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Rather than address the issues raised, he went into a windy talk the only thing that comes out clearly from it is the blame he leveled against SUNA for having allowed its premises to be used for holding the press conference.
To begin with, we would like to inform Yasir and Co. that we are not "Lam Akol's group" as came in his statement. We have never been a group of any sort. We came together to defend ourselves from his persistent media attacks against us. As expected, Yasir saw the hand of the National Congress Party (NCP) behind the whole idea of the press conference and bitterly blamed it for organizing the conference as it was for organizing the Kenena meeting. The purpose of this statement is to set the record straight that Yasir and his group have messed up the SPLM, especially in the Northen Sector, now he wants to patronize the Southerners and has nobody but himself to blame for his blunders and arrogance.
Yasir Arman looks down on Southerners and thinks he is their mentor. Otherwise, who is he to make pronouncements on whether or not Southerners should meet to discuss their affairs? Does his being with some Southerners render him superior to all Southerners simply because he is a Northerner?
Let Yasir be told that the time of lording over Southerners is long gone. Southerners are able to think for themselves and handle their affairs without Northerners. So, please keep away from affairs connected with the South and Southerners. We say this because Yasir was the most vocal against the idea of holding the Kenana meeting. Yes, he did not discuss the substance of the meeting but launched a scathing attack on the idea even before the meeting began. Without delving into too much details about the Kenana meeting, the following obvious facts need to be stated. This is not in order to persuade Yasir and his ilk but to avail the facts to the general public he is trying hard to mislead.
In the first place, the allegation that the Kenana meeting was organized and financed by the NCP is as absurd as it is ludicrous. Again, the patronizing sub-conscious mind of a mediocre Northerner is at work here: Southerners cannot think for themselves and are poor to the extent that they are unable to pay for their political activities. If you look at the list of those who took part in the Kenana meeting, they are intellectuals and, apart from three or four who are youth, hold senior constitutional positions in the land. They have the mental ability to conceive the idea of the meeting and the resources to pay for the paltry amount of money needed for a three-day meeting inside the country, e.g., Kenana.
As to why Kenana was chosen as the venue, one may retort: why not? Kenana has been a convenient resort for holding important meetings in the country, the last of which was the one on the Sudanese Initiative to Resolve the Darfur Conflict. So, what is the fuss about Southerners meeting in Kenana?
Regarding those who took part in the meeting and as to why it was X and not Y, the answer is simple. It is the democratic right of any group of people to associate with themselves and nobody can force anybody else on them. Hence, what is the quarrel about?
The meeting was not secretive in anyway. A press statement about it and its purpose was released before it commenced (See the "Khartoum Monitor" newspaper dated 1/4/2009). It was made clear that the meeting would evaluate the performance of the Government of Southern Sudan (GOSS) for the last four years and that the conclusions arrived at will be delivered to the President of GOSS. This is what exactly happened, the noise made by Yasir and Co. not withstanding. The group let their imagination go wild and began to spread damaging rumours that Kenana was a coup d'etat to depose General Salva Kiir from the office of the President of GOSS. Even if they wished, could a coup be staged from Kenana? Salva will not be overthrown by those who give him genuine advice on how to run the South, such as those who met in Kenana, but by those, like Yasir and his group who flatter him and supply him with all kinds of disinformation. It is the right of the governed to communicate with their President on public affairs, especially on how they are being governed.
So much for Kenana. We now turn to the press conference held at the SUNA forum on Wednesday the 22nd instant. Once more, Yasir blames the NCP for it. In fact, he seems to be angry as to why it was allowed to take place. In other words, Yasir wants to gag any opinion contrary to his. Yet he shouts every day at rooftops and at the top of his voice about democratic transformation and democratic freedoms. This exposes his bogus pretensions. Yasir knows that SUNA forum is available for rent for anybody who wants to use it. Should it be denied to us because Yasir and his group do not want us to speak out?
It would have been more useful and healthy for the Sudanese people if Yasir addressed the issues raised rather than look for scapegoats. Facts will not disappear simply because he wants to sweep them under the carpet.
Everybody in the SPLM, especially in the Northern Sector, knows quite well how Yasir has messed up the SPLM in the North. It is bewildering how the SPLM leadership has been taken for a ride for so long and allows such a mess to continue despite the daily protests against Yasir in all the SPLM offices in all the states of the North. Of course, he will say that this is the work of the NCP, but is that really so?
