Dr. Lam Akol's Tribulations: How many cheeks has he to turn?
BY: Deny Venang,
Known as a shrewd politician whose reasoning power can only be rivaled by the likes of Late Dr. John Garang and South Sudan Vice President, Dr. Riek Machar, Dr.Lam Akol Ajawin, aka Mr. LAA, by his initials (literally meaning no in Arabic), when he stands on a point of order in any debate issue, sends shock waves down the spines of the opponents on the other side of the argument across the auditorium, knowing the controversial politician is up for a tussle he is prepared to win.
Battle-hardened by Sudan's turbulent politics, Dr. Lam came to the public knowledge in 1991 Nasir declaration which forced John Garangâ€˜s SPLM/A in to owning up to what they hated most: self determination for the South Sudan and democratization of the guerilla movement never seen in any existing modern liberation movements.
From day one of the coup, (christened Creeping Revolution), SPLM/A went through non-premeditated metamorphosis, though his Nasir faction he mid-wifed with his University colleague and comrade-in-arms in the liberation, Dr. Riek Machar, later disintegrated into fractious components engrossed in a hate-and-love relationship. But without any denial, the indelible damage was already done in their former movement that turned into a pale shadow of its former self.
Call him whatever name you like under the blazing sun- Party hoper, divisionist, party destroyer, a reformist or multiparty democrat, Lam Akolâ€˜s contribution to the creation of more than thirty percent of the
currently existing registered political parties in the entire Sudan canâ€™t be denied. Some are offshoots of coalition of parties he and Machar formed and led into the much detested sisterly
and Fashoda peace agreements in 1997.
Any house he turns his back on never remains in its original form, a fact which exemplifies his overwhelming political inertia.
The reverse is also true when he decided to let go of back-stabbing politics of
for nationalist one by rejoining the SPLM/A.
Before doing so he resigned in Khartoum-based government as minister of roads, transport and bridges in 2002 and in earnest started to mobilize other Southern Sudanese politicians to pay allegiance to the SPLM for the sake of unity among Southerners in order to give the NCP-led government a run for their money.
That unity of rival Southern Sudanese factions of John Garang , Riek Machar and his eventually pressured NCP into rethinking their war path for the safest escape route to peace, culminating in the IGAD-brokered peace agreement in Nairobi, Kenya, commonly known as the CPA. Timely as it was, that unity of purpose encouraged Southern Sudanese sympathizers in the region and abroad to vehemently rally behind the then on-going
However, despite the above mentioned selfless contributions, Garang never returned Lamâ€™s generosity nor did he forgive him as he did to his colleague, Riek Machar, who re-united with the former a year before.
As a principle of the quest to reunite the faltered movement, all parties to the reunification crusade agreed earlier that members of the SPLM/A Political- military High Command before the 1991 split be re-instated to their previous positions.
And because Kerubino, Nyuon, Arok and Kulang died, Machar assumed number three after Garang and Kiir. The same scenario on the contrary failed to apply in Lamâ€™s case, for he's supposed to be number five after Wani Iga in the hierarchy.
Instead he was just made a member without portfolio in the reformed SPLM leadership Council, the version of SPLM/A Politicalâ€“military high command. Lam remained grumbling but to no avail, a situation that could be mainly attributed to his ethnic group being negligibly small---too few to grind an axe with the all powerful largest Dinka ethnic group in any tribally inspired coalition.
He bade his time till the formation of post-war unity government that earned him the unthinkable plumb job of first ever South Sudanese foreign minister in the history of the Sudan- courtesy of Garang â€˜s sudden death before he formed the government with Omar Al-Bashir.
He clinched the FM post due to his intellectual acumen and once flourishing friendship with Kiir who succeeded the late Dr.Garang de Mabior. It was not a free gift. The motivation in the later to appoint him was a payback for the shoulder he offered him to cry on in his hour of need. He turned such direly needed shoulder to him during his political standoff with the late Garang, in Rumbek in 2004, shortly in the run-up to the CPA signing.
He was billed the best performing SPLM minister who succeeded where his colleagues failed, especially in recruiting South Sudanese into unknown diplomatic territory. While his colleagues were busy rocking the boat with the NCPâ€™s errant boys, he was rowing the boat to the safest shores from the troubled waters there by forging smooth working relationship with some NCPâ€™s members willing to implement the CPA that legally joins the two principal partners.
However, in 2007 his fortunes began to dwindle for an alleged clique jealous of his unsurpassed achievements and the prime post he held. From within, the inner circle pulled the rug from under his feet, accusing him of colluding with the former foes, the NCP, in his capacity as foreign minister in the unity government.
The clique finally waved the triumph card when they forced Kiirâ€˜s hands into inking a reshuffle of GONU SPLMâ€˜s Ministers, aimed at targeting one black sheep. Obviously none other than Lam Akol became as the first ever kill of the witch hunt in the movement already under siege of tribal sentiments while broiling in ever roaring official corruption that was decried at home and abroad.
No consideration was given for a soft landing for Lam from the high skies either to head at least a sort of chickens Ministry. His post was liberally dished to one of the suspected conspirators, turned big time beneficiary.
As if the damage of banishing him into oblivion didnâ€™t achieve its maximum effect, the suspected clique plotted the final onslaught on his physical life in Malakal while on a whirlwind tour of his constituency, but miraculously Dr. Lam managed to live for another day after losing three of his body guards.
Pleas to appoint him, in a bid to cool his rage, in an autonomous Southern government fell on Mr. Presidentâ€˜s deaf ears. Regardless of the inflicted political wounds, Dr. Lam limped on up to the SPLM 2nd convention in May 2008 where he greatly helped bridge the widening rift between Kiir and his immediate Deputy, Dr. Riek Machar, when the two went vied for the chairmanship of the Movement.
Thanklessly, Dr. Lam Akol was jettisoned out of the Political Bureau, the Movementâ€˜s Executive arm, into a crowded, ordinary, toothless Legislative Arm called National Liberation Council, housing over 250 grumbling â€“ faceless members.
Such demotion with subsequent dismissal from the Party became a fatal blow that broke his last jaw bone and prompted him into doing the unthinkable any feared and rejected politician of his caliber can do to live once more.
That is forming what could be a real opposition Party called SPLMâ€“DC or democratic change, that is now giving the mother SPLM a splitting headache in the South it long considers its safe zone.
Unsurprisingly, an army of waiting critics have been hitherto deployed, falling over one another by calling him names they luxuriously choose. They blasted him for rightly forming a party at the wrong time. Quite a great contradiction since a significant number of parties have been formed before his without warranting any castigation.
But unbeknownst to them, the fiery politician is neither a hapless hostage of time nor a blind follower of conventional thinking. He believes that a good idea comes within its ample timing, notwithstanding the critics dictated choice of events to happen: where and when.
Dr. Lam gave food for thought South Sudanese should live to eat. That is successfully foiling a folly of allowing himself to be retired by another politician â€“ Kiir â€“ since he believes it is only the electorate who retires politicians and not one politician by another.
Article Posted By: Deng Mulwal