Dear President Salva Kiir Mayayrdit and International Community
We, sons and daughters of Rumbek Community in diaspora: Australia, USA, Canada, Europe and many other places of refuge all over the world, are very much concerned and disappointed about the death and suffering of our people in South Sudan in general and Rumbek area of Lakes State in particular. Communities in Lakes State have been experiencing cycle of violence, encouraged and left to fight amongst themselves. When the peace agreement (CPA 2005) was signed and government of South Sudan was instituted under your leadership, you did nothing to stop this violence. But the first responsibility of any government in the world is to provide security and peace for its citizens. Instead, your government failed completely to do this in Lakes State. Communal fighting in Rumbek became worst from 2013 when a tribal war broke out between your forces and forces of Dr. Riek Machar, the former Vice of Republic of South Sudan. We strongly believe that your government began to directly supply the rural youth with guns, and as a consequence law and order completely broke down. Some of your supporters in Lakes State government argued that rural youth should be armed to go and fight the SPLA-IO.
The people of Rumbek (Politicians, chiefs, women, youth and representatives from Diaspora), have tried their best to reconcile their communities and to bring peace to the area, but these attempts have failed because your governments in Juba and Lakes State did not do their part. There has been about ten-community peace conferences/meetings held in Rumbek to discuss how to bring peace in the area, but they have all come to nothing because your government did not implement the resolutions of peace meetings. You have been quoted in one of your meetings with youth of Rumbek as saying “Agaar people are very intelligent people and they are killing themselves to go and book a good place underground before we could go there”. This was in July 2015 on the occasion of opening a Women Hospital in Rumbek which was named after you as Head of State. Do you think that another tribal government is going to be set up after death? This is a very irresponsible statement and indeed insulting to the people of Rumbek. Also in a peace conference in Rumbek on 17th Feb. 2015, you admitted that there are people in your office who are working against you; you said it in Dinka language (“anↄἠ kↄc jὂὂr hꜫn tὲn mὲktὲbic”). This was in response to a factual confrontation that guns which were only found in the hands of your security personnel in Juba were found being sold to rural youth in Rumbek area. You have completely failed to fight corruption in your office although you are informed about these corrupt practices every time.
The biggest problem identified in many peace meetings is illicit supply of arms to the civilian rural youth in the villages. Sources of arms supplied to Lakes civilian rural youth are from government stores. Well known generals in the office of President Kiir are illegally selling arms to the youth in Rumbek. Whenever communities fight in Rumbek, the generals rush their arms to sell them to both sides of the fighting communities. They are profiting out of trading guns and ammunitions for the lives of our people.
To prove it, there was a time in 2014 when a big truck carrying arms was caught on a road check point in Wulu County of Lakes State. The truck driver gave telephone number of the owner of the arms (a general in the office of President Kiir Mayardit) to the security guards on the road. The general threatened the road security guards to let the truck go to Rumbek otherwise he would deal with them. The same owner telephoned Governor of Lakes State, Matur Chut Dhuol, and talked to him from Juba. The owner of the arms in the truck threatened the Governor, Matur Chut Dhuol, to take care of his property and the truck was driven to Rumbek, only to disappear the following day. As a result, the arms in the truck were taken and sold to the fighting youth in the villages of Rumbek.
It is almost impossible to bring peace to Lakes State, Rumbek area, and the whole country if the government cannot provide security. Maintenance of security in South Sudan requires that corruption of selling government arms to civilian youth must be stopped. Peace exists where there is law and order and no corruption. Without peace there cannot be any development also. Insecurity and corruption are enemies of peace and development. The People of South Sudan are worst off now than in 2005 when peace agreement was signed between South and North Sudan, because the government of President Salva Kiir has promoted insecurity and corruption. The number of internally and externally displaced people speaks volumes about the situation in South Sudan. According to UN sources in South Sudan, half (6.5 million) of the population of South Sudan was declared in 2016/2017 to be under starvation. Most schools and health facilities are not functioning. Agricultural production in rural areas of South Sudan has been reduced to the minimum because of insecurity, so hunger and malnutrition are rampant. Roads have not been maintained for the last four years and transport has broken down between cities and towns. Furthermore, roads are insecure because of armed youth groups everywhere.
It was recommended in previous peace conferences that the government in Juba should disarm civilian youth in Lakes State and neighbouring states, and establish security stations in borders of every state e.g. Madol between Lakes and Unity States. After establishment of security and maintenance of law and order, people accused of committing crimes (e.g. killing of people and Cattle rustling) should be apprehended and taken to court for settlement of cases. Justice must be done and seen to be done and impunity stopped if peace is to be built and maintained. Unfortunately, all these resolutions fell on deaf ears and nothing was done by the dysfunctional governments of President Kiir in Juba and Lakes State.
It is our considered opinion that all people of South Sudan must unite and change President Kiir’s oppressive regime by all necessary means. No one faction, political party or tribe can do this alone. A united opposition will then institute a government of national unity to bring peace and stem out corruption, and begin a process of development in all communities of South Sudan. Priority of development will be focused in the most marginalised communities; for example Murle, Taposa, Kachipo and people of Raja. Universal free education of all children (boys and girls) of South Sudan, road network construction and food production will be on the top of the agenda of the new government, besides provision of security through a united national defence force. The new government will employ people in every department based on merit and capability of the individual, and ministers will be appointed based on each expertise, experience and non-corrupt records. All civil or political employees will be accountable to the people as per the institutions charged with such responsibility in the constitution. Nobody should be above the law, including the president of the country. Everybody should be accountable and equal before the law. Rumbek community in diaspora firmly believes that unity of all South Sudanese can bring about these positive changes to South Sudan as a whole including Rumbek community. The destiny of the people of South Sudan is one, whether we have a bad government like that of Salva Kiir, or we form a good, unity, inclusive democratically elected government of South Sudan.
