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SPLM senior official rules out reconciliation during Saturday NLC meeting

December 12, 2013 (JUBA) – A senior member of the South Sudan’s governing Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) has ruled out the possibility of addressing the leadership crisis and reconciling two rivaling groups of the party during the upcoming meeting of the National Liberation Council (NLC) scheduled for Saturday.

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SPLM senior leaders holding a press conference to discuss the actions of party chairman and South Sudanese president Salva Kiir, on 6 December 2013 in Juba (ST)

Martin Majut Yak, the secretary for Popular and Syndicated Organizations in the national secretariat said the meeting would be strictly for passing the four basic documents namely the party constitution, manifesto, code of conduct and rules and regulations.

He explained that there will be no item on the agenda in the NLC meeting to try and resolve the current differences between the two groups in the leadership until the third National Convention next year.

Speaking to Eye radio FM on Friday morning show, the party official further explained that after the NLC meeting, the leadership will go ahead and organize congresses in all the states in preparation for the next year’s convention.

“The meeting will be for passing the basic documents. If there are any differences in the party leadership, they will be tackled in the National Convention…After NLC meeting the party will go ahead with the organization of congresses” Yak said.

On 6 December, dozens of members from the SPLM’s highest executive organ, the Political Bureau (PB) and NLC called on South Sudan’s president and party chairman, Salva Kiir, to first call for the PB meeting in order to set the agenda for the NLC in accordance with the ordinary party procedures.

The group which included the former vice president, Riek Machar, suspended party secretary general, Pagan Amum and Rebecca Nyandeng de Mabior, widow of late SPLM founder, John Garang de Mabior, among others, also accused Kiir of “dictatorial tendencies” by dissolving or ignoring the party’s official organs.

They decried Kiir’s unilateral actions in which he instead directed the state governors to select their respective party committees of their liking to organize for various party congresses prior to the National Convention.

They called for a public rally on Saturday, 14 December in order to enlighten the public about the party’s affairs.

Observers say Kiir has got no significant support in the 19-membership of the Political Bureau organ, which explains the intention to avoid its meetings.

Yak however said it was up to the other concerned SPLM group to whether or not participate in the Saturday meeting of the 160+ membership of the NLC, saying the meeting will go ahead as planned.

In a counter-press conference by the other group led by the vice president, James Wani Igga, also second deputy chairman, they accused Machar of trying to imitate the 1991 split.

Robecca Nyandeng de Mabior, presidential advisor and member of the Political Bureau, however responded on Bakhita radio FM on Tuesday, rebuking those who were still recalling the past differences in 1991 in order to blackmail others, urging them to instead address the current challenges facing the party and its leadership.

The Saturday abrupt schedule was seen as disrupting the planned public rally by the other party officials.

REACTIONS FROM THE PUBLIC

The revelations by the SPLM official on the status quo raised a number of questions and concerns from the citizens who threw various questions directly to him.

Alfred Gai Thot, a resident in Juba, wondered why some in the party leadership don’t want the politburo to meet first and set the agenda for the NLC.

“Why do you avoid Political Bureau meeting first before the National Liberation Council takes place? Will you resolve differences in the NLC meeting?” he asked the SPLM official.

“I don’t like the way the vice president [Wani Igga] responded to the press conference held by the other group, dismissing their concerns as those outside the government. I hope the NLC will be reconciliatory,” commented another, Charles.

Ezekiel from Central Equatoria state was also concerned that the “rushed” meeting of the NLC without PB organ setting the agenda first may not bear the desired fruits.

“Why do you meet as NLC before meeting as PB? Will this not bring problems? Secondly, the language used by the vice-president [Wani Igga] was not a responsible language,” he told the official.

(ST)