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South Sudan Conflict: SPLM is the problem and the solution

By Tor Madira Machier,

Since its inception more than 30 years ago, the fractured Sudan People’s Liberation Movement, the SPLM has been the reason for the suffering the South Sudanese have been enduring both before and after the independence in July 2011. It also let the Southern region of Sudan into becoming an independent nation in July 2011.

As of today, June 2017, the SPLM is fractured into more than three factions both caring the name SPLM and each group talking change. The SPLM -In-Government the SPLM-in-Opposition, the SPLM - Former Detainees, and formerly the SPLM-DC (now Democratic Change Party) all originated from the SPLM formed by Dr John Garang in 1983. All were created out of disagreements and party infighting fueled by rivalry, regionalism and struggle for power.

All the factions mentioned above are led by SPLM officials who fell out with the party Chairman over reforms or over a disagreement over running the party affairs.

As a matter of fact, all the powerful South Sudanese politicians are members of the fractured SPLM Party and so the power is divided among the SPLM factions. Since the SPLM is the most popular and the most powerful South Sudanese political entity, and since the current South Sudan conflict is a result of the SPLM Party infighting and rivalry, you cannot solve the South Sudanese conflict without bringing together the SPLMs who disagreed in 2013.

The party leaders have never been peaceful to each other since the inception of the party in 1983 as a political and military movement. Leaders who felt humiliated either defect to form their own party, or run internal resistance. As the saying goes "when elephants fight it is the grass that suffers", when the SPLM leaders disagree, the victim is the South Sudanese citizen. And the South Sudanese citizen will still have to wait for a solution from the SPLM leaders despite being the reason for the suffering.

Although there are voices who disagree with the fact that the SPLM will be the solution, there are many who resonate with the sentiment. The fact that the powerful figures of the nation are from the SPLM, compels the South Sudanese people to run after the SPLM party either against the party in times of war or in support of the party in times of peace.

The 1991 SPLM split killed thousands of South Sudanese and displaced millions of South Sudanese. And for the suffering of the South Sudanese to be called off, the SPLM factions who disagreed in 1991 had to agree in 2002 to come together to embrace peace and had to unify their vision for the South for them to agree.

A rebellion against Dr John Garang by Salva Kiir was called off after Dr Machar offered to negotiate almost after the rebellion could take effect in 2004 so as to avoid humanitarian crisis and to preserve the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) that gave the South the right to self-determination to decide by January 2011 to either break away or remain under one, but reformed Sudan.

Dr John Garang and Salva Kiir agreed to come together to embrace peace so unwanted humanitarian crisis should not be experienced by the South Sudanese people as the nation close-in to witness the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in Naivasha Kenya. As Dr John Garang said in an interview with the Egyptian journalist, Ahmed Seed, that "The SPLM, as the name explains, depends on the Sudanese people", the South Sudanese people have been the food basket for the SPLM. For the whole 21 years of struggle, the SPLM got the food for its military from food collected, either by the will of the citizen or by force of the arm, from the people of South Sudan.

Dr Lam Akol Ajawin, the former Chairman of the SPLM for Democratic Change who fled South Sudan to form the SPLM-DC faction of the SPLM in 2009 had to return to South Sudan to share government with the SPLM faction led by Salva Kiir after independence.

This conflict going on in South Sudan will never be ended with one faction of the SPLM factions being excluded. For the government of Salva Kiir’s SPLM-IG faction to bring this war to an end, it MUST accept to embrace other factions of the SPLM Party without exceptions. As the SPLM was the problem the SPLM will be the solution for a genuine peace to take effect.

Let the SPLM leaders unite their visions like they did in 2002 so the suffering of the South Sudanese people is thwarted.

Tor Madira Machier is a South Sudanese Columnist living in Cairo, Egypt. He can be reached through his email: tormadira2013@gmail.com or at his blog: tormachier.blogspot.com