By Patrick (Dunga) Papyec Pakwan
November 27, 2012 (SSNA) — There were many horrendous atrocities committed by northern Sudanese and by our own liberation army during our long, bitter war for independence. There was not a single ethnicity that did not experience massacre in the hands of either the SPLA or other armed groups. To use any one of such killings to score political points does not only demean the victims but it also hinders national reconciliation in a region that needs healing among ethnic groups more than it needs to ensure which group should rule perpetually in Juba or Ramcel.
Indeed, there are many factors, including weak leadership at regional and national levels, that aggravate ethnic tensions in our young country. Our collective and individual pain is undeniably immense. But make no mistake about it, no pain of any community in South Sudan should be regarded as less or greater than that of any other community. Hence, if the call for the recognition of the 1991 incident in which many citizens were killed, including veteran politician Joseph Odhuho, is genuine, it is important that this is done in a way that addresses all the killings that occurred in the hands of our people since 1983 until the present time. Short of this, the selective references to specific incidents–no matter who painful they might have been–will remain a red herring and a witch hunt aimed at settling political scores against specific leaders or ethnic groups. Needless to say that such disingenuous calls will not advance the healing process among ethnic groups even an inch.
The most appropriate and effective manner for dealing with these issues as well as for advancing the national debate on national reconciliation is neither through internet recriminations and counter recriminations nor by proclaiming our own pain greater than the sufferings meted on our fellow countrymen and women who hail from other ethnic groups in this multicultural land. It is my opinion that it is too futile and unnecessary to shamelessly try to rewrite the history of the struggle of the people of South Sudan so as to suit one’s wishes. National reconciliation can and should never be based on arbitrary vilification or adulation of selective individuals or ethnic groups. The best approach to heal the gruesome wounds we inflicted on one another during the war, including the ones our people currently experience in the states of Junglei, Upper Nile and Northern Bahr Al Ghazal, is to set up a robust national reconciliation initiative not with a view to vilify anyone but to encourage all to acknowledge responsibility and show remorse for their deeds ala the gacaca courts of post-genocide Rwanda. This process should not spare even the most powerful person in the land.
Dr. Lam’s Tenure as Sudan Foreign Minister
This is another subject where myth, misinformation, personal jealousies and prejudices conspire to rob some individuals of thinking and reasoning faculties. Mr. Aguer seems to belong to this group of citizens. Unfortunately, as expected, he failed to come up with anything to rebut what Dr. Lam has said about the circumstance under which the implantation of foreign policy was agreed upon in the CPA. In fact, it is interesting that Mr. Aguer averred that “while he (Dr. Lam) is right that the NCP and the SPLM were partners in GONU tasked with the full implantation of the CPA, that mandate did not stop them from bickering of portions of the agreement or foreign policy.” In the first place, the writer failed to mention one foreign policy item about which the parties bickered and how Dr. Lam’s position on that item differed from that which was ‘presented’ by the bickering SPLM. How was the fact that NCP and the SPLM had different allies in the United Nations, the African Union and the Arab League presented itself as a bone of contention between NCP and the SPLM or between the SPLM and Dr. Lam? Again, so what happened when the NCP rejected the ABC and the SPLM accepted the decision? Didn’t the two parties go to The Hague? Did Dr. Lam travel to The Hague? He did not. How does he come into the picture here?
It is obvious that Mr. Aguer, like his unhappy camp mates, simply regurgitate ‘loose’ talk without concrete facts on foreign policy, especially when he states that “contrary to his (Dr. Lam’s) assertion, the NCP which controls the Sudanese government proved to be against the interest of the South Sudanese be reneging on parts of the agreement.” Since when was the minister of foreign affairs of the Republic of the Sudan tasked with the implementation of the CPA? Mr. Aguer is clearly out of his depth in this foreign policy debate. Additionally, did the writer know that it was the SPLM who sought the ministry of foreign affairs during the distribution of the ministerial portfolios despite their knowledge that the parties had already agreed that foreign policy will be decided by the President of the republic, his First Vice and the Second Vice. Therefore, if there were any disagreements on foreign policy between NCP and the SPLM, it would have been the duty of SPLM Chairman/ First Vice President Mayardit to iron them out with President Bashir and Vice President Taha in the palace before they eventually became items of Sudan’s foreign policy. Consequently, if there were any foreign policy issues–and the writer failed to mention any–that became the official foreign policy of the Sudan with or without objection from Mr. Mayardit, it would stand to reasoning that the blame should be put squarely on the shoulders of Mr. Mayardit. He was the one who was too timid to use his veto rights. Let him carry his own cross. But, again, this is a topic that does not lend itself to logic as far the Kuirs of the world are concerned.
Mr. Aguer’s views on SPLM-DC and what the party should do are unfortunately not informed by any facts or clear thought. As such, one has to happily concede that the writer, as a free citizen, is very much entitled to wallow endlessly and blissfully in his intensely private opinion.
A Fraudulent Mandate
Like his colleague, Kuir e Garang, Mr. Aguer seems to hopelessly dilute himself into assuming that he speaks on behalf of the youth of South Sudan. This is not only presumptuous and misleading but it also smacks of political fraud and blackmail. Although the writer knows very well that he has not received any mandate or commission from the youth to speak on their behalf, nonetheless, he continues to hide behind this fraudulent ‘mandate’ perhaps in an attempt to lend credence to his own personal views. But should he muster inner strength to humbly dismount from his high horse, he will certainly be humbled to find that there are tens of thousands of South Sudanese youth in and out of universities who are supporters of SPLM-DC, and they may take offence at his contrived intimation to be speaking on their behalf. These young people are generally too humble to pretentiously speak as if they have been mandated by the rest of the youth of South Sudan. In fact, the kind of level-headedness and calm demeanor which many of these young people exhibit are not only vital ingredients in efforts to advance the debate on national unity but are a welcome departure from the bogus rhetoric of national unity and ultra-nationalism with which certain individuals bombard us with impunity day and night for the sole purpose of imposing a single clan’s own narrative of the past, present and future of South Sudan.
The writer works for an international non-governmental organization in the USA and is currently on leave in Malakal, Upper Nile State. He can be reached at [email protected]