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The polarized political dimensions in South Sudan’s conflict

By Francis Ayul Yuar Nyok

June 30, 2014 - The Dec 15th 2013/2014 failed coup attempt in the capital city of Juba was instigated and led by several elements that are still by large controversial and kamikaze to say the least. The SPLM ruling party is believed to have some political and constitutional challenges since Independence. The party has not found its political consensus of how the party should modified its national political view on the vision and the system of governance: Political Analyst and Ethicists has analyzed current political developments in the country with an effort to shade logical understanding of how best to save lives of innocents’ civilians being targeted across the war affected States. No one doubt the resilience efforts consolidated and directed by the Government in the person of the President and his team to restore peace and stability. Worse than this would have happened had it not been for the good citizen’s support to the police and other security forces. We must accept, mistakes have happened, during this unnecessary brutal war which could have been avoided.

These mistakes were committed by individuals in the name of protecting a Government they had perceived as their tribal inheritance. We must safeguard this beautiful country from slipping in to the State of anarchy in the hand of few zealots. The mentioned three polarized political views in the conflict remained playing a greater role in the direction in which conflict is perceived. This trend has raised concerns to peace loving citizens across the nation, therefore, asking in good faith, the anointed stakeholders that amicable national political front be put in place by both portfolios while it is still at their reach since they claimed the custodianship of this country. The observed three or four political dimensions in the conflict, although there may be other political views expressed previously by other likeminded, such as Federal State outcry, the Collegial Presidency (CP) and many other views. The following are the Elites’ dimensions of the conflict, the Tribal and the International communities’ dimension. They are not absolutely exhaustive, thus, leaving room for other observers to add their opinions. Below we shall discuss only the three of each heading, examine its political and social implications in the current conflict.

1. The Elites’ Dimensions in the Conflict
The elites, well paid Public servants in the capital, Juba and other Cities in the Republic of South Sudan knew that the Dec 15th 2013 Coup attempt was caused by a mere SPLM political rivalry. Being the ruling party in the country, its constitutional malfunction and rivalry over the directions and the leadership of the party caused a country great deal of suffering that is yet to be resolved. The elites dismissed at face value any attempt to describe this conflict as a tribal fights. It was not a tribal coup attempt, said by one of the elites, or else, why on earth would a mixed personnel from various ethnics’ background end up in one basket?”. The supporters, responded with applaud, tears rolling down their cheeks. The elites knew well that this is what is required in the cities to ensure peace and order in the world’s youngest nation. So we embraced it with little if at all there is any time to synthesis. This has served as chiaroscuro in the minds and the hearts of the City dwellers. The same message was rushed to villages and Payams in both Upper Nile States and other Regions of South Sudan. Diasporas were happy at first, seeing the President addressing the nation and making things apparent, many good Citizens of South Sudan hold their breath in an exclamation relief, “at least weren’t going the Rwanda’s way”. Why were elites rushing to such precise conclusion?, because they knew if they delayed it could be too late in a country where ethnicity and tribal stereotype has robbed it from her beautiful national Identity. It is assumed that since British left Sudan in 1956 perhaps, most if not all Southern tribes’ lives relatively in their exclusive identity as different nations, foreign to each other. Perhaps British Colonial Government has failed to cohesively bring South Sudanese tribes together under one national identity. It was part of what apparently broke Anya- nya I into regional bandits and subsequently to its failures in uniting the internal front against the Islamic Arab dominated Regime in Khartoum. The same characteristics were also felt and perhaps witnessed in 1983 disagreements between the Anya nya II, whose mission was the liberation of South Sudan, as opposed to the SPLA/M whose vision and mission was the liberation for the whole Sudan from the “Arab-Islamic minority Clique Regime in Khartoum”. The elites’ explanations appeared both logical and rational, considering the intertwined social-political implications had we failed to follow that path. Moreover, actors in persons of Mr. Gier Chuang d’e Aluong, Dr.Majak D’ Agoot, Tong Mayai,Dr.Cirino Hiteng,ofuho Dr.Adwok Nyaba, Nyandeng d’e Garang, Deng d’e Alor, Mabior d’e John Garang, Afred Lodu Gore, Pagan Amum Okec, Oyai Deng Ajak,Madut d’e Biar Ezekial Lul Gatkuoth,etc, are not from Dr. Riek’s community nor are they all Dinkas. This is all we know and assumed everybody has been made to know. In view of this situation, the crisis management committee, CMC was formed to disseminate this political view across the country. Sadly, as it’s appeared later, CMC fall short at its ethno-regional politics and had to be dissolved before it becomes another saga in a country tainted with massive corruptions and tribal political exclusivity.

