Opinion| Response to remarks by presidential Spokesman – Ateny Wek
By Mabior Garang De Mabior
July 5, 2020 (Thessherald)–In a recent Radio Tamazuj interview the President’s spokesman – Ateny Wek – made the following remarks. “General Olony has violated provisions of the peace agreement which provide that all forces are to be cantoned and trained in order to create a unified army”. He further stated; “we want peace to prevail in the country, so we cannot appoint someone who wants to spoil the peace. Olony is still in the bush and his forces have not yet gone to the cantonment sites,”. He ended his mendacious lies by stating, “Johnson Olony has set some conditions. He wants to come back to Juba with 2,000 forces, which is a violation of the peace agreement.”
These asinine remarks by President Salva Kiir’s reckless Spokesman are the very violation and not the SPLM/SPLA (IO)’s nomination of General Johnson Olony as Governor of Upper Nile State. The entire statement of Ateny Wek is a lie. This is part of the negative propaganda machine of the regime and a violation of the Permanent Ceasefire and Transitional Security Arrangements in the Agreement.
The regime claims Gen. Olony’s forces have not been cantoned and trained to be part of the unified army provided for in the Agreement. This statement is negative propaganda and a provocation to war by the regime. General Johnson Olony is part of the top brass of the allied forces of the SPLM/SPLA (IO), which is an alliance of various military and political forces in our country. Contrary to the regime’s mythology, our Movement is political and not Nuer cultural identity.
The Movement is composed of the SPLA forces which mutinied after the Juba Massacre in 2013; Civil Defence Forces like the White Army, Arrow Boys, Agwelek Division, politicians, civil servants, civil society and our civil population – the backbone of our historic struggle. The forces under the command of Gen. Johnson Olony are part of this alliance and are under the overall command structure of the peoples’ Movement – the SPLM/SPLA (IO). The SPLM/SPLA (IO)’s political leadership is in Juba without security – sitting ducks as it were – begging the regime to implement the Agreement. How is General Johnson Olony then “still in the bush”, as purported by Ateny? Or will this be used as a pretext to launch attacks on our forces which refused to defect to the SSPDF?
The failure to cantone forces is not peculiar to those forces under the command of Gen. Johnson Olony, it is a failure of the parties to the Agreement. The SPLM (IG) – Under President Salva Kiir – has failed to cantone the SSPDF, which is currently conducting a reckless and illegal disarmament exercise in Warrap State. The President has also recently asked the First Vice President to illegally disarm Lou Nuer Youth. These are the real violations, brothers and sisters. The failure to cantone, train and unify the various forces, and the failure to demilitarize civilian centers has worsened the insecurity across the country. The political leadership of the SPLM/SPLA (IO) accepted to go to Juba prior to the implementation of the security arrangements in Chapter II, in the name of ending the immense suffering of our civil population, which should have ended with the founding of the first Republic of South Sudan.
Enough is enough! How long will we allow this dangerous anti-intellectual movement to continue? How can the President’s Spokesman claim the regime wants “peace to prevail in the country” yet there was a regime sponsored counter-insurgency going on in Jong’lei state even as this lie was being peddled? It is an open secret that these attacks are a counter-insurgency tactic carried out by forces of Cobra faction, commanded by Gen. David Yau Yau, not the Murle as a community. It is also well known to our citizens that the forces of Gen. David Yau Yau are funded through the Presidential Advisor for the Greater Pibor Administrative Area (GPAA), Mr. Akot Lual. What would the President’s spokesman call this? It is mischief!The solution to the insecurity in Jong’lei State is not vigilantism against the Murle as a cultural identity, this could amount to genocide.
The solution to the insecurity across the country lies in the implementation of the Security Arrangements in Chapter II – Permanent Ceasefire and Transitional Security Arrangements. And implementation of Chapter V – Transitional Justice, Accountability, Reconciliation and Healing. The Murle, Lou Nuer and Jieng Bor were not enemies in pre-colonial times. These communities – including Collo, Anyuak and Acholi – were united by the Great Ngundeng Bong in the building of his famous Pyramid. This mischief is a legacy of colonial policies of divide and rule, which have been inherited by the traditional power elite in our country. IfJieng-Bor, Lou-Nuer and Murle intellectuals cannot recognise that we share the same problem, an anti-people regime, we shall all be condemned by history.
Instead of lying to our civil population, the Presidency should have been comforting the families of the victims of the recent attacks on Duk’en, Poktap and other small villages in Twic East and Bor-South. Instead of pushing inflammatory propaganda, there should have been an emergency meeting of the Presidency and relief services immediately sent to all the victims irrespective of which side the victims are on. Our flag has never been flown at half mast despite the wholesale perennial death of our people at the hands of the security forces sworn to protect them.
We should not allow ourselves to be misled by morally bankrupt leaders who do not have the best interests of our civil population. There is no peace. There is no way for the Agreement to be implemented under the prevailing objective realities in our land. The political leaders in our country have failed to evolve a ruling elite which is concerned with our collective welfare and prosperity. There is no hope left in the traditional elite in our nascent Republic. It is up to the best daughters and sons of our land – the revolutionary intellectuals – to salvage what is left of the country. The future of our country remains in using the Agreement as a non-violent mechanism to bring about fundamental change in our society.
The negotiated settlement is a tool of struggle just like the armed struggle and the purpose of any armed rebellion is to reach a settlement. We already have this, returning to the bush only to come up with a similar negotiated settlement would be counter-productive and a waste of our citizens’ precious lives. The strongest weapon in the hands of this anti-people regime, to paraphrase Steven Bantu Biko, is the minds of our oppressed peoples. The regime is being propped up by the lies of their intellectual mercenaries combined with our ignorance of the Agreement. Our most sophisticated weapon in this struggle to deliver the promise of the liberation is the negotiated settlement.
The eight chapters in the Agreement address the major issues responsible for state failure in South Sudan. We cannot depend on the beneficiaries of the barbaric status quo to dismantle the system which is their livelihood. If our ignorance of the Agreement is propping up the regime, then it naturally follows that arming ourselves with knowledge of the Agreement will cause it to fall.
The author is a senior member of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-in-Opposition (SPLM-IO) and then Deputy Interior Minister.
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