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Articles and Analysies Last Updated: Dec 20, 2009 - 3:34:53 PM

Will Dr. Lam Akol’s party succeed? By: Zechariah Manyok Biar, TEXAS, USA

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Will Dr. Lam Akol’s party succeed?

By: Zechariah Manyok Biar, TEXAS, USA

After the announcement of Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-for Democratic Change (SPLM-DC) by its leader Dr. Lam Akol, I took my time to see how South Sudanese will react. The reaction is interesting. Some commentators call Dr. Akol a betrayer of South Sudan and they support their thoughts with evidence of 1991 split that was initiated by Dr. Akol, some say that National Congress Party is behind the formation of SPLM-DC, others are careful about the democratic rights of Dr. Akol even though they disagree with his policies, and others are supporting Dr. Akol wholeheartedly. The question that everybody has on his or her mind is whether Dr. Akol’s party will succeed or not.

In a nation that democracy is valued, it is always important to have at least two strong political parties so that they hold each other accountable for services they deliver to their citizens. Competition is good, that is why we like to watch two strong football teams. It would be very interesting to have two strong parties with different ideologies in South Sudan, but love freedom for marginalized people in Sudan.

In Dr. Akol’s statement for launching the party, which was published by South Sudan Nation on June 6, 2009, Dr. Akol accused SPLM mainstream of having no organizational and political work, having no specialized position papers on specific issues, having no political rallies held regularly even in the Capital of Southern Sudan, Juba, and having turned to unnecessary internal squabbles and exclusive politics by targeting some of its senior members and singling them out for character assassination. If these accusations are true, then SPLM will now correct itself to win Southerners to its side. SPLM will now start hearing the voices of the people if it were not hearing them. SPLM will also take good ideas and implement them immediately to maintain its popularity. That would be very good.

Dr. Akol also accused SPLM of being corrupt and incompetent because “Since its formation in 2005 up to March 2009,” as Dr. Akol argues, “the GOSS has received 6.5 billion US dollars in oil revenues and yet it has nothing to show for it in terms of provision of services let alone development.” If that is true, then GOSS will have to revise its performance. That is how democracy works.

Dr. Akol surprised me, however, by accusing SPLM of having “no excuse not to have implemented its vision of the New Sudan in the South.” I did not know that Dr. Akol was for New Sudan. If that is his position, then he is going to attract SPLM unionists to his party, making his party the real opposite of separatists in the mainstream SPLM party. Fascinating!

But the change of ideologies would be a political suicide for Dr. Akol if he is not ready to convince the people of why he changed positions.

Things become very opaque when it comes to Dr. Akol’s political philosophies. One of Dr. Akol’s philosophies is that “CPA has put us into a coalition partnership with the NCP and partners do not criticize each other in public, unless they want to break up the partnership.” Really! Is it true that political partners do not criticize themselves in public? I don’t understand this philosophy. Those who don’t understand this philosophy with me will not support Dr. Akol at this stage.

Another unclear position that many commentators quote is this: “On many occasions the SPLM has been ambivalent on national issues, such as the ICC’s indictment of the President, the last attack on Gaza, the deployment of UN troops in Darfur, etc,” Dr. Akol reasons. Dr. Justin Ambago Ramba called this concern crazy. He wrote, “Is it one of Akol’s concerns? Crazy world, I know you can call it politics, but this one is frankly crazy” (South Sudan Nation, June 8, 2009).

I agree with Dr. Ramba. It is crazy for Dr. Akol to support President Bashir against the ICC, knowing that President Bashir was indicted because of the killing of civilians in Darfur and condemning SPLM for having been ambivalent on the attack on Gaza. Are these the issues that Dr. Akol regards as “national issues?” How can his moral standing be justified on Gaza and not on the killing of civilians next door to him in Darfur? Maybe I got it wrong. But I think the killing of civilians anywhere is unacceptable. This position might prevent some people from joining Dr. Akol’s party.

All in all, Dr. Akol’s political philosophies are not yet clear. Those who will join him will do so not because they are convinced, but because they agree with him on the vision of New Sudan, which still is unclear. There are those who had been known as advocates of separation of South Sudan from North Sudan, but they are now supporting Dr. Akol. They will join Dr. Akol’s party for the same reason that Dr. Akol formed his party: politics.

The success or failure of Dr. Akol’s party is not yet clear. Time will tell.


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