By Juma Mabor Marial
May 11, 2014 (SSNA) — It was in 2010 that Akot’s tenure as governor of Lakes state came to end as the country now embarked on general elections for the first time since the civil war ended. Akot did not step aside for good; he resubmitted his application to contest as a new governor in lakes state. He ignored the shortcomings and challenges that he had faced during his tenure in office and still feels he has some magic to overcome these challenges if his mandate is renewed. Unfortunately, Akot failed to secure the SPLM ticket and that was where his political oxygen expired in lakes state.
Between Akot retirement and incoming of a new governor, Telar Ring Deng Takpiny (now legal advisor to the president) care-took for three (3) months and during his period, Telar was lucky enough to have only three months and within this time, he played his cards well by connecting with the citizens of the state, subsidized the prices of food items, regulated alcoholic consumption, ignored the issues of insecurity but kept harmony with the local population. It is because of this scheming and limited time that he acted as care-taker governor that made him the preferred best performing governor in the opinion of the lakes state citizens. However, due to the limitation of time as he only acted for three months, nothing much can be said to have been done or not done by Deng to change whatever might have been going on wrong or right in terms of insecurity and intra-clans conflict in lakes state.
After the general elections in April 2010, Chol Tong Mayay became the governor of lakes state taking over the baggage left behind not by Deng but Lat and Akot and these coupled with his manifesto to the people of lakes state filled his plat and immediately required him to act swiftly and positively, Mayay Manifesto was based on curbing insecurity, creating job opportunities, ensuring economic growth and development, enhancing agricultural entrepreneurship, promoting youth and women empowerment, providing educational opportunities among other things. This list of promises were what the people of lakes state eagerly wanted and if anyone was capable of implementing them, then, this was the right person to pocket their votes and this plus the prominence of SPLM enabled Mayay won the 2010 polls.
Mayay kicked off successfully and through half of his tenure, he was able to fulfil some of his promises, he took a number of young people to schools although the criteria was continuously criticized and challenged, he also provided job opportunities for the youth, he too managed to establish half-way a technocratic government where some of his ministers were able to give their presentations in official language, his relationship with women, i.e. political relationship wasn’t doing bad either, the rest of the promises were in one way or another implemented but not in a comprehensive manner. Unfortunately, Mayay like his predecessors not only failed to diagnose the virus of insecurity in lakes state but also never developed effective mechanisms to curb it. It is during Mayay’s tenure that criticisms grew as freedom of assembly; association and press were like in the previous governments in the state, given little opportunity to prosper.
Despite these shortcomings, Mayay administration was in the opinion of lakes state citizens, an average government and a step toward a right direction. However, before he could continue to deliver on all his elections pledges, Mayay became too ambitious politically and in the pursuit of his dreams, he relegated the issues of lakes state to the back seat and embarked on a new strategy to remain in power comes 2015 as a projected year for another general elections. Mayay political calculations were to take over the chairmanship of SPLM from his former boss Daniel Awet Akot in the state, he wanted to be re-elected governor in the state in 2015 and very dangerous of all, he wanted to be a president or vice president in another government not certainly that of Kiir, these aspirations coupled with his clans pride in him being a governor and the thoughts that they could do and get away with anything including killing people complicated things for Mayay and after the clashes between Ruop and Kuei in the middle of Rumbek town, Mayay was given a red card and these woes continue to pursue him until he was arrested and charged with being part and parcel of the foiled coup that attempted to oust president Mayardit’s government in December 2013.
It is during this time that the glimpse of hope for peace and tranquility in lakes state were almost being realized but unfortunately, the actions by governor Mayay and his clansmen of putting private interest before public interest spoiled and dashed these hopes and this is the fundamental reason why, instead of apportioning this blame of insecurity in lakes state to the national government at this time, it is rather accurate to channel it toward Mayay and his clansmen.
