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Dinka council of elders deny negative role in South Sudan war

President Salva Kiir Kiir with members of the Dinka (JIENG) Council of Elders in March 2015 (Photo Moses Lomayat)
December 6, 2017 (JUBA) - The Jieng (Dinka) Council of Elders (JCE) has denied playing any negative role in the conflict, questioning rationality behind calls for its dissolution.

Ambrose Riiny Thiik, the JCE head told Sudan Tribune on Tuesday that his group was not the problem but a force looking for how best the conflict in the country could be resolved without importing foreign interest in the name of regime change.

“There are people calling for the Council to be disbanded. Such voices are acting out of emotions. They are not rational. They have no basis and it is clear from the way they make the demands that they do not know what they are talking about," said Thiik.

"There is freedom of association in the constitution. So what they are saying is that the President should violate the constitution for them to come out against and start making their accusations against every person they wanted to act. This is what it means,” he further added.

The Dinka tribal body has been accused of ruling the country and taking decisions in its regular meetings aiming to ensure the tribe control over the country. They are also allegedly playing the role of arbitration body to settle the inter Dinka differences and to cement the group’s cohesion.

The former chief justice said his group was working around the clock to ensure peace and stability return to the country through peaceful means, not by the use of violence to affect the change.

“The stance of the Council has always been clear. The changes others are advocating should not be through violence. The power belongs to the people of South Sudan and it is the people to decide who they want to be the president. They voted for the current president in 2010 and it is through the same process that we say in the council that people should be allowed to make their judgment again. It should be done through shortcuts for some people to get to the power. No. it is never done that way and this is what the council is very clear in the process. It is never done that way. Replacement of the government through illegal means has never been a good thing. It sets a bad precedent,” he explained.

The head of the tribal group was reacting to voices through national dialogue subcommittee which went to Uganda last month to gather views on how the conflict should be resolved. The views expressed at consultative meetings with refugees in northern Uganda had called for disbandment of the council, accusing it of having played a negative role in the eruption and continuation of the current war.

Deng Dau Malek, head of the national subcommittee for refugees said through a statement released to the public upon conclusion of the consultations with refugees that one of the demands of the refugees was the call on the government and president Salva Kiir in particular to disband the Dinka council of elders.