Background on the ongoing crisis in South Sudan – Part II
By Arop Madut Arop-Gotnyiel
February 28, 2014 (Nyamilepedia) — In part one of my previous article, [Background to the crisis in the Republic of South Sudan] I discussed at length, the environments in which the Government of the South Sudan was born in and how it has been operating from the time it was formed, until the eruption of the current crisis which has brought the country down to its knees. In this discussion, I will try to give background to the best of my knowledge,, this time around, on the ruling Party, the Sudan People Liberation Movement (SPLM); how it has been operating from the time it was launched in November (2005) as a registered political party in the Sudan, until the eruption of the ongoing destructive war (2013); a war which if not brought to a speedy end, may erase the new country out of the map of the world.
Gratefully, without the political support of the international community; on the top, the Troika counties- USA, UK, Norway, with Italy joining later, the people of South Sudan would have not achieved the independence of their young nation. Unfortunately, in the current crisis, the Troika countries appear to have chosen to standby, gloating over the South Sudan as it grapples with its own crisis; an episode, apparently, instigated, fuelled and supported by outsiders with vested interest in the exploitation and prospecting of its vast oil reserves.
However, the international Communities, can be forgiven because they have become too insensitive to seeing too many man-made and natural disasters happening around the world- in Afghanistan, Yemen, Syria, the Central African Republic- just to name a few; to the extent that, the ongoing crisis in the Republic of South Sudan does not appear to bother them much, as an issue that demands their urgent action. Arguably, if the Troika counties and the international community, acting in unison with the African Union, as a regional body, could have arrested the crisis by calling on combatants in the conflict, to embrace peace and democracy instead of war. Regrettably, some of the countries which appear friendly to the people of the South Sudan; the USA and the Norwegian governments and African Countries (IGAD), have been reacting negatively as if they have taken sides in this destructive crisis, happening in the three year old republic of South Sudan. For the Prime Minister of the sisterly Ethiopia, calling on one particular country (Uganda) to withdraw from the embattled South Sudan to avoid regionalisation of the conflict and; failing at the same time to point his finger at his imaginary country with vested interest that the Prime Minister knows, may be involved in this regrettable crisis, is very unfortunate.
The Ethiopian Prime Minister, Hailemariame Desalegn, whose country is hosting the peace talks, hence a peacemaker, shouldn’t be afraid to name the country that is standing by and whose impending intervention will galvanise the crisis, a move, according to him, which may turn it into regional conflict. Ethiopia being a sisterly country, must know that, South Sudanese have hindsight knowledge to know, who that unnamed country is or those countries are. If the Prime Minister knows the country or countries, he should order all of them to leave South Sudan. The IGAD countries aware that so much bloodshed in a country like Central African Republic (CAR), may end up in revenge killings.
However, in this article (part two), as promised I will attempt to give a further brief account on the environment in which the Sudan People Liberation Movement, (South Sudan Ruling Party) went through, from Naivasha (2005) to Independence and into the current crisis (2013). Not to make the introduction too long, I would therefore beg to be excused, if I fail to apportion the blame on any side in the crisis, because in a crisis of this nature, when everybody appeared drunk, it is only professional journalists (though humans), who must keep their heads sober in order to give impartial accounts of events of their stories.
Having been influenced and guided by ethics, and the urge to educate the public, journalists become moderators, mediators and conciliators, because journalism; is a profession of fair play. In this article, I will only give highlights of the current crisis; born out of political disenchantment and bickering in the SPLM leadership. Please bear with me, I will now turn to discuss the environments in which the SPLM has been operating; starting with the seventh factor being a continuation of the six factors described, previously, in the narrative.
The crisis in the Sudan People Liberation Movement, has its history that one must revisit, when trying to look at its’ successes or shortcomings -re current crisis for instance. Precisely, it all began, after the signing of the six Protocols, which were wrapped up and which constituted what became known as the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) in 2004. From that time forward; South Sudan, as a long afflicted region, was indeed at the threshold of new beginnings, after nearly five decades of fighting two wars of the liberation. After the CPA was signed, it was expected that, the region would start to organise itself politically from a liberation movement to a government, charged with the responsibility to establish institutions destroyed by the two decades of war.
