Can Daniel Deng Bul who basically failed in state succeed in a national level?

By: Bol Khan Rom

July 21, 2014 (SSNA) — Daniel Deng Bul was appointed in April 2013, with Republican Decree by President Kiir, as South Sudan Healing, Peace and National Reconciliation Committee’s Chairperson. Deputized by South Sudan admired Bishop Paride Taban. The National Reconciliation Committee under Daniel Deng Bul was given a tremendous task to reconcile South Sudanese people. To relief the twenty one years (21) war trauma which might have had affected and twisted the thinking of certain elements in different communities across South Sudan. Daniel Deng Bul, three years before this similar task but in a state level, had been once sequentially or simultaneously mediating Peace between George Athor and GoSS, among the Murle, Lou Nuer and Bor Dinka as well as between David Yau Yau and GRSS.  Primarily, all these peace mediations were, under the auspice of Daniel Deng Bul, in Jonglei state level started right from mid-2010 to 2012.

However, Daniel Deng Bul basically failed to initiate even anything that could be seen related to peace among Jonglei state communities. He reconciled neither Geoge Athor Deng and GRSS, ethnic conflicting groups(Murle, Lou Nuer & Bor Dinka) by the time nor GRSS and South Sudan Democratic Movement SSDM/A—Cobra Faction of David Yau Yau.

Therefore, questions which this piece aims to establish are: Can Daniel Deng Bul who basically failed in a state level, succeed to bring peace in a national level? Which one is more complicated, state or national task? Is there anybody optimistic that Deng Bul will ever succeed in reconciling South Sudanese people? It happens but seldom, for a person who failed to solve a family-like issue to succeed in a broadest one in a national level. This is one thing to note. In the same token, is Daniel Deng Bul among the personalities who do succeed in bringing peace? What are the criteria always needed of a person to be appointed as a Mediator? Can anybody tell me those characteristics? How to bring peace and reconciliation among ethnical, politically divided society like South Sudanese isn’t simple. Is it?  

Look when Daniel Deng Bul was sworn into office and set to leave Juba for Jonglei in order to reconcile the aforementioned communities. He immediately started the work as soon as he could reach the state. Initially, Deng Bul in the state called for an inclusive conference, he said. Unfortunately, the people who were presence in that meeting held in Bor, intended by Deng Bul, were all from one side of the conflict, the inhabitants of Bor County.

Other groups were excluded from the conference. As they were in Pibor uniformed and other remote places in the far east of the state. In that conference the excluded communities were termed criminals, destroyers and given stereotype names by the organizers. The same became also the case in GRSS and SSDM/A- Cobra Faction peace process under the Chairmanship of Deng Bul himself. Perhaps because of his deeds, Daniel Deng was seen partial throughout. That might be the reason why he failed to mediate peace in Jongle state. Words and statements like, “The Murle, Lou Nuer are the cause of insecurity in the state, they are the ones who raid cattle, loot other people’s properties and David Yau Yau is a criminal who could be burn alive if found, compared to Dinka Bor who are peaceful”. Again Daniel Deng was quoted as saying “David Yau Yau was a notorious and criminal who killed people in disguise of democracy”.

Conference that meant to include all sides to the conflicts concentrated only on two sides if not one. The Murle in Pibor and other communities couldn’t be involved, as you the readers read earlier on. The author is not an expert in peace, conflicts and resolution but he doesn’t believe that such divisive statements from a mediating body could weld wounds.  As result, there came a lot of questions from the excluded sides. This, automatically, led to a premature failure of Jonglei state peace process under Daniel Deng Bul. That is to say, Daniel Deng failed in mediated peace between the GOSS and George Athor, among the Murle, Lou-Nuer, Bor Dinka traditional conflicts and that of GRSS and SSDM/A- Cobra Faction of David Yau Yau.

