Home | Comment & Analysis    Monday 16 May 2011

Preparations for South Sudan independence overshadowed SPLM/A anniversary


By Steve Paterno

May 15, 2011 — In 1983, SPLM/A took up arms to start awar of liberation, the war that lasted for more than two decades.Thus far, the journey has been too long and torturous. Every timeSPLM/A anniversary approaches, it is always different and unique, dueto the surrounding circumstances and ensuing events. For example, thelast time I attended SPLM/A anniversary ceremony in Sudan was in1992, in the town of Torit. I still vividly remember the speeches ofCdr. William Nyoun and that of Uncle Joseph Oduho at that event. Atthe time, SPLM/A was in shambles. It has already suffered a severesplit; between SPLM-Torit faction and Nassir faction. The tide of warvictory drastically shifted in favor of Khartoum armed forces. At thebackground of the colorful celebration, we could hear loud explosionsof bombs from the advancing Khartoum armed forces, who were onlymiles away and posed to capture Torit town. Though jubilant, becauseof the celebration, we were actually bracing for the worse.

The situation within SPLM/A was tenseand suspicions among the SPLM/A commanders were running very high.Certain elements were planting landmines in Torit town, in act ofsabotage. The planted landmines killed several town folks and hitsome vehicles. In his speech, Cdr. William Nyoun warned against thosewho were plotting against him. He asserted that he knew the peoplebehind the landmines plot. That he was the intended target of thoselandmines.

Uncle Joseph Oduho was just fresh, outof a prolong detention. He was conditionally released to attend thefuneral of his son who died a year earlier. Despite acknowledging hislack of military knowledge, Uncle Joseph Oduho tried his best todispel some of the wild rumors, regarding Khartoum’s armed forcesfirepower superiority. Those rumors were already degrading the moralsof the SPLA soldiers. Some of the rumors were that Khartoum’s armedforces possessed some lethal advanced arsenals and weaponry systemthat include, chemical and biological agents, as well as some typesof Iraqi missiles. People believed that the skin burn sustained bysome soldiers during the battle as confirmations of the rumors. Therumors were even fueled more as people became frantic, after Khartoumdropped large parachutes in Torit town. Some people thought it wassome type of special forces, airborne in the rear of frontline. Icould hear people shouting, Iraqis! Iraqis! Iraqis!, while fleeing indisarray. Anyways, the parachutes were shot down and they turned outto contain mere Khartoum’s propaganda leaflets, calling for surrenderand peace.

Two months after celebrating the SPLM/Aanniversary in Torit, we had to sadly evacuate the town. The SPLAgallant forces last stand was in the outskirt of the town, where theyput a fierce fight, and then withdrew, allowing the enemy to enterthe town, without firing a single bullet.

Unfortunately, few months later, bothCdr. William Nyoun and Uncle Joseph Oduho, would end up leaving theSPLM/A-Torit faction to join the Nassir faction. So, if SPLM/A was ina comma, now it is on life-support. A year later, Uncle Joseph Oduhomet his ultimate death. This will follow by the demise of Cdr.William Nyoun few years later. Both died under mysteriouscircumstances and in South-South conflicts. Both of these men alsoseem to have had enemies within the movement that they were serving.

This year marks the last time SPLM/Amembers will celebrate the anniversary of the movement, before thebirth of new nation. Next coming years are going to present differentand new realities, which will also require different approaches andattitudes. It is not a secret that when the movement was founded, ittook deadly South-South rivalries and in fights that robbed lives.This stigma establishes a precedent within the movement and retardedthe progress of the struggle, because more often than not, the topechelon in the movement conspire and even kill each other. Thesuspicions among these top brass, exist to this day and must ceasewith the birth of new nation.

Moving forward, we must start byhonoring the dead and acknowledging them for their sacrifices. TheSPLM/A commanders must now assume different roles and throw awaysuspicions against each other, which they live with throughout thestruggle. Those commanders in the military are now professionals withthe duty and mandate to defend the Constitution of South Sudan, theintegrity of the nation and its citizens. There should be no reasonfor these professional soldiers to look over their shoulders, becauseof the plots and counter-plots, coming from within. Those commanderswho choose to enter into politics must understand the territory inwhich they are getting into. The political field is going to be acompetitive one, testing ones popularity, power of persuasion, andhumility of accepting defeat. In short, the new country should be anation that has a room to accommodate all, a nation guided by itsconstitution and rule of law. Otherwise, the long struggle andsacrifices, will be worthless.

Steve Paterno is the author of The Rev. Fr. Saturnino Lohure, A Romain Catholic Priest Turned Rebel. He can be reached at ?stevepaterno@yahoo.com

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  • 16 May 2011 21:48, by Ito

    Steve Paterno, Humo Bebe, Bebe for your well articulated article, indeed, it both open my eyes and ears and I am very glad with it. It is true that the upcoming independence of South sudan have overshadowed SPLM/A anniversary and like you said it is not the first time that the original date of May 16, have been postponed to the later date.

    Again, humo Bebe Longere Steve Paterno and God bless you and please keep on enlightening us with your well research and articulated articles.

    repondre message

  • 29 May 2011 16:51, by Emmanuel Ajang Solomon

    Thanks a lot Steve, your words are correct and to the point of our current situation like now people are bussy saying the Group of so and the so are plotting to overthrow the Government, where are we and why at such time even if War is our Motto, to always be at war with the break of 5 to 10 years, brothers we are going no where and the history will never forgive all who are involve in what make us ungovernable and the whole world is almost beliving the case of our enemy saying this people can and will never rule themselves, and it was our late Leader who, once said in his speach at Nyayo Stadium in Nairobe during the signing of the CPA, that Sudan cannot and will never be thesame again.
    I wish one day all that is looted from the GOSS will be removed and vomitted out as our president one time said so, we only need to remind of this when time comes and we shall see if he was involve or was waiting for our independent and he start with them one by one.The time U mention was the worst in the SPLM/A History and God is great god forbid nothing again.

    repondre message

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