South Sudan is Already a Chief Mediator.
By Lero O. Odolla*
Aug 6, 2006 - The Southern Sudan is a mediator. Yet it is living in a broken house. Its population is at war with itself like the chaos in Bantiu, and Bahr El Ghazal and Renk ; the NIF being in the middle of it all. Yet, we have gone far afield. What an error! Peace must have started from home. Bear in mind that the author is in the support of success of the ongoing peace negations in Juba; because it means a lot to Southern Sudanese and the war victims of Northern Uganda. But it is not a priority. Our house should be cleaned first.
It will be brilliant if the Southern Sudan emerges successfully as a chief negotiator. Dr Riek Machar will also clean up his records and be seen in a different light of politics. Politicians know best how to invest in their future stature. Solving one of the notorious rebellions would be a big achievement.
The Government of South Sudan is born of a rebel movement which recently emerged from the longest African civil war of the twenty first century. The presence of LRA in Northern Uganda is worrisome to the new Government as it affects the population and development. If not for building a good name it is not a priority to indulge in it.
Does South Sudan have capacity and power to handle this chronic issue? Absolutely, yes. Taken as it is this initiative is good but is prone to criticism and could be misinterpreted positively or negatively by some critiques easily. However, this is an excellent gesture form GoSS which has been fighting a forgotten war in the same region. SLPM/A has experience in peace negotiations acquired through the last twenty 21 years. For example, the SLPM/A has been to Ethiopia [Koka Dam], Abuja [Nigeria] more than one time, London, Oslo and other places; and finally at Naivasha [Kenya] where the CPA was strongly delivered.
Here is hypothetical question. Is there any similarity between the objectives of Lord Resistant Army and SLPM/A? The SLPM/A war were politically, religiously, economically, culturally and socially motivated. The said civil war of Southern Sudan was imposed by the minority Arabs rulers in Khartoum since August 18, 1955, close to the eve of independence. Respectfully, the author may not go beyond to reveal details about the motive of LRA fight. One thing I would like to mention here is in the theory of survival. There is some thing called fight or flight. This theory is so simple. We exercise it on a daily basis. All forms of life run away when threatened and rebel to survive. The LRA therefore might just be fighting to survive since they do not have a clear motive and agenda to justify their cause. Once they have shown themselves to be rebels they must keep hiding until they heard of amnesty for the first time and felt secure. The author never had been a conflict preacher. But people must fight for their rights if that is the only means provided they are clear to the world. Bear in mind that the author is not sympathetic to any group who are inflicting pain and destructions to helpless people wherever they exist.
The GoSS is too young to be involved too much with things far from home. Our focus should be to solve inter-tribal problems; implement and guard the CPA; help the DarFurians get and the Eastern Sudan to come into the fold to share the fruits of the CPA. We should be facing the NIF/PCP not to derail agreements and the Abeyi border demarcation ruling by the Commission. The GoNU brought the Somali Islamic Courts to the table in Khartoum just to divert attention away from home. Bashir is a failed President who does not care about his won people. He only wants power to dominate. However, Sudan and South Sudan these days have been occupying the world mass media head lines with mixed news. The peace talks between Ugandan Government and LRA in Juba and the peace talks attempt between Islamist Courts and the Transitional government of Somalia in Khartoum while good in their own rights, they are not priorities for the Sudan and the Southern Sudan in particular. Nevertheless, the burning question is that, why are Sudanese leaders so keen to become peace negotiators after one year of fragile, premature CPA which is facing a lot of obstacles while at the same time the homes remain in chaos? Will we enjoy the international prestige when the troubles are rampant in the Southern Sudan between tribes and clans? Are our leaders in hurry to become most famous leaders in the region by becoming chief mediators?
Leave alone conflicts between and among tribes and clans, the SPLA Commissioners and other appointees are becoming big tyrants using the SPLA power to the advantage of own tribes. For example look at the Akobo County Commissioner. With the hope of peace in the whole of Southern Sudan, one SPLM/A commissioner creates unhealthy situation for the CPA in Jonglei State, Akobo County. The Commissioner is threatening, mistreating the Anyuak people. Doyak Chol uneager to provides assignments to Anyuak administrators in Akobo County. Numerous reports and observations have revealed the Commissioner as unwilling to work with Anyuak colleagues in that County and trying to create problems that may provoke unnecessary inter-tribal conflict in Akobo. Hence there is no security assurance or encouragement to build trust. What saves the situation now is the Anyuak have not returned to the town in numbers because their homesteads are occupied by the Nuer from Lou. They are waiting for favorable environment that the GoSS is expected to create. The establishment of civil administration was anticipated to make changes. The Commissioner (Doyak Chol) says something else in theory and does something different in practice at same time.
For example, in one of the Anyuak of Akobo meeting in Malakal in February this year with Doyak Chol concerning the Anyuak fate under his leadership he [Duyak Chol] admitted that what happened in 1983 was a mistake by James Sijin Banak. Doyak Chol stated that such inhuman act mistakes will not occur in the new Sudan and especially in his administration. Doyak Chol promised to work with Akobo citizens collectively to tackle all problems which are facing Akobo County. However, unfortunately, Doyak Chol, contrary to expectation he is intentionally set to open up the Anyuak unhealed wounds. He is trying to carry the Constitution of the GoSS, the Jonglie state law, Akobo regulations to satisfy his own people. Why is it not possible to carry the population of Akobo in its entirety. There must be a hidden agenda being executed secretly behind the scene against indigenous Anyuak people of Akobo. The County civil hierarchy needs immediate change to balance. Why dwell with the Lou Nuer alone in county official affairs? Does this ring a bell of peace? Mr.Doyak is defying the South Sudan constitution, because he is above the law.
This message is for the Government of South Sudan leaders to carefully be more vigilant and have a glance at what is going on in Akobo before is too late. Moreover, about 6 Anyuak were murdered by Lou Nuer in Akobo under Mr. Doyak Chol leadership. This incident remained uninvestigated; this is a direct contradiction to his vivid promises to Anyuak people in Malakal in less than a year. Because there is no accountability or investigation ever been done against those who have committed human right crimes in Southern Sudan, in general, or in Akobo in particular, it is that those in strategic positions have licenses to do what they want. No one should be allowed or have impunity to slayer innocent people and walk away under the Comprehensive Peace Agreement. The twenty two years conflict between Anyuak of Akobo and the settlers Lou Nuer (mor clan) must not go unsolved now that the wider civil war is over. Seeing the GoSS going far afield is neglecting what is more important at home.
The Southern Sudan chief mediators, instead of being eager to achieve a durable peace in Northren Uganda must bring peace here first. For the people of South Sudan to be at permanent peace IDPs must be helped to go home first to their original homelands. We have seen recently the GoSS and UN escorted the Dinka Bor IDPs on their journey back home from Western Equatoria. That mechanism should be used to solve unsettled tribal and inter-clans conflicts like Akobo issue specifically. The LRA will not move freely in Equatoria if the populations there have seen the presence of a government among them. Even if the GoSS succeeds to bring peace to Northern Uganda without peace among the nationalities in Equatoria time would have been wasted because of no solid base to support the peace at home.
*Lero O. Odola is in the USA, Student at Minnesota State University; can be reached at: email@example.com