Opinion: Kiir's tour of Bhar el Ghazal region is ill-timed and unnecessary
If President Kiir Mayardit needs to be taken serious by South Sudanese that his intentions are good and that he means peace, then his ongoing tour of Greater Bhar el Ghazal should not have taken place now because it is not a priority. His first visit should have started in the most affected war-torn region of Greater Upper Nile followed by Equatoria. The tour of Greater Bhar el Ghazel should have come last.
This post-war tour should have happened when the designated First Vice President, Dr. Riek Machar arrives in Juba. Once these leaders of the warring parties who are now peace partners are with Kiir's government arrive to Juba, they would held their hands and walk side by side as a sign of a genuine return of peace to the country and they then jointly begin the dissemination of peace, and promotion of reconciliation and national healing. The young country underwent a very traumatizing experience as a result of catastrophic and senseless five years of war which was ended by the R-ARCSS.
A tour that includes opposition leaders would have sent an assuring message to the people of Greater Upper Nile that peace had indeed returned to the country and that the President and his Vice President were no longer enemies as demonstrated by their joint peace tour. President Kiir Mayardit would have had an opportunity to outline his plans on how he intend to maintain peace which has return to the young nation and how to bring services to the war affected communities.
In this tour of Bahr el Ghazal, what kind of message will the President take to the people that will convince them that he is genuinely for peace and not planning another round of conflict? In my opinion, people of Bahr el Ghazal will not take the message of the President with any seriousness. His message will be seen as just another lip service that they saw in political rallies since 2005 which usually yield no results. What people need now is not political rallies, they want peace to be implemented.
President Kiir Mayardit wants to be forgiven before he could be trusted by the victims of this war who view him as the cause of war and main obstacle to the implementation of peace agreement. President Kiir should have first visited these people and apologize to them on behalf of the warring parties about the war which resulted in the loss of thousands of innocent lives, serious damages and destruction on people’s property and all war related suffering which has been inflicted on the civil population during the 5 years of conflict. He would then lays out his reconstruction plan to rebuild the lives of the victims of this senseless war.
President Kiir needs to tell the people of South Sudan how he plans to bring back the civil populations that fled the country during the war to refugees’ camps in neighboring countries where they sought physical safety and food security. If the President was sincere and honest about peace implementation, he should have gone on his regional tours along with Dr. Riek Machar and other opposition leaders as an assurance to the people that peace was really being implemented.
If President Kiir was sincere with his peace tour, his Bhar el Ghazal visit should have been the last leg of his peace tour. It is indisputable that Bhar el Ghazel is not impacted at the same magnitude as the Great Upper Nile which saw much of fighting. This, therefore, goes without that war affected populations in Greater Upper Nile which see Kiir administration as the cause of their suffering should have been given the first opportunity during peace tour.
Most importantly, Bhar el Ghazel is the home region of the President. Therefore, the people there may be less angry and could be more willing to embrace the message of peace and which is indeed a good thing for the implementation of revitalized peace agreement. However, I view this tour of Greater Bhar el Ghazal region not to be a priority now; instead, it will only waste national resources which should have been used to fund other priorities in the agreement integration and joint training of forces.
Kuach Loch Garang Deng is a South Sudanese living in Calgary, AB, Canada. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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