By Juma Mabor Marial
The SPLM Mainstream, the SPLM DC, the SPLM/A in Opposition, the SPLM 7 Former detainees, the SPLM 4, the SPLM …………… “Will the fragmentations in the SPLM Party ever be rejoined?”
April 15, 2014 (SSNA) -- The last article I wrote about SPLM party was met with numerous uproars and unprecedented condemnations by those who thought I was prophesying dooms against the revolutionary party. What they did not know is that, I am too a diehard and stance supporter of SPLM, an allegiance that I have diligently observed for the past 26 years and still objectively do till now. My prophesy although I don’t proclaim to be a prophet and do not need to be rewarded came to play when the two press conferences were held by the two groups of SPLM between 6th and 8th December, 2013 respectively with the sole objective of telling the public the ingredients of what has been cooking in the SPLM house. The situation was further escalated by the December 15th events for which the memories are still very much fresh and alive in every citizen’s mind and there is no need to revisit them.
For both the political survival of our politicians and the quest to enhance state cum nation-building, there was no any other political party that was most trusted by south Sudanese to contest on and established their nationhood around. This is where, during the 2010 elections, an opportunity to win SPLM ticket in the primaries also known as Electoral College was synonymous with directly winning the polls. SPLM was and maybe, still is the only political party with stable foundation and special platform with respect to it long year’s advocacy for freedom and independence of the people of south Sudan.
However, towards independence, internal political conflicts started to protrude but the common objective for south Sudan independence keeps on holding the center together but until 2009, things began to get worse as information of internal dictatorship in the party begun to emerge. Lam Akol was the mastermind and Riek Machar was playing it cool after he was as he then thought, unfairly convinced to stand down for Kiir for the SPLM leadership in 2008. Lam after being so impatience decided to call it a quit and formed the infamous Sudan People Liberation Movement Democratic Change (SPLM-DC). A party he described as a reformed SPLM and would in its manifesto, give the people of south Sudan the much needed services and open up space for democracy.
It is during its launching that Lam gave out very outstanding objectives that shaken the SPLM mainstream but with energetic and most appropriate propagandas that the cadres in the mainstream had, the former Secretary General now a charged treason accused and his foot soldiers carried out a robust campaign against SPLM DC traversing almost all countries of the world telling the south Sudanese that SPLM-DC and indeed Lam Akol were enemies of south Sudanese freedom and south Sudan independence. That, plus intimidation, arbitrary arrest of SPLM-DC members eventually limited the capacity of SPLM-DC and rendered it unworthy opponent to SPLM mainstream, it is over the same reason that Lam lost the presidential bid to Salva Kiir of the SPLM mainstream in the 2010 general elections.
Lam and his party SPLM DC also scored very poorly countrywide and this affected its authority to play any meaningful opposition party role. The differences between SPLM mainstream and SPLM DC continued for some time and culminated in its leader Lam Akol going on self-exile to return only after Kiir gave amnesty to all rebels and militias in 2013. Since then, the relations between the two parties seemed to move closer to reunion as the two are seen to be working together with Lam slowing-down on his criticisms against the mainstream SPLM, an indication that, he was convinced he still has a room reserved for him in the SPLM mainstream and of course, his leniency has paid him handsomely as manifested by his inclusion to the government delegation to negotiate with the rebel SPLM/A in Opposition. Many commentators believe that he is not going to the negotiating table as SPLM DC leader but a prodigal son of SPLM mainstream.
Although this new turn of events seemed to have subsided Lam’s opposition and his party’s antagonistic position against the SPLM mainstream, it is still prudent to note that, SPLM DC is still a legal entity and a separate political party parallel to SPLM mainstream and this make SPLM two.
The SPLM/A in Opposition is another breakaway political and military entity that came out of SPLM mainstream as we all know and for those who need some few information, it came as a result of the disenfranchised members of the SPLM Political Bureau and National Liberation Council led by former vice president turned rebel leader Dr. Riek Machar.