The Sudan People Liberation Movement (SPLM) was also expected to organise itself as to become a recognised, registered political party for the first time in the tortured history of the Sudan. This operation to rebuild country afresh demanded huge amount of money to complete the establishment of new institutions and rehabilitation of the destroyed institutions by the war. The American representative in the ceremony marking the dawn of peace on the people of the South Sudan, suggested to the Chairman of SPLM, Dr John Garang de Mabior, that, his Government (USA), would avail an amount of $60 million USA dollars, that would enable his movement to transform itself, from a liberation movement, to a government and a political party. But, Hon Ali Osman Mohamed Taha, Sudan’s First Vice President and chief negotiator for his country, at the peace process, interjected immediately and told the American Representative, his government would give the SPLM the said funding, adding that, the amount in question would be paid to the SPLM, subject to the deduction from the fifty per cent, oil and non oil revenues due the South, apparently, from the Central Government Treasury.
It was agreed and all moved forward with the implementation of the CPA. Unfortunately, as we all know, after only twenty one days following the formation of the Government of National Unity, in Khartoum, that was meant to oversee the implementation of the CPA, the world was shocked by the tragic death of Dr John Garang, the architect of Sudan peace. However, while his sudden exit from the political scene did not derail the CPA, it affected it negatively, as its implementation was carried out by Khartoum regime, grudgingly. Coming to discuss factor number seventh, why the SPLM failed not to transform itself as to become a vibrant mighty party that could withstand the trials of times, with the huge amount of money pledged (60 million USD) available.
So, in September 2005, the SPLM moved its head office to Juba and the Government of South Sudan (GOSS) was formed and in October, SPLA also entered Juba in spirit of victory to the new Capital the Southern region Juba. After sorting out the SPLA fighters; majority of them became the national army and the leftovers were included in the relevant organised forces; police, prisons, wildlife and fire Brigade services. SPLA was then transformed and became a standing national army. Despite the 60 million that was pledged the SPLM did not start organising itself as a vibrant political party immediately. Sadly to say, SPLM remained disorganised and was not immediately launched until November, 2005, when Hon Peter Bashir Gbandi (Maridi Constituency) collected contributions and donations from members of the SPLM parliamentary caucus in the South Sudan Legislative Assembly (SSLA).
With the assistance of SPLM representative Gabriel Alaak and diehard committed member of the SPLM, Manase Lomole Waya, SPLM Secretary for the Central Equatoria state secretariat, the SPLM was Launched as a political party at the Dr John Garang’s Mausoleum, (November 2005), amidst lavish colourful celebrations attended by all citizens of Juba County, GOSS ministers, SPLM leaders and SPLA Army Commanders and people of different political and Religious persuasions. It was a wonderful emotional occasion to remember martyrs and the fallen loved ones; the old bad days were being left behind as history, as the country was looking ahead to confront the upcoming challenges surrounding the national building.
However, following the launch of SPLM as a political party, there was little evidence to celebrate about, because there were no serious activities in the party, except display of slogans and the SPLM war songs keeping reminding the people of the good all days of hope!. Although the SPLM Secretariat was formed, it did not have appropriate accommodations and political cadres. In any case, the SPLM did begin to function, theoretically speaking, in temporary buildings but without the necessary resources. But even so, it became an employment agency, as representatives from all over the country, were recruited into it each leader recommending his favourites irrespective of their commitments to the part.
Since the SPLM moved to Juba, nobody talked about where it got it funding and how the secretariat was paying its huge staff. The vital question asked by the party’s public, and by members in the Southern Sudan Legislative Assembly (SSLA), SPLM Caucus, was that, when the SPLM was operating in Nairobi, it did have some money but when it moved to Juba, it did not have sufficient money. Since the death of the late Chairman, nobody in the SPM establishment appeared to have bothered and asked what happened to the previous money of the SPLM, if there were some at all; when the offices were in Nairobi? However, unlike the GOSS, the SPLM remained for a full year 2005/2006 with no visible sufficient source of funding and activities.
In January 2007, there was an occasion celebrating the visit of President Omar Ahmed Hassan al Bashir, to Juba, as President of the Government of National Unity. In his key note address, during al Bashir’s visit to Juba, President Salva Kiir Mayardit stated that, Khartoum had not lived up to its commitment in implementing the CPA, specially the wealth sharing arrangement. He stressed that, the money due for the South Sudan was not released on time to the GOSS, adding that, all the institutions were not taking off due to lack of money, because, President Salva Kiir went on, the oil and non oil revenues were not being released by Khartoum to the South, timely. This was apparently, a repeat of January 2006 Press Conference, at the Presidential Palace in Khartoum, when he (President Kiir) accused the Central Government for failure to release money due to the South (see the previous article).
