By Michael Deng
July 20, 2010 (SSNA) — In the African culture, it is said that if a young man abuses an elder, there must be another elder pushing him to do so. Our society is based on the respect of the elders even when you differ with them. In Dengdit Ayok’s “An Invitation to Dr Lam Akol Ajawin to Rejoin the SPLM/A!” we see audacity, preposterousness and sheer rudeness to say nothing about ignorance and the truncation of history. This piece is not meant in any way to persuade the guy to change his mind, but rather to explain facts to the public who may be misled by Dengdit’s repeated lies about Dr Lam Akol Ajawin. In fact, he made it his business to be attacking him in the internet and the media all the time, as many readers would have noticed already. Since no such a name is known among the leaders of the SPLM, the fellow must be serving the agenda of others who specialize in character assassination.
Without going into much history for brevity case, let us start from where Dengdit started his malice, i.e., the Khartoum and Fashoda Peace Agreements in 1997. Dengdit Ayok seems to be mixing up the sequence of events. It was the Khartoum Peace Agreement that was signed first in April 1997 followed by the Fashoda Peace Agreement in September 1997 not as Dengdit would want to reverse the order for his malicious purposes.
The Peace Agreements and the Reunification:
Dengdit states: “After you realized that you were given a marginal ministry and you were a minister without powers…you took the decision to rejoin the SPLM/A and Dr Garang and his comrades in the SPLM leadership forgave your political sins and accepted you and reinstated you into the SPLM leadership…”
In the first place, Dr Lam Akol Ajawin never complained that the Ministry of Transport he was occupying for four years was a marginal ministry. In fact, there is nothing like a marginal ministry, it is the occupant of the seat that can make it so if he doesn’t know what he is doing. Contrary to Dengdit’s imagination, he was a minister with full powers and all the staff in that ministry will testify to this fact. He left behind great achievements in that ministry. For instance, he modernized Port Sudan docks and harbour, built river ports in Halfa and Malakal, rehabilitated Sudan Railways, brought the Sudan Shipping Line back to the black, just to mention a few examples. Where did you get this false impression?
Secondly, his difference with the regime was for the latter’s enthusiastic endorsement of the Libyan-Egyptian Initiative leading to the watering down of the right to Self-determination of South Sudan enshrined in the 1988 Constitution of Sudan.
Thirdly, Dr Lam Akol Ajawin did not just wake up one fine night and “took a decision to rejoin the SPLM/A.” This is ignorance par excellence. There was a reunification process that took long to negotiate, and that process could easily be traced to the fact that the issues that led to the split in 1991 (self-determination, internal democracy, respect of human rights, administration in liberated areas, etc..) have more or less been adopted by both sides, thus the gap had by then narrowed tremendously. Two delegations of SPLM-United and SPLM/A met in Nairobi in October 2003. The first was led by Dr Lam Akol and the other by Salva Kiir Mayardit, Deputy Chairman of SPLM/A by then. An agreement was reached and signed on the 30th of October 2003 declaring the merger of the two organizations. This is recent history and cannot be distorted so simply as Dengdit is trying hard to do. Third, there is nobody there to forgive the sins of the other, political or otherwise.
