SPLM vs SPLM-DC: A pig blaming the fox for quitting
As many readers have learnt in the last few days, the Sudan People‚Äôs Liberation Movement (SPLM) members in particular, and South Sudanese or Sudanese in general, have been awakened by declaration of formation of a new breakaway political party from the mother SPLM. And this is the newly-formed party called the Sudan People‚Äôs Liberation Movement ‚Äď for Democratic Change (SPLM-DC) under the chairmanship of Dr. Lam Akol Ajawin, former Foreign Minister in the country.
As normal, people from different backgrounds reacted to the news; some condemning it and others lending their support to it. I am neither supporter of Dr. Lam Akol nor do I reject any formation of variety of political parties if established under genuine causes, visions and programs.
However, I will not mince my words in expressing my disapproval of some contents of the official statement released by Dr. Lam Akol when he launched his new party on 6th June. And this is connecting some of the SPLM failures to its position on President Beshir‚Äôs indictment by the International Criminal Court (ICC), the Israeli incursions on Gaza of Palestine and his (Akol‚Äôs) deliberate silence on the National Congress Party‚Äôs (NCP) suppression on, and indeed violations of, implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA).
Dr. Akol also did not come forward on what he expected his former party, the SPLM, to do on things like Israeli-Palestinian incursions.
To me, Dr. Lam Akol would have also gained recognition of his seriousness to issues affecting South Sudan by South Sudanese ‚Äď his natural political base ‚Äď if he launched his new party in Juba or any where within the territory of South Sudan proper. A proper location in the South would have saved him the rhetoric on
Gaza incursions which are not seen as concern at all in his natural political base ‚Äď
Many who have reacted to the news say the split is a similar situation to the split in 1991. Yes, but there are similarities and differences between the two. Similarities in the sense that the 1991 split was a result of the movement losing its true direction and morale as the aspirations of the people of
South Sudan were concerned. This was after it was given a benefit of the doubt for eight years since 1983, but did not improve or change. Dr. Lam‚Äôs split has come in a similar situation after the SPLM-led Government of South Sudan (GOSS) has failed to deliver to the people for four years since 2005.
They are different in the sense that the 1991 Nasir Declaration under the slogan the ‚ÄėCreeping Revolution‚Äô was declared within and at the heart of
South Sudan. Its connection with the
Khartoum government was on peace strategy and its process which all other factions in the South later on joined in 2002 and subsequently achieved in 2005.
They are also different in the sense that the 1991 split, which became the blessing in disguise because of self-determination which has become the basis for any peace agreement with the North, also spelled out the evils of the NIF (now NCP). The engineers of the 1991 split were using a double-edged sword and to kill two birds with one stone! Dr. Lam Akol should have spelled out the evils of NCP as he did to SPLM, in this unfortunate situation the South or the whole country finds itself in, instead of only revealing the SPLM evils under the leadership of Salva Kiir, leaving Omer el-Bashir free. Bashir‚Äôs NCP is the first culprit!
However, the reaction of SPLM leadership and their supporters to Dr. Akol‚Äôs declaration was over exaggerated, one-sided, funny and na√Įve. Like Dr. Lam Akol, who for whatever reasons refused to spell out the evils of NCP, which is alleged to be his financier, the SPLM also failed to look inward to seriously try to find out what has gone wrong under its leadership. In its emergency Political Bureau meeting on 7th June, one day after Dr. Akol declared the split; the SPLM leadership only came out with lame accusations and threats to sue Akol in court over the name of the new party. What a joke!
It looks as if the SPLM doesn‚Äôt read the general opinion of the masses and look through it as a mirror to see how it is judged by the people. Just as in the same way in 1991, the SPLM leadership just rushed to merely condemn the split without looking seriously into the principles that caused and justified the split. Now they are at it again only to recognize some of them too late.
For instance, in 1994, three years after the 1991 split, the SPLM found itself pressurized internally and externally by the Nasir group‚Äôs vision and principles that called for self-determination, democratization of the movement and respect for human rights. After succumbing to the pressure, the SPLM former leadership then called for the First SPLM Convention in Chukudum where such principles were discussed and adopted.