Angered by President Salva Kiir Mayardit’s sharp criticism against his Government, President al Bashir, disclosed to the political gathering, that the Government of National Unity was living up to its commitment and has been releasing funds due to the South on time, stressing further that, if there was shortage of money in the Juba, it may have been due to the corruption in the SPLM led Government.
President Bashir went on lashing at the GOSS; accusing it of mismanaging the funds which were being sent to the region. It was during this hot encounter between Sudan President al Omar and South Sudan President Salva Kiir that, the public learned for the first time, of the 60 million USD which had pledged previously, in Naivasha, 2004. This disclosure of the sixty million USD raised much public concern and began discussing the fate of the said money in their daily discussions, gossips and in the social media.
It was in this light that the SPLM Caucus in the Southern Sudan Legislative Assembly (SSLA) started discussing, the fate of the $60 million USD. The SPLM Caucus in the SSLA immediately invited Pagan Amum Okiech, who had taken over from Hon James Wani Igga as Party Secretary General, when the latter became the Speaker of the South Sudan Legislative Assembly (SSLA); to come to the Assembly and brief the SPLM Caucus the reasons why the party, as the Ruling Party, had not being functioning smoothly while the 60 million USD that had been pledged, may have been lying somewhere in the Government Treasury or might have been squandered, went the discussion.
Answering the questions of the MPs, Pagan Amum disclosed to the parliamentary caucus that, the minister of finance, Hon Arthur Akuein Chol, had been unwilling to cooperate and unwilling to release the money until the two (Arthur and Amum) finally met the President, as the Chairman of the Party. It became apparent to the members that, the money was in the custody of the Finance Minister. Hon Arthur Akuien Chol was immediately summoned to come and inform the Caucus about the fate of the 60 million USD and why he did not cooperate and released the money for the organisation of the Party in which he was leading member. Hon Arthur Akuein Chol, in his capacity as the GOSS minister for finance since the party was outside the country, told the Caucus that, the money was being released to the SPLM Secretariat by instalments, following their meeting with the GOSS President and the SPLM Chairman.
Indeed money appeared to have been released to the SPLM Secretariat piecemeal. But according the minister of finance, and the Secretary General concurring, it was indicated that the last instalment of nine million USD had just been released, adding that, only 11 million was still owing to the SPLM from the finance ministry. The SPLM Parliamentary caucus was expecting to press for the release of the remaining eleven million when the minister, in the subsequent cabinet reshuffle, lost his job. It was expected that the SPLM Secretariat would pursue the release of the remaining eleven million, since it was then adequately established. But did they?
The eighth factor which would apparently undermine the effective and the smooth running of the SPLM, has to do with its policy of implementing the New Sudan ideology with scarce resources. Chairman, Salva Kiir Mayardit, after the national convention which brought to gather, over a thousand delegates, from the twenty five states of the Republic of Sudan (2008), decided that the Party should be reorganised in such a way so as to reflect the spirit of New Sudan SPLM ideology, embodied in the party manifesto and its existing constitution. It was then that two separate secretariats were officially created, the National Secretariat in Khartoum and the regional secretariat in Juba. Pagan Amum, the Party Secretary General, who could have started organising the party from Juba as an experience political party organiser, was moved to Khartoum as the National Secretary General deputised by Yasir Arman representing Northern Sector. Dr Luka Manoja Tombekan, a seasoned progressive politician and an experienced political organiser since his school days, was appointed as the Deputy Secretary General for Southern Sudan Sector. Dr Luka Biong Deng Kuol, a PhD holder in economics, development studies and statistics, former lecturer University of Gezera, was appointed as Secretary for economy and finance in the South Sudan Sector. This was the SPLM hay days as it stood at the threshold of being organised as a vibrant political organisation. Appointments of more qualified cadres were being expected and the Party would have moved forward. But unfortunately, in the cabinet reshuffle that followed, the two Lukas (Manoja and Biong) were taken away from the Secretariat, appointing them as ministers for cabinet affairs and the Office of the President, respectively. Madam Ann Itto, a committed SPLM leader who was a state minister for Agriculture in the national government Khartoum, replaced Dr Luka Manoja as the Deputy Secretary General for the SPLM Southern Sector. Gabriel Alaak replaced Dr Luka Biong as secretary for finance and economy. Other two SPLM committed Cadres, Mading Deng-abot Kuol, Mark Makiech and James Lual Kuel, known for their commitment to the SPLM ideology, lost their jobs for reasons beyond this narrative. Four. Thus with Pagan Amum, the party ideologue moved to Khartoum where he successfully fought for the holding of the South Sudan Referendum and with the two experts, Lukas (Manoja and Biong) out of the Secretariat, which had by then become an employment agency, the rot has set in, as signs that the party may not be in keeping with its previous public high profile and indeed it remained in decline until the damage crisis discuss subsequently came to the fore.
