By: John Bith Aliap, Adelaide, South Australia
December 24, 2011 (SSNA) — The death of George Athor Deng, one of the most wanted men in the Republic of South Sudan came as high-quality news, but his death in reality can rather be viewed in different angles depending with groups concerned in the equation. Athor’s death in truth propels a differing message to different groups of people.
For instance, to South-Sudanese, especially people of Fangak, Athor’s death, is a major victory and a sense of complacency, to Khartoum regime, a significance gust, to his family and friends, a lost of a love one, to Kuol Manyang, a sense of break, to his council of movement, the so-called South Sudan Democratic Movement (SSDM/A), a chance of leadership contest.
Before I can go any further, I would like to express my sincere happiness to our gallant SPLA forces for the job well done. Although the death of human being is not something that can morally and ethically be celebrated, the killing of Athor signifies the fulfillment of SPLA’s constitutional responsibility to provide adequate security to South Sudanese citizens, protection of territorial integrity, response to external aggression and protection of national sovereignty. This is what the people of South Sudan have been longing for since the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA).
The current episodes across the borders of South Sudan are always engineered by Khartoum regime. Historically, it has been widely documented that the regime in Khartoum has been a focal supplier of rebels groups fighting the infant government of South Sudan in terms of arms, finance, training and also accommodation. Khartoum has always done these archaic strategies to further its evil aims in South Sudan despite, South Sudan being a sovereign country. The abruptly death of George Athor Deng, a budding tool for South Sudan destabilization program, would not be a typical news Khartoum would want to hear. Although the SPLA has recently managed to kill Athor in Morobo County, Khartoum regime will likely nominate another ruthless leader to continue the fight against people of South Sudan.
In fact, majority of people in South Sudan, particularly people of Fangak where Athor’s rebellion took highest tolls amidst innocent civilians, have a cause to rejoice Athor’s death. The death of this notorious man has provided a sense of complacency to many people in South Sudan. Athor in reality has been a source of social, political and economic volatility in the Republic of South Sudan following the end of 2010 national election that gave birth to his current orphanage movement.
Unlike other governors who have been busy enjoying their governorship’s amenities, Kuol Mangang has rarely enjoy his governorship post due to various challenges Athor has presented to his leadership. Athor has repeatedly claimed that his forces will soon attack Jonglei capital Bor, and that his supporters are even within the capital. These threats have frequently leave Kuol Manyang in a psychotic state, and possibly forces him to be suspicious about anything that impinges into his space. But now Athor has gone, Kuol Manyang will likely celebrate Athor’s death, although he has sarcastically extended a condolence message to Athor’s family this week.
Whether you agree with me or not, the principle motives behind people joining visionless rebel movement is cheaply to get a top position in the government, and also to pillage public resources without accountability. In this respect, the death of Athor may provide a political vacuum within his movement’s leadership council. I suspect that there may be some sort of tensions amongst members of Athor’s movement since they are all akin to lead the movement. What will happen in Athor’s orphanage movement remains to be observed in few coming days or months.
Athor should carry his own cross since he took up arms against his own people and particularly government he has hardly fought for to establish during the past years for unfounded grounds. In a democratic system, leaders are not permissible to impose themselves upon people, and I believe this has been one of the causes we took up arms in the first place during our decades of struggle with the north. Athor has ignored every part of democratic process, and instead took a wrong path that caused his life.
On the other hand, the death of Athor has clearly thrown a positive message to blood thirst government in Khartoum that South Sudan is competence enough to arrest, kill, or capture any agents of destabization should they come to the Republic of South Sudan. The government of the Republic of South Sudan, especially its army is capable of bringing the enemies of state such as late George Athor to justice. The South Sudan Army (SPLA) cannot compatibly be compared to Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) which fought, and is currently fighting with a quite number of rebels groups and botched to arrest kill or capture any single rebel leader.
As it has been reinstated by our vice president Dr. Riek Machar, the only way for the left- behind forces of George Athor is to accept the current legally-binding amnesty offered by the president of the Republic of South Sudan Lt. Gen. Salva Kiir Mayardit. I urge all the rebels’ groups operating in South Sudan to come back home and contribute to the development of this young nation. In contrary, it has to be made clear otherwise that the only militia who survives is a militia who surrenders to SPLA and our history can prove this statement.
Rebellion in the past used to be rewarding, particularly with positive reciprocals, but now this trend has dramatically changed to some extent that it can now yield negative results as seen in Athor’s case. Athor had intentionally rebelled hoping that he would be rewarded with a governorship position, a position he regarded as a ‘honey pot’. Governorship practically, has been a major source of Athor’s disappointment with the government of South Sudan.
Some analysts have previously pointed out that Athor’s death does not mean the end of insecurity in South Sudan. This statement undoubtedly tells our government in South Sudan that more Athors are likely to arise shortly and there needs to be contingent plans to encounter such challenges.
After all, what lesson or conclusion can we draw in all these demises that have taken place in Morobo County, starting from Abdellaraman Sule and now George Athor? Well, there are good lessons we have recently learned from different rebels groups operating in South Sudan. Some analysts have often claimed that many rebels’ movements in South Sudan are state-based and they do not pose any threat to Juba government. But now the death of George Athor in central Equatoria, Morobo County, seems to tell us a different message. The state of Central Equatoria which serves as a seat of the government of the Republic of South Sudan has now turned out to be a rebel paradise because of the above mentioned events. If the government of South Sudan fails to take a closer look into this state, I fear that the capital city Juba may witness a surprise rebel attack sooner rather than later.
The government of South needs to pursue a wider range of peace-based programs including amnesty, opening of a political space, reconciliation and more importantly, a significance relation with its people across the country. Athor’s rebellion was initiated in Jonglei state and it has now spread into other states.There is a genuine call for the government of South Sudan to provide various options of peace to warring factions, so that the people of South Sudan can have peace in their corridors.
The armed forces of South Sudan should remain on high alert, because there is a high possibility of reprisal attack, especially during the Christmas, given the death of George Athor. Since Athor’s forces always aim for civilian’s targets, the SPLA should beef up its presence in civilians populated areas to avert the possibility of civilians attack by desperate Athor’s forces. It has to be repeated that South Sudanese security forces should be on ‘high alert’ across the country to avert the risks that these rebel groups may create to civilians’ population.
In conclusion, the family, friends and community of George Athor Deng have no one to hold for culpability. Athor himself has been a principle author of his own crimes that resulted to his death. George Athor had initially made a wrong choice by abandoning a post of Deputy Chief of Staff at the national level and opts for governorship post at the state level, a post he thought as a free zone to pillage public resources as much as he wishes.
The government of South Sudan should attempt all the means available in its disposal to bring peace into this infant country, because unity amongst South Sudanese matters more than anything in this critical time of nation-building. Alternatively, rebels groups should also play their part by helping the government to reach the ultimate peace in the country. All the rebels groups currently operating in South Sudan should accept the amnesty and joint hands with their brothers and sisters in the quest of nation-building process.
The author of this work is a concerned South Sudanese citizen and can be corresponded at [email protected]