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Re-response to Dancing with a Wolf: A Reflection on Gambella Politics

By: Chuol R. Kompuok, PhD

December 14, 2014 (SSNA) -- On behalf of the Nuer of Gambella and on behalf of myself, I would like to take this golden opportunity to congratulate Mr. Ojulu Cham Ogola nicknamed Gamjot on the task he took upon himself in response to my article titled “Dancing with a Wolf: A Reflection on Gambella Politics.” Mr. Ojulu Cham with his excellent analysis as educated Anywaa tried to appreciate the contribution I have made, however, the inner ego of him being an Anywaa overshadowed the unearth truth to the extent of not seeing some of the clear statements even the blind person (s) can see.

In my understanding I thought I have addressed with fairness the problems of Gambella people and indicated plainly in the document the perpetrators who under normal circumstance could been held responsible but most of them went unpunished. In his response, he said to have found some fallacies, here I quote “However, I found some fallacies in his article which made me to respond to his piece of writing. He failed to address some issues fairly which I think he needs to reconsider his view on Gambella politics as an elite.” Here is another quote, “He attempted to re-write existing history dating back the arrival of Nuers’ in Gambella to 17th and 19th century. I think it would have been better for him to put the word…respectively.” In his first attempt to challenge my contribution with respect to the “Migration to Gambella from South Sudan”, there is no where I left out, “respectively” unless Mr. Ojulu Cham was reading between the lines and may be obsessed with hatred of thinking the Anywaa land was taken by Nuer, which was not the case, “the Gambella land is ancestral land for all the Gambella people (Majengir, Komo, Anywaa, Nuer and Opo) period! The highlanders are also part of Gambella people since the Federal Constitution of Ethiopia stipulated loud and clear the rights of every citizen to live anywhere in Ethiopia provided it’s within the Ethiopian sovereign land.

Here is what I said in the original article second paragraph line two (2), “History tells us both ethnic groups migrated from the original homeland, South Sudan eastward to the present day Gambella, Southwest Ethiopia in 17th and 19th century respectively.” To be more precise in term of migration/expansion, Nuer went as far as further north of Ethiopia Gojjam Administrative region of Amhara region, let a lone Bure and Shebel, which I indicated in the original document. The expedition was led by the following people and their names are as follow: Meen Diew, Jonyaang Thiwat, Maybai, Reath Yach, Thon Meat, Mut Dung, Jiokthiang Kir, Jock Wie (grand father to Ato Mark Chol Jock), and Yioy Binik. The expedition dated back between 16th century and early 17th century and the U—turn was taken as the condition in the highland areas of Ethiopia became unfavorable for cattle and human beings; tseseflies ticks and smallpox known in Latin word as “variola” were the main problems that halted the migration/expansion. If Mr. Ojulu Cham considered migration as setting bad precedent, he had migrated to the western world where nobody including the “Aboriginal Australians” complained of him being in Australia so to speak. If need be he would have remained in Gambella and carried the cross of eviction from the job as he was opposed to the GPLM policy. Therefore, Mr. Ojulu Cham should learn from vast experience as migrant and stop complaining about Nuer migration since he is also part of the “movement of migrants to the western world for a greener pasture.”

Mr. Ojulu Cham went on to agree with the first (1) charge and disagree with the second (2) charge against former president Omot Obang by Gambella people;

(1)    Masterminded the killing of innocent Nuer in 2002, 2003 and 2004 in Ochom along Baro River when he was head of Police Commission,

(2)    Participate directly in repatriation of Nuer who resided in Ochom village and other parts of Gambella areas for more than 15 years back to Jiokow and Akobo districts, a violation of the constitutional rights of Ethiopia citizens.

Mr. Ojulu Cham agreed with me in the first charge but seemed to have contradicted himself by adding that Anywaa were also killed in retaliation, which watered down the sense of humor and the consent he had shown in condemning the killings of the poor Nuer in the first place vindicating the former president Omot Obang and the Anywaa. However, such a war of mind will be left to him to put it to an end.