The ninth factor to discuss as it would eventually break the back bone of the Party (SPLM) denying it of party organising expertise was when President Salva Kiir Mayardit formed his government in 2008, and included most of senior members of the politburo into the government. Chairman Mayardit should have left some of them as advisors to organise the party at the level of the ten states and others as political advisors. However, many cadres of SPLM have been asking why most of the lead members of the SPLM Party, were appointed to cabinet positions, when their role should have been, in the Party, to organise and oversee the smooth running of the party and the Government; whereas ministerial positions in various ministries, could have been filled by technocrats or some committed members of the party, at least from the SPLM Chapters in the Diaspora. This question would have been adequately answered if I had the chance to interview the Chairman himself. But as a long time member of the party since its inception, a keen observer of the party and, as a journalist who have written a book about this party, I will try to answer that Question.
Essentially, President Kiir Mayardit; conscious of the role many of his comrades had played during the liberation struggle, as committed members of the Party, some of who had never waver in their faith and commitment to the party; appointed some of them, into the government, apparently, to afford them opportunities to enjoy the fruits of their contribution to the liberation of their country, after twenty one years of voluntary contribution; which indeed, led to the successful declaration of their country, as an independent state, a fact which was appreciated by many, then. In the face of the above analysis, one can safely state that, Chairman, Kiir Mayardit, good intentioned decision to include most members of the politburo in his Cabinet, forgot one vital factor, an over-sight mistake, perhaps; but the one which has now contributed negatively to the ongoing crisis, if this argument can be given credence.
The tenth factor which must be looked at critically, when discussing of how the current crisis started, one important point; which triggered bickering in the SPLM Party, should be mentioned and that is that, all the existing political parties, including the SPLM, became illegal after the South Sudan became an independent state. By then all the political parties, the old and the new were expected to register in accordance to the Transitional Constitution of the Republic of South Sudan and the political parties regulations.
This demanded that SPLM must also register afresh; but that also demanded the revision of the party basic documents: manifesto and the constitution. Other procedural regulations must also be revised and approved by the two highest organs, the politburo (political) and the Liberation Council (legislative). Thus while the two highest organs were expected to meet and approve the basic documents, three aspiring leaders, Dr Riek Machar, the Party First Vice Chairman, Pagan Amum, the Party Secretary General and Madam Rebecca Nyandeng de Mabior began their campaign; each lobbying to become the party flag bearer for the 2015 elections, apparently to replace the incumbent Chairman. To discuss what made the trio thought of replacing the incumbent chairman may not be known immediately but one must look at two scenarios and which may have triggered the move.
The first scenario according to apparent calculation by the trio, every leader of the party must not go for more than two terms as President of the country. However, the three SPLM aspiring leaders may have their reasons that made them acted the way they did.
But the guess work that appears credible is that, their calculation may have been that President Kiir Mayardit had had his fair share in the Government of the South Sudan. In this context, President Kiir Mayardit first five years term should have commenced from 2005 to 2010 and his second five year term would have started 2010 election.
If one was to accept this calculation, President Kiir Mayardit second term will end by 2015. It means precisely that, issue would be discussed in the upcoming party convention to decide who will be the party flag bearer in the upcoming general elections. But what does the constitution of South Sudan say about the presidential terms? The Interim Constitution of South Sudan (ICSS), 2005, gives the president of the Southern Sudan, two terms of five years each and may not seek a third term.
Unfortunately, the Transitional National Constitution of South Sudan (2011) is dead silent about the Presidential terms in office. According to the calculation by those who would like the incumbent President, Salva Kiir Mayardit to continue as be the next party flag bearer (he has not officially announced his intention) comes the general elections 2015, may be that, the period of the interim period 2005-2010 should not be considered as the first presidential five year term, because South Sudan was still a part of the ancient regime. According to this calculation, President Kiir first five year term would begin in 2011, the time when South Sudan became an independent state but not (2010 – 2011).
