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The Literature of Politics in South Sudan

My reading of Kuir Garang’s Article: “People First, A Response to Dr. Lam Akol”

By Deng Bior Deng

November 16, 2012 (SSNA) -- Maybe not with writers of Poetry, opposite words in ordinary language follow the same sequential opposite patterns in the context they are used in given situations whether in politics, science, history, etc. The introduction of Kuir’s second article referred to above, as was in his first article: “MR. NICE GUY and MR. WHIMSICAL”, remains to be contradictory because the praise he gives to Dr. Lam seems inconsistent with his criticism of him in his preceding paragraphs; that is my view of the semantics of the word, “whimsical vs. oxymoronic”.

I know that Dr. Lam will not turn the issues raised by Kuir into matters between the two, which means one does not expect his response to this second article of his brother’s son, Poet Kuir Garang; hence the subject may be open for public discussion, so my response here is to open it up should I be the first. Let me go point by point:-

Policy coherence vs. consequential incoherence.

This policy (the Nasir declaration) was adopted by SPLM/A and therefore it had contributed (not instigated) to the reformation and coherent functional SPLM/A. It is the coherence of this policy that led to the positive change in the SPLM/A policy, especially in the capitalization of self-determination to its advantage that became a blessing in disguise to South Sudan which was bogged down in the vision of New Sudan. Reading from this juncture, there is no justification maintaining that there was a consequential incoherence of the policy because of its wrong implementation; so, what would be the rationale of describing Dr. Lam as being whimsical if he was the brain behind the Nasir move? Wrong implementation of a coherent policy does not render it incoherent.

As for the nasty consequences in the practical application of the Nasir coup, no side could be immune from blame including the SPLM/A, but that is what led to the split in the Nasir faction. In this case, Dr. Lam was caught up between three unpredictable formidable enemies and Fashoda agreement became a tactful position which resulted in the eventual compromise of the three camps in the CPA. Politics being the art of the possible, Dr. Lam made a good exit from Fashoda arrangement; that was not being whimsical or incoherent because the main discourse was not missed. He disagreed with Garang because of Self-Determination; agreed with Khartoum on Self-Determination; disagreed with Khartoum when it reneged on Self-Determination; and agreed with Garang when the latter signed a protocol on Self-Determination. Where is the inconsistency on his part? Dr Lam has always been firm on the right of the people of South Sudan to Self-Determination.

Misconstrued Query,

The misunderstanding here is that Poet Kuir intended to invoke what he calls constructive discourse on Dr. Riek, hence he evaded the accolade he first gave him; that in itself is a presentation of trite writs from a poet to his audience. Let me treat this query in that context.

The problem of Kuir is that he thinks the only explanation as to why “Dr Riek isn’t implementing anything in 1991 policy paper” is that he didn’t author the vision enunciated in that policy paper . It is mind-boggling why he couldn’t consider the more obvious explanation that the system in Juba in which he is number Two would not allow him to implement such a policy. This is more plausible especially when he admits that the “SPLM is full of crooks”. Perhaps, he would have been right to question Dr Riek whether or not it was morally acceptable to continue in a government which has no policies and does not allow any positive contribution in implementing any. But all in all, our country is now independent to the credit of 1991 policy; both Dr. Riek and Dr Lam deserve praise.

At the Helm of Foreign Ministry.

I don’t understand why Poet Kuir should be confused and even surprised by the fact that the CPA stipulated for partnership between the NCP and SPLM in the implementation of the agreement. The relevant facts in the CPA, as signed by the SPLM and NCP, were the basis on which the Minister of Foreign Affairs, and indeed all ministers, exercised powers. Given this irrefutable truth, the CPA had reconciled both the interests of the then Sudan and South Sudan. Yet, if the CPA, according to Kuir, was signed not because the SPLM knew it was good for South Sudanese but because it was the best option, then, what option was missed that should have been better than the best option dictated by the circumstances of the time and why missed? Did this mean that the SPLM must have betrayed the best interest of the South by signing the CPA? If that be the case, why then would Dr. Lam bear the blame for the opportunity the SPLM missed in the CPA with regards to foreign policy? Moreover, even if it is possible in a Government, one cannot conceive that Dr. Lam would have had his own foreign policy in a Government where the First Vice President at the higher echelon of the Government was a South Sudanese with veto powers higher than his minister of foreign affairs. But what was the real specific SPLM foreign policy which Dr. Lam did not implement any way?

