By Zechariah Manyok Biar
May 7, 2014 - Since the fighting started in December 2013 in Juba, I went into my cocoon. I convinced myself based on what I observed during the SPLM convention that resulted in the ongoing war that it would be difficult at this time for leaders on both sides to listen. I could have been wrong because they seem to be listening now.
The encouraging events that show that our leaders are listening include the release of the four detainees in April this year. The release could have been out of necessity or out of the forgiveness of Government as the President claimed. It could also be that the Government knew that the court was going to dismiss the case because it lacked evidence. One of these things or all of them could be the cause of the release, but the reality is that there was listening on the side of the Government.
We know that some leaders who do not want to listen ignore the rule of law. So, if the court dismissed the case, they would do all they can to disregard the law. The fact that the possible dismissal of the case by the court was seen and respected in a different way by the Government is a good sign of change.
The other encouraging event is the acceptance of President Kiir to meet Dr. Riek Machar and to share the power with his side. This acceptance shows that the President has decided to turn around and start on the right foot to move the country forward. This is shown by what he said as reported by Sudan Tribune: “The priority of the government now is to stop this unnecessary war so that the people could return to their homes. The return of the people who have been affected by this conflict to their homes now is one of the main objectives and focus of the negotiation."
Dr. Machar has also shown willingness to bring peace to the country, as shown by his discussions with the U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. Dr. Machar’s position is shown by the statement made by his spokesman: “Yes, it is true we also received the same notification today (Monday) from the mediation team. We hope this will calm down the situation. On our side, Dr. Riek Machar has no problem to meet with Salva Kiir.”
Given the above changes in directions, I have decided to resume writing in order to promote the peace that we are yearning for in our country. It is now the responsibility of every citizen to promote peace at whatever capacity he or she is in.
The released four politicians were the first to initiate this position. They came out of prison after having been detained for more than 130 days and announced that their priority is to work for peace. This means that anybody wronged by a fellow South Sudanese should bury the bitterness and turn around to start on the right foot in order to move the country forward.
All of us will agree that this war is serving no purpose apart from destroying the lives of citizens and their properties. The war that has now existed for only four months must have taken us backward for about five years or more in development and is bringing even a greater disaster.
President Kiir acknowledged this disaster when he said: “I have assured His Excellency [Ban Ki-Moon] that I am ready now to travel to Addis Ababa, to go and meet with Riek Machar, if he will accept to meet me.”
Since I have now come out of cocoon, my next articles will go back to ancient ideas of philosophers, especially Aristotle, to show that what we are experiencing now has been there in human existence. So, we are not delinquents. The only way we would be seen as delinquents is if we do not know how to turn around and improve our mistakes when we go wrong.
Zechariah Manyok Biar can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org