Accordingly, President Salva Kiir Mayardit’s first term in office, will be four years (2011-2015). According to this calculation President, Salva Kiir is entitled as the next party flag bearer for the 2015 general elections ending in 2020. If this is the case, the other aspirants might have assumed that by 2020, most of them born in the fifties or sixties, whichever year of their respective birth, would, be about sixty or over by 2020. Hence, there was a need for them to hurry up, when they are still, in their prime ages.
This is a constitutional issue which needed constitutional experts to give educated and an informed advice to the group. As regard to the question whether the transformation or democratizing of the SPLM or lack of it, (second scenario) was responsible for the current crisis; one must look at the period of 2012-2013, the period when the crisis was triggered. This has to do, basically with the registration of all the political parties in accordance to the Transitional Constitution of South Sudan and the political party regulation which states that, any political organisation or party wishing to launch itself as a political party must register. But this demand that, any political organisation, must bring about 500 party card holders from all the tens states (maximum eligibility), or at least from six states (minimum eligibility).
Consequently, all the existing political parties’s registration had expired by 2011, since they were registered as political parties in accordance to the ancient regime constitution. Therefore the question of resistance to the democratisation of political parties, or lack of it, the argument must be seen in the context; as whether the time was opportune for the lobby to have started. Importantly one can assume that, it was in this light that the SPLM Politburo should have been called to convene in order to revise and approve the basic documents of the Party, by the two higher organs of the party, Politburo and National Liberation Council in readiness for the time that, the party would be registered as a legal political entity and the rest may follow.
In other words, it would be by then (after the party registration) that, any party aspirant should have started his campaign. But before the party could meet, as a politburo, the trio aspirants (Dr Riek Machar, Pagan Amum and Madam Rebecca Nyandeng); instead of waiting for the approval of the basic documents by the two top organs of the party (politburo and liberation council): in accordance to the political party procedure and the Transitional Constitution of the Republic of South Sudan, they went public and announced their intention for the highest post in the country, even before the party could be registered. Regardless, the trio began their campaign for the flag bearer position for the party, comes 2015 General elections.
But as it appeared during the meeting in the party command on the December 7th, there were fears that came to the surpace, therefore there a need according to aspirants to revise the party constitution and the Manifesto. One vital issue which would final detonate the time bomb, throwing the country headlong into chaos and untold sufferings of the people has to do with some clauses the aspirants saw as difficult to digest and swallow. The December 15th 2013, meeting pointed out two important points to be corrected, secret voting in the party or show of hands and when electing officials in the party.
The second point has to do with the elections of the officers in the Party particularly the politburo and the liberation council. According to the SPLM constitution, the person who gets more votes in the politburo elections will automatically be the party candidate for the Presidential bid. The successful party nominee elected by the party top organs is expected to be supported by all the party’s rank and file. If the above issue had been handled in according to the party constitution, bickering of who should be the flag bearer in the 2015 shouldn’t have been a problem that could bring crisis to the nation. Sadly, the atmosphere for reasonableness was subsequently polluted by many other contributing factors.
The first was a wild rumour whose sources remained unclear and which had been circulating among the SPLM top echelon for sometime, which stated that, President Salva Kiir Mayardit in a private conversation with one of leading African leaders did indicate, at one point, that he may leave the office soon after independence. This wild rumour is said to have been communicated to some senior members of the party who started their lobbying with immediately to replace the incumbent. But this wild rumour that a senior leader of the party who attended the encounter in which Kiir was quoted as announcing his intention not going beyond independence as president, has never been confirmed if a wishful move to test the water or a disinformation to steer up activities in the party before March 2013. Even so; it did affect the party for good or for bad and may have contributed to the delay in calling the two party organs to convene.
The second factor which accelerated the looming crisis into action was the stripping of the Vice President Dr Riek Machar of some of his functions, previously delegated to him by the President. Without delay the disgraced Vice President, being the number two in the party hierarchy went public about his intention to be the party flag bearer when the Politburo would meet. The situation was reaching boiling points and the senior members of the SPLM, Politburo, have to react and they acted swiftly to contain the looming crisis.
