By Deng Vanang

Upper Nile State among ten States is still the only one without its head or Governor. Governor’s absence not the common interest of its majority citizens.

It is rather due to the Presidency’s failure to reach a compromise on who is the right candidate for a Chief Executive of multi-ethnic state of Jikany Nuer, Shilluk, Dinka Padang, Maban and Koma.

Four ethnic groups minus Dinka Padang voiced no objection to General Olony’s Governorship. Dinka Padang says no, pointing to the publicly known land dispute between them and Shilluk Kingdom.

President Salva Kiir Mayardit sided with Dinka Padang, saying he is for peace and can’t allow any potent symbol of violence to take charge anywhere in South Sudan, leave alone General Olony in Upper Nile State. To him, Olony is the violent man he can’t entrust with an opportunity to kill more.

Dr. Riek Machar Teny-Dhurgon as SPLM/A-IO’s leader and nominating authority couldn’t hear any of this shenanigan by Kiir, saying he has no replacement for Olony.

While Kiir and Machar have now stuck with Olony, little does the public know why the hardened positions of the two principals over one man, Johnson Olony Thabo.

First, it is not true Olony can cause conflict and destroy his own-led Empire once appointed Governor as Kiir seems to insinuate. No sane mind can do such a thing. And Olony is not known to be insane.

What holds water, however, is him{Kiir} being constitutionally bound and hence right in his decision not to appoint anybody people will be killing themselves in his name whether in Upper Nile or elsewhere in the Republic of South Sudan. Although at the bottom of his heart, it is not what he means. I will explain it later.

Furthermore, four Dinka Pdadang County Commissioners petitioning President Kiir earlier not to appoint Olony as the Governor and the following assassination of Justice Thomas Abhan Akol, a Shilluk, clearly marked Padang as still aggrieved party and likely suspect to cause war in the event Olony becomes Governor.

Pointing to the naked reality that both Kiir and Padang don’t want any Shiluk Governor in Upper Nile State, let alone Olony and even if that happens, they will accept another Shiluk alternative grudgingly.

For they fear and view any Shiluk Governor as the radical who will pull off and throw into the dustbin of history any semblance of influence or control they {Dinka Padang} have established in the Eastbank, including Malakal in their short stint hegemony there during 32 States’ era.

Instead, Kiir in particular desperately wants to drive a wedge between Machar and Olony.

Him not appointing Olony Governor, then the later and Shilluk constituency will remain in the bush renewing war against him and South Sudanese State.

They will as well link up with other IO holdout faction in Khartoum to form a formidable movement that will oust and isolate Machar as a betrayer.

To which Kiir thereafter reaches in a separate peace deal, having already separated them from Machar.

That being the reason why Machar is stuck to Olony and at all cost wants him, Governor, to control him against rebelliously remaining in the bush on his own terms.

In so doing, Machar is not in love of Olony, who when becomes Governor, will be in the hand of Kiir’s security personnel who will not 100% guarantee his physical safety.

In fact, Machar worries less about Olony’s death and indeed he is better off with dead Olony than him slipping into the dangerous hands of IO’s holdout ruminants and subsequently ending up in Kiir’s corner in a future peace pact.

On the other hand, Olony has his own plan neatly cut out. He wants to be Governor sworn into office, not in Juba, but via Zoom and governs Upper Nile State not in its traditional seat of Malakal, but in either Fashoda or Tonga. Something constitutionally impossible.

What can break this impasse is an urgent need for a reconciler than just Governor to reconcile and unite warring Shilluk and Dinka Padang over Eastbank of the White Nile, each side claims to own.

Such reconciler is a strong personality Nuer Governor in this crisis-prone period, while Olony’s chosen Shiluk Minister to be appointed in Juba-based R-TGONU.

Deng Vanang, UDRM’s Secretary-General and member of SSOMA Leadership Council; Cordially reachable

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