The obvious fact that is seen by all is that no Northern intellectual nor politician of weight has ever joined the SPLM since Yasir took over that office of the Northern Sector. In fact, many of them did leave or suspended their activities in the Movement. Is this glaring fact oblivious to the SPLM leadership? These respectable Northerners could not join or continue to work because of the attitude of Yasir who is after personal loyalty rather than loyalty to the SPLM. The same way he flatters he wants to be flattered! He feels so inadequate before these intellectuals and political giants and hence makes things difficult for them to be in the SPLM. Furthermore, his agenda is to settle scores with the NCP and not to cooperate with it as provided for in the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA). Intellectuals cannot buy this destructive line. For Yasir to consolidate this line, he stacked the ranks of the Northern Sector with communists and renegades of the NCP who have an axe to grind with the NCP, at the expense of those members of the SPLM who would want to faithfully implement the CPA.
Yasir prides himself and boasts publicly that he has the ear of the Chairman of the SPLM. This is why he believes that he can play intrigues against anybody in the party with impunity. Even his immediate senior, the Secretary General, was not spared by him. He was the first to announce in July 2008 that the Chairman of the SPLM had put his name forward as candidate for the office of the President of the Republic in the upcoming general elections, which turned out not to be true to the embarrassment of all in the SPLM. Yasir was the architect of the fiasco which took place in the SPLM's National Convention in May/June 2008 when he persuaded his chums that he had all the delegates from the Northern Sector, about five hundred of them, in his pocket and will use them to remove Dr Riek Machar from his position as the First Deputy Chairman of the SPLM. When the move threatened to split the SPLM, those Northerners saw sense and they evaporated from Yasir's pocket to stand with the rest of the delegates in the Convention to save the party's soul. We are fully aware that he is still continuing with these plots against Dr Riek Machar. The man is bent on dividing the Southern leaders. After fall of all the masks from his face, what value does the SPLM leadership have in such a charlatan?
Yasir said in his press statement that the NCP has been responsible for the split of a number of political parties. Grant it that this is true. The question is: is Yasir serving the cause of the NCP by working to split the SPLM?
Was it the NCP that dismissed Cdes Telar Deng and Aleu Ayieny in December 2007? Was it the NCP that was serving the media with information against prominent members of the SPLM? Was it the NCP that was feeding the press all this time about internal procedures within the SPLM? Was it the NCP that created discord within the SPLM leadership? Was it the NCP that is responsible for the SPLM now washing its linen in public?
Yasir must stop passing blame to others. It is him and his group that are working hard to divide the SPLM. He will not hoodwink anybody.
Yasir sees the exercise of the right of self-determination by the people of Southern Sudan in 2011 as marking the end of his self grandeurs. That development is certain to reduce him to size. This is why he is fighting tooth and nail to obstruct the process. Of course, he cannot dare to come out to express that openly but all his actions lead to that conclusion. The issues we raised in the press statement and conference throw sufficient light on this matter.
The unity of the SPLM is paramount and all must work hard to maintain it. This can only be done if divisive elements such as Yasir and his group are reined in. Their language of ‘expulsion' and ‘dismissal' is alien to the SPLM and is the surest way to disintegration. Its use must therefore be discontinued. Even at the height of the SPLM/A's split in 1991-2003, the late leader of the Movement, Dr John Garang, never dismissed anybody from the SPLM/A. From where did they come up with this language? Nobody took permission from anybody to join the SPLM, and therefore nobody can deny anyone its membership.
The SPLM must also be careful in choosing its spokespersons. A Movement with such a rich history and time-tested and experienced leaders cannot have as its spokespersons very young and inexperienced personalities. A Spokesperson is not just to convey the official position of the party or institution concerned, but is mainly a person who will command respect because of his/her knowledge of the party extending over a number of years and ability to be seen as an epitome of that party in many respects. It is one of the most important positions in any party.
To recap, Yasir Arman and his group have messed up the SPLM in the Northern Sector and he wants to venture into the South now. He should leave the South and Southerners alone and concentrate on resolving the countless problems he has created in the North. Through his divisive politics, Yasir is entirely responsible for the washing of the SPLM's linen in public. He must be held to account for nobody is above the party.
We promise Yasir that any statement he makes in the media will be met with the same force.
Hon. Dr Lam Akol
Hon. Manoah Aligo
Hon. Ghazi Suleiman, the Advocate.
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