Could it have been prevented?
Opinion | By Deng Wal Gatluak
Opinion (Thessherald)–December 15th, 2013 marked the darkest day in the Nuer history, a fearless tribe known for its bravery and always revered a warrior as the prophet Isaiah prophesied [Isaiah: 18]. Their ancestors and traditional leaders used to be strong and conquerors except for the time when Riek Machar took the helm with countless bloodshed, loss of many lives and destruction of properties.
Not only did the past seven years bring misfortune to this society, but it ultimately led to intergenerational illiteracy among the Nuer children.
For instance, if an eight-year-old [Nuer boy] had been enrolled in class 8 in 1991, he would have obtained a master’s degree or worked in an office by now.
Since 1991, Machar’s quest for self-determination has not brought good news to the Nuer community, but rather a disgraceful surrender to the very enemy, putting the Nuer at a more disadvantage.
For example, majority of his forces were unconfirmed after merging with the late John Garang in 2002, and had it not been for late Paulino Matip Nihal who at heart fought very hard to see Nuer officers in a military parade. The scenario is now repeating itself – all Machar’s forces are assembled in the bushes at contonment sites with little help to them from the very person; while in Juba the man is enjoying the bloody cake with his children, closest relatives and aides driving V8 vehicles after other luxury cars.
Everyone in Juba prior to the Nuer massacre in 2013 knew that the doomsday was going to befall the country, after the president had brought in notorious militiamen/Mathiang Anyor and Gelweng. If Riek Machar had had strategies or wisdom, he would have challenged the president by preventing him from recruiting paramilitary groups from the Bhar el Ghazal region.
A leader who cares about the welfare of his people could have challenged the president both in Parliament and in cabinet meetings to make his voice heard. Similarly, if Kiir had refused to stop enlisting his paramilitary groups in his hometown, then Machar would have emulated the same policy by recruiting and bringing the White Army from the Lou-Nuer to counter such an ill-intentioned plan.
Allowing militia groups to reach Juba in Machar’s watchful eyes is a curse that will haunt him forever – let’s not shift the blame onto James Hoth Mai, as some writers always scapegoat him in their analysis opinions. Salva Kiir refused to listen to James Hoth Mai’s advice regarding illegal recruitment, so Machar could have used this as a justification for bringing young Nuer men closer to Juba as long as the president was acting out of the constitution.
President Kiir is a coward – who doesn’t know him? –if he knew that the White Army were around Juba, he might think twice before plunging the country into such a meaningless war.
The 2016 peace agreement that resulted in the killing of young men at J1, as well as his recent return to Juba (bare-handed) following the signing of the R-ARCISS are his blunder mistakes. The ongoing attacks on SPLM-IO forces around Moroto and elsewhere in the country are clear evidence that the peace agreement is teetering on the verge of collapse, it is just a matter of a ticking time bomb.
Not far from reality, the Nuer community in the near future may be trapped and massacred once again by the same regime due to the same ignorance and Machar’s unchanging behavior. The time will surely come when a true leader will emerge from this community. Rest in peace Nuer victims!
The writer is a concerned South Sudanese and can be reached via his Email: email@example.com
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