The dynamics of the National Dialogue have thrown up interesting social realities. One of these realities is the newly emerging willingness of some intellectual members of the Jieng community to speak out openly. This is a good development because the blanket silence of the Jieng over the horrendous behaviour of their leaders and the regime in Juba is fuelling hatred toward them. The debate on the National Dialogue is offering opportunity for expression of such change. During a meeting on the subject at Westminster University on 28th March 2017, Peter Biar Ajak surprised some by coming clean.
Peter and the other speakers unanimously agreed that if the National Dialogue is to work, President Salva Kiir must not be the patron as he is part of the problem to avoid the issue of partiality of the process. They also stressed that the National Dialogue must be inclusive and it should be held in a neutral place to ensure security of the participants. These concerns have been raised internally by the various South Sudanese political groups and externally by international community. For example, the People Democrat Movement (PDM) produced a detailed comprehensive document on the topic and the Chairperson of the African Union Commission emphasised the need for impartiality and inclusivity during his visit to Yei, South Sudan.
Peter crucially went further to touch the nexus of Dinkocracy to the National Dialogue. Important as it was, it nearly went unnoticed had Peter not brought it to light. It appeared as if Peter was clear that the stain of Jieng tribalism would make the National Dialogue exercise lose its credibility. This is not because over 40 percent of the steering committee of the National Dialogue including its leadership is Jieng, but rather because of the emerging picture about the Jieng government following the resignation of Lt. General Thomas Cirillo Swaka and others from the army. The resignation letters of these patriotic servants of the people laid bare the tribal nature of the army.
Peter highlighted this point powerfully as an academic distancing himself from the tribal regime and appearing to be patriotic. He stated to the audience that, “since the creation of the Jieng Council of Elders (JCE), the structure of the government (of South Sudan) turned into Dinka government. With defection of General Thomas Cirillo now the remaining five Chiefs of the army are Dinka and this is now Dinka militia.” He went on to say, “Dinka nationalism is becoming a threat to South Sudan”. With this truth, Peter in effect joined a new group of Jieng converts who are now seeing the light and want to act patriotically.
In contrast to Peter’s view, The Sudd Institute in their paper titled, The Dialogue Brief, South Sudan’s National Dialogue: what it should be and why it should be supported dated 31st March 2017 attempts to manipulate its readers. It deceptively paints the national dialogue of President Kiir as a process that has a huge support throughout the country. This sort of misinformation and manipulation should not surprise anyone as the Sudd Institute is one of the three Jieng think tanks funded clandestinely by the government of President Kiir. The others are: Ebony managed by Deng Lual Aciek and Centre for Strategic Analysis and Research managed by Peter Biar Ajak himself.
Peter has spoken the truth. Dinkocracy reigns supreme in South Sudan. Whether Peter’s expressed truism is honest or not, it does not matter. He has at last demonstrated that as a Jieng he has the capacity to be objective. It would be wrong to say that Peter of all the Jieng is the first person to state the truth about the regime in Juba. Nearly a decade ago, a Jieng lady called Ayeng Jacqueline and few others complaint against Jieng imperialistic behaviour.
In my article, ‘Tear down the SPLM’: will South Sudanese now respond? I wrote about their novel efforts. “True South Sudanese like Ayuen Panchol and Ayeng Jacqueline Ajak who expressed her view in “Let’s try to reform our people. A Dinka woman’s point of view on Madi land issue” published in February 2009 by South Sudan Nation are leading the way in the Jieng community to do the right thing for the country. South Sudanese should stand up with them. They are caring of the country and its people. These are individuals who have demonstrated their human values. They say things as they are. If South Sudan had the majority of its population with the likes of Ayeng and Ayuen, the country today would be a different place to live in and Oyee would have been history.” (http://www.southsudannewsagency.com/index.php/2012/09/02/tear-down-the-splm-will-south-sudanese-now-respond/)
The disappearance of these patriotic Jieng from the political scene of South Sudan must be a result of Jieng group pressure. As such we the non Jieng need to support the good Jieng and where possible protect them to counter the tribal pressure exerted on them to conform.
These complaints must not be forgotten because this is the evidence that women are part of the struggle and they should not be made invisible by male dominance as experienced by women worldwide. Of recent, converts such as Kuir Garang Kuir have been very vocal against the regime and credits should be given where it is due.
This will help in making the Jieng understand that they are not hated but rather it is their imperialistic behaviour that the people do not like. Therefore, Peter Biar Ajak being a Jieng from Bor will go a long way if he starts to talk the truth about the Jieng occupation of Madi land, Bari land, Chollo land etc. I have no doubt that people like him can persuade the Jieng to shun their colonial mentality if they so choose to be on the right side of history.
