OpEd, Politics

Why do SPLM party flag-bearer endorsements open a political space?

By Ater Garang Ariath

Sudan’s People Liberation Movement’s (SPLM) recent political stroke in Western Bahr El Ghazal state has opened a political space for dialogue and debate across the country’s political lines and camps.

The regional-based political rally organized by four state governors of the greater Bahr El Ghazal region and the Chief Administrator of Abyei Area interestedly attracts massive support from a wider political spectrum.

It’s clearly indicated that the SPLM leadership and its cadres are really in high political spirits this time around in order to ensure the country and its people are on a new political and democratic horizon.

In recent days, the high-level leadership of the party has seemingly worked together with both senior and low-level cadres to return the party to its original founding core principle of political democratization.

Therefore, by officially endorsing President Salva Kiir Mayardit as a sole party presidential candidate for the anticipated general elections in 2024, we vindicate a mature political thinking yard, which calls for full play towards its logical ends.

This is indeed a commendable and influential political starting point, which in a real sense opens a political space for other political parties in the country to carry out similar events while waiting for the necessary legal guiding core documents to be put together in order to conduct free, fair, and credible elections in the country.

The old and new party gatekeepers should now rally faithfully behind President Salva Kiir Mayardit and ensure the SPLM returns to its original liberation ideals of unity, equality, and progress as guiding fundamental principles to its core tasks as a mass party.

What will define President Salva Kiir Mayardit and the SPLM in the forthcoming general elections are the circumstances and the people nominated to participate along with him on the party tickets in various levels of competition.

It is imperative for party leaders and cadres vying for various positions to prepare themselves highly for any political challenge under any circumstance, whether sought or unsought.

Therefore, at the ballot box, the only usable resources are votes, and the SPLM must clean its house before taking a big step towards its political future by ensuring that the hearts and minds of South Sudanese people both at home and abroad are secure and locked in with their own SPLM political keys.

The ideal party operations and its entire political work lie in how it fundamentally approaches issues from the grassroots, especially how the party leaders and workers portray the image of the party at all levels of its structures.

This is a challenge that cannot and will never be circumvented by the SPLM leaders especially national secretariat and other instrumental organs of party as well as the entire membership and supporters. And it will be a legacy to them too if they decisively embrace concerns and suggestions made by different constituents at lower levels of the party structures.

At a personal level, it is imperative to say that Sudan’s People Liberation Movement (SPLM) is the only viable rallying point for South Sudanese unified national political and ideological standpoints, given the fact that it has championed the war of independence.

This is a momentous movement in which party dissidents must seek a common ground for meaningful reforms through frank intra-party dialogue and constructive engagement with the party leadership at all levels.

As staunchest cadre of SPLM, I have often said to any despair cadre that SPLM and South Sudan as a country, because Sudan’s People Liberation Movement is South Sudan and South Sudan is SPLM, once South Sudanese forgo SPLM they equally forgoing South Sudan as a sovereign state.

Therefore, the SPLM leaders at all levels of the party structures have a very grave responsibility that lies on their shoulders as cadres of this historical party to explore all possible avenues for the unification of party membership and its leadership.

SPLM, as a historical party in the Republic of South Sudan, is the only rallying point per the current political context to organically rejuvenate political activities for advocating South Sudanese people’s welfare and their interests locally, regionally, and internationally.

It is an exceptional call for all nationalists and patriotic South Sudanese citizens to mobilize their total manpower and resources behind the SPLM so that the party realizes it’s ideal mission and ideology in delivering law-based governance in an independent state.

Believe me! Without the SPLM there will be no force through which good leaders can focus the needs and desires of the South Sudanese masses.

The Sudan’s People Liberation Movement (SPLM) will ultimately be that force if we as members, return to the party’s ideal objectives.

I am strongly convinced that SPLM is the hard core of us, especially those of us who are so dedicated to its ideology and programmes, for which we must make our membership the most serious business of  our entire lives.

Nevertheless, the SPLM is nothing but the vanguard of the people, the active organ of the people, working at all times in the service of the South Sudanese people.

As I underlined this national duty, which binds all of us as members of the SPLM and citizens of this great nation, we should be doing things that will return us to the party’s overarching principles.

Likely, we are going to face well-financed opponents in the upcoming general elections, and this is a time for SPLM party leadership to tour all regions, ten states, and administrative areas to amend our political fences at grassroots levels.

The party leadership should initiate serious, sincere, and open intra-party dialogue regarding the unity of the party and the South Sudanese people after a meaningless war that deflected necessary efforts and resources towards building a peaceful, law-based, and prosperous country.

The common men and women in South Sudan are desperately calling for unification of their historical party, which brought independence, although some wrong elements from the party structures turned enemies within by sidetracking from the party’s objectives, vision, and mission.

