opinionBy Joseph Baak Ruonrach
Considering that we are dealing with an immense, importance, sensitive, and candid burning issue, that caused much public angst. Particularly, among the citizens of NBGS.
The Security Arrangements of the Cooperation Agreement signed last month between the Republic of South Sudan, and the Sudan, mainly mile 14 that sent a cold shiver down the spines of most of the people of Aweil Community, and fired up the mood of the people, to the high heaven. Luckily enough, and in a swift move, the elders of Greater Bahr el Ghazal (GBG) met with the people of Aweil Community in Juba few weeks ago in Nyakuron Culture Centre in an attempt to ease the flaring situation among the citizens.
The occasion was attended by some negotiators, to explain the contents of the agreement to people of BG; the meeting which became a litmus test to some of the negotiators, their abilities and capabilities to represent the young nation was questionable.
The team which composed of ministers representing the SPLM and the leader of UDSF-Mainstream, who is also holding a ministerial portfolio went to Addis Ababa for peace talks without technical teams to assist them, faced an adamant counterpart with nefarious schemes that got away with many things during the negotiations! This is clear in the agreement; a proper reading of its contents can give you what actually occurred.
We are not blind. We can differentiate between the wheat and chaff, what occurred in the talks was a setback to the new nation. Disputed areas including Abyei were to be bartered with oil, unless our negotiators were not having the gut to negotiate.
It would have been wise to, at least involve the legal adviser of the president honorable judge Telar Ring Deng the brilliant and a smart comrade to assist the team on some legal issues. But guess what.....the super and the down to earth "Mr. we know it all" will never allow for other stakeholders to hear out their views. However, the people of NBG were annoyed regarding the 14 miles.
They are alternating between faith and hope, discouragement, despair, outrageous that winds up anger among the citizens due to the magnitude of 14 miles that is supposed to be a demilitarized zone according to the agreement; a reason that pricks people of Aweil collective conscience, they shouted and cry loud to settle the shameful political bias. They complained loudly, and marched peacefully to the national assembly to hand their protest to the speaker of the House with no effect until they met the President who diffused the tension, and assured the community of his firm position that an inch of the land will not be compromised to Riziegat tribes or to the Republic of Sudan.
The key challenge is how the Government shows to the community that it has a stake in the process? Few missteps here and there by the ruling party are enough to make a case.
Take, for example, the mile 14 which brought a big raw among the citizens of the Republic of South Sudan generally, and Aweil community, in particular, the issue is something new, brought to the negotiating table by those with the hidden agenda, who rides the SPLM to satisfy their wishes, and make it a (escape hatch), a vehicle that would allow the wielded influence beyond the president. Meanwhile, those nefarious schemes and all the mistakes are committed by the name of the party.
There is a need to check the party, whether it is shrinking, or increasing? Let those who have ears hear the following questions loudly and clearly:
First, the party failed to thank the people of great nation who brought them to power through elections. Secondly, the party failed to thank the great people who brought the independence. Thirdly, it failed to provide an inclusive program that could uplift ordinary citizen. Fourth and finally its failure to move away from the endless personalities, greed, and childish arguments is very much observed. Those failures should have rung bell for the corrupt elements that their act is still fresh in mind of citizens. Those habitually dip thieving fingers into the public treasury, mainly the 75 thieves and criminals, mentioned before by the President are supposed to be behind bars by now.
History will record their mistakes, and one day those people must be held accountable for crimes they committed. The bottom line is that nobody is the high-flying SPLM where his bedrock support is to be found, and cannot be removed from the high-profile of the party, a practice that will be decided by the members of the party's convention that weight the individuals' performances, and select the best of the best, who are ready to excel, and make a different.
For the reasons mentioned, there is a certainty to when the term of the current SG of the SPLM will end? Since the party and personalities are not joined at the hip! The reality is that, the weakest link in our party organ is the brain of the party, a problem that we witnessed in many occasions, and a point at which the quality of service that the party provides has declined steadily, resembling a giant vehicle merely spinning its wheels in the mud, unable to extricate itself.
In their briefing to people of GBG mentioned earlier, the negotiating team, except Cde, Paul Mayom Akec resembles a "shitback" (a military term for poor performance) because of the poor presentation. It was the most grotesque, and embarrassing situation to all attendance in Nyakuron Cultural Centre, when one of the negotiating team members, a dark star in the constellation of the group who kept rambling about, unorganized, and unprepared to explain the agreement, he negotiated!
Though one of the members insulted Aweil community squarely that they don't understand English (The whole community)!!! Was a sharp word released by a dark star, with crude English, had only added insults to deep injury of mile 14? It was painful, and bitter to swallow, but we will deal with it, and suck it up for we know the English skills of this fellow well, and there is no need to indulge in such a cheap debate.
Aristotle once said, "It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it." If those whom we had once seen as the epitome of the quiet, humble, highly effective leaders, ruined their reputations and legacies, then there is a reason that the respect won't be there anymore.
A closer look at Nyakuron Culture Centre briefing by negotiators, made me to draw a conclusion that if such caliber are the individuals representing us at the negotiations, then the whole country will be annexed to the Republic of Sudan next round. This is simply because our team failed to provide enough evidence to convince the other party on several issues.
Furthermore, it was clear from the briefing that the team was lacking information when they asked the audience to provide them with maps, and other necessary documents to assist them in the upcoming talks! How about the burden of the names of the areas which became problematic to the team because of ignorance and complexity of the area? Is it not necessary to represent the communities by adding those who are knowledgeable about the areas to the team to assist them?
People like Kawac Makuei Mayar, Hon. Aldo Ajou Deng , Rtd ,General Albino Akol Akol, Hon.Ngong Deng Gum the former commissioner of Aweil North County, Sultan A/ Bagi Akol all these people know the area better than the chief negotiator and could make a different in the talks.
We believe the situation would have been different if scholars from the area were consulted before the talks. People like Dr. Dhieu Mathok Diing Wol who did his Doctorate on the Dinka Malual-Riziegat tribal conflict and published extensively on the area, Dr Ballario Ahoi Ngomg who was one time a part of Niavasha peace talks in Kenya. At least if the advice from these two gentlemen were taken, things would have been different now.
I bet the ignorance of the team about the area and a dereliction of duty that provide ample evidence of a failed mission which bred this intense situation.
The two dark stars of the group are not to be blamed, but only the party that picks such poor guys must be held responsible for any debacle. It is a pretty conviction that the SG of our party (SPLM) will agree with me that he failed the party. If not let the members' roll-call begins and find out the truth.
Joseph Baak Ruonrach is a citizen of Northern Bahr el Ghazal living in Juba. He previously served in the US army.