Overlooked Road To Peace: Can The Genuine Unity Of The Members Of The SPLM Party Bring Peace In South Sudan?

By: Daniel Juol Nhomngek, Kampala, Uganda

South Sudan warring leaders, Dr. Riek Machar Teny and Salva Kiir Mayardit helped to pray by the Faith Based Group during the Peace Talks in Addis Ababa. Although a peace deal was eventually signed, it has not been implemented(Photo: file)
South Sudan warring leaders, Dr. Riek Machar Teny and Salva Kiir Mayardit helped to pray by the Faith Based Group during the Peace Talks in Addis Ababa. Although a peace deal was eventually signed, it has not been implemented(Photo: file)

May 05, 2017 (Nyamilepedia) —— Our crisis always begins as rumours. There are rumours, rumours and rumours everywhere though some of us are always the last ones to know about these rumours. In typical world, rumours are not worth of believing but ignoring them in South Sudan can be a disaster.

As noted above, the current war began as rumours about coup sometime back before independence of South Sudan but they were proved not to be real rumours as the message of coup they carried was not true. However, those rumours planted seeds for future war.

Hence, after rumors about a planned coup surfaced in Juba in late 2012, President Salva Kiir began reorganizing the senior leadership of his government, party and military in an unprecedented scale.  For instance, in January 2013, Kiir replaced the inspector general of the national police service with a lieutenant from the army, and dismissed six deputy chiefs of staff and twenty nine (29) major generals in the army.  Then after that in February 2013, Kiir retired an additional one hundred and seventeen (117) army generals. Such a move created fears and suspicion in all circles of the army.

Without realizing trouble his move was creating, Kiir went ahead to dismiss Vice President Riek Machar, along with the entire cabinet. Besides, he suspended the SPLM Secretary-General Pagan Amum Okech and forbade him from leaving Juba or speaking to the media. Consequently, the decrees elicited fears of political unrest, with Machar claiming that Kiir’s move was a step towards dictatorship and announcing that he would challenge Kiir in the 2015 presidential election. He said that if the country is to be united, it cannot tolerate “one man’s rule.”

Moreover, after the dismissal of the entire cabinet, Kiir further disbanded all of the top-level organs of the SPLM party, including the Political Bureau, the National Convention and the National Liberation Council in November 2013. The reason he gave for disbanding the party was that that they have failed in their performance and also that their term limits had expired.

As Dr. Machar observed in the above paragraph, which are the same fears everybody had and still have now is that President Kiir was or is consolidating his power. To confirm this, Kiir was quoted to have suggested that his rivals were trying to revive the rifts that had provoked infighting in the 1990s. Looking at such statement and without any prejudice to the president, one can conclude that he was the one responsible for causing division within the SPLM party.

As the above political drama unfolded in the SPLM party, South Sudanese citizens were innocently rejoicing over the removal of these politicians little did they know that they were going to bear the brunt of conflict caused by this simple action of the President.  It became a beginning of the end of South Sudanese first republic and also the end of many South Sudanese people’s lives.

However, things had not yet gone to the dogs. Things only came to stand still when at the meeting of the National Liberation Council at Nyakuron, when the opposition leaders; Dr. Riek Machar, Pagan Amum and Rebecca Nyandeng voted to boycott the meeting. After that the tension reached breaking point and consequently, the conflict broke out in the evening of Sunday, on 15 December 2013. The outbreak of war sealed the fade of all of the SPLM members that originally suspected by the President as working against him.

The group of politicians that were suspected by the President was referred to as Garang’s boys. Garang’s boys, is a phrase used to refer to those of Giir Chuong Along, Majak Agoot, Pagan Amum, Thomas Cirillo. Kosi Manibe, John Luk Jok, Madut Bior, Mach Paul Kuol, Bior Lek, Ambassador Philip Jada and Deng Alor Kuol. In addition, Madam Nyandeng and Mabior Garang were later added to this group.  This group were named as such because they used to stay closer with Dr. Garang, the Chairperson of the SPLM/A from 1983-2005.

Nonetheless, the real intention of those who coined this phrase was to divide the SPLM Party into factions and ensure that the division within the Party was widened so that they able to get an opportunity by creating mistrust between President Kiir and these young original politicians or officers of the SPLM/A. Indeed, they as worked for it, they have achieved that goal.