2. The International Community’s dimension in the Conflict
The international community has their own views and concerns, although not shared by all of them in regards to east and the west. There is an international Community’s political dimension in the conflict that cannot be ignored; my point is not to pass verdict between sinners and the saints(Rome 3:23), But citizen deserved rights to understand the controversial discourse in view of this shameful bloody conflict caused by mere selfish and greedy leaders of our nation. West in particular saw South Sudan as their new baby born when Peace began moving faster in 2002, and right after the Independence. They recall their heavy financial and political investments during the peace process. The American, the British, the Canadian and their ally in the region contributed to the success of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (C.P.A). The American Evangelical Churches in particular has given all they could for South Sudan to achieve Peace in 2005. They had their fears and reservation initially when movement first begun in 1983, fearing its socialist identity. It was out of that fear that the America did not support in the beginning since we had strong base in Ethiopia, until Dr. John Garang had to make his political paradigm shift clear. Until than did the Evangelicals soften their stands and start contacts with the movement’s leaders in the early of 1994 in the person of the American Republican party members. The acrobat of peace negotiation process in Kenya and subsequence signing of Peace came as result of this political paradigm shift phenomenon. US took great courage to confront what they perceived as the Islamic Trojan horse incandescent in the war. North and the South Sudan Conflict dimension changed in favor of the SPLA, by virtue, South was in favor of American because of its Christian Character, a blessing South Sudan’s Government has decided to apostatize after the independence. West expects South Sudan to consult in issues of global trade; foreign policy and oil Industry. The American claimed of having the legacy of the first oil discovery in South Sudan’s region of Upper Nile State in 1978 seems to have given them the divine right to demands if not given. South Sudan’s government fall between the rocks and hard places, found China had already entered partnership with President Omer Hassan Al Bashir in areas of Oil Exploration, Production and Exportation. It has been observed that, most African countries inherited, at independence, a set of transplanted colonial institutions of Governance that guide them in the early stages of their social, political, and economic development. South Sudan was, in contrast, born out of bitter history of internal Colonialism and humiliations. In this regards, needed to respects her counterpart in ensuring that (C.P.A) is fully implemented in returns, at the same time is in bad need of hard currency to establish a nation from crash, while continue to play safe with her hostile counterpart. Therefore Abrogating Chinese-Sudan Oil contracts in favor of America would have had us both political and economical repercussions which South Sudan does not want at that early stage. Here President Salva Kiir deserved a recognition of his unshakeable wisdom in paddling his Boat a midst dark storms. He knew there were unreconciled figures of 50% and the 26.5% oil sharing revenue South is receiving. The continuation of Chinese Oil companies in monopoly of all our Oil industry in South Sudan by large did not only influence the economic ties between two countries, but equally resulted into what West see as South Sudan’s political paradigm shift back to its old socialist past. This is perhaps South Sudan’s unforgiving sin of Adam a fresh. West saw our move as slap in the face, disappointment to their good intentions and support they has rendered during the war. History confirmed that such attitude is not knew, west always sees Africa as free territorial Game park, ready to be control and exploits with less regards to its inhabitants. Current western proposed political settlement in Addis through Regional led body,’ IGAD talk and behavior can only be compared with Biblical King Solomon’s child Court case. Both proposals of the interim Government of national Unity in the absence of justice to those killed is another culture of impunity acculturated in to the history of internal bitter wars and humiliations, setting a precedence that the many you kill, the high you climb the ladder in South Sudan. It is absurd to observe that without this current political crisis; still western ally would have continue with their imperialist advise and suggestions of how the country should be run as if South Sudan is one of their small Island to test their democratic experiments. African has been known to always blame, point-fingers, but never take responsibility for their own making; therefore it is time for South Sudanese to take charge of their mess.

