudan as pure imagination and utter falsehood that has no counterpart in reality. SPLM as the custodian of peace and Security in South Sudan and the only recognised legitimate authority in the region does not engage in any act of genocide or ethnic cleansing exercise. SPLA was not responsible for the mass displacement of people in South Sudan as has been erroneously assumed by the SSDF Secretary General. Without the SPLA, there wouldn’t have been any CPA or peace in the South. SSDF was only a disposable gizmo in the hands of the NIF authorities in Khartoum after deserting the SPLA. The arraignment of genocide is simply an orchestrated slur campaign that merely serves the narrow interests and strategy of the party.
Calling for the dismissal of both Mr. Jan pronk and Dr. Francis Deng for not reporting the conflict involving Lou Nuer and the GOSS to the UN Secretary General and the UN Security Council is a gross display of political immaturity of the first order. You don’t expect the UN Security Council to convene a special Session devoted to the deliberation of disarmament process of lawless tribal militia in South Sudan or to deal with cattle rustling affair between Nuer Lou and other neighbouring communities. This is the jurisdiction of the police and the security service of the sovereign government in question. In this particular case, the Government of South Sudan is fully mandated to carry on the task, of disarming any tribal groups that wield offensive weapons deemed to constitute a threat to the physical security of other communities in South Sudan, though SSDF leaders do not normally recognise and repeatedly undermine the authority of the government in Juba, and often derogatively refer to GOSS as Dinka forces or Dinka government.
Dr. Francis Deng does not give advise to Kofi Annan on cattle rustling or tribal conflicts in South Sudan, he is not paid for that job, so to fire him for what he is at liberty not to say anything about, is a severe miscarriage of justice that is only practiced in the SSDF party.
The SSDF leadership in the Diaspora, being tribally constituted, has quite often preached divisive politics in South Sudan, contrary to its public projection and officially stated direction. It has promoted and extolled tribal glories at the time when unity of South Sudanese is the highly cherished panacea to the entire shambles in the region. The continuous reference to the term NUER NATION does not make room for unity in South Sudan, but creates perpetual conflict with incalculable consequences. It is unfortunate that the SSDF Secretary General would like to dwell in the past by revisiting some of the regrettable episodes and excesses of the war committed by all sides including the SSDF murderous militia forces during the split up of the SPLA/M back in 1991. Such accepted wisdom would inevitably diminish the potentials required to create a viable and vibrant statehood for which everyone aspires.
Horrifyingly, the SSDF Secretary General seems to rationalise armed conflict between the Nuer Lou and the other neighbouring communities. He argues that firearms have existed among the community members of the tribes in the area since the 1900s and that there has never been any problem. This is a naked lie; there have been huge and countless bloody instances of armed confrontation with other groups because of the rampant availability of qualitative firearms in the hands of lawless communities in the area.
Justifying the possession of guns in the hands of Nuer Lou or any other group by drawing an analogy between the status quo in Upper Nile State and the Constitution of the United States of America that contains the right to bear arms is a clear demonstration of not only absence of both rational norms and political maturity, but it also epitomises political ineptitude of egregious nature. There is no way making a logical comparison between our people and the Americans even if the latter are somewhat violent people.
Inconsistency is apparently the hallmark of the SSDF’s overall guiding principle. In the recent past, a well-placed SSDF/SSUDA functionary who is avowedly anti-SPLM was on record for calling for all territories under the control of the SSDF to declare Self-Determination from the rest of South Sudan. The same Party is calling for the unity of South Sudan on the one hand and contracting with foreign Oil companies issuing concessions, to explore what they term Nuer Oil on the other. How do we reconcile these contradictions?
We can’t afford to drift toward another Somalia in South Sudan with countless warlords drawing battle lines and who know nothing other than chaos, banditry and incessant instability. That is admittedly the dark alley SSDF is leading us to. What is really at stake is the future of South Sudan if the current leaders particularly those tribally inclined ones in the Diaspora are still at the helm of the Party and ruling by remote controlled devices.
One of our main focuses of concern at this juncture as South Sudanese should be devoted to forging a common bond of identification amongst our different communities, campaigning for the riddance of ethnic rivalry, avoidance of the preaching of hatred to our people, and availing support to the government of South Sudan. Locking horns with GOSS is a disservice to the people of the region. However, whatever differences we may possess, should be contained, as we are still members of the same large family of South Sudan.
* Peter Lokarlo Marsu is based in Australia, he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org