Articles and Analysies
SPLM: A Party that Deserves Building not Ruining By James Okuk
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Dec 30, 2007 - 3:44:38 AM

SPLM: A Party that Deserves Building not Ruining

By James Okuk


The end of the so-called partnership crisis of the Sudan Peoples Liberation Movement (SPLM) with the National Congress Party (NCP), and the call off of the seventy-five days “suspension of the activities” of the SPLM cadres in the executive constitutional position of the Government of National Unity (GoNU), has been welcomed by the Sudanese people not because of its effectiveness, but of the possibility of continuation of the implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA). The Sudanese people, especially Southerners, have discovered that they have no alternative valuable hope for stability in the country except the realization of the protocols of the CPA.


1. The Lessens Learnt from the SPLM Crisis of ‘Suspension’

That crisis alerted the people that the SPLM should be made a political party that deserves to be built with confidence for the delivery of peace, development and justice in whatever part of the Sudan it is controlling. The crisis warned the SPLM leaders that it is not good to ruin this growing party with power intrigues and conspiracies that are motivated by “selfish will for power, wealth and luxury” in the midst of current misery of the multitude of people in the Sudan , especially, Southern Sudan . Further, that planned crisis cautioned the SPLM that it should not strive to become “a giant political party in a giant country” that suffers from lack of human rights records, balanced transparent accountable development, and democratic good governance that transcend the documentary inks and papers of the strategic plans (Five-Years, Quarter-Century, etc.). Instead, that created crisis clarified the right path for the SPLM with the challenge that it ought and must “strife to become a just and fair political party in a just and fair prosperous and transformed democratic Sudan,” starting within its own internal activities before pointing fingers on other parties.


2. SPLM has Credible Cadres to Acknowledge beyond Doubts

The SPLM has (currently and potentially) abler and credible hardworking and committed zealous cadres for its leadership, particularly, towards the desirable end of the CPA within the interim period and beyond in the government and party politics in the post war Southern Sudan . However, the efforts of those cadres should not be hindered by rivalling disunity, intended marginalization and hurried distancing or dismissals. The efforts of all SPLM members (at the highest, middle and lower levels) should be united in their diversities and geared towards planned success, exemplified with tangible programmes for the country, the party and its specialized institutions. The SPLM should learn to avoid empty idealized individualistic media rhetoric that is used for selfish promotion in the expense of temporary emotional appeals to the discontented Sudanese mobs and their foreign sympathizers. For this approach to be possible, the SPLM members need to learn how to appreciate the good work of any of its members without bias, envy or distortion.


3. SPLM Should Divide rather than Accumulate Duties

The SPLM should learn more how to divide the duties amongst its qualified cadres without tendency of accumulating so many duties on one person (like the current case of H.E. Pagan Amum who is a party Secretary-General and Government Minister at the same time).   Not only that but also the SPLM members and leaders should be courageous to challenge openly any incredible work or passivity of any of its cadres without use of double standard in the evaluation of their performance in wherever it authorizes them to do within the party’s missions or in the government where they are supposed to participate. Wisdom has taught the world that a prudent political party is the one that shares powers and duties amongst its abler cadres and avoids accumulation of duties on any of them because that could make him/her to fail due to the burdens of multi-roles assignments within limited time and on limited efforts. I am optimistic that H.E. Mr. Salva Kiir, his consultants and advisors are capable of applying this wisdom for the good of SPLM and its successful future if they leave behind their fear of the active members.


3. Performance of Dr. Lam is a Proof of SPLM Capability to Rule a State

From the experience with the current partnership government of the CPA, SPLM has shown the Sudan and the whole world that it is able to become a ruling party in this largest country thorough the performance of some of its cadres who were commissioned to work in the executive, legislative and judiciary branches of the Sudan government. Their partner, the NCP and Mr. President El-Bashir has acknowledged that performance in the person of the former Foreign Minister Dr. Lam Akol who executed the foreign policy of the Sudan with commitment and sincerity as it was democratically agreed in the Council of Ministers of GoNU and also in the presidency. The interim constitution of the Sudan accorded the president of the Republic of the Sudan the right and authority to direct and supervise the foreign policy of the country and Hon. Dr. Lam implemented his directives with honesty. This constitutional situation put him into uneasy situation with some members of his party (SPLM) who wrongly (out of ignorance or image-tarnishing tendency) accused him of being an implementer of NCP’s agenda. Some of his colleagues in the SPLM launched an intensive media attacks on him with the aim of ousting him from that sovereign ministry with the justification that he ignores SPLM Secretariat position – which is not government position – on the problem of Darfur .


But because of his strong personality and confidence in his duty as the Foreign Minister of the government of the Sudan (and not the Foreign Minister of the SPLM party), he continued to defy the SPLM position and went ahead with his ministerial duty as spelt out in the interim national constitution. He wisely chose to defend the Sudan and its constitution by not contradicting the president and the policies of the GoNU cabinet because that was what he was sent to do in the Foreign Ministry. This irritated some members of the SPLM not really for the sake of Darfurians but for the fear of lost of their old foreign friends and agents who were anti-national government of the Sudan , and who were trading on Darfur crisis for their selfish benefits. Unfortunately, Mr. President’s satisfaction with the performance of Dr. Lam Akol and the uneasiness of some of his colleagues in the SPLM turn into a crisis, which almost drew the country back to the square of war situation. But thanks to His Excellency Mr. Salva Kiir for dealing with that crisis wisely and ensuring that the SPLM does not slip back to war with the NCP or renegotiate the CPA as it was proposed by American Government during his visit to Washington .