However, it is imperative for all of us to work hand in hand for the unification our beloved party by presenting our constructive criticisms to avoid party-initiated wars in the country.

Our leadership should define its position on the unity of the party, earnestly discuss the obstacles and impediments standing in the way, and ensure the required guarantees are in place to implement the intra-SPLM Arusha agreement.

There is a great need for SPLM leadership to hold a political symposium on the unification of the party prior to preparations for the 2024 general elections.

The future of South Sudan as a sovereign state is entirely dependent on the SPLM, of which we should endeavor as members to explore and gauge the intentions of the other political entities on the question of unity, equality, and the well-being of our people.

It should be a meaningful debate with the objective of reversing the current trends that plunged our nation into a destructive war of power struggles.

The proposed political parties conference or symposium will address issues of governance and national identity, defined to be respected all South Sudanese political parties as national character.

The polarization of the SPLM into many political parties should only be avoided if we return our beloved historical party to its ideal fundamental objectives and ideology.

The party’s highest organs need to be reorganized accordingly and some staunchest cadres who are well-vast with the ideal mission of the party promoted to the top brass so that they can fix the current situation within the party structures.

The unity of the SPLM as the biggest political force in the country can be equated to the unity of the South Sudanese people. It will be our only hope to avoid another surge of violence within the party system, as happened in 2013.

The party skirmish, which further widened the gap among different warring communities and precipitated a tense and uncalled volatile political atmosphere ridden with the exchange of mutual accusations as each member of the SPLM faction blamed the other for leading the country back to war, should be avoided altogether.

The regional parties several attempts at bridging the gap and bringing back the SPLM factions on track in order to complete the job left by our martyrs of the independence liberation struggle needed necessary reinforcement by all party senior leaders and cadres.

As I am fully aware, the SPLM leadership has been at war since its inception in 1983, and this trend should be avoided if the party is to cater to the welfare of its incoming generations.

“The violence-led leadership struggle within SPLM is deep-rooted, and it needs need selfless leadership style to address the matter neatly; otherwise, crises of leadership struggle will continue to exist.

Why is internal dialogue required?

If the leadership of the SPLM is indeed in quest for unification,

of its ranks and files, then the party is obliged to immediately initiate internal dialogue in reference to the resolutions made in Arusha before the general elections next year.

The SPLM, as the biggest ruling political entity in South Sudan, is now tasked with building national characters, which will pave the way for national political cohesion, which most of us lack as South Sudanese people.

Frankly speaking, most of us are still in hot tribal cocoons, which now seem to have upper hand over our national threads, which are supposed to bind us together as South Sudanese citizens. Are there chances for reconciliation and unification of the SPLM?

Optimistically, chances for reconciliation and unification of the SPLM are there only if the party returns to its vision and makes the reforms necessary for national interest and objectives.

SPLM needs to promote its cadres rather than recruited an old politically oriented politicians from other political parties, who imported their ideals and ideologies that clash with SPLM core transcendent values.

The reorganization of SPLM should only be realized if we care much as a political party about our core members, especially when the party takes them into consideration in its programmes.

One of my comrades, prior to the writing of this opinion piece, concurred with me saying that the unity of the SPLM is our hope, but another pitfall towards general elections scheduled in 2024 is no longer needed in in South Sudan political landscape. He firmly flashed back on several rifts within the SPLM since its inception.

The resolutions on the political issues must be resolved by the time in order for the SPLM leadership to make a public apology to the people of South Sudan for what has happened since December 15th, 2013, of which President Salva Kiir made during extra ordinary convention in Juba apologized.

The resolution also cited that, there shall be established new transitional structures of the SPLM, develop and implement a comprehensive programme for national unity, peace, reconciliation, healing, and promoting harmony among the people of South Sudan.

Nevertheless, all three SPLM groups were supposed to commit themselves to unification and reconciliation of the SPLM leadership and membership according to the agreement, but the current trend shows that unification of the SPLM is a tough thing to attain.

Only two groups, which were signatories to the intra-SPLM dialogue, seemed.

in recent days to be working together on the future of the party. The unity that we desperately need as South Sudanese will not come until the “SPLM House is united”.

Lastly, the SPLM’s recent political rally that sought President Salva

Kiir Mayardit’s endorsement is welcomed in good spirit, as we witnessed a sea of SPLM supporters painted Wau-Red on that historic day. Congratulations to the organizers!

The SPLM national secretariat is a vitally important political unit.

which its recommendations for the spirit of reform must be supported wholeheartedly by the leadership and its membership.

A measure of popular demand, especially institutionalization of our house, should be the duty of all the cadres and the leadership to serve the greater interest of the South Sudanese people and country.

The writer is a veteran South Sudanese journalist, SPLM cadre, and former Secretary General of the defunct Aweil East State, living in the Republic of South Sudan, Juba. He can be reached at atergarang452@gmail.com.

Comments are closed.