“Our true nationality is mankind.”H.G.

Opinion | Why is South Sudan quiet while Ethiopia is at war?

OPINION – ‘‘Throughout history, it has been the inaction of those who could have acted; the indifference of those who should have known better, the silence of the voice of justice when it mattered most, that has made it possible for evil to triumph’’. Haile Selassie.

The fundamental principles of peace, love and unity are natural and international. There is nothing better than Peace, Love and Unity of the people. United people can never be defeated.

At the onset of the South Sudanese independence struggles for freedom, the Ethiopians people and their successive regimes had been at the forefront in our pursuit for peace, justice and liberty. In the era of King Haile Selassie, President, Mengistu Haile Mariam, Prime Minister, Meles Zenawi, Prime Minister, Haile Mariam Desalegn, and now Prime Minister, Dr Abiy Ahmed, the contribution of the Ethiopian people and their governments had never been missing in our journey to where we are as a nation.

The proactive role of the Ethiopian people toward the advancement and achievement of our political independence is known, and it doesn’t need to be narrated at length. In Latin, they say ‘Res ipsa liquotur’, which means ‘the thing speaks for itself’. Actually, President Colonel Mengistu did trained and supplied the SPLM/SPLA with military weapons when the rest were issuing empty political rhetoric.

In December 2013, when South Sudan plunged into a civil war that saw the SPLM regime descended on the Nuer nationality, killing over 20,000 people in two weeks, Ethiopian government under Prime Haile Mariam Desalegn with among other IGAD leaders swiftly intervened and called for peace talks in Addis Ababa. That peace talk emanated to the Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan (ARCSS) which later collapsed after the brutal battle in State House alias J1 in July 2016.

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Equally, in 2018, when Dr Abiy Ahmed ascended to the helm of the leadership as Prime Minister of Ethiopia, he took it upon himself to demand Dr Riek Machar’s release from South Africa to join the peace mediations which later resulted to the Revitalized Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan (R-ARCSS). It was this Peace Accord that gave birth to the Revitalized Transitional Government of National Unity.

These friendly gestures by our Ethiopian neighbours ought to be reciprocated by South Sudanese people and their Administration through positive interventions. However, it is a shame for the South Sudan government to maintain pin-drop silence while Ethiopia is undergoing a civil war. It is our individual and collective responsibility to preach peace and harmony.

The call for peace in our East African region and the world is not a preserve of a few. In view of the foregoing, I stand in solidarity with Ethiopian people and especially the Tigray community. In the unlikely event that the government is fighting its people, the presumption is that the people are right and the government is wrong. Thus, i condemn the Federal Government of Ethiopia for launching a military offensive against the Tigray people and children.

From our experiences in Sudan and South Sudan, the government can never and will never be right in the war against its citizenry. So far hundreds of people have died and thousands more are displaced in this conflict that started on 4th November 2020. I believe only Nuer who once faced brutality in the hand of rogue regimes can understand what the Tigrayans are going through in this war.

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On 15th December 2013, when South Sudan government conducted military operations against the Nuer people in Juba and across the country in the pretext of weeding out opposition leaders like Dr Riek Machar, lives had never been the same for our people. Many of our people have been disposed of and impoverished. As of now much, Nuer Youths are dying in the Mediterranean Sea as they cross to Europe in search of greener pasture.

In this regard, we would never wish that situation to any community on this continent and the world at large. In this regard, the South Sudan government should join regional and International call for dialogue between Tigray forces and Ethiopian Federal Government to end the bloodshed and widespread displacement of civilians. How can our government keep quiet when there is an ongoing conflict that threatens the seat of the African Union (AU)?

The Ethiopian Prime Minister, Dr Abiy Ahmed must accept dialogue unconditionally failure to which he should surrender the Nobel Peace Prize that he given a year ago. He cannot call and champion peace negotiation in other countries and reject the peaceful settlement of the dispute in his own country. This is war, and there is no big and small war. All wars kill and destroy lives and properties. The Ethiopians have died in big numbers in this war. Abiy must open window for talks; allow humanitarian access to Tigrayan region, and he should also restore internet and telecommunication so that affected people can call and receive humanitarian assistance.

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Finally, the Eritrean President, Isaias Afwerki must tread carefully in this conflict. He should not act like President Yoweri Museveni who fought alongside South Sudan government in 2014, going to an extent of using cluster bombs in Bor, Jonglei State. No leader in the region should take a side in this war except peaceful intervention only.

The Writer is the Chairman of Liech Community Association in Kenya; the views expressed here are his own, and he can be reached for comments via\