That was three years of resistance to such golden principles after the split in 1991. The SPLM continued to resist the call for vision on self-determination because Dr. John Garang‚Äôs political mentor (Dr. Mansour Khalid) former Foreign minister under Jaafer Nimeiri‚Äôs regime, and became the Chief political Advisor to Dr. John Garang since 1984, did not like the right to self-determination for the people of South Sudan, and allegedly blackmailed late Garang for too long.
But after pressure from the people of
South Sudan continued to mount on Garang, he reluctantly accepted self-determination as the basis for the North-South conflict resolution. And that resulted to the merger of the two factions of Dr. Riek Machar and Dr. John Garang in January 2002.
Now the same situation is unfortunately repeating itself! Like Dr. Garang who stabbed the people of South Sudan in the front and derailed them from pursuing their inalienable right to self-determination, and which resulted to him being stabbed in the back by his subordinates who knew the people were moving in the wrong direction, the SPLM-led GOSS and particularly Salva Kiir has been stabbing the people of South Sudan again in the front through his failed administration at this crucial time.
I thought the SPLM would have addressed its huge failures in the South which caused this 2009 split as revealed by Dr. Lam Akol‚Äôs statement. This failure, in all its sectors, is an open secret in
South Sudan. The people of
South Sudan have given the SPLM the benefit of the doubt for four good years. The SPLM/GOSS led by Salva Kiir Mayardit, has been receiving billions of dollars every year from the oil revenue. They have been receiving hundreds of millions of US dollars from donors. They have or are supposed to collect millions of US dollars from non-oil revenues.
However, endowed with this rich resource (oil) from Unity state and
Upper Nile state, the SPLM under Salva Kiir has miserably failed to deliver to the people even basic services, let alone development of the region.
Juba, the capital city, is almost still in its unfortunate situation before 2005‚Äôs CPA.
I can‚Äôt even mention other towns far from where the leadership drives expensive cars, eats and sleeps. In
Juba, let alone other towns and villages, there are no infrastructure, housing, roads, clean water, electricity, adequate and affordable food commodities, etc. Yet the SPLM-led GOSS under the incompetence leadership of Salva Kiir has received nearly seven billion US dollars for the last four years. Where did the money go?
Even countries that came out of war like
South Sudan, but had no natural resources that gave them billions of dollars, had done better than GOSS of SPLM under Salva Kiir.
The money under Salva Kiir‚Äôs watch is just divided up among clans or family members in the same way the UN rations used to be divided in refugee camps during the war. There are very expensive cars now named after the former notorious minister of finance, Kuol Athian. The cars were bought using the money he distributed to his tribal or clan members using the corrupt and fake projects of dura delivery to the hungry. The hungry are still hungry have not received the ill-fated dura consignments faked in the name of states.
What happens is that people write fake projects under the name of fake companies ready to deliver dura, etc., to hunger-stricken counties in states. Minister of finance gives you $20,000 dollars to transport such dura which is always faked to be in thousands of sacks. The individuals go to the states concerned to obtain fake reception letters from state authorities and come back to yet get more pay for the fake sacks delivered. The GOSS is losing millions of dollars every year through these ‚Äėeat-up-quick‚Äô projects among others.
The Bank of South Sudan‚Äôs governor, Mr. Elijah Malok Aleng cleared signature of countless huge and ‚Äėsuspicious‚Äô checks to his tribal and clan looters without any hesitation until the bank recently was bankrupt.
Determined corrupt officials and army generals have gone to the extent of smuggling the money out to
East Africa in coffins. This is disgusting! These leaders have lost morality and would never think of the fate of others. In African cultures, it is immoral to practice such a thing related to coffin which means death. Burying your future in a coffin unknowingly is a sign that you have cursed yourself and whatever you do or leadership you exercise is doomed to failure or be buried in a coffin the same way you have stolen your prosperity and put it in a coffin.
This reminds me of a story of notorious friends who wanted to get money through cheating of a priest in a certain church. They put one of their friends alive in a coffin, carried him to the church and asked the priest to assist them with money with which they could buy a place in the cemetery to burry their dead friend in the coffin. The priest was saddened and gave them the money without any hesitation. When they returned with their friend in the coffin and reached a distance where the priest could not see them they tried to open the coffin to let their friend come out only to find that he was dead. Instead of eating the money the cheated from the priest they used the money to bury their friend.
