3 Jun 2020


President Kiir’s Ill-timed Tour Of Bahr al Ghazal

"If the President was sincere and honest about peace implementation, he should have gone on his regional tours along with Dr. Riek Machar...his Bahr al Ghazal visit should have been the last leg of his peace tour."

President Kiir’s Ill-timed Tour Of Bahr al Ghazal
By Kuach Loch Garang Deng 
Wednesday February 27, 2019 
If President Kiir Mayardit needs to be taken seriously by South Sudanese that his intentions are good and that he means peace, then his ongoing tour of Greater Bahr al 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 Bahr al Ghazal 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 with Kiir's government arrive to Juba, they would hold their hands and walk side by side as a sign of a genuine return of peace to the country and they would 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 Revitalized-Agreement on Resolution of Crisis in South Sudan (R-ARCSS).
A tour that includes opposition leaders would have sent an assuring message to the people of Greater Upper Nile and Equatoria 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 returned to the young nation and how to bring services to the war affected communities. 
In this tour of Bahr al 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 al 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 are 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 agreements. 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 damage and destruction of people’s property and all war related suffering which has been inflicted on the civil population during the last 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 refugee 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 the President was sincere with his peace tour, his Bahr al Ghazal visit should have been the last leg of his peace tour. It is indisputable that Bahr al Ghazal is not impacted at the same magnitude as the Great Upper Nile, which saw much of the fighting. This, therefore, goes without saying that the war affected populations in Greater Upper Nile, which see Kiir’s administration as the cause of their suffering, should have been given the first opportunity during peace tour. 
Most importantly, Bahr al Ghazal 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, which is indeed a good thing for the implementation of Revitalized Peace Agreement.
However, I view this tour of Greater Bahr 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’s integration and joint training of forces.
*Kuach Loch Garang Deng is a South Sudanese living in Calgary, AB, Canada. He can be reached at lochdit2002@yahoo.ca


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