Nathaniel Oyet Pierino
I guess the feeling of walking into a trap never left some among those who went to Juba. Non-implementation of the security arrangements remains at the back of their minds. Furthermore, some of them were among those who had to flee Juba to the borders with the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in July 2016. They are the few who thought reforms could be achieved through the implementation of the Revitalised Agreement on the Resolution of Conflict in South Sudan (R-ARCSS). However, the realities have now sunk in. The situation is succinctly stated by one I O senior leader (Nathaniel Oyet Pierino) by posing the question – “What are we then for?” after realising that the SPLM IO won’t be able to bring about the “reforms” it had promised its supporters. He noted earlier in his piece that ” As long as defections occur unabated, the prospect for winning elections disappears.” Interestingly, the IO cadre answered his question, I quote – ” The answer is jobs and positions. Nothing higher than that.”
In contrast to what Oyet said, another senior IO leader who is none other than Mabior Garang, the Deputy Minister of Interior, came out refuting mass defections from SPLM IO to SPLM IG. Here is a quote of what he said: “What is being labelled as, “mass exodus from the SPLM/SPLA (IO)”, by the intellectual mercenaries of the traditional elite, is nothing more than sensationalism and propaganda.”
But how could the defection of the Deputy Chief of Staf, Lt. General James Koang Chuol and three other high-ranking officers, Dak Duop Bichiok and nine other senior SPLM IO politicians, and seven months ago Maj. Gen. James Ochan Puot and several officers – be regarded as mere propaganda?! A month on the job seems to have done wonders on the views of the Deputy Minister of Interior. They have changed 180 degrees. It’s only one month ago that Mabior Garang doubted achieving anything in Juba and said the SPLM IO has surrendered.
Between Oyet’s utterances and Mabior Garang’s conflicting views, the former comes out more honest and less calculating than the latter. Complaining about the Movement going astray while doing nothing does not fall under the criteria of leadership. If anything at all, it indicates helplessness and being a mere follower. Therefore, the two leaders have five options to choose from:
- Abandon the SPLM IO leadership and join their comrades who haven’t gone to Juba and remained dedicated to the vision and original objectives of the Movement.
- Join any of the non-signatory organisations to the R-ARCSS.
- Leave the SPLM IO for good and form another political organisation/party from scratch.
- Remain loyal to the leadership in Juba and in that case; both become no much different than the career politicians and job seekers.
- Opt for a temporary exit from politics until such a time when the political environment becomes conducive to their activities.
The turmoil in the SPLM IO is far from over. It’s on a large scale that threatens the very existence of the Movement. While some senior military commanders and politicians had defected because of what they see as a loss of direction and vision, others blamed the leadership of nepotism and turning the Movement into a family dynasty. Still, others have branded those at the helm as self-serving and job seekers. Then, come those who continue to deny the obvious while accusing others of mischief. It appears the SPLM IO is afflicted with the so-called political schizophrenia, which is more often than not a prelude to the unravelling of a Movement or a Party.
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