As we witness today, the original members of the SPLM as referred to above have not only been put at the periphery of the SPLM Party but also branded as G10, which is a derogatory name intended to completely and effectively isolate them from the SPLM by the former enemies of the SPLM. The intention of those who isolated them is now clear as they are the ones running the party.

Despite the fact that the many real members of the SPLM are blocked out from the party and party remains under former enemies of the SPLM, things are not improving. Instead citizens are trapped at all corners: by hunger, poverty, diseases and famine. All these problems are caused by war while the war is continuing unabatedly.

Several attempts to bring peace have failed while political unrests increase every hour. Insecurity is increasing at speed. The USA dollar has held the country hostage as South Sudanese pound is losing the ground to it. Looking at all these crises, it is very clear that despite all these attempts being made to bring peace in the country but have failed. The question then becomes, what is the way forward? Before suggesting the way forward, let us put this second question: can the genuine unity of the members of the SPLM Party be the only way forward to bring peace in South Sudan? My answer to this question is in affirmative.

It must be pointed out that there is possibility of achieving peace through reuniting the members of the SPLM party though this option has been ignored by all mediators working on South Sudan peace process. In addition, many South Sudanese do not look at this option as viable for bringing peace. It is in other words the option that has been overlooked for long except the attempt that was made through Tanzania, Arusha Unification of the SPLM Agreement. However, this route was not pursued as mediators could not belief that it can bring peace in South Sudan. Nonetheless, if pursued, there is possibility that if the members of the SPLM Party are united they can bring peace.

In order to unite the members of the SPLM Party, this is what should be done: The original members of the SPLM Party both those who are in the government and outside but still in the country must meet first to come up with strategy on how to achieve unity within the party and also how to bring the other SPLM members who are outside South Sudan to the party. In order to do that, the President, General Salva Kiir Mayardit, should issue the decree to call the general meeting of the following SPLM members—

  1. General Daniel Awet Akot
  2. General Kuol Manyang Juuk;
  3. General Mark Nyipuoc;
  4. General Augasio Akol Tong Akot;
  5. General Acuil Tito Madut;
  6. General Salva Mathok Geng;
  7. General Bior Ajang Duot;
  8. General Isaac Mamur Mbete
  9. General Pieng Deng Kuol;
  10. Nhial Deng Nhial;
  11. John Koang;
  12. Acuil Malith;
  13. Awut Deng Acuil;
  14. General James Hoth Mai;
  15. David Okwer;
  16. Mary Nunu Kumba;
  17. Ann Ito;
  18. Atem Garang Kuek;
  19. Hon. Speaker, Lino Makana;
  20. Bukulu Edward;
  21. General Chol Thon Malook;
  22. Philip Marol Mading;
  23. Ambrose Riiny Thiik;
  24. Justice Madol Arol Kachuol
  25. Michael Makuei Lueth;
  26. Paul Mayom Akec;
  27. John Gai;
  28. General Makur Thou;
  29. General Albino Akol Akol;
  30. General Johnston Jima Okot;
  31. General Luis Labong Lurje;
  32. Dr. Luka Manoja
  33. Manasseh Lamude;
  34. Lual Deng Kuel;
  35. Mary Apai;
  36. Rebecca Joshua Kajeci
  37. Muki Batal, the SPLM Spokesperson;
  38. Marial Benjamin Bill;
  39. Rizik Zacharia Hassan;
  40. Joseph Montil Nguen;
  41. Matur Malek Kachuol;
  42. Martin Macuei Malual;
  43. Malual Dong;
  44. Bashir Bendit
  45. Majier Abdalla Mabior;
  46. Professor Dr. Francis Mading Deng Kuol;
  47. Garang John (Spokesperson)
  48. Martin Manyiel Wugol (Journalist);
  49. Beny Gideon Mabor (Human rights Activists);
  50. The Director General of National Security;
  51. The Director General of Military Intelligence; and
  52. The Director General of Internal and External Security.

The list above is based on the original members of the SPLM who were in the bush and those who were in Khartoum and other cities of Sudan during the war. These people fought the war in their various capacities as members of the SPLM either through physical combats or through other means. In that respect, they are all considered members of the SPLM/A in this discussion as matter of fact. Hence, the President should call them so that they plan on how to reunite the SPLM party.