In many instances, Mr. Salva found no justifiable reason to remove Dr. Lam from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, but later, he gave in to the demand and continuous pressure of the SPLM Secretariat, relieved him from that post and nominated him as the Minister of Cabinet Affairs. Again the Secretariat and some of the advisors of Mr. Salva were not satisfied because that Ministry can take him (Dr. Lam) even closer to Mr. President El-Bashir and to the core of the executive decision-making organ in the Country; it can make him more successful SPLM cadres than the rest.  At the end Mr. Salva decided to leave him out totally from the executive institutions of the GoNU. That decision ended the so-called partnership crisis between the NCP and SPLM, which resulted in nothing new except exposure of the ignorance of some of the SPLM noise-makers about the internal mechanism of CPA implementation. The SPLM Secretariat and those who did not want Dr. Lam Akol to be a minister were very satisfied with the action of Mr. Salva and pledged that they will work hard to strengthen the CPA partnership with the NCP more than what Dr. Lam did when he was a minister in the same government. The former FM was very glad to hear that his approach is being adopted by his victimizers and thus he did not regret being out of the cabinet. He is satisfied to be one of the strong politicians in the Sudan who has been working hard to ensure that the CPA implementation does not remain in papers without extending its dividends to the Sudanese public, particularly Southerners. He became happy that the CPA implementation is continuing with the said ‘strengthened partnership’ from the new SPLM team who have been constitutionally appointed to work more closely with the NCP and Mr. El-Bashir in the Cabinet and in their different Ministries in GoNU. However, a critical person would wonder here why Dr. Lam was victimized for being closer to the NCP partners and to the Mr. President El-Bashir when those who have victimized him are determined to do the same for the successful partnership of the implementation of the CPA.


As the SPLM are back to the GoNU ministries the Sudanese people are eagerly waiting to see where H.E. Mr. Salva will assign Dr. Lam Akol, his most powerful cadre, after taking him out of the GoNU cabinet. People who are for the good of SPLM are highly hoping that the abilities of this rare Sudanese political icons will be used now for the specific success of the SPLM and its better organization for the coming challenges of the general elections – within the party competitions and in the Sudan with other political parties. Most Sudanese are convinced (including Mr. Salva) that Dr. Lam is a committed and a hardworking thinker and implementer of democratically agreed policies and actions. “Dr. Lam is a man who says what he means and does what he says.” He has made Southerners proud by showing the whole world and Jallaba that Southerners are capable to rule and manage a state successfully; thus, falsifying the unjustifiable thesis that Southerners are still raw to rule themselves if granted an independent state as a result of Self-determination.


Also Dr. Lam has so many advantages over his colleagues in the SPLM because he knows the mentality of the NCP cadres right from the time he was an active student in political mobilization in the university of Khartoum in 1970s, When he joined the SPLM in 1986 after having recruited so many intellectuals like late Yousif Kuwa and others and contributed in its foundation and external relations, when he signed Fachoda Peace Agreement with them in 1997, when he worked with them as the minister of Transport till 2001, and when they dismissed him because of his unique achievements in that ministry by building Malakal River Port and lobbying hard to establish other River Ports on towns of Southern Sudan.


4. Dr. Lam is the Suitable Candidate for the SPLM Secretariat

Given his achievements and records in the politics of the Sudan , Dr. Lam Akol Ajawin is the suitable candidate for the SPLM Secretariat in this critical time. He has enormous capabilities and treasures that can raise SPLM to highest and credible organizational standard. I am optimistic that he can be ready any time to take up the duty of SPLM Secretary-General if asked by the Chairman Salva Kiir Mayardit. What Mr. Salva need is to take courage and eliminate fear about him as a challenger to his position as the boss of SPLM. It will be a betrayal for SPLM not to utilize the abilities of Dr. Lam for the good of this newly born party beyond the current internal manoeuvrings for control and dictatorship of its institutional power privileges.


SPLM deserve to be build as a robust political party rather than ‘personality cult’ so that it remains robust even if its founders and current leaders are gone one day. If the liberation fighters of the Sudan do not establish and strengthen firmly the institutional identity of SPLM now, they will not be forgiven by the history and blood of its freedom fighters. They will not even rest in their graves in future because of the futile and the ruining mistake they have done to this historical movement and symbol of struggle for justice and fairness in the Sudan . But if the current SPLM leaders took their time and left their selfishness for power struggle behind for the sake of organizing and fortifying the SPLM, history and its generations will reward them and make them rest forever on the satisfaction of their good work and its continuation as our great Hero Dr. Garang is resting now in his Mausoleum in Juba town. Therefore, it is now the right time for Dr. Lam to be given the leadership of SPLM Secretariat and I am sure he is going to commit all his energy to put-on-the-right-path the SPLM and presents it as a strong partner in the implementation of the CPA. Dr. Lam knows very well the team work of sincere comrades and those who fear him will admire him at the end when they come to realize that their tremble was baseless. I am really concern about the future of the SPLM and not much about its past because this is also the future of the CPA. Without a strong SPLM the CPA will remain weak even to the threat of death and disappearance. CPA made late Dr. Garand a hero and wiped away his entire undesirable past records. I also believe that its total implementation will identify SPLM as a hero of peace, justice and development and delete its dirty records for generations in Sudanese politics of peace.



James Okuk is a PhD student in the University of Nairobi in the field of Political Philosophy. He can be reached on [email protected]

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