Furthermore, Mr. President, your method of unconstitutional appointment of governors, ministers, ambassadors and employees in all departments fuels communal conflict in many parts of the country because it is corrupt and based on no merits. In 2010, governors were directly elected by the people in each state according to the constitution. Mr. President, you have been violating the constitution that is supposed to be a covenant between you and the people like other nations of the world, in that you dismiss and appoint state governors, and other stakeholders using presidential decrees than through constitutional authorized procedures.. Current presidential decrees of mini-tribal division of states shall be abolished, and any proposal of federalism will be scientifically researched, debated and decided by people and their parliaments if worthy to be adopted as it has happened in many other countries of the world. Such a federal system should be based on socio-economic and geographical factors only.
We appeal to international community, African Union member States, IGAD members and all people of goodwill to revive the peace agreement (ARCSS) which was signed in Addis Ababa in August 2015. Peace in Lakes State and in Rumbek in particular will follow if this peace agreement is fully implemented in spirit and letter. We in diaspora are very much appalled by death toll rising each day in our state, and do not see any light at the end of the tunnel as long as the civil war continues in South Sudan. If President Kiir does not want the terms of this peace agreement, he should be forced to resign like what happened with former President of Gambia, Mr Yayha Jamie and President Mugabe recently. This agreement promises peace and unity for the people of South Sudan. The agreement guarantees democratic system of government through a fair and transparent elections. The agreement declares to fight corruption, to establish justice, law and order. The agreement transforms national security organs from being a tribal militia to a national defence force that includes every tribe. Recruitment into national defence force will be on the basis of capability and merit; not tribal affiliation or political support. We strongly believe that implementation of the peace agreement in South Sudan shall also bring peace and development to Rumbek people and all people of South Sudan.
Revitalization of the agreement should not be based on whether President Kiir accepts it or not. After all, his term of office has expired since 2015. In fact failure of the agreement in 2016 was because President Kiir was allowed to head the transitional government of national unity (TGoNU). This time around, the head of transitional government should be somebody who would not contest in the upcoming elections. This will ensure that the next elections would be free, fair and transparent.
The people of South Sudan needs peace and development, not chronic humanitarian aid. Although humanitarian aid rescues victims in emergency situations, providers of international humanitarian aid only address symptoms of the problems. Humanitarian aid is a temporary solution to the problems of South Sudan. Addressing the root causes of the problem in South Sudan – insecurity and corruption in the government – should be the priority of friends and people of South Sudan. Therefore bringing and building peace in South Sudan is a basic and permanent solution and a first demand of the people of South Sudan. Developmental projects and other socio-economic services will automatically follow in an atmosphere of peace, good governance and unity of South Sudanese people when we all unite to successfully change the corrupt and divisive government of President Kiir.
To shed light on the severity of the problem, we have tried to collect data of people killed in Rumbek Agaar community sectional fighting since the beginning of the conflict in 2001. We could not find full data from all sections of Agaar Dinka sections, but this is a beginning, and we will continue to do more research in this matter in the future. We intentionally left out casualties from other neighbouring communities that have been fighting amongst themselves or Agaar sections, because of unnecessary sensitivity of such a data. Below is a table showing combined casualties from both sides of Agaar sections fighting one another. The number of causalities could be more.
Fighting against Agaar section
People killed on both sides
Pakam Vs Rup = 463
Since June 2014
Rup Vs Kuei = 116
Since August 2013
Gony Vs Thuyic = 166
Since 17th Sept. 2001
Dhiei Vs Kuei = 36
Since Nov. 2010
Kok-Awac Vs Kok-Ker = 138
Since Feb. 2013
Dur-Bar Vs Dur-Chek = 64
Since Sept. 2013
Panyar Vs Nyuei = 73
Since March 2013
Panyar Vs Aliaab 37
Since Oct. 2014
Gony Vs Aliaab = 12
Since Nov. 2014
Dur-Bar Vs Rup = 25
Since June 2016
We strongly urge our people of Lakes State and people of South Sudan in general to unite and get rid of President Kiir’s corrupt and divisive government. They should also discontinue revenge killings and maintain peace and justice amongst themselves. We appeal to UN and NGOs to provide humanitarian assistance to those displaced internally in Lakes State by this communal fighting.
President Kiir’s recent decree state of emergency in Lakes State is a false propaganda nuisance and too late. Why did he not implement all the resolutions of previous peace conferences? This is just a delaying tactic to stay in power. If he is serious about disarmament in Lakes State, he should first arrest generals who sell arms to civilian youth of Lakes State, and make positive, effective and efficient changes in Lakes State government. Disarmament must be carried out in all parts of South Sudan. UN/UNMISS should also be involved in the disarmament process to adopt best practices used elsewhere in Africa or other continents. Meanwhile, disarmament must not be used as a means of looting and killing civil population in Rumbek or anywhere in South Sudan.
1- Mr. Johnson Makuei Mangar -Chairman of Rumbek Community in Western Australia
2- Fr Matthew Mading Malok -Chairman of Konybai Peace Initiative
3- Mr. Beny Mature Mathiang -Treasurer of Rumbek Community in Western Australia
4- Mr. Eli Magok Manyol -Member of Konybai Peace Initiative
5- Manyang Maker Tulba – Rumbek Community Youth Leader in Western Australia