Remember what Jesus Christ said about the woman the Jews wanted to throw stones at. As a result of the merger, obviously, the chain of command must become one. Dr John Garang and Salva Kiir had no doubt where Dr Lam Akol should have been in the hierarchy of the new Movement. Dr Riek Machar, the leader of the Nasir Move, assumed his natural position as demanded by the Torit resolutions of 1991. However, some elements who found themselves in the SPLM leadership after the 1991 split did not want Dr Lam Akol to assume his rightful place. They worked on the late Chairman until he changed his mind in favour of their ambitions. It was, therefore, decided by the Chairman that Dr Lam Akol becomes the most junior member of the SPLM/A’s Leadership Council. As to be expected he rejected the offer. For your information, Dr Lam was not “reinstated into the SPLM leadership” as you claim. He remained outside it until Salva Kiir formed his Political Bureau in 2006. By then there was no seniority to observe since all have become civilians. The appointment of Dr Lam to be the Administrative Supervisor of Western Bahr El Ghazal is a different ball game, so to speak. It is an executive appointment and not party political assignment. It was a testimony to Dr John’s appreciation of the abilities of the man to deliver despite their political differences. He knew that if he wanted to succeed in governing the South, and indeed the whole Sudan, he must work with achievers, not deadwood solely because they claim loyalty to him.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs:
Dengdit asserts: “While in the Ministry, you did the job well in the beginning, but sadly, the Sudanese public was shocked by the news then that you were playing your political cards in favour of the National Congress Party (NCP) in the Ministry.” This is the too familiar parroting in this respect. To begin with, what were the criteria for judging performance to conclude that “you did the job well in the beginning”? For your information, as early as October 2005, less than a month from the time he assumed office, some elements in the SPLM leadership were already accusing him of deviating from SPLM line!!
Dengdit needs to be educated that Governments don’t work in the way he described. There is nothing like a Minister having his own policies in his ministry. Policies are set and agreed by the Council of Ministers which includes eight ministers from the SPLM in addition to the First Vice President. Can Dengdit Ayok inform the readers which policies were agreed in the Cabinet that Dr Lam then played “ in favour of the NCP”? He ventured, in a display of full ignorance, into the position of the SPLM regarding Sudan being part of the Arab world. When did the SPLM say it was pulling out of the League of Arab States? I think the fellow did not read the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (Foreign Policy, especially subsection 188.8.131.52, power sharing protocol). As usual, Dr Lam left behind an impressive record of achievements in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He organized successfully three summits in one year (2006): the AU summit (January), the Arab League Summit (March) and the African, Caribbean and Pacific Summit (December). Most importantly, he recruited more than 15 ambassadors and more than sixty other diplomats from Southern Sudanese into the ministry in implementation of the provisions of the CPA. None, of the other SPLM ministers in the National Government have done those five years on. Let us give the devil his due. When Dengdit stated with finality that “the Sudanese public was shocked by the news that you were playing….etc (see the above quotation)“. Where is this public? Are they not the same people who embrace and applaud Dr Lam Akol wherever he goes since he left the Ministry? Stop this hollow propaganda which cannot be bought even by a retarded mind.
The “dismissal” of Dr Lam Akol had nothing to do with his performance in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. It was engineered by a small clique in the leadership of the SPLM who have an axe to grind with the former leaders of the Nasir Declaration, especially Dr Lam Akol. This by itself deserves a treatment on its own. You remember the SPLM ministers went on strike in October 2007 simply to get rid of Dr Lam Akol from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. When he was moved and appointed by Salva Kiir as Minister of Cabinet Affairs, the strike continued until his name was dropped altogether from the Cabinet whereupon the new SPLM ministers went back to work. Forget the nonsense about the “roadmap”, it was just a face-saving gimmick and brought in nothing new about the issues raised initially, as it became crystal clear just a month later.
Dengdit’s assertion that Dr Lam Akol accused the SPLM’s “Secretary General, Pagan Amum Okiech, of being the mastermind behind your dismissal from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs by Salva Kiir” is a total fabrication and I smell in it the divide-and-rule tactics of all oppressors. To the best of my knowledge, Dr Lam Akol never blamed anybody after his relief from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. On the contrary, when he was asked about his relief, his answer was that it was the right of the SPLM Chairman to appoint and relieve ministers who are SPLM members. Dengdit Ayok must stop spreading disinformation and dividing people on tribal grounds.
The know-it-all charlatan churns out his propaganda thus: “On the 6th of June 2009, you announced the formation of your hazy political party at Friendship Hall in Khartoum which you had named as the Sudan Peoples’ Liberation Movement for Democratic Change and well known by its acronym as SPLM-DC. This event has then assured the Southerners that you were a traitor.” It is imprudent, to say the least, for the fellow to speak on behalf of all the Southerners. This is empty arrogance. Whether the party is “hazy” or not is a personal judgment and one need not comment on that. However, to correct him, the party was launched not in Friendship Hall but at its HQ at Arkweit in Khartoum. Fundamentally, however, what credentials have Dengdit got to judge the patriotism of others? Why is the formation of a new party tantamount to treachery? How many parties are there in Southern Sudan? What is special about SPLM-DC?