But instead of advising the Vice Chair to hang up and allow the Chairman to have another chance, comes 2015 elections, a move which would have nipped the looming crisis in the bud, began a marathon shuttling between the chairman and his first vice chair in efforts to narrow the gap; apparently, appealing to one of the big two to step down in favour of the other in a bid to curtail the split and maintained cohesiveness in the party. But while the senior members in the politburo were trying to resolve the burning issue, a third incident happened which complicated matters further. This was the dismissal of two elected governors: Taban Deng Gai of the Unity State and Chol Tong Mayay of Lakes State by the President Kiir Mayardit; appointing in their places two acting governors; Dr Joseph Monytuil Ujal for Unity state, (Machar’s home state) and Major General Matur Chut Dhuol for Lakes State. The dismissal of the two elected governors was condemned out rightly by Dr Riek Machar; describing the dismissal of the two elected governors as unconstitutional.
This latest event apparently made Dr Riek Machar sped up his campaign declaring that, the President Salva Kiir Mayardit had failed both, as the President and as Chairman of the SPLM party and therefore must be the next party flag bearer for 2015. While concerted efforts were being made to resolve the issue at stake, by some members of the politburo and some elder statesmen, a fourth serious contributing incident happened; which actually accelerated the crisis. Two ministers: Deng Alor Kuol, cabinet affairs and Kosti Manibe, finance, were suspended from the Cabinet by a Presidential decree which stated that, the two officials were going to be investigated. The Secretary General of the SPLM, Pagan Amum went public and criticised the President for suspending the two ministers apparently being senior members of the Party.
In his capacity as the President of the Republic, Salva Kiir condemned Amum for encroaching into powers of the Government when he was only the party official and had nothing to do with the power of the President, as head of the Executive. Pagan Amum was suspended and prevented not to speak to the press and not to leave the country. The suspension of the two senior members of the party from the cabinet and the suspension of the Secretary General were forthrightly condemned by the First Vice Chairman, Dr Riek Machar who embarked on his open campaign why Kiir must go. The situation had reached a boiling point, a bomb shell which needs only detonation. It was in this light that the July famous reshuffle happened when twenty five ministers; most of them senior members in the Politburo and the Liberation Council were dismissed. This was the stroke that broke the back of the camel as discuss below.
In efforts to implement his policy of inclusiveness, apparently due to repeated popular call to have an inclusive lean government because of many allegations of corrupt practices labelled against some of his ministers; or perhaps advised by external experts; in the face of huge government’s social spending, ushered by the austerity measures enforced; resulting from the oil shut down in 2012; on July 23, 2013, President Salva Kiir Mayardit, made a major cabinet reshuffle. In his Government shake-up, President Kiir Mayardit dismissed his entire cabinet, including his long time Vice President Dr Riek Machar Teny. He then brought in their places, members from various political parties. Incidentally, majority of ministers dismissed in the July cabinet shake-up, were also senior members in the SPLM Politburo ruling party; some of who had been in the cabinet since 2005 peace agreement.
It was not, therefore, surprising to see some senior members of the politburo who were affected by the cabinet shake up, began breathing fire; very angry with their President for having, unjustifiably, dismissed them in the Government They Deserve (Dr Mansour Khalid). Understandably, as one of those affected by the reshuffle told the writer, soon after the reshuffle, “we have genuine ground to complain, because the manner in which the reshuffle was done without the courtesy to prepare our minds for our departure from the Government, which could have been done during the last meeting of the cabinet. And secondly, the people who replaced us in the cabinet were people, who may have had their pension paid to them by the central government, for fighting against us as rebels, during the war halted in 2005.
This was unacceptable to us. Precisely; this can partly explain their overreaction and why some of them may have joined Dr Riek Machar’s bandwagon, already in motion toward his creeping revolution. It is against that background that some of the dismissed ministers and who were also member of the SPLM politburo, began the fateful campaign of “Salva Kiir Must Go”, a move which immediate brought to mind, the 1987-1991 episode of; Garang Must Go campaign.
Thus, if the Garang Must Go of the eighties and nineties had led to the 1991-1992 tragedies, the 2013, Salva Kiir Must Go campaign, has now brought not only tragedies but shame on their people, and their new country; the Republic of South Sudan; just only three years old. The consequences of Kiir Must Go, I am afraid, will be worst then the Garang Must Go episode that preceded it. To the people who have known the makeup and inside of the SPLM, and have been watching its functions and operations, believe that, it was only a matter of time and the mighty party would be shamelessly and hopelessly turned dwarf if not ripped apart by the absence of cohesiveness and lack of commitment to the ideals of the party they helped shaped.