The sectarian clashes in Rumbek town that culminated in the removal of Mayay from the governorship seemed to have sent a clear and strong message to Salva in Juba that, it is the time the sectarian fighting in lakes state have to be taken seriously and Kiir in a gesture to heed to this message appointed Matur Chut Dhuol as care taker governor, a man that he believes will help restore sanity in lakes state. Matur on his own profile is a strong and professional military officers but an academically incapable individual whom Kiir thought was fit and appropriate to tame the insecurity and people of lakes state. Dhuol was very enthusiastic about his appointment as a governor of lakes state and because he was once posted in Rumbek as a zonal commander, he thought, his iron fist character would auger well with what was happening in the state, he thought too that, by virtue of his military background and his PhD in Dinka language as he jokingly tells people, the warring factions in lakes state would fear him and it would not take him much energy and time to bring the situation to normalcy.
Dhuol arrived in the state from Juba few days after his appointment and he toured all the eight counties of lakes state threatening instead of sensitizing people on what he would do to restore peace and tranquility in the state. After the tour, civilians from his own county- Rumbek east county fought and feeling provoked, Dhuol conducted a mass arrest against members of the sub- clans that he felt the culprits came from. He then established a military prison at langcok, a place few kilometers away from Rumbek center where he sent every perceived criminal. It wasn’t long before activists and human rights advocates got up in arms and challenged Dhuol over langcok military prison, the governor was accused of ruling with an iron fist and grossly violating human rights as manifested in issues like holding people incommunicado, promoting arbitrary arrests and allowing other inhumane treatments and torture to be carried out against the inmates. Dhuol too, maybe because of his military orientation and lack of academic qualifications his PhD in Dinka language notwithstanding, tend to insult every boy, men, women and politicians that he perceived as his critics. He is easily characterized as a sectarian leader as he is perceived to be favouring people from (Pan-ajuong) and also logging horns with local people over some administrative units and bomas like Pacong where he is already alleged to be constructing his many storey building.
It is unbelievable that, in comparison to the performance of the previous governors with regard to insecurity in lakes state, the number of people who died in the sectarian clashes during Dhuol’s tenure is extremely high and this is because, after issuing empty threats and failing to put some effective mechanisms to punish the culprits, the civilians in lakes state find it easy to kill with impunity. Dhuol decided to close down langcok prison as criticisms and pressure by human rights advocates intensify and in addition, he decided to stop arresting culprits and bringing them to book in the pretext that this civilians kills the police and other law enforcement officers in their attempt to apprehend them. He got refuge in the traditional rhetoric of lamenting that those who are defeated in the fight will never try to plan sectarian fighting again. This indirectly and without Dhuol knowledge became the genesis of lawlessness in lakes state.
It is because of this Dhuol strategy that has turned lakes state into a state where only the strong clans and those with numbers survives as no government would attempt to apprehend those who attack others.
In a nutshell therefore, Dhuol incompetence, traditional ideologies, military heavy handedness and zero intellectual background in governance complicated things and intensify the intra-clans fighting in lakes state. The same characteristics of Dhuol have returned the state to stages of survival of fetuses where only the strong remains alive. It is because of this unbecoming behavior and lack of leadership from the top that the principles of the rule of law, peaceful co-existence, stability and development have completely disappeared in lakes state. The government has become too intimidated by civilians to the extent that the army and other law enforcement agencies like the police are afraid to go to the sense where the civilians are fighting and apprehend the culprits.
Dhuol appointment as governor of lakes has not only left lakes state backward in terms of development and civilization, good governance and democracy but it has in a great way, widened the intra-clans conflict among the sub-tribes and citizens of lakes state. Both the president and Dhuol have to be given equal share of blame for putting the state in this quagmire situation.
Another categories that have negatively contributed to the worsening intra-clans conflict in lakes state include; the politicians both at the national and state governments, professionals, academicians and students, chiefs and Cattle keepers (Galweng). The first three groups are the perpetrators while the last group (Galweng) is of the culprits as well as the victims of intra-clans conflicts.
