By Manasseh Zindo
September 24, 2010 — The ongoing Peace Conference in Yambio, the capital of Western Equatoria State meant to reconcile the leaders of the State and some of the rival tribes in the State have been turned into a charade of any sensible reconciliation by any standard, despite of course the noble intention which the conference was meant to achieve. The Governor of the State, Mr. Joseph Bangasi Bakosoro, a man I have known and admired over the years is a man of reconciliation; no doubt he initiated the conference in an attempt to reconcile the inhabitants of the State and those who became bitter rivals during the last general election. The governor himself bitterly contested against the former governor Madam Jemma Kumba, so when I learnt of the reconciliation and the fact that Madam Jemma was willing to attend, I was thrilled as a concerned son of the State that our leaders were coming together.
The issues and circumstances that led the Governor and his colleagues in my view to call the gathering was political, thus a political will was essential in achieving any meaningful reconciliation, therefore, it required that all the stakeholders in the politics of Western Equatoria State should have been invited for a true reconciliation to take place, and those involved should have accepted participation in good faith. I know from my conversation with the Governor during his last visit to Kampala that he had opened up, forgot the past and called the conference in good faith. He even encouraged some of us to turn up.
However, the conference is nothing but a sham not from the governors’ side, but those who coordinated the gathering has made it a mockery of reconciliation. I wonder if the governor was aware that such a conference with noble intent was being turned into a deception. Why do I call it a hoax reconciliation many might ask? From the arrival of participants, the conduct of some leading SPLM luminaries in the States and the manner in which invitation were circulated, manifest that the conference had been hijacked by anti-reconciliation forces and were out in full force to curtail the conference. I can confidently claim that they (anti-peace) have achieved their goal which was to curb the conference and the gathering in Yambio is nothing but a waste of human resource, time and tax-payers money.
Information emerging from Yambio indicate that the fever of the election was displayed again at the Yambio airstrip when the supporters of the former Governor turned in her campaign t-shirts chanting “Jemma for Governor” to welcome her which infuriated the supporters of the incumbent who was at the airstrip to receive the guests as well, and nearly the armed forces were to arrest the supporters of Madam Jemma but it took the intervention of the governor to avert any ugly scene.
Clearly there were anti-peace forces behind this attempt to spoil the good intention which Madam Jemma and Bakosoro have, and which is to work together. I only wonder whether Madam Jemma was aware of this development ahead of her arrival. The anti-reconciliation forces behind this attempt do not want Madam Jemma to work with Bakosoro although Madam Jemma and Bakosoro have publicly indicated the need for unity and reconciliation in Western Equatoria State. The question is who is playing the cat-and-mouse game at the expense of peace, reconciliation and political development in the State?
To ensure that the reconciliation and unity gathering in Yambio is not a success, the anti-peace forces worked to bloc and undermine certain leaders from attending the conference through either late delivery of invitation letters or through other trickery measures meant at frustrating leaders not knowing that the State was humiliating itself as the conference fail short in meeting standard of a government protocol. For example the Speaker of Southern Sudan Legislative Assembly Hon James Wani Igga was invited but Anthony Makana, the area MP representing Yambio at the Juba based assembly wasn’t invited or got the invitation late.
It’s unusual in government systems unless in southern Sudan where the unusual occurs that a speaker can be invited to a peace conference in a constituent of his MP, with out the MP being invited. This deliberate plan to isolate Mr. Anthony Makana from the peace conference was meant to undermine him. This I understanding made Hon Wani Igga to question why Makana wasn’t present. Isn’t this an orchestrated sketch by the anti-peace forces in Western Equatoria State to collide Makana and Bakosoro at early stage? Again although Brigadier Patrick Zamoi, a leading figure in the affairs of the State was present in Yambio, he was not invited to the reconciliation gathering. Among those who were suppose to have been invited are those who contested for the various elective posts at the State and GoSS level and lost but feels they were rigged out, and still hold grudges. Their views of such leaders help for future rectification. What a mockery of any reconciliation?
In my view as I conclude, the ant-peace forces are in the two camps of Mama Jemma and Bakosoro plus a third part who is interested in power and want to see the two leaders out, so it’s all unto the two leaders to identify these rots and disassociate from them. There can never be reconciliation when leaders undermine each other because each leader has supporters, so I would like urge the governor Joseph Bakosoro to take charge of crucial matters in the State such as organizing important and noble gathering as such, so that anti-unity and peace do not have a platform in Western Equatoria. It’s of no doubt that the anti-peace forces in the State want to bring Bakoroso down by pitting him against fellow leaders and those who supported him in his ascendency to power, and to curtail his intention of making WES a prosperous State.
The writer is a son of Western Equatoria State and holds BA in Mass Communication & MA in Peace Studies & International Relations. He can be reached at [email protected]