An open letter to Dr. Riek Machar Teny

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An open letter to Dr. Riek Machar Teny

 

By. Simon Unite Khor Yuot

Juba, South Sudan,

It is with a heavy heart that I took the decision to pick up my pen and write. I had turned down this idea for a year now hoping for things to change as changes occur or perhaps nature may take care and resolve some minor issues on its own but all seem to be daydreams. Things are getting from bad to worst. Then I am left with no option but to speak out your Excellency. I hope you take time and read through with an open mind, I beg my lord.

Gawaar community is a complex one like any other community in South Sudan. We have co-existed for centuries as one family as our origin defines. Generations come and go with their rulers and all had been well although minor differences may have been there, our elders or ancestors really managed them. Potential leaders like Both Diu, Gatwech Khan, and Elijah Hon Top just to mention but few whom we are really proud of as one may mention any of these names. May their souls rest in peace.

The trend seems to be changing and in a rapid and most dangerous way hence it caused me to write. I know you know all that I am going to say but allow me to express them from my personal point of view. I am not against anybody but I am against my own people turning their weapons against one another. A family that keeps its matters unresolved is waiting for nothing but a disaster.

Our family politics is having issues that need to be addressed. If those who are privileged to meet you had been saying that things are okay from A to Z, then I am here to say that nothing is okay. We need to talk fruitfully. I am not going to expose these issues in detail to the general public because every family has its own problems.

But our problem ranges from administrative issues, land, and currently to the politics of threat to be more diplomatic. Let me assume you know all these. I am not going to talk about all these problems openly because talking about them in the media will not solve them but I am letting you know that these are all deadly matters if not controlled before time then death shall be inevitable.

I am going to talk only about what I call politics of threats, which is likely to bring every matter to violence. Many of our people have been forced to run for their lives if not to avoid bloodshed. Leadership is a gift from God and is only given to one person at a time. The major objective is to identify problems and find ways in which these problems can be solved. That is my little understanding of leadership but that I am not seeing.

The leaders in this part where I live are busy day and night creating more problems and finding no ways to solve them. I believe there are similar voices out there who could not speak but they have the same message like mine.

It was in April last year when Gen. Peter Puok and Capt. Lual Gony came into deadlock. They were both under your leadership in Phou Area. The two came in deadlocked due to administrative issues, which I shall not go into details about here but deal with the part that was likely turning into violence.

Gen. Puok moved to Mogok with more than three hundred armed guards. When Capt. Lual Gony saw that the situation at hand may turn violent, he peacefully and narrowly escaped with few soldiers who were his personal guards and 95% of the administrators of Mogok Area to avoid violence. When you were informed you ordered Capt. Lual to go back to Mogok, which he did as a servant but uncle. He felt betrayed but kept the matter at heart. No one talked about it again although there was little calmness the real problem remains unsolved.

There was a need to talk from leadership. The historians were not wrong when they said that history repeats itself. In less than two months Capt. Lual, whom you entrusted personally through your decree as a caretaker commissioner of the Mogok area was relieved by a caretaker governor, we waited for your response as you currently did when Mr. Dhiling was suspended by the General Chief of Staff but you did not talk my lord. Then the team, if I may call them, went further accusing Capt. Lual and Brig. Gen. Kuot Duop of trying to defect to government, the intention both do not have under the sun.

When we learned about that we let our intention of meeting Lual at Kandak be known to uncle Puok who assured us of having no intention to fight should Lual leave office peacefully. We went to Kandak and met Lual and Gen. Kuot. While in Kandak Lual told us that he has no reason to fight.

He assured of peaceful handing over of power to anyone. When Peter was informed of this development by his security agents at Kandak, he asked them if they were under duress and were forced to report positively. They were not under duress, they said.