The second charges Mr. Ojulu Cham appeared to disagree with me is the core of the problem according to him but this shouldn’t be the core of the problem because Anywaa took over the ancestral land of some other ethnic groups in Gambella. If the Anywaa thought that Nuer took over their ancestral land and implemented the policy of assimilation, Majengir of Gog and Abobo districts pushed further to Godere of today’s Majengir Zone (County) who got assimilated, would have launched a rightful claims and made Anywaa resettled back to Jor district, Gambella town and Itang district shared with the Nuer. The inhabitants of Gambella town originally were (are) the Komo assimilated by the Anywaa and those who resented were pushed further north of Gambella along the Baro River and along the road connecting Gambella and Dembidolo of Oromia region are very much marginalized. Therefore, the Anywaa dispute of Nuer policy of assimilation is null and void for Anywaa are the actors and should have righted the wrong to Majengir and Komo of Gambella.

Mr. Ojulu Cham goes on by citing the Ochom case and here I quoted, “Therefore, what happened in Ochom, really, was wrong. It reached to point where the Nuers’ culprits would go out not stealing, but took Anywaa mangoes by force.” He goes on by saying, “Nuer craved their names on Mangoes trees as if there is no one who had planted them.” However, Nuer who had lived in Ocham for more than 15 years lived through the invitation of Anywaa chiefs and those whom they married to. Though they were invited, the Ethiopia Federal Constitution has actually stipulated it very clear that any Ethiopia citizens irrespective of race, color or creed, has all the rights to live wherever he/she wanted to live without prejudice. Does this mean that Mr. Ojulu Cham did not read the Ethiopia Federal Constitution or just wanted to bypass it for his self-interest? Nuer are mature enough not to crave their names on the mangoes trees to have the ownership of the land as was claimed by Ojulu Cham. It’s to be noted that the Nuer relationship with the Anywaa in the villages not limited to Ochom was so cordial and the process of assimilating Anywaa if it existed was peaceful unlike the case of Anywaa assimilating the Majengir and the Komo.

When the Nuer lived in Ocham, they suffered social cost—cost of their children not going to schools and lack of medical services while paying double taxes; one to the government of Gambella district and another one to Anywaa chiefs in the Ochom village with no meaningful returns. Despite all the due respect Nuer paid to the Anywaa as the host community, the Anywaa without shame would still go out to steal Nuer’s cows. If Nuer were bad guys as the way Anywaa perceived them, the December 13, 2003 Anywaa massacre would have created wrong precedent and Nuer would have not been used as human shield to protect their own brothers, the Anywaa from the tyrant government of EPRDF. Anywaa ran to Newland of Gambella town inhabited purely by the Nuer and Ochom village along Baro River and all were protected given all the bad things they did against the Nuer in the past. If Nuer had not pardoned the Anywaa bad deeds in the event of December 13, 2003, they would have revenged all the human losses incurred when Gambella was manned by the ruthless GPLM.

Therefore, the action taken by the former president Omot Obang to repatriate Nuer to their respective districts was wrong act condemned in a strongest terms possible and Ojulu Cham as educated Anywaa would have not supported the action of the most wanted criminal Mr. Omot Obang, the former president of Gambella. Nuer for very long time have been deprived of the regional resources by the GPLM leadership and access to social services was equal to none in the Nuer administrative areas in the region prompted the move toward where access to resources is possible; thus settlement in Ochom village should not be blamed on the Nuer. Ostensibly, the distribution of the regional resources meant for socio-economic development appear not to be fair with the application of model that favored six (6) Anywaa districts against two (2) Nuer districts plus one (1) special district of Majengir. Therefore, the Nuer inaccessibility of the resources from the center served as the pull factors toward Gambella and Anywaa would have contained the movement of Nuer by providing them equal access to all social services.

