Battle for SPLM soul: Machar, Amum asked to rename own party

By William Madouk Garang                   

Political squabbles for the ownership of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) have heightened with SPLM allied to President Salva Kiir asking SPLM-IO led by Dr. Riek Machar and Real SPLM under Pagan Amum to drop the SPLM acronyms.

SPLM Deputy Secretary for Political Affairs, Santo Malek Anai said the duo had already formed their own political organizations and are no longer having any business with them, thus they should rename their parties.

“Riek Machar has already established a political organization which is known by the IO but again we urge him to rename his child. Let him rename his new political party IO not SPLM-IO,” said Anai during a press conference on Wednesday.    

“The same case for Mr. Pagan Amum, the former Secretary General of the SPLM – he has already formed his political organization known by Real SPLM. Let him go with his new political organization known by Real but not Real SPLM,” he continued.

He cited that the political parties Act prohibited the use of one party’s name by different political organizations.

“We have political parties Act – which was endorsed in the parliament – one of the rules and regulation of the law of that Act; it does not allow the name of one party to be shared by many people,” said Anai. 

Mr. Anai further stated that in pursuant for the peace implementation, the name SPLM-IO will only remain in agreement until end of transitional period. He asserted that if Machar wants to join SPLM then he should apply for new membership subject to vetting and review.

“If he [Machar] wants to come then he has to apply as a new member to the SPLM which will undergo different considerations, that will be submitted to the leadership of the party to decide over his new membership, otherwise he has no more business with us,” Anai said.

He echoed that Arusha agreement has been fulfilled, as some splinter outfits like that led by Vice President for Infrastructure, Taban Deng Gai, and Former Detainees had rejoined.

Anai said the Political Bureau (PB) meeting has approved the replacement of the members of national Liberation Council members who died, incapacitated and those who defected politically to other parties.

At the same meeting, the PB chaired by President Salva Kiir also approved to expand the membership from initial 17 to 35 members for PB, and about 60 members to SPLM National Liberation Council.

SPLM factions such as the SPLM in-Government (SPLM-IG), SPLM In-Opposition (SPLM-IO), SPLM Democratic Change (SPLM-D), SPLM-Former Detainees (FDs) and the Real SPLM(R-SPLM) may have morphed out of what used to be the SPLM party that bears the honour of liberation; but the latest political overtures point to a political contest for the soul of the party.

It all started on October 20th 2022, when the SPLM Political Bureau resolved to replace SPLM-IO leader, Dr. Riek Machar, formerly the deputy chairman of the party and Pagan Amum, the former Secretary-General, from the party.

According to the PB, the two men were removed from the party under article 10 of the SPLM constitution.

“Article: 10 of the SPLM Constitution talks about the loss of membership. So, one of the grounds to lose SPLM membership is once you join a different political party” he said.

The move triggered a frank protest from SPLM-IO that termed the decision as “insignificant” in a statement issued on October 24th, adding that the SPLM-IG leadership had no powers to invoke such decisions. 

“We want to categorically state that none of these factions can claim to be the SPLM. As such, no faction can dismiss any member of the other factions from SPLM” the statement partially read.

“For more clarity, the SPLM is the three factions united together,” the SPLM-IO noted in the statement. 

With the parties taking a strong position and displaying readiness to do everything to have a link with the SPLM, it stated that the removal of Machar and Amum was a harm of the SPLM Reunification Agreement signed in Arusha, Tanzania in January 2015.

In 2013, conflict triggered a disintegration of the SPLM into four factions, namely: the mainstream SPLM, the SPLM-IO under Taban Deng, the SPLM-IO under Dr Riek Machar, and the SPLM-FDs.

The fractures came up in 2013 after a disputed meeting by the SPLM National Liberation Council when the leaders failed to agree on who should be the bearer of party flag in the 2015 election.

The conflict that erupted in 2013 was nullified by the peace agreement that kicked off in 2015 with a lot of violations until it was revitalized in 2018 with a new agreement—the R-ARCISS.

The party ended up being disjointed into groups, each bearing at least the SPLM acronyms.

The Sudan Peoples’ Liberation Movement (SPLM) was formed on May 16th 1983, as a rebel movement after the Sudanese government abandoned the Addis Ababa agreement signed between Gaafar Nimeiry’s government and the Anya-nya leader, Joseph Lagu, a Southerner.

The founders of the SPLM/A were Joseph Oduho, Kerubino Kuanyin Bol, William Nyuon Bany, Dr. John Garang, Samuel Abu John, Salva Kiir Mayardit, among others.

The SPLM gained its footing courtesy of the presence of the South Sudanese leaders of influence who had huge sway over the masses.

The movement signed CPA in 2005 that gave birth to the government of Southern Sudan (GOSS).

After six years of the interim period, elections were conducted in Sudan and South Sudan in 2010, where Salva Kiir flew the SPLM flag and won by a landslide to lead Southern Sudan.

Kiir defeated his rival Lam Akol, the chairperson of SPLM Democratic Change (SPLM-DC) in the 2010 election.

Comments are closed.