The impact of Jieng imperialistic adventures on the image of the Jieng and above all Jieng relationship with others is so unhealthy to the extent that it risks serious repercussions for the Jieng as a people.
Presently, Jieng unity that enabled them to abuse South Sudanese is in crisis. The Jieng delusionally committed horrendous crimes in believe that they will remain invincible. Well, in life there is nothing like that. Human beings act in groups primarily as individuals and individuals have personal ambitions which if suppressed may lead to group fissures and ultimately to disunity and conflict. This process now seems to be taking place among the Jieng. The squabbles in the heart of Jieng power triggered by the removal of Paul Malong from his military position have opened up cracks rippling through their supposed iron cast unity. Paul Malong now most likely feels bitterly deceived, used and abused by President Kiir. He may virtually be going through emotional and mental turmoil. To a large extent, he is possibly a person in crisis with the probability of posing danger to himself and the society. What makes this situation worse is President Kiir’s Machiavellian restrictions on his movements which suggests he is under house arrest. Worst still, His supporters are being weeded out of the system and disarmed at lightening speed while his opponents such as General Dau Aturjong are being rehabilitated and fast tracked into position of power.
In a nutshell Paul Malong to President Kiir is now an enemy exactly like Riek Machar. What an irony? The conflict between this two is similarly replicated throughout the entire Jieng tribe mirroring the bigger conflict of the Jieng against the other 63 tribes. To illustrate the cracks in the Jieng community, look at the following picture.
The Agouk Jieng of Chief Justice Chan Reec are accusing the Apuk Jieng of President Kiir of Apukanising Warrap like they Dinkocratised the country. The Malual Jieng of Paul Malong are accusing the Apuk and the Agouk of using them as cannon fodder in their war of imperialism in the country. The Tonj Jieng of Nhial Deng Nhial and Akol Kur are working hard to replace President Kiir. The Bor Jieng of Michael Makuie are busy strengthening their militia after being armed by the state to start military incursions into Murle, Mundari and Bari lands. In addition to this the Bor Jieng have started to challenge the Bahr El Ghazal Jieng groups re-igniting their centuries old rivalries. The question to ask is: where is the supposed unity of the Jieng? Clearly the so called unity of the Jieng is something that is held by the feeling that they own the state of South Sudan which is sheer fantasy. In 2015 Ambassador Telar Deng emphasised the importance of Jieng unity to hold on to state power in South Sudan.
Holding on to state power without smooth unity is unworkable. The fissures in the Jieng community are unlikely to heal in the short or medium term because it involves deceit and spelled blood (sacrificed Mathiang Anyoor for Jieng glory). Again, take the classic example of Paul Malong whose character is highly questionable, please see, The coin of power: Gen. Paul Malong aspires for president!! (http://www.southsudannation.com/the-coin-of-power-gen-paul-malong-aspires-for-president/). He mobilised the Jieng youth in their thousands who they (JCE) then sacrificed on pursuit of the illusion of Jieng supremacy. Now he Malong himself has fallen foul of the very Jieng system he wholeheartedly supported. Was it really worth it? Is he any better than Riek Machar whom he tried to kill for President Kiir? Should this not serve as a lesson to every Jieng that Dinkocracy does not pay? If Paul Malong of all Jieng can be trashed like he has, who is the average Jieng? Thus, the Jieng should emancipate themselves from Dinkocracy and adopt democracy. Paul Malong’s predicament should be a lesson to every one - personal safety and happiness can only be achieved in an authentically democratic state of law and order with a government that protects everyone regardless of tribe, gender, age etc. Anything other than that is a fantasy and bound to fail.
From the above, unless the Jieng are saved from themselves by honesty of their own tribes mate, they are likely to take all of us down with them. I said this elsewhere and I reiterate it now. So the good Jieng need to follow the example set by Ayeng Jacqueline, Ayuen Panchol, Kuir Garang ,Peter Biar etc but also go further to join their fellow countrymen in the real struggle against Dinkocracy in other national political movements.