Their contention came over the SPLM leadership wrangle and their accusation of the SPLM chairperson developing what they called ‘dictatorial tendency’. Because they failed or somehow frustrated to resolve things within the SPLM mainstream, they resorted to violence and when called for negotiations to resolve the conflict, they called themselves Sudan People Liberation Movement /Army in Opposition.
Although, again, not formally formed as a breakaway political party from the SPLM mainstream, the name and it objectives suggest that it is another breakaway political party from SPLM. The army inclusion or military outfit could be brought about by their taking up arms and stage resistance against the democratically elected government. These facts bring to the fore a third fragmentation of the SPLM party and I think because the issues and the coming into being of this breakaway body are still very fresh, there would be no need to delve into the underlying details.
The Former Seven Political Detainees are another stone in the flesh of the SPLM mainstream, this group in their own school of thoughts believes that, without them, there would be no SPLM mainstream and therefore, they consider themselves as major stakeholders in the on-going peace process, their demands are centered around the reforms in the SPLM mainstream and their demands include changes to the current leadership of the SPLM party. They vehemently believe that, they are SPLM and SPLM is them and therefore, no one can intimidate or blackmail them to drop out of the revolutionary party that they thinks, they have for decades built from the scratch.
It is because of the insistent of this group of seven sometimes called “the gang of seven” by the government spokesman that has halted the talk between the rebel SPLM/A in the opposition and the government of south Sudan delegation in Addis Ababa Ethiopia. The IGAD is so determined to incorporate them as a third party to the peace talk, a position that the government of south Sudan thinks violates the condition of the bail as was accorded to the seven former detainees.
The government position has been and still is that; the seven can join either side of the conflict but cannot be a third party to the talk. The opposition on the other hand seemed disappointed with the recent adamant and deliberate indecisiveness of the seven politicians which they had hoped would boost their rebellion and strengthens their position if they were to join them against the government after being released through their advocacy.
With the status of the seven SPLM former detainees remaining a contentious issue, their impact is felt both in the SPLM mainstream and the country at large because these people with their amassed wealth, their ethnic connections and their foreign relations have complicated and more so, frustrated the hopes for peace and signing of the comprehensive peace deal for stability and tranquility to return to the people of south Sudan.
The IGAD and international community with their stick and carrot policies are determined to frustrate the peace process if the seven are not incorporated. This plus many other impediments have made it imperatively clear that, the SPLM party with its many divisions will continue to destabilize the Republic of South Sudan instead of propelling it into a democratic and multiparty state.
With this imminent and argumentative background of the seven former detainees , there is no reason not to believe that the seven are capable of calling themselves another breakaway party from the SPLM mainstream because what a political party need to prosper is mobilization and vigorous awareness campaign which I think without slightest doubt has been done for them by the government itself when it briefly detained them and released them in unsubstantiated bail terms where in relatively unprecedented way, they got themselves a state accommodation in the modern urban city of Nairobi hence boosting and reviving their long ailing political profiles.
It is here that, this group of seven is now a potentially growing bud in the SPLM mainstream and without much speculation; it is in black and white the fourth breakaway political party from the SPLM mainstream.
Because of the principle of sub judice in law, I will not comment on the procedural and substantive aspects of the treason trial that is on-going against Pagan Amum, Oyay Deng Ajak, Ezekiel Gatkuoth and Dr. Majak De’ Agot but by virtue of this analysis, I will only touch a bit on their membership or rather former membership in the SPLM party and their role in the looming disintegration of the revolutionary party SPLM.
It has become common knowledge that, in both the local and international dailies, the four are usually referred to as “group of Four or G4”. The impact of this group with the fact that they have been at the Centre of the SPLM party with Pagan Amum having been the chief administrator must be critically analyzed.
Although, their freedom is still at the discretion of the judges and part of it to the prerogatives of the president, the four can still be use in the equation to solve the problem of the SPLM mainstream. For instance, the four even with their presence in the dock and being surrounded by the armed national security officers still strongly believe that they are pioneers of the SPLM and are very much determined to remain SPLM even when convicted. This is one side of the coin, the other side of the same coin is also that, these four consider themselves as advocates of democracy and as such, their favorite field for playing this game is SPLM and therefore, whatever the outcome of the trial, the four for the benefit of this article are what I would called “SPLM 4” Pagan dismissal in the party notwithstanding.
