October 5, 2013 (JUBA)- South Sudan president Salva Kiir’s efforts to unite members of his governing Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) has attracted backing from traditional leaders, senior officials say.
- South Sudan’s Salva Kiir speaks at the official opening of the presidency office (goss/Kenneth Thomas)
“I believe that people of south Sudan are capable to discern fictions from realities. They know who is who to be confused when we are free. Comrade Salva Kiir Mayardit is the only surviving member of the founding members of the movement,” Gen.Garang Mabil, a senior military officer told Sudan Tribune Saturday.
He [Kiir] should be allowed time to consolidate peace and unity of this party, since he knows in and out of it, he added.
The ruling party faces growing dissent among its members and there are fears this could negatively impact on the SPLM’s bid to hold on to power in the forthcoming elections due in 2015.
The army official, despite having played a key role in the liberation struggle that ended over two decades of the north-south civil war, insisted patience was vital in nation building processes.
“Sometimes I am asked what big thing have I done to the movement that I have never been appointed to serve at any capacity, but I tell them that God knows what he has for me”, Gen. Mabil said.
Also, I am reminded by what comrade Salva and our late chairman John Garang used to tell our comrades during senior leadership meetings, that initiators of any project do not enjoy the benefits which come out from it, he stressed.
“This is exactly what happened to me and I have never blamed anybody”.
The experienced army official also urged the president to sort what he described as the “tribal image” coming out of the ruling SPLM.
"What is showing now in the SPLM leadership is against what the movement stood for. It is quite serious at this time for members to be advocating tribalism or supporting tribalism in the party like that," he said.
Comrade Salva must sort out this tribal image, which is coming out of the SPLM leadership, he added.
General Mabil, in his remarks, seemed imply the suspension of former SPLM secretary general and removal of the ex-vice president could have ignited tribalism within the ruling party.
"If this is coming from the [former] secretary general and even the [ex] vice chairman of the party, it means that it is true there is tribalism in the ruling party, and something must be done”, he observed.
“This is the time when the party leadership was destined to see what they would do within their party”, he added.
The army official said the historical party was at one time deserted and people thought it would collapse.
“[But] that did not happen. They went and came back. So desertion is part of the SPLM history and makes it stronger. It is the time for the people to judge individuals and not SPLM as a party”, he told Sudan Tribune.
If SPLM had never failed our people as a movement, why it would fail them now when it is a ruling party with a capacity to deliver services and to reform itself to meet the demands of the current situation, he asked.
TRADITIONAL LEADERS SUPPORT
The chief of the Shilluk tribe, meanwhile, urged president Kiir to embark on unity rather than engaging in spiteful political rivalry.
“We have to look back from 1947 to assess ourselves and consider where we are coming from, where we are going and what have we done, what we will do. This is very important in the country like south Sudan. Development is what everybody wants”, said Kwongo Dak Padiet in a statement aired on the state-owned SSTV.
The chief, who held a meeting with the president, also wondered why officials often turn bitter when removed from service.
“Why can’t you accept to go and work hard? May be you could return to it in another position”, he stressed.
On his part, however, overall paramount chief of Gogrial West county, said president Kiir possesses “unique characters” and that his experience in leadership will steer the country forward.
“This is not yet time for elections. We still have two years ahead of us. So why can people not work together to support the president to deliver services needed by our people? Why distract and stab him in the back?” Nyal Chan Nyal, asked during an exclusive interview with Sudan Tribune Saturday.