- Written by Yorwin Otor
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The current crisis of Malakal is basically generated by Shilluk rivalry among themselves. This is common, that the Shilluk do not recognized a single leader and at times some do not even recognized their king. The only leader they recognized is the one that rule them with iron fist.
It is worth noting here that Shilluk rivalry and conflict is deep rooted. During 1970s/1980s, Shilluk intellectuals met in both Malakal and Juba to address the issue of Shilluk land which was taken or annexed to Jonglei State. They could not agree on how to resolve the conflict. Instead, they divided themselves into northern and southern Shilluk. The citizens of Adhithang and Obey were murdered by Jonglei Police. The problem remained unresolved which is now taken up by the young generations presently carrying arms.
The recent crises can be link or similar to that of 2004. In the case of 2004 there was SPLM-United in Shilluk Kingdom. The present agitators of the crises were Shilluk NCP members with some Shilluk SPLM members residing in Nairobi. What they have in common was their dislike of SPLM-United. The NCP members were to please their masters in Khartoum in order to be awarded positions while the later were looking for position vacated by the leader of SPLM-United in SPLM.
These agitators initiated with the support of Nuer Militias commanded by Gabriel Tanginyi the conflict on the western bank of River Nile where Shilluk villages were burned down from Warijwok to extreme Southern part of Papucjo. The main purpose was to dislodge SPLM-United army from Shilluk land. Although SAF was involved in giving military support to the militias, the all exercise failed. The civilians were the victims of the conflict. They lost their lives and properties. Many were displaced into Malakal and South Khordofan. Some went further to North Sudan.
The conflict was spearheaded by the following persons; Former Shilluk Deputy Governor (NCP) who became a member of SPLM after April elections, the last and Former Shilluk Governor (NCP) before April election and now leading member in SPLM. Former Tonga Commissioner (NCP) turned SPLM. The present Commissioner of Panyikango County who one NCP member and Security informer of Northern Government before CPA. The Minister of Higher Education in GONU. The current Makal County Commissioner and cousin to the former Deputy Governor mentioned above. Former Shilluk Minister of Infrastructure and Commissioner of Fashoda Administrative Locality (Province). This is addition to a mad Shilluk psychiatric doctor and former UNS Legislative Assembly Speaker in Malakal who one time assassinated himself and wrote a letter that he was killed by the leader of SPLM-United but resurrected in Panomdit in Melute County. The list is too long to be enumerated here. One Juba University lecturer with a dubious PhD was also among these fellows.
After the peace agreement in 2005, the Shilluk rivalry shifted into SPLM. By then SPLM-United army was integrated into SPLA and transferred to Bahr el Ghazal. George Athor disarmed the Shilluk Kingdom and gave these weapons to his kinsmen in order to grab Shilluk land.
It is worth noting SPLM structure is base on perpendicular tribal pillars leadership. The Dinka pillar is headed by Salva Kiir, Nuer pillar by Raik Machar, Equatoria pillar by James Wani Igga and Shilluk pillar was contested between present SPLM Secretary-General and former SPLM-United leader.
The new strategy of the above mentioned persons was to join SPLM in order to continue their struggle for leadership from within. With the help of SG, they managed to place themselves in key positions within SPLM. With directives of SG, they managed to sabotage first ever grass roots Liberation Council formation in the Shilluk Counties, that was to go to Juba for the general conference by isolating capable people who could have been elected. Because of bad behaviors of these fellows, many people left SPLM which was clear in the last election results. SPLM became unpopular in Shilluk Counties.
The current Malakal crises is a continuation of 2004 crises since the same mentioned above people are in still involved and in command of SPLM This time, the gang used SPLA soldiers of Dinka Bahr el Ghazal to fight on their behalf. They are fighting what they regard as SPLM-DC who failed them in the elections.
The conflict was instigated by Shilluk intellectuals of SPLM in Malakal town. The same people used Nuer Militias in 2004 against SPLM-United and now they are using SPLA Dinka Soldiers to fight SPLM-DC.
These fellows did not want the young Shilluk volunteers who took up arms to fight for Shilluk land which was grabbed by Dinka. There was an agreement between SPLA and these volunteers that the later will be integrated into SPLA. These fellows did not like the idea because their lives could be in endanger. They quickly put up a plan to dislodge the volunteers by instructing a SPLA colonel called Yousif without the knowledge of over all Commander of SPLA division seven to over run the camp of the volunteers. Colonel Yousif is Dinka from Melute. He was a Sudan Arm Forces (SAF) corporal in Artillery Unit in Malakal. When he left SAF, SPLA took him and immediately given a rank of a colonel.
The project is counter-productive, because innocent citizens of Thothim were murdered in cool blood. Children were killed while praying in the church and older people were burned in their houses. SPLA soldiers killed women, older people and children then they cut their stomachs open and throw them into the river so as not to float. Soldiers did massacred citizens and destroy the evidences.
The ultimate end of this scenario is that, the Shilluk will loose their land forever to the Dinka and Nuer. The Shilluk will never again their land of Nyigir (Now called Binythang), Obang, Adhithang, Obel and the rest. Due to their internal squabbling and rivalry, they will not be strong politically or even militarily. Those Shilluk in the SPLM are only for jobs and survival.
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