By James Okuk

audience.jpgI was not unrealistic in my article two months ago that the Second SPLM convention will be a hard test in Democratic Transformation within before becoming qualified to point five clean fingers to other deformed political parties of the Sudan. Actually, from what occurred in Juba the SPLM failed the test by mocking the awaited democracy.


My unceasing wonder is: why do we have to waste a lot of money, much time, more energy and valuable human lives just for a pretentious democracy that is camouflaged with dictatorial tendencies? Why do SPLM leadership preach what they do not live? Why don’t we be sincere with our condition and kick democracy back to where it was imported to us into Africa and to Sudan?


The SPLM wasted a lot of money for the grass-roots Congresses in the Southern Sector only to adopt the method of the National Congress Party (NCP), where delegates are assembled in order to pay allegiance to Mr. Al-Beshir and his cronies who are skinned with democratic masks but fleshed and boned with despotism. Over thousand delegates were accommodated in expensive hotels in Juba just to appoint (not elect) 275 members of the National Liberation Council (NLC) where Mr. Kiir had 30 nominees, and I do not know exactly how many nominees Dr. Riek and other Deputies  had. I do not know what or who are the NLC going to liberate when the CPA’s era is a time for reconciliation rather than liberation. It would have been relevant to the context if it was named National Reconciliation Council (NRC). Alas! The SPLM has become the NCP in the South. Cry the beloved Democracy while the delegates of the people tack their tails in Juba to allow the birds of the same feathers to flock in leading this credible historic Movement to I do-not-know-where!


The compromise which was reached to retain the status quo of the SPLM’s leadership structure was a welcome move by the delegates in Juba. Of course, it was a good calculation for tribal harmony but a bad one for the quest for democratic transformation. Notwithstanding, it looked wise to choose harmony and sacrifice democracy if that could maintain the current state of ‘no-war’ and ‘no-peace’ in Southern Sudan. But how long is the South going to bear the burdens of such status quo of hopelessness where the so-called leaders are trying to be intelligent with stupid decisions?


Thanks to Dr. Lam Akol for having championed the move against the conspiracy of Yasser Arman who wanted to change the old structure in order to show Dr. Riek Machar the door out from the party’s hierarchy, simply because of the retrieved animosities of 1991 SPLM/A split. It would have been a good move if Arman’s conspiracy was for democracy rather than sympathy-seeking for emotional wooing of short-sighted Southerners (Junubin) who easily forget their situation in order to please the Jellaba (Arabs) by keeping the unattractive unified Sudan. The pro-unionists managed to impose their treachery into the revised constitution where it was affirmed that unity of the Sudan is the strategic (not tactical) choice of the SPLM; a party which has been nurtured by the blood of the South Sudan’s martyrs in the struggle for its independence. What a joke to Junubin! For how long will the Jellaba continue to think that they are more cunning than Southerners? For how long will they continue to perceive Junubin as slaves who are born to be deceived and used for achieving non-Junubin interests?


I am a southerner and I do not believe nor will I accept to be indoctrinated that I am born to be deceived. I do not want Dependent New Sudan. I only want Independent South Sudan. Do you love the interest of South Sudan if you are a real Junubi? I will be happy to give Yasser Arman, Dr. Monsour Khalid and etc., a South Sudan Nationality and Passport, comes 2012 if they help Southerners to prepare for the independence rather than confusing them for pursuing illusive ideology of New Sudan where the Arabs, the Africans and the Mixed will continue to live in bondages of conflicts and illogical wars.


Mr. Arman and the Jellaba who are members of the SPLM have forgotten that tribal affiliations and loyalties are still fresh reality for Junubin. They failed to detect this in the wording confrontation that has been going on among Southerners in reference to who should lead the SPLM after the 2nd Convention. You can feel the danger that could have emerged if Arman’s proposal was adopted blindly by Southerners. For example, a SPLA General leaves Juba for his homeland saying he would want to hear the exit of Dr. Riek and the entry of Mr. Taban Deng into the SPLM leadership hierarchy when he is on the ground. What does this mean in military language?