3. Ethnic’s dimensions in the conflict
Another dimension in this current conflict that cannot be ignored is the aspect of tribal elements introduced into conflict by both actors. Dr. Riek and his team knew very well that the only attractive message that reached the ears and the hearts of the White army has to be reinforced with the notion that depicted the Dinkas in general with less regards to their diverse political views. This was very mistake Dr. Riek and his so called White army in 1991 war of factionalism committed. Padang community had to pay a price they do not deserve. Of course most of these White armies don’t come to towns often to be able to know how many of the Sons and daughters of Naath community are in Government’s high positions. They were made to believe that Dinkas have killed all the Nuers in Juba, disrespected us by removing Dr. Riek Machar from the position of vice President. “We must take back what is ours” our rights, our dignity and our divinely given equilibrium. Dr. Riek Machar in his public rally in Nazir, two months after conflict irrupted made it explicit to the innocent peace loving Jikeny community that he is fighting to restore Naath’s historic pride. This move was counterfeited by neighboring communities of Padang in Upper Nile State, fearing that they are being targeted because of their Ethnic affiliation. Their logical arguments were, if Nuers are avenging the death of their Sons and daughters claimed to have been killed in Juba? Why attacking Malakal,Renk,Melut, Bor and Panriang in Unity State? Are these Counties within the geographical location of Juba? Did these communities shared in the death of Naath’s Sons and daughters in Juba? The answer to the above questions is obviously not, then why attacking them? Why killing innocents’ men, women, children and old with less respect to more than 200 years of coexistence since LatJor’s migration from the west bank of the Nile in 1629?.This throws fresh memories of 1968, 1983 and the subsequence of 1991 Baliet massacres under the pretext of White army proxy wars of extermination, “nothing change, this is a tribal war”. We are Dinkas, and must pay the eternal sin of our ancestors in Juba;. The same tribal call was repeated in Bentiu in which over 400 non Naath unarmed civilians brutally killed based on their ethnic nationalities. The order to Targets non Naath Ethnic was aired, announced and preached during the parade to the soldiers in Bentiu. We saw the devastating effect of this tribal dimension in the conflict as mentioned already. The Padang Community on the other hands hit the roads and had to mobilize for the same reasons after witnessing the massacre of over 470 civilians in Baliet County on the 3rd Feb 2014. Due to this bloody tribal trend in the conflict, our communities now got themselves in the middle of depending a country and their tribal territory.

As examined above, situation like this has change the conflict’s direction and perceptions in Upper Nile, Jonglei and Unity State leaving little if any to be desire for peaceful coexistence in the future. This political dichotomy is real. We must accept this reality in our midst instead of pretending in denial. Let’s find common remedy base on honesty in moving this country forward. Any country build on fault foundation don’t last long. How do we correlate and reconciles these three or more political dimensions? Who will tell the trust about the nature and the character in which this conflict has developed? As observed early, majority of the youth in the conflict zones knew nothing of SPLM’s Party problem in Juba. They only know that our people were said to have been killed in Juba, thus, I join the war to revenge their death. In such perception, it is a conflict between ethnic “A” and ethnic “B” why because my Mum has been killed by Ethnic B. Therefore, the Cognitive questions that stamped up than is, who will give youth the Elites’ view of conflict in Upper Nile State?. I predestined that this divine truth may not be easy to tell since elites carry both the Bible and the Qu’ran, They preach water but drink wine. Third political paradigm shift therefore has had its devastating political and social-economic impact in the communities of Upper Nile State.

In Conclusion, Unless the raised polarized political views are corrected, correlated and balance, peace and reconciliation will take little chance to prevail in the greater Upper Nile State. It is a work of any national conscious political leader to embark upon healing, unity and reconciliation to bring the nation together in these political odds. ANC Leaders of South Africa faced similar situation in 1994 after the apartheid rule, choosing between dwellings in the past or forgiving and move the nation forward with its racial-political diversity. Upper Nile State Government in particular and South Sudan in general may need to do the same, putting the country first, tribe second. Our communities must be challenge to accept this hard truth that this isn’t their war; rather it is the SPLM party’s war, the war of elites in Juba. Few of my colleagues in the Upper Nile State cabinet stood against this ethnicized political view for the greater good of all. It is because of the efforts exerted by these few heroic individuals, most of the White army deserted front in Nasir and join their love ones. “Long live the Upper Nile State, South Sudan Oyee, Unity is strength”.

The author is a former Minister of Petroleum, Mining and Industry, Upper Nile State. He can be reached at. francisnyok@yahoo.com