As a Poet, I presume that Kuir should be able to distinguish between saying that the interests of South Sudanese are not necessarily contrary to those of the North Sudanese, and saying that all Northern and Sothern Sudanese interests “became compatible given CPA stipulations”. The first part of the above sentence reflects the meaning of Dr Lam Akol’s statement whereas Kuir made the last part of it. What was agreed in the CPA was what both sides thought was in their interest. This is what all agreements between adversaries or enemies are all about. For the information of Kuir, the mood of the South Sudanese was in support of the CPA which he now denigrates by claiming that the CPA was signed under pressure and that compromises had to be made that were not in our interest. If this is his line of thinking he will continue to be ‘surprised’.

There is some rhetorical off-the- line statement from Kuir about what he calls the SPLM crooks misunderstanding of the political policy and leadership mannerism of Dr. Lam. I don’t grasp what Kuir would have advised Dr. Lam to do in order to change the minds of the so-called SPLM crooks about him. Dr Lam has explained sufficiently that his differences with those Kuir termed “SPLM crooks” was about their exclusive politics. Hence, perception or misunderstanding does not arise. He also made it clear that Salva Kiir was buckling under their pressure. Dr. Lam did not throw in the towel, this is why he is still active in politics.

Building a Prototypical Ministry.

Again, Kuir is being poetically idealistic in trying to make a distinction between the words, “opportunism and pragmatism”. It would not be to the interest of our people if Dr. Lam had stooped down in order to take a prototypical Ministry because it was a matter of policy not positions. Therefore, if the SPLM could not forward specific policy upon which this prototypical ministry would run, Dr. Lam might risk being a stooge by selling his own dignity for a position; that is opportunism. In any case, the point Dr Lam was making was that President Salva Kiir was so worked up by the ‘SPLM crooks’ to the extent that he was not ready to give Dr Lam a ministry. So, the suggestion was in the abstract.

Democracy.

Lack of democracy in our contemporary history and in our historical struggle under the SPLM leadership, accounts for many missteps not only for Dr. Lam, but for the South Sudan as a whole. However, the missed point from Kuir is that he missed what Dr Lam mentioned that people have to struggle to bring about genuine democracy. Kuir also did not elaborate on what were the missteps of Dr. Lam then. Rightly or wrongly, I believe that Dr. Lam had played his political art very well up to the realization of the referendum leading to our independence.

My Redundant Addendum

This was, indeed, a redundant addendum because Kuir misunderstood the intention of Dr Lam Akol. He did not say that he did not read Kuir’s books, but was rather encouraging him to keep writing.

On a personal note, not withstanding my opinion on Kuir article, I am happy to say that Kuir Garang, a poet, a linguist, a politician and intellectual has a potential for future leadership in South Sudan.

My reading of another Kuir article: “ Dr. Lam Akol misses the point; an analysis of his reply to Kuir Garang article.”

Today it is Kuir Aguer, yesterday it was Kuir Garang on the same subject: “LAM AKOL.” It is my interest that we engage more Kuirs; perhaps, this time to give Lam Akol more Adwoks, more Gatwichs, or more Wanis etc, so that we do not fall prey to more Mayardits. I hope the two Kuirs have their independent thinking than certain SPLM brothers who think South Sudan is SPLM and nothing else. Definitely South Sudan does not have fanatics like the Muslim brothers of NCP/NIF.

