Home | Comment & Analysis    Sunday 19 April 2020

Forgive Riek Machar


By Dak Buoth Riek-Gaak

An old African proverb says ‘‘if you want to go quickly, go alone; and If you want to go far, go together.’’ I am very much concern with the unfolding events characterized by defections of the senior military and political leaders from the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-in-opposition (SPLM-IO), led by First Vice President, Dr Riek Machar. This fractious trend is risking political marriage in the country.

In March, the deputy chief of Staff for Administration, Lieutenant General James Koang Chuol Ranley broke away with among other High Ranking military Generals citing numerous accusations, one being that Riek Machar had turned the National SPLM-IO movement into his family business. Of course, this is not far from the truth. In politics, they say a lie repeated many times becomes the truth. The surprising appointment of Madam Angelina Jany Teny as South Sudan Minister of Defence and Veteran Affairs had been a point of contention since day one.

On 16th, April 2020 my namesake and former Petroleum Minister Honorable Dak Duop Bichiok defected from SPLM-IO not forgetting the earlier defection of the group led by Major General Ochan Puot. The former and the latter reiterated the same accusation the days they abandoned Riek’s.

Wittingly or unwittingly, Riek has close his ears suggesting to those who opposed her appointment to go for hang or hell. Some see this gesture as a sheer provocation, and that is why you see all these pulls and push every now and then. Our past and recent history had proved that Nuer is not like a frog. Scientific research proved that when you put a frog in a basin with cold water and add hot water on it, it won’t come out. It will just die there peacefully. It is improper to compare reptile with human beings but there is no problem since they are all living creatures walking and breathing. Contrary, a Nuer will hardly keep quiet in the face of provocation. If you interfere with Nuer man’s peace, he will try to wrestle with you in the mud with powers at his disposal.

The executive power that Riek Machar has to appoint and sack people were not God-given; it is a collective power earn through the sweat and blood of all and sundry; and it was donated to him by people like James Koang Chuol, Dak Duop and the likes. It is wrong for him to use it as a tool to killed and burry people politically. I think it is too early for him to do that. And if I were him I would never do that. Dr Riek is just the best among the best players in the field, and he can be removed and or substituted with another best player should he refused to evaluate himself in the midst of these crises threatening our unity as a community and as a country.

Political power is a tool used to enable people to achieve their socioeconomic and political aspirations in life. In any case, this political power can be taken away by hook or crook if he misuses it. Dr Riek must be accountable for this human and collective power. Any political power requires to check and balance by the public who donated it.

Unfortunately, time is not ripe for someone like Koang and Dak to take away their power; reason being I am afraid if they take away their little powers right now, it could also be snatched from them by unseen forces.

They might have been offended by design or default but this is not time to fight back. If the duo must fight they must consider deferring their war with Riek to later date after peace is achieved. You would agree that as a community we are not short of wars. If they launched these wars on top of biting hunger and coronavirus pandemic, the country will suffer most. The latest news of defections and the rapid spread of COVID-19 are heavy to flow down our throats.

I must say this is trying moment that needs endurance. We are in the middle of transitional from war to peace, and because we are transitioning to an era of peace, the question is: will these continuous defections enhance peace? The obvious answer is no. If so, than any peace-loving individual like me must be worried knowing that, any internal fighting within SPLM-IO and or between SPLM-IO and SPLM-IG always caused devastative effects in the country.

More often than not, ordinary people and military Leaders do not differentiate political disagreements and other contentious issues pertaining to governance. You would recall the war we are trying to end now started as a political tussle with the ruling SPLM party in 2013. It was however misconstrued and named as a war between Dinka and Nuer.

Equally, in 2016, when then minister of Mining and now vice President, Gn. Taban Deng Gai bitterly parted ways with Riek Machar over the Petroleum ministry. Their bitter differences cascaded down into my Liech community where the duo hails from. And up to now, we are still nursing wounds of these wars. Since these defections bring us troubles, I thought it would be wise for me to talk to them soberly and humanly. Renowned Journalist, Jeff Koinage opined that ‘‘the moment we stop talking we starting fighting.’’ I am now calling on them to grants me their ears as a potential victim of their wars. I recognized that Dak Duop, Koang Chuol and Riek Machar are the senior-most Elders of Liech community and Nuer community as a whole.

They say ‘‘the simple way of losing sight of where you are going is by losing sight of where you are coming from’’. The trio should not appear like people who have forgotten where they came from.

I am of the view that Dr Riek Machar cannot be right all the time because he is not a saint. I presumed that he is wrong in these squabbles. However, I am appealing to Honorable Dak Duop Bichiok and General James Koang Ranley to forgive him and make U-turn if possible without holding grudges.

Most Nuer especially these three Leaders are deemed to be believers, and I would like to post this, ‘‘Why did Jesus say he won’t forgive us if we don’t forgive?’’ Jesus said in Mathew 6:14-15 that if we aren’t willing to forgive others, he won’t forgive us. Other than this, the art of forgiveness is also an African principle that exists prior to the coming of Christian missionaries to Africa. Naturally, Africans particularly elders are visionaries who could see from a distance. I expect Koang and Dak to see what we could not see clearly now. They should weigh their decisions by applying SWOT analysis.

The sentiments of our Fallen General, Stephen Buay Rolnyang who was stripped of all his military ranks from general to civilian in December 2019 are a good example. Buay Rolnyang was mistreated by President Kiir and company in a manner similar to Jesus crucifixion. By then People thought he was going to rebel and retaliate. Surprisingly, he soon forgave all his nemeses who beat him hands down for no good reason at all. In an interview with Eye radio, Buay said and I quote ‘‘peace is what we want; not everybody will have a position.’’ Now Buay has not only recovered but gained political momentum. I heard he is even lobbying for the Unity State governorship, and my people in Unity State have soft spot for him due to the hardship that he went through in 2018. Many are of the view that he would preach that spirit of forgiveness among the divided people of Unity State.

In reference to this hard experience, Elder Dak and Elder Koang should forgive and permit Riek to do as he wishes for the sake of us. And they should extend that forgiveness to Madam Angelina so as for her to complete her assignments. Remember she is a mother who was around with them in the trenches. Thus, they should try to give her peace of mind by allowing her to complete the pending security arrangement with President Salva Kiir and other peace partners.

I believed James Koang Chuol and Dak Duop have struggled so hard for this peace that we are trying to implement. Nearly everyone is looking unto them for the success of this peace accord. Hence, I want them to compromise for the sake of South Sudan that they love most.

They must know that the formation of the Transitional Government of National Unity is not a panacea for all the things we have been yearning for as a community and as a country. I want them to deliver us peace and justice within stipulated timeframe before they could retire or cross over for one reason or another. Any defection that would have a negative impact on peace and justice must be put on hold. The country is bigger than these lucrative positions in the Transitional Government of National Unity.

The Writer is the Chairman of Liech Community Association in Kenya, the views expressed here are his own; and he can be reached for comments via eligodakb@yahoo.com

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