Home | Comment & Analysis    Thursday 17 January 2008

The north Sudan army have withdrawn with plan B

By J. Ojoch

January 16, 2008 — The Sudan Arm Forces (SAF) have withdrawn from the Southern territories as did the SPLA (Sudan Peoples Liberation Army] from the North. The deal looks perfect. The world congratulates both parties to the CPA [Comprehensive Peace Agreement]. Most South Sudanese, if not all, however, see the move with reservation. The SAF withdrawal is not perfect. For that matter, any move about the CPA terms is and will be seen the same way. The Northern rulers are tricky and very articulate in dealing with the Southern Sudan. They do not want the CPA to run smoothly as expected because it is afraid to lose grip of the South. For this reason they have plans B, C, D, or even Z for each equation of the CPA. So the withdrawal is not over. It is just the beginning of troubles. The South must remain vigilant and calculative of the circumstances as we go forward.

Just before complete evacuation of the SAF the same started unprovoked war posing as Miseriya tribesmen. This is the plan B. The withdrawal was and is just a symbolic mask in the face of the world. Abei still remains the battleground for oil, which the Arabs do not want to miss. If it were really a true tribal war the Miseriya would have attacked the Dinka Ngok villages instead of daring to attack the SPLA across the 1956 borders. The Miseriya would have smelt the risk of attacking a government. The Arab plan B therefore is being implemented very fast before the dust made by the withdrawing troops settles down. These attacks will continue though contained to some extent now. The SAF/Miseriya will continue to strike matches in between until a big fire is built. The aim of the North is to destroy the CPA, which they signed tactfully. Southerners are not blind to this old trick.

The withdrawal of the SPLA from the North is clean without plan B at least for what the public knows. The GoSS cannot fall back on its diverse tribes to reciprocate what the North is doing in disguise. Southern tribes are lethal to one another by using the guns. It is a great disadvantage, which the North uses against the South and Darfur. Jenjaweed in Darfur and Miseriya in Abei are just tribesmen as we have in the South of Sudan. There is peace among them and they support the their government fully. If Southern tribes were at peace with one another the Ngok Dinka and others could be armed to confront the Miseriya with the SPLA in the shadows just the SAF do. This would play out as a tribal politics. But now it is the Government of Southern Sudan [GoSS] fighting a tribe [or tribes]. It is an indirect way of degrading the SPLA and thus the GoSS itself. It is another kind of image damage. The Arab looks for every simple matter to magnify the unworthiness of the Southerners.

Now that the South cannot arm its population against the North the biggest option is to build the peace among the Southern diversities. Peace is a strong weapon. There must be peace in every corner of the Southern Sudan in order for development to be viable. With peace and development all tribes will be geared toward supporting the GoSS because it has made its presence felt everywhere. In any event of a war the population will be behind the government. Any war with the North now will split the Southern tribes into fragments again as it was before the CPA because we still believe in the power of tribes.

The effort to disarm the Murle in Jonglei must go ahead swiftly and the same must be done to other groups or individuals with guns everywhere in the South. The GoSS should help the IDPs return quickly to their places of origin. For example, Dinka Bor still in Equatoria should be helped to go home instead of their presence being seen as a source of conflicts with the host tribes. The Lou Nuer should vacate the Anyuak lands in Akobo which they occupied by taking advantage of the past wars. Such issues are common in the South but each is unique in its occurrence. [The Lou/Akobo issue has been heard but its solution is lingering in Jonglei system mixed with other issues]. Going back to places of origin must be interpreted out of context. It is the same thing like movement of Southerners from the North back to the South while people employed at GoNU remain at duties [with families]. Similarly ethnic groups displaced into other parts of the South, including those who went out selfishly, have no reasons to cling and cause unnecessary conflicts with the hosts.

The GoSS must demarcate the tribal borders as they were in 1956 and also regulate the grazing and watering points for the pastoral communities to feed their cattle during the dry periods without frictions. With every group in place registration for the census is quicker and much easier. The statistics obtained will be accurate since people are registered where they properly belong and will vote in accordance with the law.

Peace is thus a big asset for the GoSS as it is for the Arab North. It is a potential that the South has not harvested. It is the peace among Arab tribes that the SAF are using to further their goals to destroy the CPA and to find ways to demoralize the Southern Army and its government. It is peace among the Arab tribes that was and is being translated into guns to fight the South over the years while the South was and is fighting against itself. The Arabs are going to show us more and more tricks as time goes by. The 3rd CPA Anniversary has gone. It found us grueling with pain and left us with that pain. It is time we woke up and begin to clean our house to allow us to look into one direction to the North.

* Ojoch can be reached at ochang@ earthlink.net, USA.