There was only a breakthrough in Jonglei state when Bishop Paride Taban was tasked to take over from Deng Bul and mediated peace between the GRSS and SSDM/A- Cobra Faction of Yau Yau. An admired Bishop, Paride Taban, who really experienced in how two or more conflicting sides are mediated. Globally, Bishop Taban was in early 2013 won UN Peace Award. Indeed, Paride Taban when took the job over from Deng Bul he truly brokered a fruitful peace between the GRSS and SSDM/A-Cobra Faction. We have now GRSS and SSDM/A-Cobra Faction peace Agreement signed in Addis Ababa, brought by Bishop Paride Taban. The later did not peril the issues around the solution to that problem. Otherwise there would have been no agreement today called SSDM/A-GRSS of GPAA.

Let’s return to South Sudan Healing, Peace and National Reconciliation Committee’s role. Daniel Deng Bul was tasked to reconcile South Sudanese people before this current turmoil could erupt. Did Daniel Deng Bul’s Committee bring to end communal conflicts in Lakes state? I think the Committee didn’t make any progress. Only the similar divisive statements were instead attributed to the Committee’s leadership. Take for example, a political prayer delivered in a Parliament last year by a certain Archbishop. Amid the then SPLM creating National crisis: “In which Almighty God was asked by that certain Archbishop to take the life of anybody who wanted to challenge Salva Kiir in a SPLM‘s Chairmanship.” It was being repeated in several occasions in Juba. Are these the prayers that can help reconcile the people of South Sudan? How do you see it now? I mean the work of Daniel Deng’s Committee. Hasn’t it process been paralyzed? Apart from those examples, where is an independency they claim? There is no independency seen nation-wide. Independency never means I should organize a one sided conference. Yes I can organize it there but also in the other place, where it’s necessitate.

Also, independency never means organizing just prayers in the Churches. Do the audiences take your points in that Churches you preach in?  Do those words touch and find what is in the hearts of grassroots. Independency doesn’t imply to hold meeting in a Freedom Hall in Juba city and say you’re reconciling the nations. For instance, have you ever held a peace conference in Kajo-Keji, Maridi, Renk and Raga? Leaving the most internal conflict-affected people of Lakes State wondering about what kind of reconciliation you might be doing there in your own local language.  Independency never means you ethnically distort perspectives in context. Independency means not to say by yourself that you’re independent of your associated belief, politicians or whatever might be seen an obstacle to peace. Succeeding in bringing peace to the nation isn’t something one can just wish for. Rather it is something you’re characterized practically. Something you do, something you are, and something you talk impartially. As Bishop Paride Taban does and other Churches leaders. To engage in conflicts, you need not to buy a knife that cuts but a needle that sews. Healing and Reconciliation is to understand both sides. And it should, however, be a must for those sides involved to have confidences in you. If you cannot access all sides to the conflicts 24 hours, then you’re reconciling who with who? Or they might have lost confidences in you. Alas, you will have no chance to go to one side, describe the suffering being endured by the other side and produce solution or way forward. And then go to other side doing the former and the latter repeatedly, which is the basic step of making successful peace and reconciliation. If that one cannot happen to you then you won’t taste the solution or fulfill this step. It must be worth for you to resign. Give the responsibility to next colleague to have a try.

Lastly, not the least, I would hope that South Sudanese people have convinced that talks between GoSS and George Athor—Movement have failed. Jonglei state Communal peace imitative among the Murle, Bor Dinka and Lou- Nuer Communities was failed. Moreover, the talks between SSDM/A of David Yau Yau and GRSS have also failed at the end of 2012. All these three mediations made by Daniel Deng Bul were prematurely failed in Jonglei state level. But became successful when Bishop Paride Taban had stepped in. In the same way, Daniel Deng Bul has already failed in the national level. He cannot succeed in bringing Reconciliation to South Sudanese people whatsoever much more time he can be awarded. For, his leadership lacks reconciliatory attitudes required in mediation. Keeping Daniel Deng Bul as Peace, Healing and National Reconciliation Committee’s Chairperson is tantamount to telling South Sudanese people that don’t reconcile. Therefore, the Responsibility of reconciling the nation, if we’re really in need of reconciliation, should be handed over to our well-regarded Bishop, Paride Taban. Bishop Paride Taban is one of the most South Sudanese potential Religious Leaders to reconcile South Sudanese without one, two three. President Kiir should decree into National Reconciliation top office, Bishop Paride Taban. Let Bishop Taban take his overdue precise job!

The writer is a South Sudanese; he can be reached at [email protected]

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