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Sudan Tribune

Plural news and views on Sudan

Southern Sudan insecurity

By Amos C. Ngueny

September 23, 2009 — The Southern Sudanese, particularly the innocent village civilians, are in a state of ambiguity over the increased insecurity situation in the region, so far worse than over the war period. This has left them contemplating on how possible, and under whose leadership, a tangible peace could be realized on ground in the South and presumably the whole Sudan. The worry by many Southerners is that, they will be the ones to derail their own self-determination referendum militarily.

The intentions behind most of these insecurity situations, so much prevalent in Jonglei state, have been disputed, with some articulating that the latest incident at Duk Padiet is already a rebellion in the making, while the government maintains that they are unknown gunmen. For ease and sincerity, Kuol Manayang Juuk, the state governor demanded the three counties of Uror, Nyirol and Akobo West to disclose those behind the plot, and on the other hand, civil society groups and peace observers have noted with grieve that, these are more organized and advanced invasions against the victim communities than at the level of tribes.

This on going situation, especially when the country tows towards general elections, will also entrench itself in making some permanent stains on Riek Machar, the current Vice President of the Government of Southern Sudan and a lobbying aspirant within the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement for presidency of the government in which he is currently the vice president. This is so, especially when Riek as known was a partner to Lam AKol, now the top-most leader for the splinter Sudan People’s Liberation Movement- Democratic Change (SPLM-DC), in brewing the 1991 split that pitted many Southerners. Some state natives perceive it as a new dawn of the gone split, and their faith in Machar is lost once again as detailed herein.

Of course, Riek can not be singled out among others with whom he could be graded, but, having condemned at the bottom of his heart the retaliatory attacks of Murle on Akobo recently in which about 160 people died, Machar’s silence on what is seen as an organized uprising rebel group sends out bad implications. If he could say all that people need on retaliatory attacks, he equally deserves all that triggered him to say the better, not only condemnation, about what is against his incumbent government. People are despaired on what Lou-Nuer,who one time were used by Machar to fight for power, want in their attacks and they then look back at the silent Machar.

In most of these rounds of armed fights against civilians, the Government of Southern Sudan hints that, these are connivations by the National Congress party to undermine peace and governance in Southern Sudan and translate it in to a region that can not rule itself. Now that Machar himself declared in close door meetings his need for candidacy even when Kiir, his party chairman has reservations in contesting for national presidency, this theory treats him badly. The public in this matter is ostensibly believing that, Machar is grapping these chances to bring in failures in the name of his senior, not knowing that, if anything, both are makers of these failures since they are the presidents and chairpersons of the same ruling SPLM.

It is wise enough to transparently and impartially give reliable positions in shaping the future of Southern Sudan. Therefore, Machar deserves support for his promise to investigate facts behind the retaliatory attacks of Pibor on Akobo. But, it seems, he wants to condone these acts when done by his people against others, otherwise, the Murle, though a turbulent minority and most often part of the northern-sponsored militia in the South, does not deserve such sanctions from the vice president if he could not condemn what they retaliated for; they could think they were targetted while known by Machar despite their guilt of first attacking.

In the other parts of Southern Sudan, Machar has ever been noted of condoning criminals. We all see that, the Greater Equatoria suffered – and continues to suffer – the insanity of the Ugandan Lord’s Resistance Army rebels. It has been prospected that, the rebels have been getting support from the Khartoum government in the times of war, and that when peace was signed, its atrocities could come to an end. Unfortunately, Equatoria region felt betrayed and not cared for when Machar, after LRA attacks in Nabanga and when Ugandan People’s Defense Forces deterred gun traffickers in Kapoeta last year, said the UPDF should be expelled from Southern Sudan and LRA should be given temporary refuge. Who does Machar think bears no nerves to transmit pain and agony as a person? Are the people of Equatoria his sacrifices to lift up Joseph Konyi in a bid to retrieve relations of their Lafon talks?

However, what took the public by surprise was when he met Tanginnye, a major general in the Sudan Armed Forces, and released him with contradictory statements. Gabriel Tanginye is wanted by the Government of Southern Sudan for inciting violent clashes in Upper Nile, in which over 150 people died in 2006. When he returned to the area amidst cautions that, he should not visit the area for being part and parcel of instability, Tang’s coming led to another outbreak of heavy clashes between the Joint Integrated Units allied to the SAF and those allied to the SPLA February this year. Machar went to purportedly calm the situation at a time when the president of Sudan, Omar Bashir was in Juba, and he succeeded.

Machar made some brief talks with Tang and convinced him to live Malakal so that peace prevails, but later, he said the arrest of Tang was a “complicated matter”, simply because he is a general in SAF and can only be handed over by the commander-in-Chief of SAF to the GoSS if need there be. The wonder here is whether he is not part of the GoSS that wanted Tang or does it make sense for the vice-President to slay his government designed policy after first giving an approval? These cracks from the top reflect the suffering of the innocent civilians in Southern Sudan!

The SPLM as a ruling party in the South is being criticized on many issues; some of which are true realities of our contemporaneous coordinate while others are slangs maneuvered to slander its competitive advantage. But a lot of people share with it the faith of liberation to The Promised Land; that we shall see either an independent South or a Democratic Secular Sudan of Justice and Equality for all, although the gravity of secession is high. The easiest Machar could do is to shy down from the on going power debate so as to adequately consolidate his position and clear off his brand of wrangle in power even with the late leader. It will so much be ugly to again see him gearing now with Garang’s deputy when he one time fall out with Garang, and he would wrongly be taken as moving to get power. By doing so, he will restore public trust at this critical moment and shall be the one to bring back the skewed image of his party after the referendum.

The victims of such organized invasions from LRA and the so-called militia, especially Equatoria and Jonglei in particular, must look back to enable them determine their present and the future. They have to look at the peace they quest for at their expenses and also imagine who among their children shall one day see that peace. Will they not be finished by the LRA and Nuer militia before that peace! I know they could be the bases of the SPLM and the GoSS that, if they look else where further, that will be the day of failure of Kiir’s government. But Kiir need to address this rebellion in the making if he wants them to retain faith.

The writter is a researcher of Biochemistry and Human Psychology at Kenyatta University, Nairobi. he can be reached at [email protected]