Are President Kiir’s Political Rivals Ready to Take on Him Now?

Posted: November 29, 2013 by PaanLuel Wël Media Ltd. in Commentary, Featured Articles, PaanLuel Wël
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The Battle for the SPLM’s Chairmanship Heats Up!!

By PaanLuel Wël

Our former VP and current Deputy Chairperson of the ruling SPLM party, Dr. Riek Machar, has announced that he would “soon hold a press conference to address the nation on the party’s future and other pressing issues in the country.” Specifically, Dr. Machar is going to “unveil resolutions passed against the actions of the party chairperson Salva Kiir, also South Sudan’s president.”

Demo-cracy or Demo-crazy?

Demo-cracy or Demo-crazy?

In the layperson’s language, this is nothing short of reading the riot act to Salva Kiir Mayaardit–the chairperson of the SPLM party and the President of the republic of South Sudan.

Many questions are crying out for answers. Are the disgruntled members of the SPLM-Politburo, many of whom were recently fired from the cabinet, going to gang up behind Dr. Machar and “relieve” the Chairperson of his duties “in the interest of the party and for the sake of the nation”? How will the President, who have of late gone on decreeing spree unperturbed, react to such naked political challenge to his perceived “constitutional authority”?

Will President Kiir back down peacefully (as Dr. Machar did after his dismissal from the government) and take respite from his addictive decreeing habit? Will he ratchet up the political pressure and take on his political opponents?

What leverage do Kiir’s political competitors have over him? What else can the President do other than his recent actions–their dismissal from the cabinet and the dissolution of the SPLM-PB?

However, what most South Sudanese people are wondering over is the final lineup of the factions that would compete, first for the position of the SPLM chairmanship, and secondly, for the office of the President of the country. Some crude form of the factionalization within the SPLM appears to be crystallizing, albeit ambiguously.

First is what seem to be a public knowledge already–Kiir’s detractors in the person of Dr. Machar, Pagan and Nyandeng. While they have been relentless in their opposition to President Kiir for sometime now, the question is whether or not they would eventually succeed to put aside their internal differences (there are many internal contradictions, one of which is whether Pagan and Nyandeng would accept to serve under Dr. Machar given his past) and coalesce into a formidable political force.

That would be a matter of political survival for the duo though, for they could still re-unite with President Kiir just as we saw this week when the President made an unexpected political coup against Pagan & Nyandeng’s camp by (snatching and) appointing Nhial Deng as Pagan’s replacement–Juba’s chief negotiator with Khartoum over the outstanding issues. Dr. Machar’s political rapprochement with President Kiir, though not entirely improbable, is highly complicated by the fact that VP Wani Igga won’t be ready to give him a free ride this time round.

If Machar-Pagan-Nyandeng axis survive its tumultuous infancy and graduated into a fully fledged political force, who will they take on other than President Kiir? Most likely, it would be Kiir-Wani-Lam’s alliance. Yes, Dr. Lam Akol shouldn’t be counted out. Not yet! If you are in Juba, then you must have heard Mach-kuol tales of Lam being groomed as the next National Minister for Environment–replacing the recently dismissed Abdallah Deng Nhial.

All indications point toward that eventuality. Dr. Lam, a long time traitor, was received like a rock star, with all state security and amenities at his disposal, when he recently landed in Juba, after years of self-imposed exile in Khartoum.

After all, politics is the art of possibilities. With Pagan gone, President Kiir would be tempted (if not already convinced) to take in Dr. Lam, killing two birds with one stone in the process.

Firstly, Dr. Lam, who has the absolute loyalty of the Shilluk’s voters (look at the MPs, how many SPLM MPs are from the Shilluk kingdom?) will surely prop up Kiir’s numbers during the Presidential election. Secondly, with Lam in the cabinet, it would be hard for the critics to accuse Kiir of marginalizing the Chollo people.

Of course, many people from the Kiir-Wani’s camp would be aghast at the thought of them sharing political bed and platform with a character like Lam. That is true, except that the Machar-Pagan-Nyandeng’s camp won’t dare to question the credentials of Kiir-Wani-Lam’s camp while they have their own elephant in the room. It is therefore safe, politically, for Kiir to bring Lam on board without the slightest worry of being branded a Khartoumer for associating with Khartoumers. “Those people in the glass house should not be the first to throw the first stone”, Kiir would be telling anyone within ear-reach to emphasize his point.

With all things considered, it is Kiir-Wani-Lam camp vs Machar-Pagan-Nyandeng group that would possibly define political trend in the country. Who will carry the day in the contest for the SPLM chairmanship and for the highest office in the land–the presidency? Will it be the former or the latter group? Will it be two camps as posited above or will more factions spring up?
Will these political camps usher in the politics of personality and tribalism or of ideological struggle? What is Kiir’s vision for the country? What is Dr. Machar’s, Pagan’s, Nyandeng’s etc.? And the voters: should we sympathize with them or are they simply getting the government and the leaders they deserves, to paraphrase the Hon. Mansour Khalid? The jure is still out there! The voter will decide, or so consoles the myth!!
PaanLuel Wël ( is the Managing Editor of PaanLuel Wël: South Sudanese Bloggers.
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  1. Aguer says:

    Yes, I do agree some points with the writer. But the writer has missed out the crucial point or the political focus or agenda. The most important to be taken into cobsideration is simply as to be known as process of liminating both camps and choosed to bring the mst clean and well respective people tlead the nation building and prosperity, This would not be achieve unless through election whereby he majority of people would cast their votes and the voters get onto a power. i supose not to suport none og he camps


  2. […] Dr. Machar, Pagan Amum and Madam Nyandeng—in collusion with the disgruntled, former cabinet member…. Each of these individuals—Dr. Machar, Pagan Amum, Madam Nyandeng and the disgruntled ex-members of Kiir’s cabinet—had their own respectively political grievances to settle with the President. It was a marriage of political convenient conceived in hell. President Kiir, finding himself outnumbered and outmaneuvered within the SPLM Politburo, panicked and called off the party National Convention. He called it off again and again and again, hoping to buy time and possibly salvage his dwindling political fortune. Dr. Machar, Pagan and Nyandeng overtly came out questioning President Kiir’s ability to manage the country, upping the political pressure on the President, prompting him to dismiss his entire cabinet in July 2013. Pagan Amum, the vocal Party Secretary General, was suspended and placed under House Arrest, barred from talking to the media or leaving the country. Dr. Machar was dismissed from the post of the Vice President, but it to be done indirectly—sacking of the entire cabinet. […]


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