Saturday, December 4, 2021

Sudan Tribune

Plural news and views on Sudan

Do Not Provoke a Sleeping Dog: Response to Dr Lam Akol

By: Josephine Joseph Lagu

Recently, Dr. Lam Akol Ajawin, leader of the National Democratic Movement, NDM has been at arms with the South Sudan Opposition Alliance (SSOA), making media statements and interviews castigating the way the alliance has handled some political issues. Through these media outlets, Dr. Lam has been venting outrage against SSOA. These rants have been so persistent that a response is required in order to set the records clear. This response, therefore, will tackle three thematic areas that Dr. Lam has been using to discredit SSOA. He alleges that: 1) the procedure for nomination of the Vice President was wrong; 2) the ministers who were appointed to the R-TGONU on SSOA ticket are not competent; and 3) SSOA has been compromised by the TGONU and has lost its credibility.

Procedure for Nomination of the Vice President

The cause of the failure of SSOA to nominate a person for the post of vice president was Dr. Lam. In June 2019 the chairperson had appointed a Criteria Development Committee which was tasked to develop criteria on how the positions in R-TGONU accrued to SSOA as per the agreement would be shared among the various member organizations in SSOA. This work of this committee was to kick-start the process of allocating the various positions. Amid many challenges, this committee did come up with a draft of the criteria to be discussed by the SSOA leaders. During the session meant to discuss the draft, NDM members opposed the draft and instead presented another draft, which they claimed was better and should be adopted. This draft was rubbished by the other members, hence the meeting made no headway on the criteria. When a proposal for another meeting was floated in October 2019 for the same purpose, Dr. Lam claimed that the meeting was not necessary because the government was not going to be formed, and even if it was to be formed then he would not be part of it. Dr. Lams intrigues aimed at stalling the process continued up to the time when the names for vice president where required to be submitted. Most of the SSOA leaders, based on the fact that this process had dragged on for too long without any accomplishment preferred that all names of the members of SSOA who would like to contest for the post of vice president be listed and submitted to the President, who is the appointing authority. With the exception of Dr. Lam, this idea was supported by seven leaders out of eight. The wisdom that most of leaders based their decision was that in view the endless loop of machinations and intrigues perpetuated by Dr. Lam and his NDM, more time would not yield anything better. Moreover, formation of the R-TGONU was overdue and the rest of the parties to the agreement had presented their candidates except SSOA. Any further delay would, therefore, not only hold the process of formation of R-TGONU hostage and portray SSOA as not promoting peace that our people badly need, but it would also be a violation of the agreement by not meeting the deadline.

The claim that the President is a party to the agreement and for him to choose the vice president was wrong is baseless. First, the president would choose from among the SSOA leaders, not from outside SSOA. The SSOA Charter affirms that all SSOA member organizations are equal and all SSOA leaders are equal. By this is implied that they have equal rights. Unless Dr. Lam indirectly propagates the principle of the “Animal Farm” where some animals are more equal than others, if the president chooses any of the members, it is as good as if the SSOA leaders choose that person by themselves.

Incompetence of Ministers

The claim by Dr Lam that the SSOA ministers are incompetent is predicated on the false assumption that he is better qualified than any other person. This false assumption was manifested last year when his NDM team came with draft criteria which was simply intended to disqualify all members of SSOA from contesting for the post of vice president except Dr Lam. In that bogus criteria presented by NDM, for instance, the person to contest for vice president should be highly educated, served in a ministerial position for some time, etc. Therefore, by saying that the ministers are incompetent, he is manifesting his intrinsic agenda of imposing himself on the rest. If members of the alliance are equal as born in the Charter, then Dr. Lam has no right to question the competence of other members. Questioning members’ competence actually tantamount to an insult on these members. Besides, as he has always bragged in the media of having been the first to conceive the idea of forming SSOA, why then did he choose to ally with incompetent people. Why didn’t he do it alone. It all boils to that hidden agenda of riding on others.

SSOA has been Absorbed by TGONU

The claim that SSOA has been compromised by government and is singing to the government tune is absurd and is intended to solicit cheap political sympathy. The R-ARCSS is a political partnership deed and the five parties that signed it have agreed to work together to implement it in letter and spirit in order to deliver peace to the people of South Sudan. To Dr Lam, this partnership should mean endless disagreements and no compromises. That is not how politics work, especially when you are dealing with a situation where your innocent citizens are facing devastating effects of civil war and are anxiously looking upon their leaders to bring peace. SSOA will continue to work in partnership with the other parties to implement the agreement and whenever possible, do it through consensus and compromises. That is what is meant by the spirit of the agreement. It is not only about the letter, because there is more that we need to do among ourselves as leaders in order to bring about sustainable peace than what is written on paper.

Lastly, SSOA is an alliance of various political groups with common goals, though the strategies may be divergent. Differences in strategy should not be a cause for name-calling. In one media interviews, Dr Lam was considering to make an alliance with other groups with whom he can work. Perhaps this explains why last year he travelled to Rome to attend the peace talks between government and SOMA. In this case, he needs to come out and declare where his allegiance lies, instead of double-dealing.

The author is the Chairperson of SSOA.