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Give the SPLM reunification and Pagan Amum a chance

By Kuyang Harriet Logo Mulukwat

In December of 2013, SPLM internal squabbles gained violent expression and the movement disintegrated into three SPLM groups. All this; while I am reminded about a book I read, it was titled to suffer thy own comrades. I met the author, Robert Francis Garcia in Holland and we had a chat about revolutionary movements. As I spoke about my situation in Sudan (2005) he told me how, he had joined the Communist Party of the Philippines – New People’s Army during the 1980s in the prime of his youth.

He joined the guerrillas and waged war against the state. He dreaded the inhumane treatment at the hands of the state, but never expected his own comrades to administer such treatment to him and others at some point in their struggle. But that’s exactly what happened. The reason was simple. Paranoia destroyed the once powerful movement. Garcia showed a long scar along his arm. It was poorly stitched and healed badly – that was what his own comrades did to him.

At the end of our little interaction, he gave me his book. I read it for the whole night. On my way home to Yei in South Sudan, I continued to read it. I also shared the book with some high profile comrades within the SPLM, it was such a good read, and brought out reflections of the early days of the SPLM/A struggle.

Again – I am taken back to 1990, when the Bright Star Campaign battalion took over Yei. I was a little girl back then. But I recall so many things. For instance, I had thought that the SPLA were not human beings, I thought they were called Anya Nya because they lived under tomatoes. How wrong I was! The bright Star Campaign soldiers were beyond professional. They were smart and led us all the way from Yei to Kaya without any incident. Early every morning, I woke up to stand by the main road at Kaya, waiting for the different battalions to do their morning jogs and sing revolutionary songs.

The songs were beautiful and the military tactics displayed at each and every morning jog, nostalgic. I still recall the songs and I still sing some. The late chairman of the SPLM/A, Dr. John Garang visited Kaya in early 1990, right at the time my family and I left Kaya for Kajokeji. I was very little, but I recall his message to the people. He delivered the message in multiple languages, but all of it was loud and clear – the struggle for liberation must continue and everybody must join the movement. A few days later nearly all the males who had come from Yei joined the SPLM/A. A handful of women also joined. There were tears and hugs. I remember sighing, and thanking my God that my daddy was away, I don’t know how I would have said goodbye to him under those circumstances. The role of the SPLM/A in liberating this nation can never be understated.SPLM Oyee!

I am not an SPLM and I ascribe to no political party. But – when the intra – SPLM dialogue was initiated in Tanzania, I was ecstatic and I was optimistic that the SPLM would reunite and become one again. Its disintegration was hurting all of us and not just the leadership. Between 8-19th of January, 2015 the three SPLM groups met under the auspices of the Chama Cha Mapinduzi. The preamble of the communiqué is what I reproduce below; in part “recalling the heroic struggle of many generations of the people of South Sudan for freedom, dignity and independence against a background of a history of conflicts, injustices, poverty and human rights violations…”The preamble says it all!

The preamble further alluded to the failure of the SPLM to institutionalize and democratize the movement. It further acknowledged the collective responsibility for the crisis and the loss of ideological direction and also deplored the culture of militarism and sectarianism which has stunted the transformation of the SPLM. The communiqué further acknowledged the need for comprehensive democratic reforms and called for the reunification and reconciliation of the SPLM driven by patriotism and the need to restore peace and stability.

On the 1st of June 2015 the former political detainee sent an advance team to Juba and on the 22nd of the same month, Pagan Amum returned and was subsequently reinstated to his former position of the Secretary General of the SPLM. The return of Pagan and some of the former political detainees has been received with mixed feelings.

Disparaging comments have been made regarding the return and the reinstatement. Perhaps we expect more negative remarks. But let’s remember that the search for peace is endless and the right path is not determined yet and hence multiple approaches must be pursued. If the reunification of the SPLM will bring peace, then why not give the initiative a chance? The bickering about the person of Pagan and others, will at the best add injury to our already hateful and resentful past.

Give the reunification a chance, give the SPLM a chance. Nobody is without fault. But rising above the past is what will move this country forward and perhaps reinstated not just the SPLM to its former glory, but reinstate the glory of this great nation, South Sudan.

The writer is a lecturer at the College of Law, University of Juba and is a legal expert on Democratic Governance and the Rule law and a continuing scholar.




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