Opinion

Truth Empowers

Truth Empowers

 

Agonizing journey culminated into probability solution to Lomega conflict (Part 2)

 

By Christopher Sebit

sebitomini@gmail.com

 

After 6 persons from Langabu side and 7 persons from Lulubo side had spoken as evidenced above, the chairperson declared the negotiations closed, and requested the parties to turn up for the second phase of negotiations the following day 31st May, 2018 at 8:30 am. “The commissioners and chiefs will get a chance to talk tomorrow”, said the chairperson. Unfortunately, irregularity came by during the second phase of talks. Arinyakono family reported to the venue of talks at 8:30 am as agreed. The arbitration committee and Kworiji families (Kurcha and Mone) arrived at 10:39 am. Arinyakono family wondered why the talks did not take place on time.

Before the talks could start, the chairperson tried to create a healthy atmosphere for negotiations by narrating the peace story of how the ancestors of Lirya people received the grandfathers of H.E. Isaac Obuto Mamur, the Minister of National Security and settled them around Khor English. This peace story inspired the negotiators. The author was very happy with the chairperson for introducing a harmonizing peace story to move the negotiators to compromise. But in practice, the peace story had little impact on the negotiation spirit as seen from the context of the dialogue proceedings provided below.

[1] Abraham Ohide (Langabu from Ofiri): Nyangwara migrated from Nyake Mountain in Lirya. Lirya Council was established in 1992 with Lowoi and Lokiliri, not Lomega as sub-councils. I totally disagreed with Lonjino’s statement.

[2] Paterno Legge Omini (Chairperson): The letter of Eluzai to the Governor escalated the conflict because it contained threats. The memo of the Lokoya leaders and intellectuals too had no good things. The Governor has condemned the memo. He said the Lokoya leaders and intellectuals didn’t tell the truth. The problem could have been better explained and resolved if the Lokoya leaders and intellectuals did not abstained from the meeting with the Governor.

[3] Isaac Ribek Benjamin (Secretary): Christopher is my colleague. He has been claiming that he is senior to me. We are going to arrest anybody who will publicize these negotiations. Arinyakono family, what is your legal support for all what you have said? Who are your neighbours?

[4] Martin Simon Wani (Executive Director of Lokiliri County): You must understand the problem well from the technical side. The technical point is that Lirya Rural Council was established with three A-courts: Lirya A-Court, Lokiliri A- Court and Lowoi A-Court. Lomega village was in Lokiliri A-Court. Lomega is a payam under Lokiliri County. The two families Kurcha and Arinyakono were not living in Lomega. We need more clarification about Lomega ownership.

[5] Vijil Modi Jima (Member of the Council of States): This is the land of Kurcha.

[6] Paul Tombe Yugusuk (Member of Jubek State Legislative Assembly): Kurcha came from Pojulu land and settled here.

[7] Chief Peter Lokiyek: The migration of communities of Long time was from the east to the west, but not from the west to the east. The Nyangwara migrated from Nyake Mountain in Lirya and settled in their present land. Captain Cooke appointed Lolik Lado in the place of Chief Abili of Lirya in order to separate government powers from rainmaking powers.  The B-Court was established in Lirya by the British colonial administration.

[8] Gerald Francis Nyakue: (Jubek State Legislative Assembly Member): You should avoid talking about the borders now. The issue of the borders will be looked into later. Concentrate your efforts on discussing issues concerning the contested land.

[9] Chief Simon Soro (Observer): Yes the communities were moving from the east to the west, not from the west to the east. I appeal for peaceful co-existence of Arinyakono and Kworiji families in the same way their ancestors were living. Please come together and co-exist despite being placed under different administrations. Let us implement the spirit of national dialogue taking place in our country. Swearing is devastating. It kills all the children of the person who swears wrongly before killing the person.

[10] Joseph Lokudu (Arinyakono family): Arinyakono family rejects appeal for peaceful coexistence if the state government resolution No.15/2018 and announcement made about it on SSBC radio are not cancelled. If the resolution and announcement are cancelled, we shall sit down with Kworiji Kurcha and discuss terms of peaceful coexistence or else, we proceed to swear to get our land through the power of God.

At this juncture, the chairperson invited the chiefs to take over the chair and prepare the parties for swearing ritual. The chiefs asked each of the parties to choose its own swearing methodology. The Arinyakono family brought a spear and a calabash filled with water. Kurcha family produced unfamiliar object enclosed in a piece of cloth. The chiefs accepted the use of spear and calabash filled with water. The parties were asked to swear using their own words. Such freedom gave opportunity to Eluzai Mogga to use swearing words which were not convincing to the committee, Arinyakono family and other observers particularly from the Lokoya side. This is what Eluzai said: “If Arinyakono benefited from the bride wealth of my grandfather, Lojole, nothing will happen to me”. The chiefs gave him pressure to swear in the name of the disputed land, but all in vain. In spite of this irregularity, the swearing ceremony staggered and ended in what the author described as “better than not do it”.  Anthony Wani Lolik and Kamilo Peter swore on behalf of Arinyakono family, whereas Eluzai Mogga and Abora swore on behalf of Kworiji Kurcha. One of the parties, Kworiji Mone headed by Archbishop Paul abstained from swearing. It is difficult to tell why stepping down from swearing when its representative, Enok Wani Benjamin said he is ready to swear on the first day of the talks. Some observers believe that a secret unification agreement might have been reached between the two Kworiji families. Others said the abrupt decision to abstain from swearing is a tactical withdrawal aimed at avoiding coming into term with the truth on the side of Arinyakono family. The swearing of Abora on behalf of Kworiji Kurcha was rejected by Arinyakono family members on the ground that he is their distant relative who might have been bribed. But the chiefs insisted that Abora has the right to swear.