As politicians both at the national and state levels comes from different clans of lakes state, they have all specialized in arming and funding their respective clans to fight the other clans, they have instead of talking to their constituencies to stop violence encourages them to act for them in the name of protecting the name and image of the clans, some of these people have turned into businessmen who gets weapons and sold them to the civilians to make extra pounds. These politicians are also caught in supremacy wars where creating confusion among the civilians gives them an opportunity to create peace projects and disguised as peace makers. The politicians especially members of parliament have declined to perform their constitutional duties of visiting their constituencies and talk to their citizens about the significance of peace and stability, they are always busy running their own businesses in the cities and marrying one wife after another while their people are busy butchering themselves.
The professionals, academicians and students instead of being ambassadors of peace by virtue of their education have also joint the other groups in perpetrating violence and failing to sensitize the citizens on the negative impacts of sectarian conflicts. A good number of people within this category incite their brothers to revenge and kill people from other clans with impunity. Most of these people are good in discussing sectarianism without shame. They have misled their brothers and relatives to senseless conflict and ultimate death yet they are still too proud to talk about how this clan defeated that clan. This is a group that should have restored sanity in lakes state if they had followed the ethics and principles of their education and training but no, they have selected to pursue clans’ interest than the state interest and this is why, educated or otherwise, no one is spared of death in lakes state because it has become a common rhetoric in lakes state that, killing an educated person is as killing two people and it makes the relative of the deceased bereaved for a long time.
The last group among these categories is the chiefs and Galweng, while the chiefs are directly in charge of leading the civilians at the local government levels, the Galweng who are the young men are the raw materials that are butchering themselves in the senseless intra-clans fighting in lakes state. The chiefs previously use to play critical role in keeping law and order at the smallest administrative units, they were too, the ones in charge of resolving disputes that occurred among the community members. These roles were very much respected and upheld during the movement but after the CPA, the role of chiefs and traditional authority diminished as the ordinary courts set in, it is at the background of this factor that some chiefs felt idle and begins to form part of the intra-clans conflicts instead of resolving them, the behavior of Galweng also became worse as they sometimes targeted on revenge some chiefs and also failed to heed to their advices. The chiefs in this confused scenario then tend to support their clans and this is why soon after the clashes between one sub-clans against the other, you would find chiefs asking questions like, who have been defeated and how many people have been killed from the opponent’s side, this is a true indication that such questions chiefs asked makes them part of the problem instead of being a solution to the on-going conflict. This also explains why some chiefs got killed in the revenge attacks as they are alleged to have said one or another nasty thing against the other side.
The Galweng (cattle keepers) who are the young people and the victims of the intra-clans conflict in lakes state are some of the people who have no discipline at all, they don’t respect their community, chiefs, fathers, mothers, brothers, government and everybody. They are the spoiled brats who have specialized in drinking alcohol, witched haunted people and anti-development type of people.
The availability of arms in their hands has made them too stubborn to listen to anyone and the failure by the government to arrest them has made them even more reckless. This group of people kills with impunity on claims of revenge for a relative killed, cattle raiding, girls’ elopements among others, in reality, they have no any justifiable reason to kill themselves but their believe is that, they are more proactive than the government and taking law into their own hand is the best short-cut to justice, a traditional one I believe. What this group need to back down on their rigidity is a serious and well established government that cannot be blackmailed, intimidated or clans oriented. This government was not in one of the above mentioned governments and this is the reason why the culture of intra-clans conflicts in lakes state continues to prosper.
Please don’t miss to read the final part III on the recommendations to: the Genesis and Phenomenon of Intra-Clans’ Conflict and Revenge Attacks in Lakes State.
Kindly circulate this article among your sisterly dailies.
Juma Mabor Marial is a Lawyer and concern citizen of Lakes state Reachable at: [email protected]