In calling the meeting of these members of the SPLM, the agendum should be one: how to achieve peace in South Sudan through the unity of the SPM Party members which is prerequisite to National Dialogue. After the SPLM members above have agreed and set the roadmap to the unity of the party, the President and other SPLM Members above should then carry out consultation with the following stakeholders:

  1. Emeritus Bishop Paride Torit;
  2. Bishop Daniel Deng Bull;
  3. Bishop of the Diocese of Yambio-Tambura; and then

Islamic Group in South Sudan

  1. Ezidin Nimir Deng
  2. Sheik Jima Said Ali; and
  3. Sila Rajab

Then after the consultation with Bishops and Muslim leaders listed above and get their opinion on how reunification of the members of the SPLM can be achieved after being presented with the roadmap, they can be tasked to help the SPLM members and the President on the importance of this approach. If they are convinced, then they can easily help by mobilizing their followers to talk to their politicians on the need to achieve peace. After that the president will consult all traditional leaders which among others include:

  1. King of Shilluk;
  2. King of Azande;
  3. King of Anyuak; and
  4. All paramount chiefs

The consultation with Chiefs and kings above will give credibility to the Presidential initiative to achieve peace through the reunification of the SPLM party which will prepare the ground for the National Dialogue. After the President consulted various stakeholders as listed above, then he will go into consultation with the members of the SPLM party to nominate the delegates, which shall compose of the SPLM members and religious personalities that will then be sent to the President of Uganda, Yoweri K. Museveni with already prepared roadmap for the reunification of the SPLM that will later pave the way to the National Dialogue. The agendum for reunification will through the President of Uganda who will then invite the following members of the SPLM—

  1. Giir Chuong Along;
  2. Majak Agoot;
  3. Pagan Amum;
  4. Thomas Cirillo;
  5. Kosi Manibe;
  6. John Luk Jok;
  7. Mach Paul Kuol;
  8. Bior Lek;
  9. Deng Alor Kuol;
  10. Madut Bior;
  11. Ambassador Philip Jada;
  12. Madam Nyandeng; and
  13. Mabior Garang.

The above personalities are the ones to be reunited with the SPLM-Party.  In order to reunite them, the President of Uganda should invite the following people:

  1. The President of Kenya;
  2. The President of Rwanda;
  3. The President of Tanzania;
  4. The Prime Minister of Ethiopia; and
  5. Any other personalities from the above countries that South Sudan thinks should be part of this discussion. However, such personalities should only be invited through requesting their countries but not to be invited directly.

The above presidents will help the President of Uganda who will be a chair of the reunification discussion and process. As I have already stated above, the unity of the members of SPLM can bring peace in South Sudan. Therefore, if the above steps are followed, the SPLM will be reunited. After the SPLM members are reunited, then they will draft final document or memorandum/agreement governing that will be signed by them to govern the party from that time onward. Importantly, it should be implemented strictly or its provisions must be observed by everybody including the President.

In other words, there must be law governing the party affairs but if the members opt for the Original SPLM/A Manifesto then it must be implemented strictly. This is because what is important in any Agreement is not signing of the agreement per se but its implementation that must be done in accordance with the spirit of the Agreement.

In addition, such a law must prohibit the use of some phrases such as Garang’s Boys. Whoever uses any derogatory phrase like the one I have just referred to in the foregoing sentence, then he or she must face disciplinary procedures. The agreement should give Courts of law jurisdiction so that aggrieved party members must have recourse to Court. Upon the signing of that Memorandum, the reunification begins and from there the president dissolves the government to form a new but inclusive government that will put into consideration all the SPLM members irrespective of their previous background.

After the reunification of the SPLM Party Members, the next step is how to achieve peace. The starting point should be how to reunite the SPLM In Opposition (IOs)with the mainstream SPLM or if the IOs reject such an offer then the move should be how to bring  them to negotiating table so that ceased is achieved and the terms of reference of National Dialogue are set. At this point the role of bringing peace should be in the hands of all the members of the SPLM after the reunification.

In summary, peace in South Sudan can be achieved if the SPLM members are united. This can only happen if there is a political will to bring genuine unity among members of the SPLM peace in South Sudan will be achieved without any difficulty. In addition, the president must be committed to political reforms within the party.

NB// the author is human rights law and he can reached through: juoldaniel@yahoo.com

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