Painfully, the SPLM has been crippled by its own historic leaders that were expected to make it a vibrant party that would withstand the wind of change that had destroyed many liberation movements sweeping them into the dust bin of history; soon after the took over the reins of power, before them.
Important to remind the combatants is that; if the ideals for achieving and establishing a democracy in one’s country, were meant to achieve it, regardless of its negative impact on the very voters they expect to vote them into power, in any general elections, then they have terribly missed the point. The leaders of the SPLM, whichever side they have taken in this pandemonium tragic crisis, should accept peace and avoid seeing their people being annihilated and their country being turned into a ghost country; while they look on, gloating over the miseries brought about by this unfortunate episode of their own making. Sadly expressed, by the time the SPLM combatants come to their senses and began to look back on the history they have made or unmade, some of them may give up politics altogether. Others may not go to their constituencies, because of the painful fact that, they will find them, either in ruins and or without people to vote them into power.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
Summing up the narrative, one question which apparently continues to ring in the minds of the readers has to do, I guess, to whether the crisis in the SPLM came about as a result of resisting transformation and democratisation of the party and whether the narrative has managed to provide convincing answer to that complex question. But can I remind the readers that, at the beginning of this narrative, I begged to be excused not to apportion blame on the people involved in the current tragic crisis. Indeed the narrative is a soul searching effort by a concerned citizen, giving the people who love South Sudan and its people and are making efforts to bring this tragic crisis to a speeding end, may assist in finding viable and amicable solution to the crisis from the above analysis. I will therefore conclude the narrative by making the following remarks as background that may assist those who would like to know what went wrong in the SPLM administration and operations:
First, question is, whether the SPLM Chairman, Salva Kiir Mayardit should be applauded by people of good will, for his continued courage and sympathetic approach to issues and patience which made him hold together, the country and its numerous nationalities, all still living in a primordial stage of political and social development, characterised by individualism, until the people of South Sudan achieved their basic objective, to have an independent country of their own; or whether he must be crucified for having failed to make a three year old country, turn it, as to become a modern state overnight?
Second, in the July 23rd 2013, cabinet shake up, many members in the SPLM politburo, were negatively affected and thus began to accuse their once beloved President and Chairman for deviating from the party principles, policies and manifesto?
Understandably, the SPLM Liberation Council was convened on December fifteenth against a politically charged atmosphere shrouded by emotions and the overwhelming urge, ready to reciprocate come what may, a move which unfortunately brought about the SPLM internal bickering to the open confrontation. The bomb was thus detonated. But could the outsiders and specially, the friends of the South Sudan, religious leaders and some of the African former and sitting heads of state and government, can possibly assist and mediate, moderate and reconcile the SPLM leadership, so that they agree to stop this debilitating crisis and prepare for the general elections as a united party hoping to come back to power, (political objective), in order to lead their country and people to a bright future?
Third, had Chairman Salva Kiir Mayardit, left some of the lead members of the party out of executive positions, keeping them in the politburo as oversight leaders; giving them all the comforts they needed, as supper ministers, would the situation have been different and the issue that brought the country down to its knees could have been resolved by the Politburo?
Fourth; precisely, it was the July reshuffle that made many former members of the SPLM politburo very angry, to extent that, there were no members left in the SPLM politburo sober enough, to direct and reconcile the quarrelling leaders in their ruling political Party has contributed to the failure to convened the party politburo?.
Fifth, the calling for the party’s liberation council meeting at the time the atmosphere was polluted and the lead members in the Politburo, at each other throat, was the message not was very clear on the wall –that was either you or Me?
Finally, the people of South Sudan are awe-stricken, watching the one mighty party, that brought them freedom and peace; crumbling before their eyes as leaders begin to erase their newly independent country from the map of the world; embarking on a merciless killing spree; regardless to the untold hardships and sufferings the crisis brought on their own people. Signing off, the combatants need not be reminded that, when all this fratricidal and destructive war is over, the combatants, having eventually achieved what they fought for,-their political objective, and start rebuilding what they had wilfully destroyed, they will be likened by their country folks- as going back and eat their own vomits.
To be continued…
Arop Madut Arop-Gotnyiel is a journalist and author of two books: Sudan Painful Road to Peace and the Genesis of Political Consciousness in South Sudan and can be reached at; gotnyiel firstname.lastname@example.org