Everybody who followed the politics of the SPLM closely knows that Dr Lam Akol was pushed out from the SPLM by the exclusion politics within the SPLM leadership. He suffered humiliation and character assassination in the hands of his own colleagues in the media, some of which are owned by the SPLM and the Government of Southern Sudan (GOSS). To preserve his dignity, he had no choice but to quit. It is a long story that needs more than one article to relate. Yet, if those who pushed him out of the SPLM thought that he was going to retire from politics, then they did not know the man. In essence, they are the real people behind the formation of SPLM-DC!
With an absolute lack of doubt, Dengdit vomits out: “you formed your own political party with a militia wing that has killed the Southerners in South Sudan”. One would expect that such a dangerous sweeping statement is backed up by evidence. Where is that militia, who commands it and who are the Southerners they killed? Some elements in the SPLM and SPLA have been spreading this lie for long to suit their purposes. This lie was concocted in an attempt to ban SPLM-DC from practicing politics in Southern Sudan as evidenced by the order of GoSS in November 2009. That order was challenged by SPLM-DC before the Constitutional Court. The SPLM-DC won the case because GOSS failed to produce any evidence of militia activity associated with SPLM-DC. Again, when the SPLM-dominated Southern Sudan Legislative Assembly waived the immunity of SPLM-DC members there on claims that SPLM-DC militia killed the Shilluk Paramount Chief of Panyikang, the whole affair turned out to be a fiasco. Dr Peter Adwok Nyaba, who harbours intense hatred towards Dr Lam Akol, put it bluntly that : “The SPLM-DC is undergoing de-legitimization and may soon be outlawed in Southern Sudan”(SouthSudanNation.com, 9/7/2010). The writings are bold on the wall! Dengdit and his like will serve the cause of truth and of South Sudan well if they can produce a shred of evidence that SPLM-DC owns militia.
The misuse of the term militia deserves some elaboration. Much has been pedaled about the existence of militia in Shilluk land and that they belong to SPLM-DC. The truth is that tribal fights and SPLA’s fighting civilians are widespread in Southern Sudan. For instance, in the Gogrial area, the Apuk fought the Agwok for the good part of 2006, the Agar in the Lakes State fought their neighbours and among themselves since 2005, in Jonglei State, the Murle, Lou Nuer and Bor Dinka fought bitter wars against each other for years since 2005, the Mundari fought the Bari in 2008, and Shilluks were attacked by the Dinka Ngok in January 2009. On the other hand the SPLA fought the citizens in Lou area in 2006, the Agar of Akot in 2009, the Luac of Tonj early this year, the Shilluks since a few months ago and still ongoing, etc. In all these fights thousands of lives were lost and many properties destroyed. There is clear evidence that in all these fights some SPLA soldiers fought on the side of their tribes or sections of the tribe as the case may be. Curiously, none of the parties in these fights was classified as militia except in the Shilluk land! What is different there?
It is evident that some of the Shilluks in the SPLM/A are the ones spreading this notion in a futile attempt to score political points, but these noises struck a receptive chord within the SPLM/A leadership to drive a wedge among Shilluk politicians and ease the grabbing of their land by the neighbouring Dinkas. Dr Peter Adwok Nyaba, who is not known for being meticulous in getting his facts, wrote recently in the internet (SouthSudanNation.com) thus: “It is an open secret that the light weapons were brought into the Chollo Kingdom through the agency of the National Security and Intelligence Service in order to fight the Dinka aggression in the eastern part of the Kingdom triggered by the attack on Anakdiar and Abanimo in January 2009”. The question is through which agency were the light and heavy weapons taken to the areas of conflict mentioned above? If it is the Arabs who are fuelling these fights as it is always made out, what makes our people to be so susceptible to their schemes? What is the role of GOSS, other than finger-pointing, in all this? Something must be terribly wrong if the entire population of the South is getting arms from the enemy.