The SPLM-DC believes that, behind its objective policies, a political party must have a strong youth that will gradually replace the party leadership; therefore, there can be no selfish political interest of Lam Akol engaging the youth for a political dialogue. Political policies are Nationally based and must not be arrogated to leaders, except, maybe, by those who have some group agendas somewhere (sometimes tribal or clan based as with the traditional politics of Islamic Countries); but even so, political dialogue does not necessarily prey on the youth any selfish political interest. The problem is that political freedom does not exist in South Sudan under the SPLM repressive rule which is why the SPLM-DC must struggle to engage the youth. I think such conversation worth the effort and time if it can attract sympathy from people like Mr. Kuir Aguer and Kuir Garang. There is no another way to show honesty further than continued dialogue.

It is good that both Kuirs want to promote their political image by engaging Dr. Lam Akol. Maybe, even the responses of other independent thinkers who agree with Dr. Lam can be attributed to him and hence let me be Lam…..(number something) in such responses!. Kuir Aguer wants Dr. Lam to clarify his position and that of SPLMDC on important National issues. This is what Dr. Lam had been doing all along; but let us continue meandering on and on around issues; it begs a lot to be understood sometimes, especially in such SPLM tribally divided Country of South Sudan. The issues the two Kuirs express their concerns are: The 1991 SPLM/A split, His tenure(Dr. Lam) as Sudan Minister of Foreign Affairs and the formation of SPLM-DC. Below are my comments, as member of SPLM-DC, not Dr. Lam!

THE 1991 SPLM/A SPLIT.

The consequences of 1991 split within the SPLM/SPLA were of course unfortunate and if Dr. Lam had, in any paragraph of his reply to Kuir Garang, used the word ‘unfortunate’ to describe the consequence of this episode, then, I do not think that Dr. Lam had been evasive or in denial of his involvement, and hence, Mr. Kuir Aguer need no more words for Dr. Lam to clarify himself in this regards.

But let us also recognize the other aspect that there were grievances of other communities since the foundation of SPLM/SPLA from 1983 to 1991. Part of the 1991 coup manifesto was to stop the splm atrocities against the civil population which was clearly manifested in the Nuer payams of Akobo, Wuroor, and Panjak counties, the Murle payams of pibor counties, the Mandari payams of central Equatoria counties, the Dinka of Duk Padiet, and the Jonglei Dinka payams of twic east county(then, known as Kongor), etc. Here, it can simply be put that the 1991 coup was exploited for revenge by the victims of splm/spla atrocities in some of those and other areas in South Sudan; Let me reserve here my answer to the question that may be asked: Why then, did the Dinka become prey to the 1991? Maybe, President Mayardit has a better answer being heir to the SPLM/A seat and now being deputized by Dr. Riek.

The consequences of 1991 were of course unfortunately unforeseen by the coup leaders; but again; it would be dishonest to say that the way the splm/spla oppressed the population was justified to continue that way without being addressed on pretext that we had to liberate the country first while we were doing something that was near to genocide against the same people we had been claiming to liberate. Here was the dilemma between foreseeing and un-foreseeing the consequences of the 1991 saga. Both the Nassir coup Leaders and the SPLM/A are not immune from blame. Yes, we need not duel on past history than focus on how to forge ahead for a better future, hence we need to accept that we were all wrong and apologize to our people; that is the best way towards our unity. Dr. Riek must be appreciated for apologizing on behalf of the Nassir coup leaders including Dr. Lam. I don’t see any more ball in the court of Dr. Lam here; instead, this ball is in the court of SPLM/A.

As for SPLM-DC, I don’t see how it is connected with 1991 saga while it was founded in 2009! But, I agree, it is time for us to reconcile and push our Country forward. This is what we had done in 2010, but it was watered down by SPLM Government when it reneged from the all political parties resolutions of 2010.

HIS TENURE(DR. LAM) AS SUDAN MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS.