He suspected them of joining Lual and Gen. Kuot. He said we were not supposed to be in Kandak or come to Jiech. He told us to go to Mogok, a move Gen. Diang refused threatening to attack. Wow! We were not needed at Kandak, Jiech, and Mogok, that was funny. We had nowhere to go. They both issued threats of fighting in case we don’t listen. Listen to what if one may ask?

Simply this was an abuse of powers. We had nowhere to go in our own land. That was obsolete. We opted to go where we can call home if we narrow ourselves to Yuot Chan’s home. We went to Guduk at our ancestral home where the family lives at Bilyien’s graveyard.

When uncle learned about the move he threatened to attack and kill all of us and burn our houses into ashes. He gave us hours to leave or die, the choice remained ours, he claimed. From the other side of view, we didn’t want to leave home as if someone has powers to order us around unnecessary.

We know the constitution didn’t mention such but someone is exercising beyond his powers that did not bother us. We were too calculative also in our reaction because uncle had created enough enemies for himself all around Jiech.

Others wanted to take advantage of that but uncle’s ego was too strong to see how he may have lost the war. We had three major reasons not to fight amongst many. First, we didn’t want him to die. Second, we did not want our major enemy to take advantage of the situation.

Last but not least we didn’t want our family to have that record at a time like this. Could he have sent his men in hours as he threatened, we would have had no option but to fight. After some days when we showed him that we were not afraid of his threat, we left Guduk for Mogok.

While in Mogok we tried our level best to get Lual out of Mogok to Juba but uncle Peter Puok instructed Brig. Gen. Mathok Hoth and Gen. Simon Diang to attack Lual at the airstrip if he tried to move. The dual called in those who were coordinating the flight and threatened them with months in prison at Karmuon, which may result in them losing jobs.

We didn’t want to involve others in our fade. All attempts to reach you through the former caretaker governor of the Phou area did not bear fruit. Remember as we go through all this mess, uncle claim to be working under your directives. A claim which you need to verify my lord.

All we asked from Gen. Kuol was a letter directing them to let Lual had freedom of movement. Period. But all did not work “maybe uncle was right we thought”. There was a need to talk here but no one could give an ear. We kept quiet hoping for better answers one day.

We thought all was done because time and nature had answered us but here is another deadlock again. Lual thought he would work better as an administrator and serve his people at the county level. When they learned about this they felt threatened by the move because they know Lual is a capable administrator.

The group went ahead claiming to be working under your directives as usual. They said the post of executive director was for Mogok and claimed publicly that it should be allocated to the people of Thuop Boma. If it is not given to them now and the reaction of the few is to fight, then they are right, someone told them it was theirs.

Now, who is to be blamed if they fight? Count the fighters out. They have a reason to fight. The real question is, what is the peace agreement saying on this issue? Executive Director is to be assigned through a local government as usual.

It is not a political post. Then the group claimed that you instructed them to do so. Did you? If yes. Were you acting outside the agreement? And if no, then tell the group that they were out of the agreement. They should be the right people to let the community know that what they said, in the beginning, was not correct.

And if you did ask them to do so, then let the community know that through you that it was not supposed to be so according to the agreement. It is not too late; we only need to let them know the truth instead of them threatening to fight the agreement.

Asking the minister of local government to reverse the decision is like asking him to go against the agreement. We should preach what we do and do what we preach. I believe some people sat somewhere and designed how this mess can come about.

Telling them the truth is not taking sides I believe many of them can read and write. Let them take it raw and stop pointing hands at other people as the cause when they are the very problem that needs to be solved. I was saddened last Sunday seeing adults sitting for the whole day and finding no concrete solutions to their discussion.

The world is changing and South Sudan is changing rapidly as well. So, we need to adjust to those changes as they occur. Let us know the genesis of the problem before we let our powers handle issues in the opposite direction.

Thank you Your excellency for having time to read this article. The decision to act in any way still remains wholly yours.

Your’s sincerely,

The author, Simon Unite Khor Yuot, is a concerned South Sudanese citizen. He can be reached through email at unitekhor@gmail.com

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