The Catalysts for SPLM Reunification and National Reconciliation in South Sudan

Posted: March 4, 2019 by PaanLuel Wël Media Ltd. in Commentary, Contributing Writers, Junub Sudan, Opinion Articles, Opinion Writers

By Mayen Deng Alier, Juba, South Sudan

Monday, March 4, 2019 (PW) — South Sudan is considered a single-party state by many people. This is because the existing parties are either friendly to and affiliated with the ruling SPLM or they are some briefcase political parties in the bush fighting the SPLM government. This has made every political decision in the country prone to monopoly by SPLM; the latest being the reunification of the party—an initiative now being advanced as a national agenda, when it is just a single political party’s program.

In the year 2014, as the forces allied to Dr. Riek were fighting the government the Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM), National Resistance Movement (NRM) and African National Congress (ANC) suggested that the best way to solve the conflict was to reunite the SPLM House. As a result, the Entebbe and Arusha negotiations were initiated by President Kikwete and Museveni, leading to the signing of Arusha Agreement on 21 January 2015.

As a sign of good faith, the former Secretary General of SPLM, Cde Pagan Amum came back to Juba in July 2015 to retain his spot and jump start the reunification process. However, the visit was short lived as Pagan returned to exile pointing fingers at the government for not being serious in the implementation process of Arusha Agreement.

This, together with the political intrigues preceding the signing of the ARCISS in August 2015, that led to formation of 28 states, as well as current fracas in various political groups, especially in SSOA, are seen as same blue prints in the current proposal to revive the re-unification process. The fact that ‘rejects’ in different political camps are the ones spearheading the process is wanting.

It is no brainer that those who participated in defunct ARCISS will be replaced by their colleagues who were unselfish in allowing their colleagues to rule, but they not return the favor but rather retain their status quo. Call it being lucky, or having a hand in it, SKM is the chief beneficiary here. For the interest of better understanding who has a hand in this process, the following scenarios should guide us in making a good guess as to what are the main catalysts for this reunification process:

SPLM-FDs

The former political detainees famously known as G10 Plus, are facing what National Super Alliance (NASA) of Kenya faced after the aftermath of the 2017 elections, when that group immediately disintegrated into three camps, each trying on its own to seek audience with the presidency.

In a similar fashion, the G10 Plus group has disintegrated into three groups: the first comprises of Dr. Majak Agoot, Hon. Gier Chuang, and Hon. Kosti; the second consists of Deng Alor, Madut Biar and John Luk; and the third, the Shiluk Boys group, comprises of Pagan Amum, Oyay Deng Ajak and Chirino Iteng.

The last group has remained mum of issues related to the peace process except the infamous call for trusteeship by Pagan Amum in 2016. The group led by Hon. Deng Alor is facing the reality that they will not be given a chance to participate in the R-ARCISS by their peers and, as a result, they have brought up the issue of SPLM reunification, a process that make Pagan an SG again, and Deng Alor back to PB—the worst scenario is the whole process backfiring and the first group led by D’Agoot loses out. Clever move, isn’t it?

SPLM-JCE

Jieng Council of Elders (JCE), is an equivalent of the Agikuyu Council of Elders or the Luo Council of Elders in Kenya. The body was formed to agitate for the social, political and economic interests of the Dinka. Unfortunately, the group deviated from these objective, became the mouth piece of the government, and its deeds become much political.

Their interest was soon overshadowed by personal interests of some politicians and as a result their base became the launching pad for any propaganda against Nuer Community, Greater Equatoria and those perceived to be against the government. Their influence grew and they started controlling the political decisions of the country.

The collapse of ARCISS in 2016 made intrigues of the Jieng Council of Elders obsolete, compounded by ambitious interest of some of its members and patrons like Ustaz Anei’n Kuendit and Gen. Malong. It is my suspicion that the group will disguise its resurrection through SPLM reunification.

What will be of interest to most political spectators are the new tune they are going to use since certain groups like the FDs which were perceived enemies of Jieng are now partners with the ‘Jieng Government’.