On foreign or any policy, the position of the Government is always adhered to by its’ Executives. If political parties in a coalition disagree on a specific policy, the party in disagreement must present a documented policy position in regards. The question arise: Was there any specific SPLM policy document presented to the Government, approved by Council of Ministers and Dr. Lam refused to implement? The ABC report, which the SPLM had a right to independently object, was a report and not a policy position on foreign affairs. The SPLM as a political party disagreed with the report, that was okay; but still, the position of the Minister in respect thereof had to be a Government position and if the SPLM did not take action in this regards, the Minister acted on behalf of the Government. Yet even if the SPLM were to have had specific policy position on foreign affairs or specific reports like the one of ABC, any such position must require the agreement of the council of ministers which recommends to President for approval upon which the 1st Vice President had the right to veto according to CPA; so, would the SPLM Minster of Foreign affairs bear the blame more than the SPLM 1st Vice President? This was a matter of how a Government system works and not how the Minister should have worked. Political Parties disagree with Governments not Ministers in the Government!! I am not at this juncture being evasive or defensive; I have only explained a point of misunderstanding on an issue.

THE FORMATION OF SPLM-DC.

QUOTE: However, our nation is at a crossroads and the solutions to the immense challenges facing our country today can only be provided by inclusive parties with compelling visions for guiding our nation into the future we deserve, not by a protest party whose vision is nothing more than the protection of Dr. Lam Akol and his friends from being humiliated by the SPLM as he revealed in his only instance of candor in “I and others with me refused to accept humiliation. Such was the birth of SPLM-DC in June 2009.” A genuine change agency would come in the form of a protest against the abysmal performance of the SPLM in delivering development to the nation, but not in the form of a cocoon whose sworn mission is to shield a few from being humiliated by the SPLM. In the absence of a platform for national development other than a protest against SPLM’s humiliating treatment of some of its members, is the SPLM-DC worthy of being considered as a genuine alternative to lead real change in South Sudan? END QUOTE.

Of course there was a justification for the founding members of SPLM-DC to form this political party, calling it a protest party is not a qualified way of convincing our people against its’ objectives; if Mr. Kuir failed to understand why this party was lounged in 2009, that does not bother any body, but it was to his advantage if he had tried. But why would Lam and his friends allow themselves to be humiliated any way if they have the ability to form a political party, this is a vague challenge.

Political parties can agree to form a coalition Government, if this is what Kuir means by inclusive parties guiding our nation into the future we deserve, then, that is right; but if it is that these parties will just remain as satellite parties for SPLM in the Government, then, I doubt how their visions can be realized in the SPLM Government. There is nothing in politics as an inclusive party in another party; that is a political fallacy professed by political opportunists.

QUOTE: “In keeping with the pattern of ducking questions is the way in which he re-framed the question to recast it as a choice between either forming a new party or remaining in the SPLM to end up as an opportunist. Clearly, forming a new party is an option that has the support of many South Sudanese (even in 2009) if the new party has a visionary platform unlike the myopic one that is suggested by the motives behind the formation of the SPLM-DC. But remaining in the SPLM doesn’t necessarily mean winding up as an opportunist; he could have remained in the SPLM and became a competent leader if you had wished and if resources would have allowed. Therefore, he had more than two options and his attempts to dupe readers into believing there were only two options available to him prior to founding the SPLM-DC is engaging in an either/or logical fallacy. END QUOTE.

Clearly, Mr. Kuir Aguer, with his prejudice against the SPLM-DC and Dr. Lam is being even more myopic (to use his word). A visionary platform of a political party is explained by the party manifesto and not by statements used to answer a specific point of dialogue in a political debate on a specific topic. Dr. Lam had seen that the SPLM did not live up to its’ expectation enunciated in its’ manifesto. If he had remained in such a party, that would amount to opportunism, hence, the decision to form a political party was the right option; so how logical would this option be a fallacy? Mr. Kuir needs to acquaint himself with the SPLM-DC manifesto than to pick up pieces of reasoning here and there to make a political point.

Most of the speech of Kuir on this topic is a generalization that does not need my comments. However, I have to conclude here that the SPLM-DC is ready for compromises with South Sudan political parties including SPLM; but this requires a free democratic space which the SPLM and its’ Government does not allow.

Deng Bior Deng is a member of SPLM-DC, He can be reached at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

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