The Oyee Group (SPLA/M): The wolves in a shared Cause
“If they who have known each other, suffered and dined together for years could disagree from time to time, tearing each other apart mercilessly and soiling the fruits of their struggle, I bet the future for South Sudan in the hands of our current generation that is weltering in tribal and regional slogans and who knows nothing about each other, will be bleak”.
By Agook Mayek Riak,
May 08, 2014(Nyamilepedia) — The current leadership in the Republic of South Sudan comprises of groups of former students and acquaintances who have known each other and stayed together for years. First, they were brought together by the education system in the old Sudan, where students had to move across Sudan at different levels of their education. Secondly, they were brought together by the public service policy at the time where all public servants, particularly the administrators had to rotate across southern regions. Thirdly, they were brought together by a shared cause, “the emancipation of the people of the then Southern Sudan from the bondage of enslavement and marginalization from the repressive Khartoum regimes. In a nutshell, they were one family, brothers and sisters in struggle and knew each other ‘in’ and ‘out’, but yet like wolves, they could not minimize on their disagreement, but only opted to tear each other apart mercilessly.
At the inception of the SPLA/M IN 1983, Dr. John Garang, Kerubin Kuanyin Bol, Nyuon Bany and the current seating president of the Republic of South Sudan Salva Kiir Mayar went into loggerhead with the earlier members of Anyanya (I) and later became Anyanya (II), group of Gai Tut, Akuot Atem, Abdalla Chuol, and the rest, on the joint southern ideological and leadership arrangement. When they failed to agree, the SPLA/M group decided to stick with their own Dr John Garang. This led to serious confrontation between the two groups, however, the Oyee group managed to depose the Anyanya (II) with the direct support from the Ethiopian government. The SPLA/M under John Garang continued to soar, more and more Southern Sudanese, including the current rebel leader Dr Riek Machar joined the movement.
Consequent of their robust and well-exposed movement, the SPLA/M witnessed the fall of the three consecutive repressive Khartoum regimes in the periods from 1983 to 1989, when the current Sudan’s president Omar Al-Bashir took over in a military coup. The SPLA/M continued to wage serious resistance against Bashir’s regime. The Bashir’s regime was almost deposed, but narrowly survived when the current rebel leader Riek Machar and Lam Akol disagreed with Dr. Garang’s style of leadership. The duo decided to form SPLA/M Nassir faction which waged serious war against their own SPLA/M under the leadership of Dr. Garang. Garang’s SPLA/M suffered heavy causalities that year, and almost all the SPLA/M controlled areas in the Southern Sudan fell in the hands of Khartoum regime. The resistance against Garang’s leadership did not end with Riek and Lam, but went down to Nyuon Bany, Kerubin Kuanyin Bol and other senior SPLA/M members deserting the movement. Both Nyuon Bany and kerubin met their deaths in the hands of their SPLA/M comrades.
With the setback of early 1990s, the SPLA/M under Dr Garang remained resilient, and in 1997 gained momentum to recapture most of the key southern towns from Khartoum regime. The SPLA/M momentum in 1990s coincided with the world’s war on terror. Sudan hosted the notorious and the most wanted Al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden in 1990s. It is from that angle that the world understood and became more concern on the plights of the people of South Sudan.
With serious diplomatic efforts from American and other world’s governments, coupled with the increasing resistance from SPLA/M, the Khartoum government was nailed to get committed to serious peaceful negotiations with the SPLA/M, which resulted to the signing of the CPA in Kenya in 2005. In 2004, a year prior to the signing of CPA, the SPLA/M was on the verge of collapsing as the current president Salva Kiir went into loggerheads on administrative misconstructions with the SPLA/M with the late leader Dr. John Garang. However, the Rumbek dialogue in the same year among the senior movement leaders to reconcile the two, brought consensus. The SPLA/M recouped their momentum and build consensus towards achieving peace for the people of South Sudan.
By bad luck, Dr. Garang met his death in a helicopter crash in 2005; the same year peace was signed. Salva Kiir became the party Chairperson and Riek Machar became his deputy. The duo went through six of years of interim period and also worked tirelessly for the independence of the Republic of South Sudan in 2011. Kiir became the president of South Sudan and Riek his vice. From the six years of interim period, Riek rejuvenated his quest for the top position in the SPLA/M and decided to work secretly behind his president. This triggered the tension between the two, and subsequently led to the sacking of Dr. Riek as the Vice-president in 2013, alongside Pagan Amum and his John Garang’s boys’ or orphans’ camp.
The sacking of the vice president and the rest became a ticket to openly criticize Kiir’s government and demands for transformation within the SPLA/M party, a call Riek himself once made against Garang in 1991 rebellion. The political wrangles slit into arm rebellions, which first started as a shoot-out consequent of misunderstanding among the tribal camps of the presidential guards.
SPLA/M was instituted by people who knew each other, suffered together and shared the same cause, but could always disagree on political basis, tearing each other apart and from time to time soiling the fruits of their struggle. The SPLA/M political skirmishes raise serious question for the posterity of the party itself and South Sudan as a country. If they who have known each other, suffered and dined together for years could disagree from time to time, tearing each other apart mercilessly and soiling the fruits of their struggle, I bet the future for South Sudan in the hands of our current generation that is weltering in tribal and regional slogans and who knows nothing about each other, will be bleak.
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