With respect to “liberty” Mr. Ojulu Cham challenged the liberty of Nuer from the bondage of the GPLM led party in Gambella. According to Ojulu Cham, GPLM liberated all the tribes in the Gambella region.” However, the claim Mr. Ojulu Cham put forward was not a legitimate claim since all the other four ethnic groups have rather suffered a great deal during the reign of GPLM. The liberation the inept GPLM party claimed to have brought to the Gambella people was only bloodshed and grieves. To put the record straight, the disgruntled Anywaa teachers with their ringleader Ojulu Ogala who was by then teaching in Akado village of Itang district ransacked and Killed teachers who came from highland area of Ethiopia in Chotgur village of Jiokow district. The killing of teachers in Chotgur village took place in 1978, four (4) years after the Ethiopia Revolution of the Junta regime of Col. Mengistu Hailemariam. Therefore, GPLM as a party did not liberate anyone from Gambella but the party is remembered for the worst human rights abuse and extra judicial killings of Nuer most of whom were educated including the helpless refugees resettled in Itang district summer of 1992 after the fall of the Derg regime. The barbaric act of the GPLM military wing towards the Nuer refugees in Itang district and around Gambella prompted the UNHCR to relocate the refugees to Dimma district for their safety. Nonetheless, the refugees in Dimma refugee camp after relocation were attacked by the GPLM military wing that cost lives of many Nuer, culminated the clashes between the EPRDF and GPLM military wing. If one would ask a simple question, why would Anywaa resorted to killing helpless South Sudanese refugees when they have nothing to do with land encroachment and Ethiopia politics? I would leave this question for Mr. Ojulu Cham and other readers to judge…

Bragging about Nuer supremacy: Mr. Ojulu Cham opposed to the statement I made as the worst fallacy, here I quoted, “The worst fallacy in this article is the statement, …… “Should the Nuer of today forget the rich history embedded in the struggle for the change in Gambella politics, it will be a systematic mistake in exchange for seat; a seat that will not recover the losses Nuer incurred in the process of climbing the top leadership in Gambella history and name recognition.” There was nothing wrong in telling the truth about the Nuer suffering in Gambella when GPLM took charge of Gambella affairs. It’s this rich history that would cement the unity of Nuer not to be divided no more as what former president of Gambella Omot Obang used to do for a cheap seat, which lasted only for a month or six months at max. Omot Obang was the worst president ever corrupt to the core in Gambella history coupled with the bad record of human rights abuse almost synonymous with the GPLM, a party, which did not control or capture any town let alone the village around Gambella and beyond during the liberation struggle of the EPRDF. The GPLM as a party after the EPRDF controlled all parts of Ethiopia was groomed and charged with the task of administering Gambella as sympathizer not as liberator and this is the strong message Gambella people should now know from today onward.

In conclusion, acknowledging the past mistakes and advancing the knowledge of the traditional methods of conflict resolutions would always serve as strong springboard binding the region together to move forward. Mr. Ojulu Cham as educated and well versed with the lives of both the Nuer and Anywaa plus the rich customary laws should have acknowledged the past mistake committed against the Nuer and condemned the GPLM in the strongest term possible instead of branding the GPLM as the liberator. The ordinary Anywaa and some elites suffered a great deal in the hand of GPLM but the degree of damage impacted negatively on the Nuer exceeding that of the Anywaa. For unity of Gambella people to be more attractive, Anywaa should drop the idea of them being called the “bona fide” Gambella inhabitants and….“we are more equal than the others.” Mr. Ojulu Cham for the Nuer and Anywaa to come to term as one family and fight the common enemy from the center, the Anywaa elites should stop praising GPLM as the liberator, thus condemn the GPLM for the worst atrocities committed against the Nuer and other ethnic groups in Gambella and beyond in the first place. In this line of argument, any qualify person (s) be it Komo, Opo or Majengir has all the rights to lead Gambella to the promise land, a land free of poverty with strong human security and peace. Land with no people is no man’s land. Therefore, people of Gambella should rethink their positions in term of looking at each other as enemies for the land of Gambella almost remains empty and the migrants from other parts of Ethiopia take advantage of indigenous conflict exacting the rights of land ownership.

Dr. Chuol R. Kompuok holds a PhD (Economics) from the University of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania and he can be reached at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Juba Massacre, One Year On; No Justice Since the 15th of December!

By Tor Madira Machier

December 13, 2014 (SSNA) -- At 10:30 pm, on Sunday the 15th of December 2013, messages and statements circulated on twitter and Facebook reported of a fierce fighting in Al Giyiada military barrack (former Sudanese armed forces hospital). And within a matter of more than two hours, the fighting resumed in New Site and continued with the echo of heavy gunfire to the next morning (Dec 16th).

On the morning of 16th December on Monday, Kiir flanked by Nguen Manytuil, Marial Benjamin, Kuol Manyang, Louis Lobong and so on, appeared in a decisive military uniform televising an announcement of a failed coup attempt by Dr. Riek Machar and his colleagues.

