By Gordon Buay
August 25, 2013 - Now that the Vice-president has been appointed without any protest from the SPLM Caucus in the National Legislative Assembly—unlike the cabinet reshuffle where there were criticisms labelled against Telar Ring Deng—one can say that President Kiir has taken over the reign of power and he is now in control of the SPLM Party.
The next task is to select the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly after former Speaker became the new Vice-president. Appointing a new Speaker must fulfill two conditions such as regional inclusivity and strong personality, who could control the August House given the attempts of the SPLM rebels (the supporters of former Vice-president) to destabilize the Assembly to fail President Kiir.
Being conscious of the fact that the President is from Greater Bhar-el-Ghazal and Wani Igga is from Greater Equatoria, the choice for the next Speaker is left to MPs of the Greater Upper Nile of the SPLM Caucus. The SPLM Caucus of Greater Upper Nile met on August, 24, to nominate a candidate that would be taken to the August House for confirmation as the Speaker. However, they failed to agree on one candidate and the list of five characters was summited to the Chairman of the SPLM to choose from. When the Chairman of the SPLM chooses one, the name of that person would be taken to the Assembly for approval.
To have a personality that would always bring pressure to bear on the SPLM rebels to adhere to the rules and disciplines of the party, one may argue that the President will have to take many factors into consideration in order to select the right candidate out of five. The President has to find a strong personality among the five candidates of the Greater Upper Nile region who could manage the House infested by the SPLM rebels who are more rebellious that the Republican Tea Party in the United States.
Perhaps the President should try to have an audience with the five candidates of the Greater Upper Nile region by inviting them individually to give him more insight into how any of them who would be chosen will control the Assembly given the current turbulent situation created by the SPLM rebels who were reshuffled out from the government and they hold grudges against the President. Selecting a strong personality who would be able to control the party’s rebels is significant for President Kiir to ensure the smooth functioning of the August House.
Among the five candidates of the Greater Upper Nile region, there are strong personalities with talent and experience who are competent enough to control the Assembly. Having been MPs, some of whom chaired committees, majority of them have shown the intellectual capacity to control the Assembly and ensure that the SPLM rebels in the House don’t paralyze the legislative organ.
Now that majority of the candidates are from Nuer tribe, it would be desirable for the President to critically examine their credentials, integrity, loyalty, trustworthiness and dedication to the SPLM’s goals and objectives. With this in mind, it would not bring the President a lot of trouble to find out who the suitable candidate is after examining the political backgrounds of the five candidates since 1983. There is no doubt that the President shall pick a candidate who is both a strong personality and his loyalist who has never taken a cup of tea together with SPLM rebels. Given the fact that the political agenda of the SPLM rebels is to destabilize the Assembly, the President needs a strong Speaker who shall deal with the party’s rebels in the Assembly in order to safeguard the smooth functioning of the August House.
The country is now faced with serious developmental challenges and therefore would need a very dedicated and strong personality that works as a team with the President and the Vice-president so that they can concentrate on tackling formidable problems facing the people of South Sudan. The solidarity of the trio is the only salvation for the country to move forward and ward off all unnecessary criticism and rebellious attitudes of the SPLM tribalists.
Since 2005, President Kiir has never had a loyal and wise Vice-president who could assist him in resolving the developmental challenges facing the country. With the appointment of Rt. Hon. Wani Igga as the Vice-president, the people of South Sudan would soon realize the cooperation between the President and the new Vice-president. No executive branch could function properly and carry out its duties if the President and his Vice are always at loggerheads on policy direction.
It should be made abundantly clear that President Kiir is competently managing the transition from former Vice-president to the new one very well. Those who erroneously thought before that South Sudan would collapse because the former Vice-president was removed are now feeling ashamed because all the negative stereotypes about the people of South Sudan are proven wrong. No single Nuer protested because Riek Machar was removed. Instead the Nuer celebrated his firing because it is an opportunity for the Nuer elites to develop young politicians as future leaders of South Sudan. The Nuer older politicians who have skeletons in their closets have been obstacles to build young nationalist Nuer leaders.
Being conscious of the evil intentions of the SPLM rebels, it is important that the Vice-president Wani Igga and the Speaker who shall be selected should be fully conversing with principles of crisis management, i.e., playing an instrumental role alongside the President to immediately resolve and arrest problems that may interfere with the developmental goals and try to avoid any external influences that may frustrate the efforts of the President, particularly in bringing about nation-building and acceleration of developmental programs.
Coming back to the main issue of this article, which is about the right candidate that could control the Assembly, I would appeal to the President to consult with the Vice-president and some leading statesmen and retired politicians to advise him on the right candidate who may become the Speaker. By so doing, he will have gathered an overview about who should be the right candidate to become the Speaker. It should be noted that the National Assembly is for all South Sudanese and it represents the aspirations and expectations of the people of this country. Our people need a Speaker who reflects their wisdom and aspirations but also loyal to the President to ensure cooperation between the executive and legislative branches of government.
Given the divisions created by the former Vice-president, the people of South Sudan want a Speaker who will not encourage controversies, but who should only promote constructive criticism that ensure the democratic values and principles of the SPLM. The people of South Sudan applaud the firmness of the President in forming a lean government after the reshuffling. There is no doubt that whoever he chooses will be unanimously endorsed by the August House as it was done to Vice-president Wani Igga.
We hope that the embarrassing situation which was caused by the SPLM rebels who subjected Telar Ring Deng to unnecessary vetting process will not arise. However, even if the SPLM rebels attempt to obstruct the confirmation of the new Speaker, it is now numerically clear that the SPLM rebels are the minority in the Assembly because the jobbists and the Lakes State’s politicians of fortune abandoned their alliance with the SPLM rebels after realizing that the people of South Sudan are behind President Kiir.
In conclusion, the President should choose a right candidate from the list of five summited to him by the SPLM Caucus of the Greater Upper Nile region. Despite the impeccable credentials of the five candidates, there are individuals who may not be accepted by the MPs from Greater Equatoria and Greater Bhar-el-Ghazal. Therefore, the President must choose a candidate that he knows will be appealing to all members of the SPLM in three regions—a candidate who is also a strong personality to manage SPLM rebels in the Assembly.
The author is the spokesperson of the fromer rebel South Sudan Liberation Army (SSLA)