Mr. Arman was very enthusiastic for uncontestable endorsement of the current Chairman and electing a Single Deputy – preferably a puppet one who is a parrot than a leader. However, he forgot that the Northern Sector was carrying big sticks in its two eyes that required to be removed first before taking out the peg in the one eye of the Southern Sector. Mr. Arman brought the delegates from the Northern Sector to the Convention in an undemocratic way and in a ‘glass-house’ with the aim of endorsing (unopposed) undemocratically Mr. Salva as well. He chose the voters rather than allowing the voters to choose who they wanted to delegate to the Convention. This brought disquiet amongst the delegates in Juba: why should the Southern Sector carry people’s choices while at the same time the Northern Sector carried Mr. Arman’s choices? This was a bad idea of double standard because it mocks the desired and long awaited democratic transformation within political parties before they opt to rule the country.


The funny thing was that Mr. Salva Kiir did not protest for this anomaly from the Northern Sector. This was simply because he looked at them as his chosen voters since Arman had endorsed his leadership for a second chance. Kiir decided to get into that glass-house from the North, but only to find himself scared with big stones in the hands of Dr. Riek and Mr. Nhial. He jumped out quickly from that imported glass-house and entered the locally made thatched house of Southern Sector. Welcome back Mayardit!


This wavering suggests that Mr. Kiir did not trust the Southern Sector in the first place. And by not trusting the Southern Sector – which was the people’s choice by democratic delegation – Kiir portrayed his lack of confidence in the people of Southern Sudan for his leadership. This was not good from Joshua; he should have appreciated the support that Southerners have given him, so far and so good, in spite of his leadership weakness. I was one of those who lobbied for Kiir to be given a second chance and indeed I am happy that he got it.  Congratulations to my leader! But…. I hope next time our Chairman, His Excellency Mayardit, will not concede to any tendency for no-confidence in Southerners. If he does not change this tendency of pleasing the Northerners in the expense of the Southerners, then it would be better for him to convert to…. and leave Junubin alone with their focus on how to cut the South Sudan from the North in 2011. I hope Kiir is learning from the mess on the job. This is the last chance to see how he can do better and people are ready to help him if he changes his chameleon behavior of ‘ruling-ship’. Junubin will not forgive him again if he repeats the same mistakes in future. 2009 is not very far and so Kiir needs to become extra careful in tempering with Junubin’s interests. Some of them are just accepting suffering in silence and waiting for revenge in the ballot boxes if the disappointment continues; even if threatened with bullet boxes.


The reconciliatory move of Dr. Lam backed by advice from some good Americans, has saved the SPLM from the election fever, panics, and threats, which could have impaired the chance for a stronger unity of the SPLM cadres from the Southern Sector for the rest of the remaining three years of the interim period. Dr. Lam understood it very well that many of the SPLM leaders and supporters are very raw and green in democratic experience, and can resort to heinous acts when they see themselves approaching the losing edge. This is just to recall the assassination attempt on his life when he was doing grass-roots mobilization during the SPLM primaries in the counties that lies within the territory of the Collo (Shilluk) kingdom. Dr. Lam knew that “the right time to slap a king is when a fly descend on his cheek” but he refrained to apply this proverb for the sake of the Unity of the SPLM members from Junub; a unity which is crucial for the continuous implementation of the CPA to its logical end of Independent African State of South Sudan right from the year 2011. I am saliving to see that day when our August House in Juba declares officially the fruits of our 55-years of toiling and sweat!



James Okuk is a PhD student in the University of Nairobi. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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  • I think you make a very excellent article on SPLM democracy, at the same time I feel You need to explain your conclusion or your intend quote "Dr. Lam knew that “the right time to slap a king is when a fly descend on his cheek” before others jump-in and take it out of its contents. We don't need more confusions, we need to stay focus on the challanges facing us from out siders. And again thank you.

