August 28, 2011 (SSNA) — It is unfortunate that Col Philip Aguer Panyang, the SPLA spokesperson has said that the deployment of SPLA troops to Jonglei State require further study and operational arrangement yet the situation in Jonglei is fluid and near boiling point. The order of the president of the Republic of South Sudan, his Excellency Gen. Kiir Mayardit on the deployment of troops to Jonglei state to quell the intra tribal conflict which has led to the death of over 1500 innocent citizens from both sides is very timely. To me I think the word that was released last week from SPLA GHQ is purely a demonstration of lack of proper situational analysis to underestimate the looming danger and could be a delaying tactic that will throw the region to criminals.
My understanding to the president’s order is that the SPLA is the only military organ on the land to protect civilians and their properties against any kind of aggression at any given time. I thought that the SPLA should be the first organ in the government to know this better and could have taken the president’s order with seriousness that it deserves to bring about lasting peace in the affected communities Why should we allow our people to continue killing themselves when we need them to reconstruct and develop this country?
As a Citizens of the Republic of South Sudan particularly Jonglei State, I think that if the government mean it purely to protect the communities in Jonglei state and their properties then the government should deploy special security organs in Pibor, Akobo, Uror, Nyirol, Duk, Twice East and Bor South counties with their operational headquarters at Gadiang where three or more military helicopters should be made available to fly over the conflict affected counties on daily basis until the situation calms down and until the government get alternative way to disarm the criminals in the affected communities.
They should also begin to work with community vigilantes or civilian groups in the affected areas to inject sense of law, order and respect to other people’s rights instead of dwelling on the nitty gritty of the situation at hand to save the innocent lives in Jonglei state and especially from the looming escalation of killings in the region. We do not need debates or arguments at such a time at all because the issue at hand is grave and requires urgent intervention as proposed by his Excellency President Gen. Kiir Mayardit.
Already 1500 citizens have lost their lives from two sides in this conflict and if we fail to move in now to implement the president’s order, it will be utterly a big mistake on our part if more killings of innocent citizens take place.
The Army exists to defend the citizens from all kinds of invasion, which is expressly authorized by our transitional Constitution. Guarding the local community’s peaceful coexistence is the primary duty of our Army. Soldiers are ideally trained to guard remote areas of the nation.
Let us all rise to the occasion to resist these law breakers who for many years have been referred only as cattle raiders and abductors but are in actual fact criminals who make rural areas and their populations unsafe and therefore dangerous for development activities currently undertaken by the international and national organizations working in the country.
I know a lot has been said by the local communities living in the State regarding the conflict in the region. For example during our security assessment mission in Pibor, Uror, Nyirol, Duk, Twice east and Akobo in May 2011, members of the local communities alleged that the conflict in the region is politically motivated by some elements in the government and the SPLA for their own selfish gains.
Majority of our respondents complained of lack of strong commitment and negative promises from the government to bring lasting peace in the region as manifested by the SPLA spokesperson in his response to the president’s decree. We all know that the role of the SPLA is to protect the citizens and their property as contained in our transitional constitution. If the army cannot protect the citizens during these difficult times what then is the use of having the army in the first place. Col. Philip should be reminded that the SPLA army is paid from the tax money paid by the very people who are dying due to insecurity in Jonglei. If they do not stop these massacres where do they expect to get their salaries from after the same tax payers have been killed?
It’s the responsibility of SPLA to hasten the deployment of troops to Jonglei state in order to support the government efforts to stop further outbreaks of inter communal violence. The safety and security of all people of South Sudan must come first and foremost above all other things. Nothing should stop our forces from defending the rights of the citizens of the republic of South Sudan.
As a peace maker in the region for the last 6 years working in collaboration with Pact Sudan, experience has shown me that delayed interventions in intra tribal conflict affected communities has always led to a vicious circle of mass killing and destruction of property. Our work in the region has not been easy either. We have gone through many agonies to bring about lasting peace to the affected communities in vain. Our efforts have faced many obstacles such as lawlessness, lack of support from the state military wing and funds and yet we stand ready to redouble our reconciliation efforts to support the government, state authority and the SPLA with all their efforts to ensure peace and stability are restored in the region.
If the government should fail to act swiftly on the current Lou Nuer, Murle and Dinka conflict, there is great fear among the local residents in the region that the Lou Nuer could go out in their full scale to wipe out Pibor County from the map of Jonglei state as they revenge over the killings of their people.
This is the reason why I’m strongly appealing to the president not to sleep at all now that he has given out his presidential orders to bring about peace and sobriety in the region.
President, I would like to inform you that not all who say independence, independence are happy with the new developments in our country’s political dispensation. You need to guard the gains you have made politically and militarily jealously. I should be very happy to see this order implemented for the sake of fellow country men and women from Jonglei state who have suffered for the last 21 years. We must separate the sheeps from the wolves in our new republic otherwise the anti peace elements may be working behind the scene to frustrate your efforts from within. You need to watch out because the whole world is watching you.
It’s also in my view to tell the communities of the greater Lou Nuer, Dinka and Murle communities that they too need to be sober now that our country is independent and if they have issues with each other they must learn to discuss their problems rather than inflicting fear, pain and intimidation amongst their own brothers and sisters.
I do also wish to extend my advice to the youth of the Republic of South Sudan and particularly the greater Lou Nuer, Dinka and Murle to refrain from reckless activities which is likely to cause untold sufferings amongst our people. They should learn to embrace each other in order to attract development in the region.
Our communities have gone through very hard times and we have lost many people in our struggles that do not need further killings in post independent South Sudan. As a peace maker in the region I would be very happy to see the SPLA run with haste to implement the presidential orders that aims at building peaceful coexistence and unity in the country for it’s through peaceful coexistence and unity that this country should be positioned to compete with other countries in the world politically, socially, militarily and economically.
Finally, I would also like to call upon our top military officers to consider serious meetings with the community leaders, Churches leaders, women group leaders and NGOs in Jonglei State to find lasting solutions.
The author lives in South Sudan; he is the Executive Director of the Upper Nile Youth Mobilization for Peace and Development Agency, and he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.