It is nonsense also to recycle the same bad apples in the name of reshuffle of GOSS cabinet. The first corrupt minister of finance from 2005, Arthur Akwen Chol, was replaced by another corrupt minister, Kuol Athian, in 2007. In 2009, this Kuol Athian is now replaced by a three times recycled minister, David Deng Athorbei.
All those corrupt ministers were just relieved without being charged for corruption and taken to court of law. The leadership simply fears that they will reveal other colleagues including the top leadership in the corrupt practices as they are said to have threatened to do so if attempts to persecute them is decided by the President and other relevant authorities. Anti-corruption commission is merely for accommodation purposes and is not capable to do its function it was created for.
Insecurity is so rampant in the South. Inter and intra tribal wars are so frequent and the corrupt SPLM-led government could not dare to do something that would stop it. Most of them are seen being busy looting the South and hoping to run away to foreign countries and join their money in those countries if things go from bad to worse.
The former minister of Interior, Paul Mayom failed to secure even
Juba itself. Now, another notorious minister, Gier Chuang, has taken over. Although people think he may do better in action, others question his personality. They think he is reckless or wild and may authorize activities which will contradict the constitution and principles under which the GOSS was formed. Kiir should have given the post to Gen. Oyai Deng Ajak instead.
The reshuffle in the army is thought to be far better than the reshuffle in the cabinet. And to make sure we are ready for defense incase, the SPLA should be well quipped, fed and disciplined. Good enough, the army‚Äôs command is committed to defend
South Sudan and achieve its independence.
Politically, the SPLM is rotten, to say the least. Its leadership has turned to self-destruction instead of team work as comrades. The leadership is pre-occupied with conspiracies against some of their senior comrades. They have lost sight to national issues. That is why they are reluctant to nominate their leaders for elections at different levels because they know it is a source of internal conflict unless they let go conspiracies. It is more likely that the situation of 2nd SPLM National Convention of 2008 would resurface! This lack of seriousness in the party resulted to the census being carelessly conducted last year. Salva Kiir fluctuated between suspending the census and allowing it conducted prematurely. He warned that he would not accept it unless the number of South Sudanese reached 15 million. But, as revealed in the media, he secretly approved the results in the presidency meeting in
Khartoum with Bashir and Taha.
Those close to his decision-making circles leaked out that Salva Kiir accepted the census results after he was convinced that the population of Dinka ethnic group was promoted and elevated to 3 million people. That was the deal and satisfaction given to him by
Khartoum so that he forgot about the other populations reduced in the South. His home state, the tiny Warrap, was also promoted and given the third rank in population. What else does he need? Isaiah Chol Aruar, the unfortunate Census chief, promoted his Bor counties to nearly half million in Jonglei state. What a joke! He will be ashamed in the next and true census after 2011. How did he get the population without visible villages or settlements of populations in his counties of Twic East and Bor South?
The elections are also being carelessly planned, putting conspiracies first. This is another failure soon to be witnessed by the SPLM. It looks like the last hope the people will hold to is self-determination in 2011. And if conducted under this situation of Salva Kiir leadership, then I have a reason to get worried.
So in the situation mentioned above where would the SPLM get the moral ground to blame or criticize Dr. Lam Akol for getting out of the mess? Salva Kiir blaming Lam Akol is like a story of a pig blaming his friend fox for deciding to move out of their smelly house because the pig was making the house dirty while it could not clean it and did not allow others to clean it.
Yes, I agree with those who say we are faced by the same situation of 1991. But Lam Akol‚Äôs defection to me is a blessing in disguise. It is also a chance for the SPLM to seriously see what is wrong in itself instead of throwing its dirty mud after Lam Akol.
In 1984, Dr. Riek Machar approached Dr. John Garang on the issue of self-determination, democratization of the movement and respect for human rights. Dr. Garang refused to listen. Eight years later in 1991, the issue caused the split. Three years later, Dr. Garang decided to listen and called for Chukudum Convention in 1994 to democratize the SPLM. Before that there was never any Convention ever called for by the SPLM leadership since 1983. The movement was a one man show! In 2002, Dr. Garang finally and officially accepted self-determination (see Nairobi Declaration on Merger document, 6th January 2002).
