The people of South Sudan congratulate Lt. Gen. Salva Kiir Mayardit for pardoning the armed groups who took up arms against the Government of South Sudan (GoSS) in order to unite the people of the South ahead of historic referenda that will be exercised on January the 9th 2011. The citizens of the South are also delighted that President Salva Kiir united the South Sudan political forces to reach consensus on unifying the South to ensure smooth implementation of the final protocols of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA).
In spite of the efforts and positive steps put forth by the President of the GoSS, it appeared that there are anti-peace elements who questioned the desire for the unity of the people of South Sudan. Those anti-peace elements began to voice negative opinions questioning the loyalty of Lt. Gen. George Athor, Maj. Gen. Gabriel Tang, Maj. Gen. David Yau Yau and Col. Gatluak Gai. Those individuals have begun making negative presentations that the officers pardoned by the commander-in-chief of the SPLA could not be trusted to join the SPLA army.
Back in 2001, the same negative doubters refused unity between Dr. John Garang and Dr. Riek Machar. But John Garang set aside their negative opinions and went ahead to sign Nairobi Declaration with Dr. Riek Machar. Currently, Dr. Riek Machar is working day and night assisting Salva Kiir to liberate the South. The same doubters of 2001 who questioned his nationalism were proven wrong when President Salva Kiir appointed him as vice-president of the GoSS in 2005. The people of the South are confident that the same negative doubters will be proven wrong on the case of Gabriel Tang, George Athor, David Yau Yau and Gatluak Gai.
The people of South Sudan would like to advise the negative doubters that officers like George Athor, Gordon Koang, Gabriel Tang, David Yau Yau and Gatluak Gai are South Sudan’s nationalists who fought for the liberation of the South. Long before the formation of the SPLM/A in 1983, officers like Gordon Koang Chol and Gabriel Tang were fighters of Anyanya Two who rebelled against the government of Jafar Mohamed Nimeiri in 1975 to liberate the South when it was obvious that President Nimeiri took steps to dishonour the 1972 Addis Ababa Agreement.
The people of the South are aware that in 1987, Gordon Koang Chol, former leader of Anyanya Two, signed peace with the SPLM/A to liberate the South. After the conclusion of Kuanylou Agreement between the SPLM/A and Anyanya Two, the unified Movement was able to liberate most of Greater Upper Nile. The importance of unity was felt in the entire South few months after Kuanylou Agreement when the SPLM/A liberated Nasir garrison in January, 1988.
There is no doubt that President Salva Kiir Mayardit is aware of the nationalism of George Athor, Gordon Koang and all those officers pardoned because they heroically fought for the liberation of the South as members of the SPLM/A and liberated so many areas in the Greater Upper Nile in the 1980s and 1990s.
Moreover, most of the officers pardoned by the President of the GoSS were fighters of Anyanya One who fought and sacrificed for the freedom of the people of the South. For instance, Gordon Koang Chol was Anyanya One fighter who was absorbed into Wild Life in Upper Nile after the conclusion of 1972 Addis Ababa Agreement.
The negative doubters of South Sudan unity who are currently questioning the nationalism of George Athor, Gabriel Tang and others were proven wrong in 2006 when Lt. Gen. Salva Kiir concluded Juba Declaration with Lt. Gen. Paulino Matip Nhial. Prior to the conclusion of that agreement, those negative doubters questioned the loyalty of Paulino Matip to the cause of South Sudan arguing that he could not be trusted to work for the unity of the people of the South. However, all those negative doubters were proven wrong; Paulino Matip’s Juba Declaration strengthened the South and assured South Sudan unity as predicted.
Today, the people of South Sudan also believe that the unity President Kiir brought about by pardoning George Athor, Gabriel Tang, David Yau Yau and Gatluak Gai will also positively reinforce unity in the South similar to Juba Declaration.
It is now clear that President Salva Kiir will not listen to negative doubters because he didn’t listen to them when he signed Juba Declaration in 2006. Had he listened to those individuals who questioned nationalism of Paulino Matip back then, the unity of the people of the South could not have been achieved. If the people of the South will now exercise referendum as a unified body, the credit goes to President Salva Kiir who realized that unity of the rank and file of the SPLA will consolidate reconciliation and prepare the South for nation building after the result of January 9th 2011 referenda.
In conclusion, I want to inform all the negative doubters that President Salva Kiir Mayardit will not listen to people who are against the unity of South Sudan; he will only listen to people who are positively assisting him in unifying the South. Those who questioned the loyalty of Paulino Matip in 2006, and are currently doing the same, are the real enemies of South Sudan who want President Kiir’s administration to fail.
But President Kiir Mayardit is a smart politician who has understood that negative doubters are individuals who want his administration to fail and do not appreciate his efforts to galvanize the people of the South in order to realize peace and development. Fortunately, the people of South Sudan have a President who is determined to unite the South and nothing will prevent him from realizing that.