January 2, 2016 (BENTIU) – Top traditional leaders from the Nuer ethnic group in the affected counties of the oil rich Unity state, have warned of resumption of inter-communal wars in the young nation as a result of what they said was president Salva Kiir’s decreed tribal 28 states which had taken away their ancestral lands and given them to the neighbouring Dinka communities, from which the president hails.
- People walk through the United Nations base outside Bentiu, which hosts around 118,000 people uprooted during the country’s 21-month old civil war (Photo AFP/Tristan McConnell)
In separate interviews with Sudan Tribune after the top traditional chiefs made a consultative meeting in how to handle the situation, the chiefs of Bul-Nuer community of Mayom county, Jikany-Nuer of Guit county and Leek-Nuer of Rubkotni county, whose big chunks of lands have been curved and given to their neighbours, warned of pending wars over the matter.
The chiefs who have been under the territories controlled by the government said president Kiir’s decision was a declaration of war and green light to resume ancient wars between neighbouring communities in South Sudan.
Tunguar Kueyguong, paramount chief of Rubkona county, which also hosts Bentiu, the state capital, has rubbished president Kiir’s decision referring to it as unpopular demand of the people of South Sudan and warned of repercussions to annex parts of their ancestral lands to Dinka langs by use of state power.
“We read Kiir’s decree, which claimed to have given the powers he had retained to himself during the CPA era to the people of South Sudan with a lot of interest. We have observed that the claim was a sharp contrast,” he said in a phone interview on Saturday.
“We believe the decision was deliberately made by Kiir to install Dinka tribal empire and dominion in South Sudan and to weaken other ethnic communities in the country so that he and his Jieng Council of Elders (JCE) would rule the country with more powers consolidated in the centre and with impunity,” said Kueyguong.
The powerful paramount chief of Leek Nuer community accused president Kiir of instead taking powers from the people by making bad decisions alone with a group of Dinka tribal organization, known as the Jieng Council of Elders (JCE), whom he accused of interest to disintegrate the country and take back communities to past wars.
He explained that president Kiir’s decree of 28 states has taken away a number of their villages including Nyabol, BarYok, Kailuoy, RiangTuroal, Thai Bany, Nor Lam wel, Barkuor, Thayang, Yaak, Luonyluony and Chirchir from Rubkotna county and have been annexed to the neighbouring Dinka of the newly created Ruweng state.
Koang Bipal Rialthieng, paramount chief of Bul-Nuer community of Mayom county, which is the mostly affected community of Nuer tribe by taking a large chunk of their ancestral lands, also accused president Kiir of declaring war between the Bul-Nuer community and their neighbours.
He said a big land which was taken from the Bul-Nuer community and annexed to Ruweng state of the Dinka community include villages of Tharuop, KonguonNyang, Buroch, Daploy, Norkur, Thoar Gai Geng, Wulle, Pajook, Kaikang, Buem, Ngol, Kueyian, Lil, Bornyang, Paguir, Ciengthoah, Yap, Gera, Phamjaa, Thogaguir, Juoyloth, Watwat, Pulkerekna, Rawyim, Yiediet, Luot, Pham, Patriak, Normanlok, Tharwang, Wicnyang, Pibor, Gaap, Wuonegor, Makuach, Mathiang, Buuth, Nyedeng, Haat, Buongpiny, Puljupni, Kaijaa, Thowulokthol, Muoth, Wiyierthow, Gabuer, Jokyang, Biey, Thorpadang, Mabil, Malual, Tuachbor, Maarnaath and Duay.
He warned that the decision of taking away their territories by forces mean creating more conflicts escalation between peaceful communities of Unity State.
“And we would like to notify President Kiir that the ill-intended decree will drag this beautiful nation into centuries of wars and inter-communal feuds over boundaries,” Rialthieng told Sudan Tribune.
Joseph Kong Yoach, head chief from Guit county also echoed the warning in a separate interview with Sudan Tribune, describing the decree an abuse of South Sudanese rights, dismissing president Kiir’s claims that the decision was in the interest of the people.
He said taking other people’s lands and giving them to his tribal communities should not be in the interest of the victims of this decision, calling on president Kiir to reverse this decree in order to achieve peace among the neighbouring communities.
He said areas such as Jokchoat, Garak, Nyakier, Thoardiok, Wichyaka, Bahraar, Kuerboni (Manga), Kuerguei, Keach, Manyang, Lel Guan Yach, Bathgak, Munduoch, WichbarGatluak Bol, Keaw, Lied, Gueny, Nyawai were taken away by president Kiir’s decree from the Jikany-Nuer of Guit county, saying such a decision was violation of country’s transitional constitution.
He accused president Kiir of deliberately planting conflicts between the Nuer and Dinka communities of Unity state, whom he said had been co-existing peacefully as neighbours.
“Sad enough, Kiir’s decree has deprived the communities of the said three counties of their ancestral lands, located north of Unity state, which he, by decree annexed to our peaceful and brotherly neighbours of Dinka Ruweng in Abiemnom and Parieng counties, whom we have mutually coexisted with, endured hardships and survived together for centuries,” he said.
The leaders of the three Nuer communities, who have been given a state called Northern Lich state, with claims that some of their lands taken away, have called on president Kiir to issue a similar unilateral decree and reinstate the country back to its 10 states, leaving the issue of creating more states to people of South Sudan to decide in the constitutional amendment process during the transitional period.
The creation of 28 states and appointment of new governors in South Sudan, and removal of recognized ten states has been criticized by civil society groups, opposition parties and armed opposition factions, who fought the government for 21 months, describing it as a violation of signed peace agreement.