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Sudan Tribune

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South Sudan opposition leader pledges unconditional cooperation

October 2, 2011 (JUBA) – Lam Akol Ajawin, the leader of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement for Democratic Change (SPLM-DC) – South Sudan’s official opposition political party – on Sunday pledged unconditional cooperation with the government and president Salva Kiir Mayardit in order to foster unity and development of the new nation.

SPLM-DC's leader Lam Akol (L) and South Sudan's president Salva Kiir (R) hold a surprise meeting in Nairobi, Kenya. 29 September 2011. Source (
SPLM-DC’s leader Lam Akol (L) and South Sudan’s president Salva Kiir (R) hold a surprise meeting in Nairobi, Kenya. 29 September 2011. Source (
Speaking to journalists at Juba International Airport upon arrival from the Kenyan capital of Nairobi on Sunday, he said he was “happy” to be back in the capital of the new republic of South Sudan.

Akol’s return comes after he met with Kiir in Nairobi to discuss political issues that were blocking his return to the country from Khartoum.

Since Akol split from the SPLM in 2009 to form his own party, SPLM-DC has been banned and accused of having an illegal militia loyal to it. However, despite claiming its agents and candidates were harassed, SPLM-DC became the largest opposition party after elections in 2010.

Despite South Sudan becoming independent in July Akol has maintained an office in Khartoum the Sudanese capital. He told journalists that the issues that had kept him from returning were “not big” and that was “grateful” that Kiir had understood his concerns.

The SPLM and SPLM-DC have spent much of the last two years attempting to tarnish each others image, which reportedly had led to deep mistrust among leaders and followers of the two parties.

However Akol said on Sunday that he and Kiir “agreed that as new nation, in building it we need to cooperate, we need to work together, we need to have consensus on how we approach the challenges that are facing our country.”

“Nobody however small is not important in this exercise (building the nation). This is the understanding we have and therefore I hope that as I come as the leader of the SPLM-DC, we will, as opposition party, cooperates with
the government and especially the president”, said Akol.

Akol argued that opposition parties were an important part of democracies and said some people were under the “misconception that the opposition and the government don’t come together”.

“Democracy calls for opposition and government” to act as a mirror and hold the executive to account, he said.

Elections in South Sudan in 2010 saw an overwhelming vote establishing the SPLM as the ruling party. The SPLM had governed South Sudan as an autonomous region of Sudan since a 2005 peace deal.

Akol said SPLM-DC would be ready to extend a hand of cooperation to the government and the president in order to “precede with the dreams and
ambitions, aspirations” of South Sudan, which for decades has suffered due to conflict.

“It is our duty as sons and daughters of this nation to build it so that our people could get what they want so that prosperity could record”, said Akol

General Alfred Lado Gore, minister of environment in the central government who was at Juba International Airport to greet Akol told Sudan Tribune he appreciated his return.

“This is the only way forward. I welcome Dr. Lam home because politics is best played while one is able to see what is being done. We want those who will keep reminding the party in power all the time through constructive and not destructive politics”, said Gore.

Gore said that constructive opposition and allowing communities and diverse groups to be heard was how democracy is conducted around the world and South Sudan should not be an exception. “There is no point we can endanger lives of our people simply because we are not agreeing on certain agenda,” added Gore.

The main source of hostility and bickering originates from the 2010 elections when Akol stood against Kiir for the presidency of South Sudan. Akol and the SPLM-DC felt that the results had been tampered with in favour of the SPLM and claimed they had won far more votes and seats in parliament.

Onyoti Adigo, the leader of the SPLM-DC in the National Assembly commended the reconciliation initiative.

“It is a great joy and honour for what president of the South Sudan did by meeting with our chairman. The meeting was very cordial and friendly”, said Adigo claiming that Akol and president Kiir were great friends.

“Their meeting in Nairobi was very encouraging indeed that was why they met without any third power or third person to bring them together”, he said

The senior SPLM-DC member said the invitation to meet from president Kiir was accepted immediately by Akol. Adigo maintained that Akol received no assurances before his return.

He said the main things the SPLM-DC leader wants to achieve is the achievement of the unity of the people of South Sudan in order to build the nation. “That is number one thing which we think it is very important. The second thing is how we deliver service to our community because they are with great expectations”, he said.

Defection of senior SPLM-DC members

Adigo accused individual members with the South Sudan’s ruling party, the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) of instilling fear by threatening some members of the SPLM-DC.

He said that other politicians who moved back to the SPLM was gain a position in the government. The SPLM congratulated the defectors and “described them as nationalists”, Adigo said.