Opinion: Positioning and educating the public on the ideology of the SPLM-IO

By Daniel Deng Mario, Khartoum

SPLM-IO leader Dr. Riek Machar Teny (File/Supplied/Nyamilepedia)

January 10th 2019 (Nyamilepedia) – Introduction: The Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-in-Opposition (SPLM-IO) is the South Sudanese main political party. It split from the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement in 2013 due to political tensions between President Salva Kiir and His Vice President Riek Machar over crisis in the SPLM. The crisis was associated with leadership crisis caused by the lack of direction or ideological orientation. The lack of ideology leaves the SPLM Party up to now a confused state and deep internal crisis. This did not spare it as the SPLM remains in political imbecile and quagmire. All these have been translated into the lack of progress in the country as a whole. Consequently, the country rapidly began to move apart little by little as it lost its original vision, mission and objectives.

The loss of original vision, mission and objectives of the SPLM and the return to the central problem of the Sudan

The objectives of the SPLM/A from 1983 to 2005 were to liberate the people of South Sudan whether within the context of New Sudan or being independent must achieve justice, liberty, prosperity, democracy, strong ideology, self-determination, respect of human rights, rule of law and order and development. When Southern Sudan became an autonomous region in 2005 and after it became independence in 2011, these objectives were lost due to the failure of the President to lead the country as expected.

Instead, the President and the government of the SPLM under him became more and more authoritarian as everything rotated around the personality of the President who became a demigod. This became the source of discontent with the leadership style of President Kiir that eventually led to the split in the party and the war. Out of all these came the rise of the SPLM-IO as I shall explain in the next edition under the title: The outbreak of South Sudanese Civil war and the Rise of the SPLM-IO as the best alternative to the SPLM-In the Government. To avoid the history repeating itself, the SPLM-IO adopted a charter or constitution or manifesto as the documents carrying ideology of the party.  Hence, this article explains the ideology of the SPLM0-IO under the sub-title below.


As I discussed in the previous article, one of the greatest challenges facing the SPLM-IO today is the fact that it has been grossly misconceived. The cause of this misconception has its roots from negative propaganda by the SPLM fundamentalists who saw nothing wrong with the Party as long as they are gaining from it. Those who want the party to move in right direction are either displaced from the party or sidelined completely within the Party. Therefore, the purpose of this article and others that I will be writing is to educate those who love South Sudan that the ideology of the SPLM-IO is to rebuild South Sudan based on justice, liberty, prosperity, democracy, rule of law and human rights. Enforcing these constitutional principles can help to ensure the inclusiveness in the country, which is what the SPLM-IO constitution is all about and the leadership is strictly following them within the party.

The SPLM-IO Constitution, its origin and ideological orientation

The origin of the SPLM-IO has its root in the democratic character of her leader, Dr. Riek Machar. Since the old days of the liberation of South Sudan, the desire of Dr. Riek Machar has been to establish the democratic South Sudan. It was the same desire that became the cause between Dr. Riek Machar and Late Dr. Garang in the early1990s and it is the same desire that made him to confront President Kiir in 2013 to date. Though the demand of Dr. Riek was only for reforms of the leadership within the Party so that the party would become more democratic and accessible to citizens, he was forced into conflict by the Government when some individual members within the Party began to plot on how to push him out. The war became inevitable as it broke out on December 15, 2013.  The SPLM – in Opposition (SPLM-IO) was therefore a product of the failure to reform leadership of the SPLM. The SPLM-IO was then formed in 2014 with clear ideology guided by clear vision, mission and objectives that were subjected to rigorous discussion and eventually freely adopted by all the members present. These vision, mission and objectives were later put down in the SPLM-IO Constitution of 2015 whose salient features or main principles and ideology behind them, I will explain shortly in the next three pages before I conclude this discussion.

Objectives and aims of the SPLM-IO and how they lay the base for its ideological orientation

Article 6 of the Constitution of the SPLM-IO provides the main objectives of the Movement and the direction the SPLM-IO wants the country to take. The central point in the objectives of the SPLM-IO is to build the Country based on a just, democratic, secular system of governance, and with strong popular participation of the entire people. This means that in the ideology or vision of the SPLM-IO, the citizens are the centre of the nation building which is a clear break from the current leadership based state of South Sudan. For your information, in leadership based state, the country is built on individuals who become more like kings, which is always a grave mistake as the country is likely to collapse with the demise of the leadership as it was the case in Libya and Iraq. This is what the SPLM-IO under His Excellency wants to avoid by all costs.

The SPLM-IO central desire as found in its vision, mission and objective is to ensure the national consensus based on common purpose in the country where individuals and the communities are freed from all forms of political, economic and social constraints. The overall goal is to promote the general wellbeing of the people of South Sudan by eradicating poverty and striving to attain Sustainable Development in according with the UN Sustainable Development Goals in the context of South Sudan. This is to achieve the national liberation and freedom for all marginalized South Sudan people with disenfranchising the other established South Sudanese.

