Monday December 11, 2017

Juba government meeting with Gambella has nothing to do with SPLM-I-O – Governor Gatluak


GAMBELLA – The governor of Ethiopia’s border region, Gambella has refuted claims that the Juba government delegates currently in the area are there to convince his regional government not to host and allow SPLM-i-O officials and soldiers passage and operation through his border territory.

Governor Ato Gatluak Tut Kot in a phone conversation with The Upper Nile Times’ Philip Gual in his office this morning said that the reports are completely not true and that “such an issue will not happen” because “Juba regime has no right to demand that move or dictate Ethiopian policies with anyone.”
Kot was responding to questions of media outcry by South Sudanese Nuer and Ethiopians who question the reason behind the hosting of the South Sudanese delegation. Some social media commentators went as far as suggesting that Governor Gatluak was bribed to allow government of Juba troops penetrate through his administrative area.

“This is a routine border meeting between Ethiopia and South Sudan which has been there before their conflict. It was held in the Southern Ethiopia town of Awassa two times. This meeting could have been held there but the governor of Awassa and head of the State security there went for a government trip abroad and so they couldn’t hold the event. And because the federal government in Addis decided to rotate the border areas meeting, Gambella was chosen to host it.” Gatluak assures.

Ato Gatluak also said his government and that at federal government suggested that the next meeting should take place in South Sudan especially in border towns but the Juba government delegates in the meeting refused saying all their border towns near Ethiopia are controlled by SPLM-i-O and therefore it will be hard for a high level meeting to be held there.

“We suggested that the since all the three meeting happened in Ethiopia consecutively, the next meeting should take place inside South Sudan for follow up but deputy governor of Jonglei and the governor of Upper Nile States refused saying they will give us a feedback on this because their borders are not in their control. Maybe it will be held in Ethiopia again due to that issue” Kot said.

Gatluak and his Gambella government officials present at the meeting disclosed that the meeting was solely on Murle issue in border areas of Pochalla, GoK and Joor; places inhabited by Anyuak people of Ethiopia. They said that in the last 3 months, Murle kidnapped from Anyuak 20 kids and 15 goats and killed 12 people. They also kidnapped 26 people from Southern Ethiopia nationalities and 17 Mursis along with 2000 heads of cattle. which the authorities was unable to recover afterwards.
“Almost all Gambella residents are supporters of Riek Machar”
Gatluak also rubbished claims that he was bribed and that it was bribery that brought the Juba government delegates to Gambella to mastermine a plan to attack rebels headquarter in Pagak.

“This is not true. The meeting was prearranged at federal level. i was just the host. all the speakers come from the national government in Addis, some of them comes from Awassa because they are part of the initiative. I’m just doing my duty as a host. Most people in Gambella here are Riek Machar supporters. Even some of my cabinets refused to come to this meeting because they were mad of why these people come here. I was not bribed. the program comes from the federal government. Because our people are affected as a region, it makes sense to have a meeting here.” Gatluak said.

Earlier claims of the defence chief of South Sudan, Kuol Manyang’s presence in Gambella were unfounded as this reporter verified it with the Juba government delegation.
The Juba delegation comprised of Upper Nile governor Kun Puoch Mar, Jonglei deputy governor Baba Jida, Greater Pibor Administrative area governor, David Yau Yau and two commissioners of Longechuk and Maiwut representing Upper Nile.
The meeting was concluded with a follow up by the two sides. South Sudanese delegation will recommunicate when they will meet again and where.

Governor Gatluak thanked the Juba delegation for coming to Gambella and the Federal government for choosing Gambella as a host. He demanded that all the cattle stolen by Murle and all the kids in the hands of Murle be returned as soon as possible. He tasked the government delegation particularly David Yau Yau to do his best to bring the kids to their families in Joor and Gog. He said the border around Murle and Anyuak must have a team to monitor it and stop all these skirmishes from happening.
GPAA governor David Yau appreciated the work of Ethiopian authorities particularly the Gambella regional state government and Awassa government for doing their best to stop the border issue from spilling over. He narrated that there are two types of Murle living in Murle land: The Murle villagers who lives in remote parts of Pibor and those that lives in towns. He said that its difficult to get hold of Murle villagers because they dont live closer to his administration area. He disclosed that when those Murle villagers go to hunt for their victims, they go in thousands and so they overwhelm everyone who try to stop them. He said that sometimes his administration don’t have any idea about their moves because they act different to his administration. Yau Yau also spoke greatly about the South Sudan rebels, the SPLM-i-O saying his community and movement have nothing against the SPLM-i-O and in fact “he respects them”. “we dont have any agreement between us but we dont have problem and we will never have problem”, Yau Yau referring to SPLM-i-O. He said the group led by Riek Machar are not a threat to Murle.
Governor Kun Puoch said that he only came to the meeting to witness it. He said his borderline with Ethiopia is under the control of the SPLM-i-O and so if there is any problem that the Ethiopians found, they should talk directly to the leadership of SPLM-i-O and not him. He said that he has no power to discuss anything anywhere near the border areas.
Deputy governor Baba Jida also echoed the same sentiment said by Governor Kun. He said that Akobo, Uror and most parts of Greater Fangak are under the control of SPLM-i-O and therefore Jonglei government shouldn’t be blamed for anything if something goes wrong in the area. He said he only came to the meeting since GPAA is still a part of Jonglei and because the commission requires Jonglei administration’s presence.
The Juba delegation has been confined to their hotel compound and couldn’t move out of the hotel due to a built up fear in the town. The delegation are expected to leave for Addis Ababa tonight.



Philip Gual

An Upper Nile State correspondent for The Upper Nile Times. He currently resides in Malakal, Upper Nile State.

Filed in

5,000 herds of cattle raided, 10 people killed in Mayandiit county, Unity State by Juba – allied Militias

300,000 in need of food aid in Unity State – UN

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