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  • Guest - kimo Ajing Aba (John-Kimo . Aj

    Dear Bro. Okuk, from your article, it seem that you are appeasing the Collo audience; who are not following the news except through your writings and comments. The sad fact is that Dr. Lam Akol Ajawin did not secure even a single man or women to make him enter the NLC (National Liberation Council) during the Convention. He got nil or say (0). I guessed this should have triggered something in your mind, being among those chanting the icon ism and overwhelming popularity of Dr. Lam Akol in the South Sudan.
    Why should you go here against the NLC simply because no body nominated your profound icon? This fact alone should have force you to dedicate your article to the causes of his severe down fall; in there, rather than attacking others.
    Unlike the said Dr. Lam, Mr. Yassir Arman came with the support of his base (the Northern Sector) to gain more footage in the decision making at the highest level of the SPLM command and he got it right and won considerable nominees. There is nothing wrong with that.
    The question here: How our constituencies; starting from Bayams of Collo land, the counties and the Malakal town and up to Juba, where the convention took place, approached that big event and what have we gained so far?. It think "Charitable starts at home" and if we need to make a head way here, it cannot be by continues applauds of your last paragraph in this article, or by waiting for a fly to descend on the check of the chairman or whoever, till we slap him/her.
    In the test of democracy we have failed as Collo from our very respective constituencies to adhere to the rules of democracy and the games of politics and at this stage we can not start to flog others.

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  • Guest - James Okuk

    I am glad that you are resurfacing again because I have been missing your comments for months. Congratulations for your new born child and may God have His guiding and blessing hand on your family until you return home from refuge one day.

    Back to politics:Do you know why Dr. Lam did not get the nomination from the people who went to the convention from our Home? Just because of one of our own brothers who is so selfish and want to be alone in the highest rank of the SPLM. You cannot compare your Jelleba Master, Yassir Saed Arman with Dr. Lam because the gap between them is so wide in democratic experience. Just continue to be a slave of Northerners; I will never. Do you think the North would wish anything good for SPLM and for the South?

    But let us not lament when SPLM is becoming a party which rewards weak cadres and marginalize the strong ones. After all South Sudan was there before the SPLM was born, and it will always be there even if SPLM dies away as a result of its incompetency. Other better alternative political parties could emerge in near future because Southerners will not wait until SPLM takes it to the abyss of darkness.

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  • It defies wisdom to learn from your article that Mr. Lam Akol would champion in the last SPLM convention to keep the status quo of which he himself is prime casualty. To be cleared let us take a look at the current situation to see what it means to the Shilluk ordeal. It does not take a brain surgeon to see that Shilluk are badly discounted despite their immense sacrifices both in human lives and material losses during the war the current status quo attests that Shilluk young men continue to fight and die in Abyei for Dinka Ngok who saw for almost a century ago that their future was to be part of North Sudan.

    The status quo to keep the current SPLM leadership of Mr. Saliva is chocking what legitimacy does he has accept that he was appointed by late John Garang in which the only vindication seemed to be that because he is from Dinka Bahr el Ghazal . A lot have been said about Mr. Lam leadership style but after CPA it makes no sense to champion the status quo because it will be perceived as a sign of weakness. If south Sudan is bound to blow up it should not be at Shilluk expense to pretend tribal harmony which does not exist.

    As for Mr. Ajing about his comments I think it is ludicrous to pass a self-saving judgment about an entire tribe “ in the test of democracy we have failed as Collo from our very respective constituencies to adhere to the rules of democracy and games of politics and at this stage we cannot start to flog others” this line is pretty familiar which only repeats a flair to criticize Mr. Lam by few who seemed had made up their mind that Shilluk ought to be contented to be differential when it comes to political role and representation in South Sudan politics. My friend if Shilluk have refused pageantry in Juba whoever thinks the current difficulties in the Shilluk land will go away if only they could denounce icon(ism) and accept the representation of craven and treacherous leaders is deceiving himself. This my friend will do nothing to the South Sudan except to perpetuate intolerance and bigotry. I think Shilluk as does any other tribe in the South who does not believe in tribal hegemony vies for true representation of people which means political and social equality in general that is democracy.

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