So the current SPLM leadership should not repeat the mentality of resisting changes and would later come to adopt such changes too late. If there is organized corruption, if there is lack of service delivery and development, if there is no political direction, and if there are conspirators who think they own the SPLM and envy other smart thinkers at this crucial time, and do not give them chance to help clean the house, then there is a cause for Lam Akol to move out of this smelly or mad man‚Äôs house.
Dr. Akol‚Äôs defection in 2009 did not come as a surprise as Dr. Machar‚Äôs split in 1991 did not come as a surprise to many people. Such moves have clear warning signs. Before 1991 Dr. Machar discussed the self-determination issue with Dr. Garang. The dictatorship exercised by Dr. Garang was very visible and worrying to many of his colleagues. Before the split, Dr. Machar discussed the need to change leadership if he could not change the system.
In 2002, Machar revealed this in the Nyayo House‚Äôs big hall in
Nairobi during his merger with Dr. Garang. He told thousands of South Sudanese that the split of 1991 was not his making alone, but was agreed by most in the former SPLA command. He said the only person that he did not talk to about the split was Commander Kuol Manyang Juuk. Others including Salva Kiir Mayardit agreed that late Dr. Garang would be removed. Salva Kiir did not deny that fact! The problem that prevented Salva Kiir and others to join the split was on leadership of the new movement. May be they thought the new leader would also come from the Dinka community, not Dr. Machar or Dr. Akol.
And when Salva Kiir quarreled with late Dr. Garang in 2004 and held each others‚Äô throats, Dr. Machar intervened, went to Yei and clearly asked Salva Kiir why would he (Salva Kiir) want to destroy the peace process now on the issues he did not see in 1991? By that time Salva Kiir accused late Garang of dictatorship, corruption and that Garang was carrying the movement in his briefcase (see minutes of Rumbek Meeting, November 2004). Salva Kiir banned Dr. Garang from going to Greater Bahr el Ghazal and Greater Equatoria regions unless only to Greater Upper Nile and New Site near Kapoeta in Eastern Equatoria state.
Dr. Machar mediated the two angry and quarrelling late Garang and Kiir in Rumbek until they were reconciled and redirected their efforts towards the adopted peace strategy that brought the CPA.
So this tradition of resistance first and adoption later on is a very bad spirit in the SPLM. In his remarks in Nairobi on the day the merger was declared by the two leaders, Machar told the audience that the problem in South Sudan is that there are people who are strategists and have the gift to see the future 5, 10 or 20 years from now, but there are others who can just see what is in front of them today or tomorrow.
He said ‚ÄúI fluently speak Arabic and understand the Arab culture very well.‚ÄĚ He said his call for self-determination or separation was based on his understanding of the need for best solution in context of history of the conflict, Sudanese cultures and mentalities he understood despite his being competitive in a Sudanese environment if
Sudan was to remain united. He was referring to late Garang who could not speak Arabic well and grew up outside of
Sudan. To many, Garang thought he could simply fit or impose the western style within the Sudanese society, which he did not know more about. If he were to be alive, he would have seen the difficulty in trying to make unity attractive under such conflicting mentalities!
Machar also explained in a different forum to those who wanted to brand him as blood letting leader that he knew he did not want to carry out an all-out war to remove late Garang militarily. He told them ‚Äúif he wanted to carry out an all-out war by directly ordering his forces to capture Garang‚Äôs positions up to the borders of neighboring countries, he would take him only three months to up root the remnants of Garang‚Äôs forces in 1992 to 1994. And if he did it jointly with the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) as alleged, it would take them only one month.
Dr. Lam Akol defected from Machar after he realized that Machar did not want to finish Garang‚Äôs faction. The clear case in point was when Machar ordered late William Nyuon with forces to join Garang in Eastern Equatoria during attacks by
Khartoum forces. Dr. Akol rejected the decision. But Garang also rejected the decision because he thought it was a trick for William Nyuon to capture his area.
After Khartoum Peace Agreement, Professor David De Chand also defected from Machar because Machar did not want the idea to join with SAF and root out Garang‚Äôs forces. Although it was difficult to strike a clear line between defending the Khartoum Peace Agreement and refusing to fight against the SPLA forces that attacked the towns and villages administered by his former South Sudan Coordination Council, Machar told his commanders stationed in the South to make sure that they frustrated SAF attacks aimed at successfully rooting out Garang‚Äôs faction. I was there and received primary information.
