GATESVILLE — Coryell County District Attorney Dusty Boyd was part of the six-year U.N. peace process that preceded the creation of South Sudan in 2011. He is following news of a military coup and civil upheaval with concern.
“If the country plunges back into civil war, all the work done since 2005 is going to be flushed,” he said. “With the time and effort I have invested there, I want to see it work. I hope it does not come down to all out military action.”
In 2007, Boyd took a leave from his Central Texas law practice and traveled to Sudan as a law enforcement liaison for the United Nations.
The tribes of the south, predominantly the Nuer and Dinka, were united in their desire to break away from the Muslim-dominated north and 99 percent voted for secession.
“The Nuer and Dinka were united against Sharia law and rejected the Arab-style government of the north in favor of more Western democratic government,” Boyd said.
Since the secession, he said, the two tribes have been “fighting like cats and dogs” over the internal quarrels of their new nation.
In July, South Sudan President Salva Kiir, a member of the Dinka tribe, dismissed his cabinet along with Vice President Riek Machar, a member of the Nuer tribe. Kiir accused Machar loyalists of attempting a coup and now U.S. Marines are poised to enter the country as both sides shoot it out.
“It is not completely surprising,” Boyd said of the turmoil. “They have been their own country for two years and are dealing with a very complex maze of political, cultural and tribal issues. It is the Wild West and it is hard to get civilian policing into those areas.”
Based in Juba before the partition, Boyd was part of a team aiming to prepare South Sudan to stand on its own and transition from military to civilian law enforcement.
Some of Boyd’s colleagues are now being evacuated from the strife-torn country.
“I have a lot of friends over there,” he said. “They are stepping back a little bit, going to Nairobi and Kenya. That was our go-pack plan in case of trouble.”
If Sudan is the Wild West, the upper Nile area where the fighting is focused is “the Wilder West,” he said.
“That is where the all the oil is. The country’s economic future is under that soil. If there is going to be an economic future for South Sudan, they have to have stability there.”