Vincent Kuany Latjor: A man who struggled for the right of his people wholeheartedly

By Lul Gatkuoth Gatluak

July 3, 2013 (SSNA) — According to Sudan Tribune, “an Anyanya II veteran leader Vincent Kuany latjor has passed away after battling with a long time illness in Khartoum.” Vincent is one of many Anyanya I officers who were absorbed to Sudanese army following the signing of Addis Ababa Agreement in 1972. Kuany and other officers were doubtful about how the accord has to be implemented. Their mistrust for the north remained vital until when they decided to return to bush in 1975. Before returning to bush, these individuals had waited to see if the government must first have to play its dirty tricks of regularly dispersing all southern army to northern garrisons as that was the case in Anya-nya I Torit mutiny. Then in March of that year, a message of transferring Southern army to the north was directed to Akobo: Vincent Kuany Latjor and the rest started to mutinies in the town, protesting against their transfer to the north.

Before they could leave their military barracks for the bush, the group planned to kill their commander by the name Abel Chol and disappear to the bushes of Southern Sudan toward Ethiopia border. Shortly after they arrived in Ethiopia, the Mutineers begin to make contact with Ethiopian authority Derg regime as previously had done under kingship of Emperor Haile Selassie during Anya-nya I era; this contact bore fruit very easily due to the fact that, Ethiopia was dealing with Eritrea secessionist rebels who were getting their logistic and all military supplies from Sudan.

Ethiopians was like, “if Sudan can supply our rebel, why can’t we supply their rebel” the “eye for an eye” game. In another word, it should be said, Ethiopian did not really wanted or committed to help Southern Sudanese; they just only wanted to retaliate what the government in Khartoum was doing for Eritrea rebels. Hence, in any second, they can stop supporting Southerners as soon as the Sudanese government stops supporting Eritreans.

One obvious reason we should take a look at was that, Ethiopian government did not allow Southern rebels to open political offices in the country especially Addis Ababa at the time. Even the announcement of the birth of the new movement was not made in Addis Ababa, instead, the Ethiopian authority asked Southern Sudanese politicians to fly to Nairobi and announce the birth of the new movement there.

This tells us that, Ethiopia was avoiding being seen as the force behind Southern Sudanese rebels. They made it clear in 1976 when Sudanese delegation headed by Mading de Garang arrive Ethiopia for talk, Ethiopian foreign minister stated to them that, unless Sudan ceased supplying Eritrean rebels; that only when they too, can cease supplying Southern Sudanese guerrilla fighters. Thus, it was in Nairobi when the new movement was aired.

Gordon Mortot became the president of the new movement deputized by Moses Malek Chol. Elia Aduang was secretary general assisted by Bol Kiir Diew in political wing. Vincent was the head of the army followed by Gordon Kong chol.

At first, when Anya-nya mutineers arrived in Ethiopia, they propose the new movement to be called “Anya-nya Patriotic Front” unfortunately, the BBC reporter dubbed the name to Anya-nya two, knowing that the movement is the continuation of the first Anya-nya one movement. After the movement had announced, Nimeri’s support for Eritreans and anti-Mengistu’s Dergue regime didn’t stop, despite the warning Ethiopian foreign minister gave. Likewise, Ethiopian authority began to provide liability support to Sudanese rebels and stationed them in a remote camp called Bilpam. In that early stage, both Ethiopian and briefly Libyan began to support them militarily.

Like Anya-nya I movement, the Anya-nya II military operations against Khartoum government were very minimal. This is because; they were having fewer rifles that they received from Ethiopian government adding to few others Sadiq al Mahdi had provided from Libya. Despite ammunition deficiency, the rebels could not effectively engaged with the well equip government army. They only would target civilians and few outlet government stations. That hit and run tactic dissatisfied Ethiopia authority. It was not the kind of war Ethiopia government was wanted to happen in Sudan; instead, Ethiopia wanted a full-scale civil war in the Sudan, where Khartoum government should know that there are Sudanese rebels operating from Ethiopia that would force Khartoum to listen to their point of view, which is, “do not support our Eritrean rebels.”

The desire to launch a full-scale war reduces Ethiopian interest of Supporting Anya-nya two. That shift of policy toward Anya-nya two began in 1981 until 1983 when some high ranking and active southern Sudanese army officers decided to mutinies and join Anya-nya two in Ethiopia.

Importance people like Akuot Atem Mayen, Lieutenant colonel Samuel Gai Tut Yang, Major William Abdallah Chuol Deng, and Dr. John Garang among others began to dialogue against the government failure to implement terms of the Addis Ababa Agreement.

Each leader started smuggling his armed forces. Such contact among high-ranking Southerners led to the formation of many underground insurrections each mobilizing the people of their ethnic background for the resumption of the war and end up to the formation of the SPLM/A. Vincent had already opened the door.

While Vincent and Anyanya II soldiers were at Bilpam, Ethiopia did not provide their food item. The group struggled for their survival. Initially, Kuany became close friend to this author’s paternal uncle who help them wholeheartedly. When SPLM/A took over, Kuany was detente. After he got released in 1988, Kuany call uncle puok to visit him in Itang. Before the end of the visitation, Kuany told Puok to go with him to meet William Nyuon Bany. It is in that meeting Kuany declared to William that, during our eight years stay in Bilpam, part of our survival comes from this man. Kuany said, we are now having plenty of ration from UN, tell this man you have done an outstanding job. Then, William asks Puok what would he like? Pouk told him, I would like to lead my community and establish a town that will serve as the seat of my authority.

Ultimately, William authorized a letter bearing the seal of the SPLM/A. The tone of the letter directed whoever comes to contact with Gat-Gatluak to respect and comply with the content and the terms of it. Shortly, within the fall of 1988, Puok and the group of sympathizers moved to Pilual Donnie previously used as refugee resettlement center during Anyanya I era. Three months later, Thowath Pal, then governor of Gambella region, ordered the removal of the town from Pilual saying, “Pilual is on the side of Ethiopia territory. Then, Puok decided to reallocate the town to Larping currently known as Pagak South Sudan. The establishment of the town was Vincent Kuany Latjor influence. He was the one who push puok to choose to explore a town. As someone who regularly travels with Puok in those occasions, one came to personally know Kuany—–in that regard, his passing directly affects one greatly. But when things like this happens, human’s control is diminished and only the most high comforting and blessing is looked after. I hope the good lord will receive his soul with open arm in paradise where he and uncle Puok will meet dearly.

May lord comfort close relatives, those he touched in life, and most importantly the people of South Sudan with whom he dedicated his whole life to liberate. Rest in peace Gat—Latjor!

The Author lives in the United States; he can be reached at [email protected]

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