Jonglei petitioners urge GOSS and Athor to cease hostilities and pursue peaceful solutions to the Doleib Hill crisis

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(NSV) - As Gen. (rtd) George Athor’s rebellion brews on in South Sudan, stakes couldn’t be any higher for Southern Sudanese. A Jonglei State group in the Diaspora has written a petition to President Salva Kiir Mayardit, Governor Kuol Manyang of Jonglei and the renegade George Athor urging them to cease hostilities, seek a third party mediation and end the conflict through a peaceful means.

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From left to right: President Kiir, Gov. KuolGen. Athor

“With this violent confrontation, our interest as people of Southern Sudan is at a grave stake.  Lives are at stake and the referendum for the independence of Southern Sudan is also at stake,” they write. “No time is as critical as the time we are in now. This critical time demands statesmanship and sacrifice for the sake of the people of Jonglei State in particular and the people of Southern Sudan in general.”

The petition dated May 8, was sent last week to the recipients.

George Athor, a former deputy chief of Staff in the southern army, the SPLA, and a former candidate for governor of Jonglei State during the last month’s elections, complained of rigging. On April 30th, a group of soldiers loyal to him staged an attack against Doleib Military Barack, which is a few miles South West of Malakal, the capital of Upper State.

Athor initially demanded that his election rival, Gov. Kuol Manyang Juuk of Jonglei State should step down. Athor also asked for his forces to be given amnesty as the condition for giving up the insurgency.  Athor has since demanded for dissolution of the Government of Southern Sudan, cancelation of election results, formation of new transition government composed independents and all southern political parties whose duty would be to supervise the referendum and then the holding of fresh elections after referendum.

More than 60 people have died since the fighting started. “We cannot afford further loss of lives! Life is precious!” write the group. “Enough should be enough! We call upon you Mr. President, Mr. Governor and Mr. Athor to solve this problem through a peaceful means.”

The petitioners reiterate an immediate cessation of hostilities. “We once again ask that military confrontation be stopped once and for all without conditions and that any differences should be ironed out through neutral third party mediation, preferably through either the leaders of dominant churches in South Sudan or the United Nations’ Representative in Sudan,” they write. “At this point in time it is critical that lives and future of the people of South Sudan be safe guarded for once and foremost.”

The petitioners also call for the establishment of an independent commission at the southern level to establish facts about the crisis.

“In order to build trust between the parties to this ugly conflict and afford mediators good environment for their mediation, any legal mechanisms and permissible constitutional channels should be deferred pending the establishment of facts and recommendations by the national investigation commission referred herein,” they write. “As a nation-in-waiting, South Sudan statesmen and authorities are not only expected to project the image of a nation with mature civil behavior in the way they conduct state business in the eyes of citizenry and international community, but must be seen keen to doing so.”

The petitioners caution that “this case of General Athor could be a test case for the authorities in South Sudan to showcase their civility, wisdom and discernment to the world of skeptical spectators around us.”


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