September 29, 2011 (NAIROBI) – South Sudan’s president, Salva Kiir Mayardit, on Thursday met with the leader of the opposition Sudan People’s Liberation Movement Democratic Change (SPLM-DC), Lam Akol, and announced that the latter had decided to return to the fold.
- SPLM-DC’s leader Lam Akol (L) and South Sudan’s president Salva Kiir (R) hold a surprise meeting in Nairobi, Kenya. 29 September 2011. Source (http://paanluelwel2011.wordpress.com/)
Akol was a prominent member of the ruling Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A) in South Sudan after he rejoined the party in 2003 after 12 years during which he joined a breakaway faction that attempted to overthrow the late SPLM’s leader John Garang in 1991 and aligned with north Sudan’s ruling National Congress Party.
He split again from the SPLM in 2009 to form the SPLM-DC and later stood as a candidate against Kiir in South Sudan’s presidential elections of April 2010.
On 9 November 2009, Kiir slapped a ban on the SPLM-DC and the southern ruling party claimed that Akol’s splinter group was an armed movement causing unrest in the then semi-autonomous region.
South Sudan gained independence in July this year in line with the outcome of a referendum stipulated under the 2005’s peace deal that ended more than two decades of civil wars between the north and the south.
In a statement following the meeting, which took place in Kiir’s residence in the Kenyan capital Nairobi, the president said that Akol “decided to join the new nation building journey on the ticket of his party SPLM/DC, and he will soon come to Juba. “We welcome his decision,” he added.
For his part, Akol said that his meeting with Kiir had addressed some political issues and that he was now ready to return home after a long period of absence. He added that his decision to take a leave of absence was due to personal reasons as well as other reasons related to the political climate that was prevalent back then.
Akol further urged the people to push together as South Sudanese and be united for a common objective of building the new state in a democratic, political, religious and cultural diversity”
In separate statements to the Nairobi-based Sudan Radio Service (SRS), Akol also opined that federalism is the best political system of governance for South Sudan.
Speaking about the advantages of a federal system, Akol said “Right now ninety percent of the budget of South Sudan is consumed in Juba, and only ten percent goes to the states – ten states get ten percent of the budget, one central government gets 90 percent. This is a skewed way of running our affairs. So federalism has many advantages, it is tested in many countries that have used it, it has kept the fabric of national unity, contrary to people who think that federalism tends to divide people. It makes you feel that you are respected in your own country and you are doing your part of national duty.”
Akol also said that retrieving the amounts of money stolen by corrupt officials in South Sudan is not enough, urging the government to make an example of them through prosecution.
“The call for the money to be returned , although yes it is good to get the money back but the person who took the money should be held accountable so that he does not do it again. So anybody who takes money outside must be held accountable for what he or she did.”