It has become a stereotype to heap all kinds of accusations against Dr Lam Akol. But, all of this is out of envy, hatred or malice. Dengdit must check and cross check his information if he is to avoid being caught in a trap.
Unity and Secession
Dengdit Ayok continues his diatribe and states: “You are now calling for unity of Sudan along with the NCP and all the Northern political forces at a time when your people in the South are yearning for the creation of an independent, sovereign, viable and vibrant state in Southern Sudan”. He further raises the following rhetorical question: “Why on earth should Dr Lam Akol Ajawin call for unity of the Sudan now at this critical period in the history of Sudan on Sudan’s national TV and in the national newspapers when he had vehemently rejected it when Garang called for it and enshrined it in the Manifesto of the SPLM/A?”
Dengdit Ayok must be selectively blind or deaf when it comes to the issue of unity of Sudan or separation of the South. Otherwise, he would not have written as he did. The person who appears daily at prime time “on Sudan’s national TV and the national newspapers” calling for the unity of Sudan is none other than Salva Kiir Mayardit, Chairman of the SPLM. His speeches are shown frequently live and they are a strong stuff; they unequivocally call for the unity of Sudan. In his visit to Kadugli last year he is shown on the TV saying that not only will he vote for unity of Sudan but he will drive Southerners to do so! In Khartoum, he states categorically that the first bullet of the SPLA was shot against the separatists and laments that it was the NIF/NCP that embraced the separatists (in reference to the Peace Agreements of 1997). In Cairo, he called for the unity of the Nile Valley! Just a few days ago, James Wani Igga, Kiir’s deputy, was upbeat saying in the newspapers (Al Ray Al aam) that unity of the Sudan will be the option come the referendum and that Southerners rejected the separatists and defeated them in the last elections!!
What is Dengdit Ayok talking about? He cannot turn facts upside down and inside out.
It is up to Dr Lam Akol to state where he stands on this matter. Nevertheless, he never “turned himself against his own people” as the bogus Dengdit asserts. What I heard him say on the TV recently was that both the NCP and SPLM are bound by the CPA to work for the unity of Sudan, but other parties such as the SPLM-DC are free to champion any of the two options. Is that turning against his own people? The series of questions he raised in his article are irrelevant here as they are based on a wrong premise. Whether the scientific degrees do change people or not is better known by those who toiled hard to earn them, it is not the likes of Dengdit to pass judgments on that.
To claim, as Dengdit does, that the choice of unity of Sudan by the people of South Sudan will make them “second class citizens” is in effect saying that when we signed the CPA we have accepted to be second class citizens! This is because the two options in the referendum are for the South either to continue with the CPA arrangements or secede and become an independent sovereign state. This is not to suggest a particular choice but just to stop his ignorance from poisoning others. Despite my strong views on the issue of Self-determination of South Sudan, I do not describe those who differ with me as “traitors”. This liberal name-calling will not help. Somebody may genuinely have strong reasons to favour a particular option. It does not make him less patriotic than the others. Otherwise, the people would not have been voting for two options.
For quite some time now, Dengdit Ayok has taken it upon himself to call Dr Lam Akol Ajawin names in the media and the internet. In doing so, lies, disinformation and distortion of facts are his tools. This article of his is just another ring in that chain of character assassination. He now wants to be cheeky and “invite” him into the SPLM. First, who is he to invite others into SPLM? If Dr Lam Akol Ajawin was so bad as he depicts him in his article, what use will he be to the SPLM?
Dengdit is so audacious that he arrogates to himself not only to speak on behalf of the SPLM but also on behalf of the whole South Sudan. He further doubts the usefulness of scientific qualifications, simply because he does not approve of a PhD holder. My advice to him is to abandon the politics of hate and direct his energies instead towards discussing issues and not personalities. The adage goes thus: “Small people discuss personalities, mature people discuss issues”. I hope Dengdit Ayok will choose to grow.
Michael Deng lives in Sudan and can be reached on [email protected]