At 4pm on the same Monday in which kiir announced a failed and controversial coup, 4000 Nuer men, women and little children were reported massacred at Souk Lualdiit and Gudele. As the killing was systematically and officially ordered, within less than a matter of 72 hours, more than 20 thousands of Nuer men, women, and children were confirmed massacred. The killing continued cruelly till today.

December 15th, 2013, is a big day in Naath history, a bloody day. It was the largest mass killing in South Sudan ever witnessed and also one of the biggest massacres of one ethnic group in the world in a matter of less than 72 hours since the beginning of the 21st century. And yet nobody has been prosecuted. Those responsible have pushed it under the rug, silencing and denouncing any criticism that comes their way. It’s like it never happened. On that Sunday and Monday, South Sudanese security forces and their Gelweng militiamen literally translated to cattle herders raided and rounded up two largely peaceful Nuer dominated residential areas.

In that raid, atleast 4050 people were killed between 1am and 4 pm on the 16th of December in what Human Rights Watch says was an attack orchestrated at the highest levels of the South Sudan government

The death of more than 20,000s Nuer people at the hands of their state is neither a partisan nor a political controversy but instead, It is a national and human tragedy. December 15th is a tragic day in South Sudan's history and Naath in particular and only when a larger section of the population recognizes it as such will South Sudan be a better, healthier and more peaceful path.

No Justice has been achieved so far since this inhuman massacre was executed. It is as if the identity of killers is a public secret everyone knows exactly who they are. Some of them still roam freely in the area, but they cannot be named, even by an official Inquiry or investigation. I am not saying hang or kill them without a trial. But the people have neither forgiven nor forgotten what happened on December 15th last year nor do the people not know who exactly is responsible for it.

Tor Madira Machier is a South Sudanese student pursuing Law Degree at the University Of Ain Shams in Cairo, Egypt.He can be reached at: to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or reach him at his twitter account : @TorMadira

A response to Dinka Council of Elder’s unfortunate Position on the Peace Process

By Dr. Hoth Giw Chan

December 12, 2014 (SSNA) -- There are several letters circulating on the net these days written by the so called “Dinka Council of Elders”. In one of the letter (A letter dated October 30th, 2014); a good number of elders from Dinka Community signed the said letter. The content of the letter, especially the language of it seems not to match with the titles of those who appended their names on that letter. This is because; one would not expect members of National Legislative Assembly (MP) and the former Chief Justice, whose names appears on the list, to uses the word “terrorist Nuer” in a letter that is intended to launch a complaint of a national nature to an International or Regional Body tasked to mediate peace between the nationals of one country, especially, when there are a good number of Nuer on their side/Government. Not to mention the fact that members of the Nuer ethnic group were the ones slaughter in masses in Juba, by the very people who are calling them “terrorist” because their clan men responded to the genocidal acts ordered by Kiir—and now maybe with the advises from the “Dinka Council of elders”.

Historically, Elders have vital role in traditional Africa. Elders are the custodians of norms, culture, customary laws and peacemaking in most African countries. Their role is always respected as they are the social fabric that binds most African societies together because of their wisdoms and farsightness. The African old age institution is an institution that is respected across the board, and for that matter, eldership is always equated with wisdom, peace, and stability in most African societies, South Sudan included.

What has been revealed by “Dinka Council of elder” is something new, and a new low in South Sudan Politics. This is in fact a sign of a decaying role of elders in the Dinka Community, unless the smart ones are in the villages. Instead of putting the national interest first by encouraging intra- ethnic dialogue between the elders of both Communities, the Dinka Council of elder veered off and went astray by condemning the very community that has been wronged by the regime that massacred over twenty thousand (20,000) in four days and whose members are living in a concentration camps like in the National Capital, Juba, Malakal, and Bentiu, because of the fear of extermination by the members of Kiir’s ethnic group as represented by the so called “Dinka Council of elders”.

How would the Dinka Council of Elders expect the Nuer Community members to view the following statements from their complaints letter?