Trusteeship

Any conversation with a good political scientist about the possible scenarios of the failure to implement the agreement or outbreak of another war comes to a conclusion that the country is at risk of being put under trusteeship. The proponent of this are perceived to be Americans through the guidance of some neighboring countries who want to indirectly influence the exploration of our resources.

This scenario presents the worst nightmare, not only to the politicians but also those who fought for the independence of South Sudan. What options do the political elites have? The answer is simple: bring back the differing group under the former umbrella of the Liberation Heroes, then advance a single course. The big headache will be inclusion of pro-trusteeship group led by Pagan, or their exclusion and marginalization.

Riek and Lam factor

If Dr. Garang was to resurrect today and asked whom his worthy and stubborn opponents were, the first two names will be Dr. Riek and Dr. Lam Akol—the Nasir Faction architects. The duo had presented complicated political advancements to Garang as well as his predecessor. To be honest the genesis of the war was the strategy to curtail the influence of these two guys, especially Riek.

The reunification process presents a complicated puzzle to Riek—if he accepts the reunification he will be doing it at the expense of the existence of SPLM-IO, a brand that his ambition for presidency hangs on. If he refuses, he stands being isolated locally by the reunified group, and regional, which is the hospice of the reunification process, led by Museveni.

The same thing can be said of Lam, he had taken a similar path by forming SPLM-DC, which was later changed to Democratic Change Party; the political agitation he received from unified SPLM force presented him with a tough lesson. He is also expected to be one of the five vice presidents, and has to be tamed otherwise the presidency will never reach any consensus on decisions made.

Taban and VP seat for Greater Barh el Ghazal

Since it became crystal clear that South Sudan was going to have four vice presidents coming from Greater Upper Nile region, there has been some faint whispers from members of Greater Barh el Ghazel (GBG) –they want the position which is designated for Tabaan.

Their rationale being that the Greater Upper Nile is over represented in the presidency—a good guess will be they suspect these members can go rogue and compromise their ‘son’ when it comes to substantive decisions that require consensus in the presidency. Since they have no jurisdiction over other groups, the safe bet will be the position of Tabaan.

You may ask yourself: what of Wani’s position? The answer is written all over: he is safe and more of a Dinka than he is an Equatorian; besides he has reached the threshold of his political ambition. To JCE and some political proponents in GBG, SPLM re-unification presents the best opportunity of taming Tabaan.

Heir to the throne

Only two men have not taken a single annual leave since 2005, that is Hon. Michael Makuei and President Kiir. The President is tired and he has reiterated on several occasions that he needs to pass the baton to the next capable SPLM leader—of course under unified SPLM.

To many analysts Juba might not have any possible option to claim the J1 seat, otherwise Kiir would have endorsed that person ages ago. However, a million-dollar question remains: how long will it take to re-brand and sell him/her to Junubin? My guess, it will take long if he/she is not a Dinka.

In conclusion,SPLM being the ruling party that fought for the independence of South Sudan has the obligation of making the country peaceful, just and prosperous, as stated in its manifesto. However, the events of the December 2013 SPLM meeting still ring loudly in the minds of peace loving South Sudanese—SPLM is taking the country back to this period.

However, the above possible reasons for the hasty reunification of SPLM should be viewed with some ounce of optimism that this time the Political Bureau and National Liberation Council will be open-minded.

A word of caution though: if the party ever needs a musician in some of its deliberations, Aguil Chut shouldn’t be among the musicians.

You can reach the author via his email: mayendenga@gmail.com

The opinion expressed here is solely the view of the writer. The veracity of any claim made is the responsibility of the author, not PaanLuel Wël Media (PW) website. If you want to submit an opinion article, commentary or news analysis, please email it to paanluel2011@gmail.com. PaanLuel Wël Media (PW) website do reserve the right to edit or reject material before publication. Please include your full name, a short biography, email address, city and the country you are writing from.

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