According to MP Deng, Dr Machar’s apology on Sunday was a welcome development. “As members of parliament, we say this is a good gesture for general reconciliation, and this is what we call Truth and Reconciliation. People must talk about the bitter things that had happened,” he told The New Sudan Vision, in an interview. On the timing of Dr Machar’s apology, he said it “could be political” but also “reality” because reconciliation will be non-existent if the people of Bor do not express their feelings about the horrific memory of the massacre. He added: “People of Bor have been uprooted by 1991. And we are saying we cannot do it alone here in Juba because the Greater Bor people, who are affected, are at the grassroots. It may not be understood by people who are at home in the villages… We encourage Riek Machar to extend this gesture to the people who are really affected, and we’re talking about people who are in the rural areas,” he added.
Malek held similar sentiments with his counterpart. “Generally, people are ready to forgive but they think that, this thing should be said in another bigger gathering, where people who have been affected or victimized, who have lost many [relatives], should be heard first,” he said. “It should not be done at the political level. It has to be extended to the grassroots, so that those who are bitter, those who have lost their dear people, air [their feelings] out themselves, and if that forgiveness comes out from them, then all are going to be healed,” he said.
Riek Machar’s belated apology has triggered all kinds of speculations about his intentions. Others wondered whether his apology was meant to solicit Dinka Bor support in his leadership ambitions. “This apology should not be misunderstood, as if we have something we’re cooking,” said Deng. “It’s from him, and he knows why he has said this at this time,” he said. “As a people of Bor, we’re firm behind the leadership of the SPLM, led by comrade Salva Kiir Mayardit. And so whatever reconciliation that is done, is done within the context of the existing structures,” he concluded.
Malek stressed the importance of having a uniform apology from the perpetrators. “What we want to know, is that, is this idea, the idea of Riek Machar alone, or the idea shared by those with whom he was doing this together? Riek alone, even if he’s forgiven and others are still maintaining that bitterness, it will not help. So I want this thing to be extended and we hear from others who were with Riek Machar, whether they are ready, what Riek has said, is what they have, then it would be good for us. We’re convinced that [the apology] is a good initiative; it’s really a national initiative, because we want Southerners to forget all the bitterness. We want Southerners to forget the past. We want to begin anew so that we build our nation,” he added.
Courtesy of AfricaFiles. Additional editing by TLEP editorial team.