He clearly told them that the Khartoum Peace Agreement was a strategy to change
Khartoum regime and SPLM/A of Garang towards self-determination, but not an end in itself. Those who were close to Machar knew that he wanted Garang‚Äôs forces to remain intact and maintain their strength in the bush until they joined the peace strategy on self-determination. And this is where we are now, but unfortunately the incompetent Salva Kiir fails us again in the last hour.
I advise the SPLM leadership to not just throw mud after Dr. Lam Akol, but to work hard to put the SPLM house in order. No body would deny that there is organized corruption in the South that denies the region services and development. Incompetence of Salva Kiir, tribalism, sectionalism, rampant insecurity, political naivety and self-destruction of comradeship through conspiracies are the order of the day in the SPLM. What is the incompetent leadership going to do about them?
See! Our incompetent chairman in the person of General Salva Kiir Mayardit has also abandoned the hard won position of First Vice President in the Government of National Unity (GONU). About 95% of cabinet meetings in
Khartoum are conducted without his needed participation in which bills on laws aimed at democratically transforming the country are re-amended to their old faces.
Even if the SPLM High Executive Political committee chaired by Dr. Riek Machar works hard to review the laws at the party level to be compatible with the CPA and Interim Constitution, they are re-amended in the cabinet meetings in Kiir‚Äôs absence. Then they reach the parliament in the same old fashion. If Kiir is afraid to carry out his functions in
Khartoum because of whatever reasons, he should be frank about it and the party may look into how to resolve his fears.
In such a situation, where is the SPLM moral ground to blame Lam Akol for suffocating and trying to come out of this mess so that he avails himself and his party as an alternative like other political parties in the country?
Sudan is a country with multi party system and the SPLM chiefs should not forget about it unless they want to abandon democratic transformation and revert to military dictatorship. There should be variety of parties and programs the citizens can choose from and this is in the spirit of democracy.
Crying as a last resort that the SPLM will sue Lam Akol for retaining the name SPLM is a joke which indicates how na√Įve the current SPLM leadership is. Why don‚Äôt you learn from the neighboring country such as in
Kenya? How many ‚ÄėFords‚Äô are there in
Kenya? What about USAP-1 and USAP-2 in
South Sudan? Funny enough, the party of Dr. Lam Akol was registered since April in the presence of 3 SPLM members of the Council of Parties Affairs in
Khartoum. Why didn‚Äôt the SPLM members voice their concerns or deny it from being registered? Go to court over the name and the judges will laugh at you!
And by the way, I join many others who predict that the names SPLM and SPLA will die a natural death after 2011. The meaning of the name SPLM will be invalid. The name of the SPLA will also be in valid. Both SPLM and SPLM-DC may change the names to other names after 2011. The army‚Äôs name, SPLA, may change to South Sudan Defense Forces (SSDF) or South Sudan Armed Forces (SSAF), etc. The current flag of South Sudan or of SPLM will also be changed to fit the meaning of the newly created nation in
South Sudan when, and not if, we vote for separation with either ballot or bullet in 2011.
So leave Dr. Lam Akol alone. He is exercising his democratic and constitutional rights to form a party. He is also presenting himself and his party as an alternative in a democratic manner after the SPLM of Salva Kiir has failed and stabbed the people of
South Sudan in the front. Failing the South in almost every thing they aspire for and hoped to be delivered to them in the last four years is not a joke. The 1991 ‚ÄėCreeping Revolution‚Äô for change brought self-determination and peace strategy to the people of
South Sudan and pushed the system towards democratic transformation.
If Lam Akol could help or influence change in the current mentality of SPLM-GOSS to stop the rampant corruption and punish culprits, secure the region, deliver badly needed services to the suffering masses, exercise true democracy, and stop conspiracies by few against other think-tank senior officials they envy in the party, then South Sudanese would have a hope.
But if Lam Akol will waste his time defending the NCP and not revealing its evils in the last hour where the games are finalizing as we race towards 2011, then he will risk losing potential support from the masses in the South and will have nothing to bring to the South to be adopted.
Similarly the SPLM should put its house in order, otherwise, there are other separatist political parties to be joined and supported. The secrecy the SPLM should understand and recognize is that majority of the people of
South Sudan respect and support only SPLA as their army, but not SPLM as a political party because of its ugly experiences for the last four years.