Koch County Insurgency is a National Security Issue

"...reconciliation and peaceful resolution to KCI is the best recipe to bringing peace to Koch County."

By Machien J. Luoi

(Wednesday, November 17, 2010. Gurtong posted Thursday 18 Nov)-Koch County, Unity State- Southern Sudan has become a home to illusive insurgents since the April 2010, Sudan’s General Elections concluded. Between April and November 15, 2010, more than 35 people have died in Koch or in the Koch County’s parameters. Many of the deceased victims and those who sustained injuries of these attacks are often women, children and civilians that do not have any military or government portfolios.

General Gatluak Gai, who comes from Koch County, is suspected to be the master-mind behind the attacks. Both governments (GOSS and Unity State) take the issue lightly, hoping that the insurgents will give up their attacks after having enough victims murdered. Koch County Insurgency (KCI) remains a national security issue, must be accorded a national problem status, consequently, there must be a national security solution to the problem.

First and Foremost, more than five deadly attacks on innocent civilians occurred in Koch County since April 2010, the latest happened two days ago on November 15, 2010 (6 killed and 5 wounded). Out of all the attacks only two of the attacks were reported by some media groups in Southern Sudan. Much of the Koch County attacks have not received any attention from national media or covered up by National Security organs, even the state FM radio station has been silent. In this regard, the KCI attacks are not nationally known, prompting a slow or no response to the problem at the GOSS and state levels.

All media types in Southern Sudan must give KCI their attention and begin to report on the deadly killings of innocent civilians nationally, SSTV amongst them.

Secondly, Southern Sudan is entering a critical stage in the implementation of Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) signed between the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A) and the National Congress Party (NCP) in 2005. All Southern Sudanese of all colors, religions, ethnicities, and all regions need to be involved and participate fully.

However, KCI seems to go against that full participation of the people of Unity State.  Eligible voters will not attend to the registration process, they will not register, those registered might not vote because of fear of attacks. Movement of Southern Sudan Referendum Commission (SSRC) agents and voter education agencies is already hindered as Koch County is already a “No Go Zone” by United Nations (UN) agencies.

This is a disaster. Neither the GOSS nor the Unity State government is happy to see Koch County citizens and those affected denied their opportunity to make history. For this reason, GOSS and State must swiftly act and make Koch County secure for a successful referendum in the area as well as in the whole Unity State.

Thirdly, ethnic wars have been anti-thesis of our cause during our wars with successive Central Governments in Khartoum. KCI is not killing people from Koch County only but all those who happen to be there when the attacks occur.

Many communities whose people are murdered seem to point fingers at Jagei Nuer- sub clan whose General Gatluak Gai is claimed to be the master-mind of the attacks. Tensions seem to rise between Jagei and other communities every time new people are killed.

Convincingly, ethnic conflicts do not represent what we have been fighting for with governments from Khartoum and if this is true, GOSS and Unity State government must intervene sooner than later before referendum to avert the ethnic tensions that are rising as a result of KCI activities.

Fourthly, an investigation must be carried out sooner than later on all the attacks in Koch County and its parameters, so that decision makers (government officials) whose reluctance to execute their duties effectively and strategically have resulted to deaths in Koch County. They must account for their irresponsibility and negligence. GOSS and Unity State government must do this collaboratively.

Fifthly, reconciliation and peaceful resolution to KCI is the best recipe to bringing peace to Koch County. The insurgents are sons of Southern Sudan whose particular interests and needs seem to cause much damage to the general society. Similar to General George Athor’s group, insurgents allied to General Gatluak must be accorded some kind of attention so that this insurgency is defused and people travel and live in peace around Koch County and in Unity State. Traditional means and government peaceful conflict resolution to the problem can be appreciated by communities in Unity State. GOSS and State with support from various national, state and international organizations can bring a long lasting solution to KCI.

Finally, Mahatma Gandhi once said, “If you want change, be the change you want to see.” History will prove this to be true with people of Southern Sudan of all times. As we inch closer to the day of referendum (January 09, 2011), we must make sure no one is left behind and that all communities participate in the referendum to decide their fate, that of their children, grand children and land without any hindrances. KCI has truly destabilized Unity State to a measurable extent. It must not be looked at as a Local Government issue. It is a national catastrophe and must be accorded a national problem status and a national solution.

Machien J. Luoi is a Southern Sudanese residing at the moment in Bentiu, Unity State. He can be reached at mjluoi@yahoo.com

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