I find Jacob Akol's article interesting, especially the exposition on where
Heglig (Paanthou) belongs. However, I do not understand why he blames the
international community, which has been friendly all along to the SPLM/A, for
believing that Heglig was, indeed, part of today's Sudan when the SPLM
leadership themselves have admitted so, as he so eloquently presented in his
article. Does he expect them to be more royal than the King? You see, this is a
community that has been made to believe that only the opinion of the SPLM/A
mattered in South Sudan.
The truth must be told that the SPLM/A leadership bungled the matter. They had
more than one opportunity to correct the mess. Riek Machar himself, who hails
from the Unity State where Heglig belonged, led the SPLM/A delegation to the
HAGUE for the international arbitration. He very well knew that the map of
Abyei he presented included Heglig. He and his team never raised a finger.
Again, when the 1/1/1956 border with the North was being discussed, Heglig was
not included by the SPLM/A side to be part of South Sudan. It is not among the
five areas now being disputed by the two sides. The international community has
been following all these talks very closely and have been blindly supporting
the SPLM/A. How do you expect them to suddenly buy a new flimsy argument?
Unless you want to say that they do not use their minds. The international
community also knows that Abyei, at least up to the time of the court of
arbitration, was part of the North. It follows therefore that any part of the
Abyei map presented to the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) excluded from
it becomes part of North Sudan.
I tend to agree with Akol's last theory on why GOSS accepted the ABC ruling
without questioning the inclusion of Heglig (Paanthou) in it. This must be the
only reason why Dr Riek Machar was cowed into defending such an indefensible
position. The SPLM/A leadership must accept the responsibility for having
handed Paanthou in a platter to Sudan. Then and only then will the South
Sudanese be persuaded that their intentions are genuine. One question poses
itself: Is the fighting in Heglig really for claiming it back to South Sudan?
If that were to be the case, why are we not fighting at Hofrat el Nhas, Kafia
Kingi, etc, which are still annexed to Sudan? If that were to be the case, are
the Sudan rebels, who admitted in the media that they were fighting in Heglig,
really fighting to reduce the size of their country by taking Heglig out of it?
I do not believe for a second that the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon, gave
an "ultimatum to Kiir" to pull his troops out of Heglig. He was only conveying
the resolution of the UN Security Council which URGED South Sudan to pull its
troops out of Heglig and URGED Sudan to stop bombing areas in South Sudan. When
South Sudan joined the UN in July last year it must have read the UN Charter
which clearly specifies that the Security Council is the custodian of World
Peace and Security. Why should they be surprised when the UNSC is exercising
its authority mandated to it by more than 190 countries including South Sudan?
We should stop scapegoating and face our problems squarely. We said it time
and again that South Sudan needs the consensus of all its stakeholders,
especially the political parties, more than any time before. The SPLM/A alone
cannot deliver the country. This is the time it must humble itself and begin to
think that the country belongs to all, government and the opposition.