How to do this will be formulated in the National Policy of South Sudan that will be adopted as soon as the SPLM-IO achieved the Liberation of South Sudanese either through the current Peace Agreement or any other means. All these can be realized by the  SPLM-IO defending and advancing the democratic values in the Country by ensuring that governments at all levels are representative and freely elected by the people through universal suffrage, which is the basis of the true democracy as provided in the SPLM-IO Constitution. As the SPLM-IO and its members believe, democracy can work well when citizens are informed, which explains why the SPLM-IO is promoting and encouraging scientific research and adopt appropriate modern technologies.

In order to realize its goal, the SPLM-IO has proposed that citizens of South Sudan are to be managed under true Federalism based on true democratic aspirations of citizens who are to decide on how they can be managed and who shall manage them under the guidance and protection of the government. To achieve that the SPLM-IO is aware of the importance of ensuring the social cohesion among South Sudanese people in which the principles of supremacy of the rule of Law and separation of powers are upheld in accordance with the national Constitution. This is the basis of the rule of law, respect of human rights and democracy. When I mention human rights here it should be understood that the protection of human rights in South Sudan under the SPLM-IO is to be in accordance with context of South Sudan.

The SPLM-IO in its vision or ideology believes that if the country is run based on collective leadership, it can ensure the accessibility of justice and equality for all citizens irrespective of ethnicity, origin, religion, region, social status or gender. This can be done by adopting the principles of open government which is characterized by accountability, transparency and good governance. These principles help in encouraging and promoting citizens’ accessibility to the government information that helps in fighting against corruption and mismanagement of all kinds. The ultimate goal of the SPLM-IO in promoting open government is to ensure the respect for the diversity of the people which can easily be destroyed when there is no democracy in the country.

Managing the country based on clear guidelines in managing diversity helps the government to ensure gender equality and promotion of the socio-economic, cultural and political empowerment of all the people and women in particular. It is in that way the country can realize and ensure economic self-sufficiency and self-reliance for the citizens. The overall effect is that citizens will be able to know what their duties and rights and be able to play their role as good citizens that enable them to extent their duties to protecting natural environment, which is a natural gift to humanity. Hence, they are able to protect and preserve the environment, ensure sustainable utilization of natural resources and promote environmental sustainability; Protect, uphold and promote their unity as they will discover that they will only stand when they are united as one people.  This takes me to the main principles of the SPLM-IO.

Main principles of the SPLM-IO and ideology behind them

The Constitution of the Sudan Peoples’ Liberation Movement (SPLM), 2015 which is also popularly known as the SPLM-IO was adopted on August 5, 2015. This Constitution is divided into 23 Chapters with different themes contributing to overall ideological orientation of the SPLM-IO. In summary, Chapter one of the constitution contains preliminary provisions, Chapter two deals with general guiding principles and the objectives of the SPLM-IO, Chapter three contains provisions on membership, Chapter four establishes the need for affirmative action in South Sudan so that every person or community marginalized are helped to achieve economic, social and political empowerment.  Chapter five provides the SPLM caucuses, popular and syndicated organizations. Syndicated Organizations in our context are self-organizing groups of individuals, companies, corporations or entities formed to transact some specific business, to pursue or promote a shared interest. These organizations are to be established to work for the interests of all South Sudanese irrespective of their tribes, religions or their political affiliations. They are intended to avoid the Nile pet and other national companies’ sagas in the country.

Chapter six establishes organizational structure of the SPLM-IO. This structure is to set up strong political group with strong political structures that follow laws and order within which the country the party is managed. This helps the SPLM-IO to reduce dictatorship of the party as witnessed in the SPLM in the Government. In order to implement this Chapter, the SPLM-IO has adopted the Codes of Conduct which every member must obey including His Excellency Dr. Riek Machar, the Chairman. This is the basis of the rule of law and law and order within the Party. Some people who were disappointed with the SPLM-IO immediately after its formation should know that currently the SPLM-IO has matured politically as there is now rule of law within the party as clear structure has been established.

The other Chapters of the Constitution in summary deal with the National Convention, the National Liberation Council-NLC, the NLC Standing Committee, the General Secretariat, functions and duties of the SPLM National Officers, the State Organs, the State Liberation Council, the State Standing Committees, the State Secretariats,  functions and duties Of SPLM State Officers, County Organs:  County Liberation Council,  County Standing Committees, County Secretariat, functions and duties Of SPLM County Officers,  Payam Organs, Payam Liberation Council, Payam Secretariat, Functions and Duties Of SPLM Payam Officials, Boma Organs, Boma Liberation Council, Boma Secretariat Functions And Duties Of SPLM Boma Officials, Organs, which include—Cell Organ, Finances of the Movement and  Miscellaneous Provisions respectively.

