November 1, 2013 (JUBA) – South Sudan’s former vice-president, Riek Machar has expressed concerns over the “unnecessary” delays in convening meetings of the south-ruling party (SPLM) highest executive organ, which shall ultimately confirm or elect a new leadership of the party for the 2015 elections.
- Former vice-president, Riek Machar, and EU special envoy to South Sudan, Juba, Oct. 31, 2013 (ST)
This, according to Machar, includes the Political Bureau (PB) and National Liberation Council (NLC) meetings as well as the party national convention.
Before his suspension in July, the party’s secretary general, Pagan Amum, submitted eight separate requests to the party chairman, Salva Kiir, asking him to convene these meetings, but never got any green light.
Recently, however, the acting SPLM secretary general, Ann Itto, presented another request to the chairman to organise a similar meeting on 22 October, which did not materialize.
Machar said a new date for the party meeting is floated around the last week of November.
WILL THE SPLM SPLIT?
A senior party leader critical of Kiir’s style of leadership has told Sudan Tribune that the SPLM chairman was allegedly hoping for a split within the party that would detach him from his rivals, such as Machar, Amum, Rebecca Nyandeng de Mabior, Deng Alor, Kosti Manibe, and the rest of his critics.
He argued that the delays by the party chairman to call for the meetings are “tactics aimed to frustrate the other colleagues, hoping they may decide to break away”, an option, he said, was not forthcoming.
The anonymous party leader further said Kiir’s action was "pushing the nation toward unnecessary tribalism".
He alleged that the South Sudan leader has got no tangible support among the current members of the PB and NLC, adding that the situation had forced him to simply delay the meetings at the expense of the democratic political processes.
Kiir and his inner circles, the source said, were now planning to form a special party taskforce which they nicknamed ‘Koc Beny’ in Dinka language, which literally translates ‘Help the President.’
This taskforce in the making, he said, is tribally driven and an act outside the formal institutional structures of the party.
MACHAR MEETS EU ENVOY
Meanwhile, Machar and the European Union (EU) acting special envoy to the country, Christian Manahl on Thursday discussed a wide range of issues pertaining to the future of democracy in the new nation.
The meeting, held at the former vice-president’s resident in Juba, centred on the political processes towards the 2015 elections as well as the challenges the country has been facing in this regard.
James Gatdet, Machar’s press secretary told Sudan Tribune that the two leaders examined the status quo in the run up to the 2015 elections, particularly on the fate of the South Sudan’s ruling SPLM, as well as other political parties in their internal democratic political transformational processes.
He said the envoy, who is the country’s political advisor for the EU expressed concerns about the challenges and the importance of nurturing peaceful democratic processes.
The SPLM and other 22 political parties are yet to officially register in the new nation, and have been operating using the certificates granted to them in Khartoum before the country’s split from Sudan on 9 July 2011.
The political parties also need to carry out some political processes in preparations for what would be the first general elections after South Sudan became independent two years ago.
Machar, also deputy SPLM chairperson of the SPLM, said his party was yet to pass basic documents: manifesto, constitution, code of conduct and rules and regulations, in a series of expected party meetings.
He said the current draft of the SPLM constitution is “undemocratic” and would fail to rejuvenate the party leadership, since it only provides for the election of the chairman, who will in turn appoint all the other senior leaders.
The draft, he further explained, also calls for the party elections to be conducted with a ‘show of hand’ to intimidate people, instead of the universally accepted practice of ‘secret ballot.’
The SPLM’s second in command, therefore, stressed the urgent need for the party’s leadership meetings in order to thrash out some of the challenges and differences as the nation forges the way forward.
Machar was removed by Kiir as vice-president on 23 July following his criticism of the way the president was handling national issues, saying he wanted to contest for the top job and vowed to unseat the president in the upcoming elections by 2015.