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Machar has apologised to Dinka Bor community - army official

August 10, 2011 (JUBA) – South Sudan’s vice president, Riek Machar, has apologised to the Dinka Bor community by acknowledging his responsibility for an incident in 1991 which resulted in the loss of hundreds of lives in the community, announced a deputy spokesperson of the South Sudan army, the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA).

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The officer in charge of the SPLA information department, Malak Ayuen Ajok, revealed on the official South Sudan TV that Machar acknowledged his responsibility of the 1991 incidence in Bor following his defection on 28 August 1991 from late John Garang’s leadership.

At a gathering organised by the Dinka Bor community in Juba, reportedly attended by Machar, the army officer told the TV viewers that a number of Dinka Bor community elders including Rebecca Nyandeng de Mabior, the widow of late John Garang, expressed their forgiveness to the vice president.

Malaak, who did not or quote Machar, explained that the apology was the beginning of a reconciliation process and commended the vice president for accepting responsibility of the incident.

The apology has received with mixed reactions by individuals among the Nuer community in Juba and abroad.

Some told Sudan Tribune that the apology was premature and incorrect, calling it a tactic by the Dinka Bor community in order to use the apology against him in the future.

Others welcomed Maxhar’s reconciliatory tone but said it should have been reciprocated with a similar apology by the most senior leader of the Dinka Bor community or Nyandeng, on behalf of the late John Garang for similar incidences that resulted to loss of hundreds of lives in the Jikany Nuer community.

“I don’t believe Riek Machar apologised just like that to the Dinka Bor community. If it is true and aimed to reconcile with the Bor community, then that reconciliation should have been a two-way process. Who among the Dinka Bor’s top leaders apologized on behalf of late Garang for the killing of Jikany Nuer unarmed civilians in 1985?” asked Deng Gatluak.

“Yes, I heard Malaak Ayuen revealing the apology on television. I think they have set him [Machar] up and recorded his confession if it was true so that they can use it against him as evidence of crime. I have been hearing ordinary Dinka boys and girls talking of wanting to take him to the ICC [International Criminal Court] or any other court over the 1991 incident. They may use his apology as an evidence to present to court or to blackmail him with it as a leader,” said another who asked for anonymity.

He went on to question why the apology did not come directly from the source.

Gordon Buay, the former Secretary General of the South Sudan Democratic Party said he was shocked by the apology.

“I was completely shocked that a man like Riek Machar could apologise for 1991 Nasir Declaration which brought the right to self-determination to fore. It is very sad indeed that Riek Machar should reduce himself to the level of Peter Gatdet,” Buay said, referring to another Nuer rebel who recently rejoined the government.

Lul Gatkuoth Nguth, a member of the South Sudanese diaspora in Canada, welcomed the apology, saying it is a politically astute move, to bring peace and harmony to the communities.

“In my opinion, it is not shame that Riek Machar Teny apologized to Dinka Bor community. This is how the politics work. If you go through peace and conciliation process, this term ’apology’ has to apply if you are a real good politician who has a big mind,” he said.

In 1991 the vice president, Riek Machar, split from the SPLM/A under the leadership of late John Garang, calling for self-determination for the people of South Sudan to be the main objective of the movement. He and the current leader of the SPLM-DC, Lam Akol, also cited a lack of democratic principles and human rights abuses as factors that prompted their split.

Machar however rejoined the SPLM/A in 2002 with his forces and has been the party’s deputy chairman as well as the vice president of South Sudan for the last six years.