We, Jieng (Dinka) Elders are extremely saddened by this impression and precedence. Firstly, the mediators are busy visiting the capitals of Addis Ababa, Kampala, Nairobi, Washington and Juba organizing reconciliatory meetings between President Salva Kiir Mayardit and the Nuer rebel leader Riek Machar Teny.

Without a shame and slice respect to the Nuer Community, the Dinka Council of elders are referring to the leader of the Opposition/SPLM/A Dr, Riek Machar, as Nuer Rebel Leader, and to Salva Kiir, as the President. I believe all those who are calling themselves member of “Dinka Council of elders” knows very well that Dr. Riek Machar, is a national leader like Salva Kiir, whether in his previous role as Vice President, Deputy SPLM Chairman, or his current position as leader of the Opposition. The Opposition is not a Nuer Opposition, though Nuer might be a majority. Respect begin with respecting oneself and referring to an Opposition leader according to his ethnicity is disrespectful, hardly to achieves the reconciliation you are yearning for. Why are you signing using your titles (honorable) on the letter if that does not matter?

“Furthermore, the mediators are equating that rebel leader with the legitimate Government of South Sudan and the elected President, General Salva Kiir Mayardit. Will this not set precedence for a disgruntled individual or any South Sudanese ambitious power hungry armed group to stage a violent take-over of power from legitimate Government of South Sudan?”

When a group of people who considered themselves to be the top in their communityfail to understand the reasoning why the mediators recognizes the warring parties to betreated on equal footings, one question the knowledge an experiences of such a Pack.

Just to refresh your thinking a little bit, how did the Mediators who were mediating Government of Sudan and the SPLM/A during the CPA negotiation referred to Dr. Garang then? Was Dr. Garang, not referred to as the Chairman of the SPLM/A or just the Dinka Rebel Leader at the time? If the Parties are not going to be treated on equal footing, then why do they negotiate or what would be the point for negotiation?

“On our part it appears as a deliberate undermining of the mandate of the people of South Sudan, at the time when the end of the mandate of the legitimate Government of Gen. Salva Kiir Mayardit, is only less than one year”.

Legitimacy is usually given to the Government by its people when the Government protects lives and properties of its citizens as well as respecting their freedom of all kinds. A Government that has just massacred its own people based on their ethnicity has no such legitimacy to begin with in the first place. As for the mandate to end “only less than one year (2015” it is true, but that is what begin the SPLM conflict because of Kiir’s refusal to organized a meeting for Political Bureau members to decide for the Candidate who would have contested the national election. Because he knew all along that he would not be a Flag bearer, your tribe man in the name of Kiir, resorted to the best things all African Dictators knows—creating an unnecessary ethnic conflict so people or Group like Dinka Council of Elders would jump to ride the tribal Camel. Is it not what you are doing currently—depending the Dinka Chief from the mess he created due to his lack of vision and poor leadership.

“Yes, it is absolutely true that Riek Machar Teny and his tribes’ terrorist Nuer white army succeeded to massacre countless number of innocent Jieng people in 1991 and many more after December 15th 2013”.

This seems to be an admission of quilt from those who knows that a crime (crime against humanity) has been committed by members of their community and would like to protect the said members. Connecting 1991 incident with the current massacres on Nuer by Salva Kiir, will not do. Did the Dinka Council of Elders advised Salva Kiir, to use the 1991 Bor incident as a pretext to massacre Nuer in Juba, and other places? Its important that group like Dinka Council of elders are admitting and taking responsibility for what had happened in Juba (Juba Massacre). This is what the Nuer Community and the SPLM/A has been trying to tell to the International Community that Juba Massacre was intentional with preplanning by Salva Kiir and his associates, which now includes the Dinka Council of elders. The justification as stated by the Dinka Council of elders in the above letter is to use the 1991 Bor incident to massacre Nuer in their thousands, and yet, the Dinka Council of elders considered their stand to be one way of bringing peace in the country. This is a self-contradictory position as you cannot admit massacring Nuer and want reconciliation at the same time.

“Fourthly, we know the value of national reconciliation and we have done it before! Rebel leader Riek Machar Teny even after massacring over five thousand in Jonglei and Upper Nile states in 1991, was granted amnesty in 2002; Paulino Matip with all other armed militia groups who fought for decades against the SPLA since 1983 were granted amnesty and were absorbed into SPLA in 2005 and thereafter”.