A one year observation period was declared by the chiefs after the parties had completed swearing exercise. Therefore it is hoped that a misfortune may occur on either of the parties during the observation period. The occurrence of misfortune on one party may mean that the contested land belongs to the other. Possibility of zero occurrence of misfortune to either side cannot be ruled out. Likewise possibility of coincidental misfortune cannot also be put aside. The occurrence or not occurrence of misfortune is what the author refers to as “probability resolution of the conflict”. What probability can be assigned to “occurrence” or “not occurrence” is the sole responsibility of God the Almighty who created the conflicting families. What decision can the state government take in the event that no misfortune happens on either party is a question that the author has no answer to it.

What the author expected from the committee was taking a decision based on the evidences collected from the presentations of the parties. Preferably, such decision should be taken in three weeks’ time in order to give the committee ample time to make proper and accurate analysis of the opinions or views expressed during the talks. Prior to engaging the parties into real negotiations, the committee should have conducted a pre-intervention conflict analysis to determine precisely the conflict parties. Conflict mapping enables the committee to identify the primary and other stakeholder parties. This could have greatly increased the success of the intervention process. The parties can only go for swearing if one of them disagrees with the decision of the committee. The government’s decision is the basis for research and taking future appropriate decisions in similar circumstances.

For the benefit of peace actors at all levels of the society including concerned government authorities, the author finds it useful to put some observations about Lomega agonizing journey. First, there was tremendous delay in the movement of the government committee to the contested area. The delay was attributed to lack of money to meet the required budget of the committee. Joseph Lokudu, the representative of Arinyakono family played a greater role in pressurizing the concerned authorities to release the money. Such a spirit indicates that Arinyakono family is responsible, committed, confident and tolerance in the search for peace and justice. Secondly, on the first day of the talks, Arinyakono family was smart from the very beginning by presenting facts without fear and reservations. This is in contrast to Kworiji Kurcha and Kworiji Mone who were wavering and giving contradicting statements. Despite interruptions of their talks by Eluzai, Arinyakono family remained firm, committed and respectful to the committee and Kworiji Kurcha and Mone. In short, Arinyakono family exercised dialogue principles to the maximum the author has never witnessed antwhere in South Sudan.

Thirdly, Arinyakono family approached the swearing ritual boldly and with one voice— thus indicating a sense of respect, responsibility and ownership of the land. Eluzai, leader of Kworiji Kurcha refused to swear. The chiefs forced him to swear. Refusing to swear is fear, meaning the land does not belong to him. At this point, the committee could have passed a judgment in favour of Arinyakono family. But the committee declined completely from taking decision in favour of either party on the ground that it was not mandated to do so. This clearly means the committee can no longer be viewed as “arbitration committee” as the author was made to believe, but its role has changed to that of the “mediating committee” without the power to take strong decisions to move the parties toward compromise. There is no smock without fire somewhere. Let us wait and see!

Fourthly, accommodation arrangements for the committee and the parties are of concern to the author. The committee and the security guards chose to stay in the Police station at Mero which is nearly four kilometers from Lomega clinic where Arinyakono family spent the hardest night without security guards. The accommodation place for Kworiji Kurcha and Kworiji Mone was a mystery to the author. Fifthly, the committee and Kworiji Kurcha arrived more than two hours late in the venue during the second phase of talks when Arinyakono family had already been there. The author saw the spirit of tolerance, patience and hope in Arinyakono family. “In order to get our right we shall wait for them even for the whole day”, Arinyakono family remarked.

Sixthly, the author observed with dismay the dwindling number of supporters on the side of Kurcha and Mone. On the first day of negotiations, they had many supporters filling all the benches allocated for them. They were clapping hands though their side didn’t make any meaningful point.  However, on the second day, there were few supporters compared to the first day of talks. Why? It is only God who knows. According to Arinyakono family and an observer from Lirya, money was distributed to the supporters of Kurcha and Mone immediately after the swearing ritual ended. This behaviour implies that Kurcha and Mone were engaged in illicit mobilizing and manipulating innocent supporters into their own agenda.

Seventhly, the swearing ritual ended with heavy rain. The committee, Kworiji Kurcha and Mone rushed for protection in their places of accommodation. Arinyakono family members got into their car, moved in the rain for more than three hours and arrived in Juba safely. On arrival in Juba, the author was informed that the car transporting the chiefs had an accident. And in a separate incident, the chairperson of the committee was reported to have been bitten by a dog in Lirya. According to some observers, these incidents are linked to the swearing ritual. It is still earlier to draw conclusions. Probably as time goes, we shall come closer and closer to the truth. The truth liberates the parties, the committee, the Lulubo and the Lokoya from hatreds, tensions, dislikes, rages and traumas—thus leading to genuine reconciliation. God tough the broken hearts with love, blessing and truth! Amen.

 

 

error: Content is protected !!