Cell as mentioned in the above paragraph according to Article 4 of the Constitution means the smallest unit of the Movement formed of at least two members organized into an active body and who willingly engage in the definition, development and advocate policies an priorities of the Movement; as well as being enthusiastically involved in successful implementation and popularization of SPLM programs and plans in their neighborhood or work places. As it can be understood well in this definition, cell advocacy group that deals with public relation, contributes to the effectiveness of foreign relations, research and analysis and formulation of national plan.

All the other chapters of the SPLM-IO Constitution above contribute to one thing: the translation of the SPLM-IO ideology into touchable outcome for all citizens at different levels of governments in South Sudan. In addition to the already discussed ideology of the SPLM-IO in the Constitution, the Preamble of the Constitution of the SPLM-IO explains the purpose and underlying philosophy or ideological orientation of the SPLM-IO guided by history. In referring to history in the Preamble of the Constitution, the SPLM-IO is mindful of the historical facts pertinent to the conflict in South Sudan. This is why Liberation Movement (SPLM-IO) is  Recalling the heroic struggle of generations of our people for freedom and dignity against a backdrop of long history of conflicts, injustices, dictatorships, poverty, violation of human rights and constitutional instability that was the hallmark of South Sudan; Recognizing the historic struggle of the oppressed people against forces of repression, all forms of injustice, political sectarianism, regionalism, tribalism, ethnic chauvinism, marginalization and exploitation, religious bigotry, intolerance, harmful customs and gender discrimination against women and girl child; The interpretation of the Preamble shows that the members of the SPLM-IO and their leadership have not forgotten why they took up arms.

They took up arms to eliminate all forces of repression, all forms of injustice, political sectarianism, regionalism, tribalism, ethnic chauvinism, marginalization and exploitation, religious bigotry, intolerance, harmful customs and gender discrimination against women and girl child. Thus, the SPLM-IO is committed to building a better future for the people of South Sudan by establishing a federal democratic and developmental State with an equitable socio-economic and political order based on the principles of freedom, equality, democracy, justice, respect for human rights, progress and prosperity.

Article 3 of the SPLM-IO Constitution provides the participatory and direct democracy in South Sudan. It is establishing a democratic, mass political movementThe membership of the SPLM is open to all the people at all levels of government in South Sudan that is from Boma, Payam, County, State and up to the National level without discrimination based on race, gender, religion, social status, origin, or ethnicity. The SPLM-IO’s ultimate goal in this respect is to achieve the unity of purpose and in its functioning respects the linguistic, social, cultural and religious diversity of its members. In that unity, the SPLM guarantees freedom of expression, circulation of useful ideas and information sharing.

The above position of the SPLM-IO brings us to the fact that the ideology of the SPLM-IO is to eliminate unviable unity of the Old Sudan that has come into the country due to the laxity of the leadership of President Kiir and which becomes the root of the economic, political and cultural hegemony of tribal groupings leading to the exclusion of other minorities in the country. The politics of South Sudan which is founded and run on communities’ leaderships restricts the unity of the country as minorities do not have a chance to participate in the national levels. This is exactly the same as the mode of running the old Sudan in which Southern Sudanese were excluded from the development though all the resources which were used in building the North of Sudan were all got from the South of Sudan. The SPLM-IO is trying to cure this as provided in its Constitution.

As explained above, it is regrettable to say that we have seen the immense sufferings of our people under the insensitive or indifferent leadership in which individuals are enriching themselves at the expenses of the vast majority of South Sudanese. To avoid that predicament, the SPLM-IO has adopted general principles that guide it in the process of national development as found under Article 5 of the Constitution of the Sudan Peoples’ Liberation Movement (SPLM), 2015. The principles of Democracy, justice, freedom, equality, religious and ethnic tolerance, social cohesion, peace, prosperity, harmony and inclusivity guided by federalism and devolution of powers pertinent to this.  These principles summarize the ideological orientation of the SPLM-IO.

The SPLM-IO has adopted the principles federalism as one of its principles to ensure that a general government or the central or “federal” government with regional governments or state governments are run in a single political system where the services reach citizens. Therefore, purpose of the federal system is to avoid centralization of powers as seen in the present decentralized system. The SPLM-IO is aware of the suffering of our people under the centralized system in South Sudan where leaders hold absolute powers and this is what we are try to eliminate by all means.


The ultimate aim of the ideology of the SPLM-IO is to achieve complete decentralization of powers of government as clearly laid out in the Constitution. The ideology helps in the promotion of democratic principles and practices, and social cohesion in which the principles of supremacy of the rule of Law and separation of powers are uphold in accordance with our national Constitution. Promoting the principles of democracy helps to ensure that human rights and fundamental freedoms enshrined in the Constitution of South Sudan, regional and international instruments are promoted, respected, and protected. In the next edition, I will discuss the outbreak of South Sudanese Civil war and the Rise of the SPLM-IO as the best alternative to the SPLM-In the Government. I will discuss it in relation to ideology of the SPLM-IO.

The writer can be reached via:mariodeng88@gmail.com

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