For the Dinka Council of elders to stated it in their letter that they are the one who granted Dr. Riek Machar, an “amnesty in 2002” back to the SPLM/A is bizarre and ridiculous. The SPLM/A internal issues since its establishment in 1983 and which eventually erupted into a full scale factional war in the 1990s had their origins in the formation of the movement, its management, and vision. There a lot of literatures written about that. These differences were settled peacefully again in 2001 by the main contenders of Dr. Riek Machar, and late Dr. John Garang. They resorted to work together for the national interest of South Sudanese. This was not done by the Dinka Council of elders as I remember vividly. It was an internal conflict that divided the Movement not along the ethnic line as there were Nuer and Dinka on both factions.

Now you are lying to the World that Dinka Council of Elder was responsible for unification of the SPLM back then in 2001--- that is pathetic. As for the Former Deputy Commander-in-Chief, General Paulino Matip, I remember that it was a Clause in the CPA that requires Other Arm Group to join the Government of Southern Sudan (GoSS) or the Government of Sudan (GoS). General Paulino, happened to be the leader of the SSDF (South Sudan Defense Force) which combined different Organizations in the Region. The Agreement was reached between the then Government of Southern Sudan and the SSDF. Government of Southern Sudan, was not a Dinka Council of elders Organization and one wonder why the Dinka Council of elders lies to the world that it’s had granted an amnesty to “armed militia groups”? Remember the Vice President of the Government at the time was Dr. Riek Machar—just in case it slipped away from your thinking.

“Finally, In the name of Jieng people of the Republic of South Sudan, we Jieng Elders want to surely inform the regional and International Community that Riek Machar Teny and his “terrorist Nuer white army” cannot and should not be rewarded with power to execute his “ELIMINATIONIST” Policy.

Now, you read the above statement and try to put in a way that we consider the role of elders in the African context. Imagine a club of elders whose members are currently Parliamentarians (MPs in the current Legislative Assembly) and one of them a Former Chief Justice of the country decides to write such a low letter that does not meet the standard of what a thoughtful, convincing, and well articulate letter should be. South Sudan is a country inhibited by roughly 64-more ethnic groups of which Nuer and Dinka are the major ones. These ethnic groups have lived peacefully over thousands of years in the present territory we called South Sudan. They lived peacefully because traditional methods of settling disputes between different ethnic groups were always employed by the elders of those communities. The elders in African context as I stated somewhere above have wisdoms of running the affairs of their people. In some instances, they go to an extreme of giving up one of their sons for the sake of peaceful co-existence between and among different ethnic groups.

The mentality of “it’s our turn to eat” must be led go and resort to the truthfulness of calling a spade a spade. Who in his right mind can deny the massacre of Nuer in Juba, when other South Sudanese and Foreigners were watching Nuer being slaughters in their hundreds? Did the so called “Dinka Council of elders” have a gut to even condemn what was done by your Dinka Chief, Kiir, when he ordered the massacred of over 20,000 in over four days period? Who is on the negotiating table on the side of the Government, Dinka Council of elder members or representative of Government? May be there is no different between the two after all?

Nobody is rewarding anybody with power because we are all feeling the pain of bleeding South Sudan. This unnecessary cost of human lives has been imposed on people of South Sudan because of a failure of a one man (Dinka Chief) who has ran out of ideas and only came up with a magic solution of killing his own people. Imagine a leader who has a gut to tell his people point blank that “nobody is going to come to rescue you because Riek Machar is not going to come to Juba, when his people are being protected by the UNMISS from him as he wants to exterminate them”? This is the person the Dinka Council of elders consider to be the best in the country. Those whose goals are to support and kneel down to the leader instead of the country because of the love of money, will find it sooner than later that, greed has no ceiling, and that the country is bigger than our collective greed for one single ethnic group to get rich in the expenses of other groups.

We all should know that the current madness imposed on people by Salva Kiir, will one day come to an end. There will also be a time for all of us to live in a peacefully and prosperous South Sudan. The current situation will certainly be corrected when the time is right and those who committed crimes against humanity by massacring their own people will be put where they belong in order to service justice.

Dr. Hoth Giw Chan is a co-author of the book entitled “South Sudan: A legitimate Struggle”. He can be reach at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it m.

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