It would be interesting to see later on when the trial ends what would happen if some of these suspects are acquitted, convicted or pardoned. The likely political implications would be that, they may join the SPLM/A in Opposition, they may also betray the SPLM/A in Opposition and join the group of seven former detainees or they may formed their own party and call it “SPLM Four former acquits/Convicts” or with the slimmest chance join the government and join the SPLM mainstream.
Whichever outcome and the political direction this group may choose to travel, the fact remains that, they will again bring in another problem equation to the already disintegrating SPLM party and this in my opinion will create more fragmentations of the SPLM party.
What is the SPLM …….,
Sometime, this may look and sound like an imaginative SPLM breakaway party but mind you, this could be the serious and most dangerous breakaway SPLM group that is going to finally bury the SPLM party. To my projection and analysis, this is the omnipotence group that has been working and still is working for the end of the SPLM party, they are within the SPLM and they claps with their chest forward that they are the real SPLM members and no one else has the right to be SPLM more than them, they have penetrated the SPLM from different parties and background, they have sown the seeds of disunity among the veteran SPLM members, they have enrich themselves with the SPLM resources and they have established their political thrones using SPLM but they are also determined to ensure that, after all these scheming, their main objectives and goals have to be accomplished and that is to finish SPLM and to do that, they must make sure that, everyone who thought they had the SPLM at heart are fully equipped with weapons of mass destructions and if the whistle is blown, then the fighting should start and the SPLM will be slaughter at the altar, that group is halfway through with its preparations and it is ready for the D-day.
This group is not with the SPLM DC, it is neither with the SPLM/A in Opposition nor with the seven SPLM former detainees, it is not in the SPLM group 4 former convicts/acquits, it is within the government, it is a silence enemy that is determined to kill SPLM peacefully but completely, this group is in the executive not in legislature or judiciary, this group is not in the states or municipalities. It is right there where it is ready to get rid of the revolutionary party once and for all. This is the group that, out of the four or five breakaway SPLM factions, will lay the final writings on the SPLM grave and say’ “I have killed SPLM party and it is now buried six feet under.”
This is the group that has caused instability in the country because their strategy is to the effect that, the government is SPLM and if the SPLM is disorganized, the SPLM house will be in fire and if the SPLM house is in fire, then, the whole country like it is now will be in chaos, something that, as beneficiaries of confusion, they are enjoying while the ordinary citizens of south Sudan are experiencing unprecedented suffering and loss of lives.
If the few remaining diehards of the SPLM could borrow and use my lens and figure out the problem and look for the long lasting solutions, I would have loved to share with them the following reasoning:
1. Own up to the conflict that has engulfed the country and admit that the problem started in the SPLM house and after identifying that truth, then you will find a solution to the on-going conflict.
2. Research on the last group and identify the enemies of your party within before they put the final nail on the Coppin of the SPLM.
3. Explore peace and reconciliation mechanisms within the party and bring back the real SPLM members before the enemy get rid of all of you.
4. Relent on the don’t care attitude and let the internal and party democracy be exercised; this will enable the party embrace diversity of opinions.
5. Forget about these many other dubious projects and put your energies to the national dialogue to bridge the gaps caused by the long mistrust among the south Sudanese. A committee to deal with truth, justice, peace and reconciliation should be constituted and terms of reference stated towards the national dialogue and reconciliation conference.
6. Drop your hardline positions and look into the unwarranted suffering of the people of South Sudan.
Finally, if those who care to listen put this analysis into consideration, I think, the potholes created in the SPLM party can be repaired and the party will again borrow a fresh leaf of life similar to that of the ANC of South Africa, the KANU of Kenya among other long serving political parties in the world.
If not, then, it is also advisable that those who are beside the sick bed of the SPLM party should prepare for it a decent graveyard because its passing is just but a step away from the entrance.
Juma Mabor Marial is a Lawyer based in Juba.Reachable at: