Kuol Manyang Juuk: A typical governor of dead, wounded and displaced persons in the state of Jongulei

By: John Bith Aliap, Adelaide, South Australia

January 27, 2012 (SSNA) — The immoral activities which we have witnessed in Jongulei state ever since the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) have distinctively breed a sense of doubts whether the government of South Sudan has an ability to control its citizens when it comes to a real meaning of national sovereignty. The map of Jongueli state has categorically been made full of dead, wounded and displaced persons because of frequent fighting between the Dinka, Nuer and Murle ethnic communities. I am anxious to say that the present cycle of violence in Jongulei, if not urgently stopped, will serve as an icon of the new Republic of South Sudan since it has yet to market its newly-founded identity at the regional and international realms after its independence on the 9th of July in 2011.

When we speak candidly about this issue, the dreadful  events which are currently taking place in Jongueli state have possibly provided an opportunity in which the ability of Jongulei’s state government and the national government of South Sudan in Juba can be viewed and judged by the people of South Sudan and the international community at large. The Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) was primarily anticipated as an agreement jam-packed with hopes, joys, jubilations and opportunities in the entire country, but in the state of Jongulei where killing rules the daily interactions, this concept is exceptionally far from reality.

The news of massive displacements, deaths and the state hospitals filled-up with wounded persons have almost become the norms of the day in Jongulei state as we speak! However, all these kind of awful proceedings can possibly encourage any concerned South Sudanese inside or outside the country to argue that the state governor Kuol Manyang Juuk has conclusively become a typical governor, governing the wounded, dead and displaced persons as the above mentioned events take place on the daily basis in Jongulei state.

In a state inhibited by the Dinka, Nuer and Murle, whose hostilities are widely documented in the history of South Sudan, the present situation in Jongulei state can be a matter of veracity. The existing government of Kuol Manyang has turned out to be a liability that can not effectively manage these aggressive and hostile tribes, and if urgent action is not taken, the state of Jongulei will convincingly become ungovernable with far reaching consequences than its present state. whilst the state government has already made a series of requests from local, national, regional and international bodies in its quest to restore law and order in the state, these bodies in my view can not genuinely bring a culturally – appropriate resolution to this chronic problem as it is what is needed now to bring this ethnic-based conflict to an end.

The United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNIMISS) which the state and national governments sarcastically hoped to bring a   decisive solution to this ongoing problem between the Nuer, Murle and Dinka ethnic communities in Jongulei state can not be of any help at this hour. The national government of South Sudan in collaboration with the traditional local chiefs, youth leaders, women representatives, spiritual leaders, state government and perhaps, other peace-loving organizations should roll their sleeves and full their socks mutually in an attempt to bring the ultimate and long lasting peace in Jongulei state.

Although the international intervention has something to offer in terms of peace realization amongst these feuding ethnic communities, this intervention can not be regarded by state and the national governments as a primary source of conflict – resolution; rather it can be understood and hopped as a secondary source of resolution to Jongulei state‘s historically – rooted conflict which claimed many lives. 

Despite this gigantic failure of state and the national  governments to bring peace to Jongulei state, the alternative solution can still be found if these two governments and other concerned groups are serious enough to bring realistic changes in Joungulei state. First and for most, both state and the national governments should take a primary responsibility in this case to establish a buffer zone between these communities. The establishment of buffer zone can potentially prevent mobility of population between these warring communities. In most cases, problems between ethnic communities in Jongulei state always stem out from mobility of population, and if the mobility of population is ideally contained through buffer zone, this will in turn reduce the risks of potential attacks by a grieving community or communities given the current rate of death toll, abduction and displacement. The government of Jongulei and the national government in Juba should consider the establishment of buffer zone as a necessity to reduce the intensity of conflict.

Second, when the buffer zone is successfully established and the dusts of war have utterly settled, than the state and the national governments should without delay conduct a timely, targeted and coordinated disbarment operation in all the communities across Jongulei state. This concept of universal disbarment approach can potentially reduce the likelihood of retribution amongst the warring communities. The government should be warned that it has to evade its previous method when it disarmed some communities and leave other communities with arms to attack the disarmed, vulnerable and defenseless communities. Duk county and other Lou-Nuer localities are our contemporary examples. The previous disbarment campaign in Jongulei state would be considered as a failed policy since it fall-short to accomplish its intended purpose which is peace and tranquility. The previous disbarment failed because it was poorly planned and it has incontrovertibly provided incentive to the current situation in Jongulei state.

Third, since the number of abducted children and stolen cattle is very high, given the frequency of the attacks amongst the ethnic communities in Jongulei state, the return of these stolen cattle and abducted children would provide a sense of respite and complacency to members of these communities; and it can likely reduce the level of anger and provide a platform for a meaningful and realistic reconciliation process. The disbarment campaign  should not only focus on collecting fire arms from the civilians, but it should also involve  the return of stolen cattle and abducted children as these factors are central to the present conflict between these ethnic communities.             

Forth, the government of Kuol Manyang has lost its legitimacy. If it holds any legitimacy, it should have already initiated the process of state reconciliation before things could turn ugly, if it really means business with these feuding ethnic communities, especially after the onset of current episodes of vengeance attacks. In my perspective, the process of state-based reconciliation in Jongulei will close the wounds and also serve as a step toward to recognizing the injustices that these ethnic communities had historically inflicted against each other. The people of South Sudan and the rest are enervated of Jongulei state’s conflict; and are encouraging the state and national governments to conduct not just a reconciliation, but a symbolic reconciliation that recognizes the historical injustices that the Dinka, Murle and Nuer communities masqueraded against each other, in terms of cattle wrestling, abduction of children, destruction of properties and retribution. 

Just to conclude, the state and national governments must pursue all kind of peace-based initiatives to re-establish law and order and serve more lives from being lost in Jongulei state. The governments, both state and the national should establish a buffer zone, conduct a simultaneous disbarment, return abducted children, looted cattle and finally, pursue a symbolic reconciliation in the entire state of Jongulei. There should also be a contingent plane in case of any failure. For instance, if the state and national governments employ the steps suggested in this article and no change is realized, the national government should in this respect take a unilateral action to remove Kuol Manyang and his team, and replace them with a team that is duty-bound to rule the Jongulei state in a fair fashion dissimilar to the present state of affairs.  The state and national governments must take a moral and ethical responsibility to immediately implement the steps suggested in this article; and Jongulei state would surely see the lights of hopes and peace can prevail yet again.

The author of this work is a concerned South Sudanese citizen and can be corresponded at [email protected]

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