How can South Sudan get a democratic government so that finally the people can begin to experience the benefit of independence? The panellists at the Westminster University meeting expressed hope that the National Dialogue could be the process. Also according to Sudan Tribune, Mr David Shearer, the Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary General in South Sudan, believes that the National Dialogue will help in resolving the conflict in the country. “The national dialogue, initiated by Kiir, is both a forum and process through which the people of South Sudan shall gather to redefine the basis of their unity as it relates to nationhood, redefine citizenship and belonging, as well as restructure the state for national inclusion.” (UN official urges “common strategy” on South Sudan’s political process. http://sudantribune.com/spip.php?article62544)
I would like to argue that the optimism expressed by the panellists and Mr Shearer may be unrealistic. It is possible that Mr Shearer may not have seen the letter written by Cannon Clement Janda dated 3rd May 2017 in which he declined President Kiir’s appointment to the Steering Committee of the National Dialogue. Cannon Janda listed the following crucial points as reasons why the National Dialogue would not bring peace:
1. The decree is very vague on the issue of governance of our country. By issuing the decree President Kiir believes that the process of National Dialogue will end up on his desk for his final consideration and or decision. This is totally unacceptably on the issue of how South Sudan is governed and how the present rulers have drained all national blood and wealth can not be considered a serious process.
2. A credible National Dialogue could only be conducted in an atmosphere of complete freedom. That freedom includes freedom of press to all views of the participants without fear and favour. That atmosphere does not exist in present South Sudan.
3. A genuine dialogue must be done after political process and by limited elected persons with authority to air the views of their communities. Being picked makes every individual only loyal to President Salva Kiir and not to their communities. Such a process is worthless.
4. The country is bleeding. Half of its population is either in refuge in foreign countries or rounded up in internally displaced camps. The other half is threatened with manmade famine. Who is there to dialogue?
5. Finally I noticed the majority of the membership of the National Dialogue Steering Committee are people who helped President Kiir to destroy our beloved country. What credibility is there for such persons who should be arraigned in front of an international criminal court to account for their deeds. Is the inclusion into the National Dialogue Steering Committee an attempt to massage their images. Unquote
Cannon Janda’s views are shared by majority of South Sudanese and arguably he could be seen as the voice of the people. He actually has been vindicated after the swearing in of the National Dialogue Steering Committee on 22nd May 2017. Mr Abel Alier, one of the co-chair has a murky history in South Sudan. He is not only a tribalist to the bone and the architect of Dinkocracy, but he is the man responsible for dividing South Sudanese by practising tribal discrimination in 1970s as the President of High Executive Council of Regional Government of Southern Sudan. At the time he Jienganised the police and unleashed it on the other tribes which resulted into the redivision of Southern Sudan into three regions namely: Equatoria, Bahr El Ghazal and Upper Nile. The Equatorians fought Jieng abuse of power under the slogan - Kokora. Alier singlehandedly is the person responsible for training, mentoring and nurturing the current crop of hardcore tribalists known as JCE. It is his ideas that waters the tree called JCE. How can such a person as Cannon Janda asked be credible leader of the National Dialogue?
Deducing from the above, Jieng unity is clearly unsustainable and there is a slow realisation among them that their regime is atrophying. Hence, the reasonable ones are now marching into the camp of patriotism. President Kiir’s launching of the National Dialogue as a vehicle of deception to rescue the regime is experiencing serious resistance and the signs are that it will flop. This leaves us with only one viable option for solving the problem of South Sudan which is: a National Conference for peace in South Sudan. Such a conference must not be led by IGAD or AU for obvious reasons. From December 2013, these regional and continental organisations woefully demonstrated beyond doubt immaturity in handling the problem of South Sudan due to their members own interests. Countries such as Uganda and Kenya could not resist being partial and evidence indicate that their lack of impartiality has actually pushed the country to where it is now. In South Sudan needs intensive care (https://pachodo.org/latest-news-articles/pachodo-english-articles/7643-south-sudan-needs-intensive-care), IGAD and AU were warned of President Kiir’s introduction of tribal militia and they did nothing and what we have now is a total mess. Therefore, the proposed conference should be: a) held outside South Sudan preferably in Tanzania; b) inclusive of all the stakeholders and, c) led by one of the renowned elders of the world such as Mr Koffi Annan or Archbishop Desmond Tutu or Ms Mary Robinson with full backing of the Security Council. I have elsewhere made the last point in few articles couple of years back. I still believe it is the only viable option left.
Finally, the addiction of the Juba regime to violence at any cost to maintain Jieng hegemony and its failure to listen and seriously take advice from the stakeholders and the international community means that the National Dialogue amounts to a partial self dialogue of the deaf and the blind. Essentially this is an interaction that will be characterised by ‘unresponsiveness’ to the real national crisis and as will be expected, it will not lead into any peace. So it is utter waste of time and resource though it will help President Kiir in distracting attention of the world from horrors in South Sudan.
[Truth hurts but it is also liberating]
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