- SPLM senior leaders holding a press conference to discuss the actions of party chairman and South Sudanese president Salva Kiir, on 6 December 2013 in Juba (ST)
December 8, 2013 (JUBA) – South Sudan’s governing party, the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM), in a surprised abrupt notice on Sunday announced it postponed the long awaited meeting of the National Liberation Council (NLC) just less than 24 hours before the Monday schedule.
On Friday, 6 December, the SPLM first-deputy chairman, Riek Machar, backed by dozens of members of the highest party’s executive organ, the Political Bureau (PB), as well as members of the NLC in a press conference accused the South Sudan’s president and SPLM chairman, Salva Kiir Mayardit, of dictatorial tendencies that paralyse the activities of the party.
The group further called on the party leader to first convene a meeting of the PB before the NLC convenes in order to set the agenda for the latter. They warned that they would mobilise at least 1/3 of the PB membership to call for the meeting in accordance with the constitution if Kiir would not heed to their request. They also plan to conduct a public rally on Saturday, 14 December.
Among the leaders that held the press conference against Kiir’s actions included Robecca Nyandeng, Pagan Amum, Deng Alor, Alfred Lado, Chol Tong, Taban Deng, John Luk, Adwok Nyaba, Majak Agot, Oyai Deng, Madut Biar, Gier Chuang, Luka Monoja, Cirino Hiteng, Ezekiel Lol, as well as members of the national parliament.
But for the third time in less than two months, the SPLM made surprising announcement saying that the NLC meeting was postponed "until further notice."
The announcement made a few hours after the arrival of president Salva Kiir from France blamed the postponement on the burial of the South African former president, Nelson Mandela, on Sunday, 15 December.
"The SPLM secretariat has postponed the National Liberation Council meeting until further notice due to urgent trip by the party chairman to South Africa for the burial of late Nelson Mandela", reads in full the short statement on the state-owned SSTV.
The ruling party failed to convene meetings of its organs such as the PB, NLC and NC since March which would have resolved the internal differences.
Hours before the third postponement on Sunday, the second deputy chairman, James Wani Igga, also the vice-president of the country, held a counter-press conference where he denied all the charges labelled against his chairman, Salva Kiir.
Igga who was also backed by dozens of government ministers and senior members of the party said the group that voiced concerns about Kiir’s style of leadership was composed of “some disgruntled elements", saying their allegations were not true.
He vowed that the scheduled meeting of the NLC will be convened as planned from Monday-Wednesday, 9-11 December, with or without the group led by Machar.
Speaking to Sudan Tribune on condition of anonymity due to fear of reprisal, a senior member of the party secretariat however revealed that the meeting was postponed due to failure to meet the required number of the NLC members, falling short of the quorum.
He further explained that majority of the NLC members have boycotted and refused to sign up for the Monday meeting until a clear agenda was first set by the "bypassed" PB.
He denied that the postponement was due to the burial of the late South Africa’s former president, saying the NLC would close its meeting on Wednesday four days before the Sunday burial ceremony.
"Did you believe this story? Mandela died on 5 December and yet our deputy chairman [Igga] on 8 December confirmed that the NLC meeting would take place tomorrow [Monday]", he said, adding that it was the new internal less membership situation that abruptly reversed the plan.
The party constitution stipulates that the quorum for the meetings of the NLC shall be convened by a simple majority of its membership (50% + 1)
The ruling party has entered into a leadership crisis since March this year with two major groups of the leadership accusing and counter-accusing each other over the situation.
The party secretariats from all the ten states of the country in summarised report said SPLM had lost vision and direction.
The former vice-president, Riek Machar, also the first-deputy chairman of the party echoed the outcome of the assessment as well as criticised president Salva Kiir, also chairman of the party, on challenges of corruption, tribalism, poor international relations, insecurity and economy.
Machar and his other colleagues intended to remove Kiir from the party chairmanship in May 2013 party National Convention (NC) as well as from the presidency by 2015 scheduled elections.
As a result, Machar lost his government job on 23 July as Kiir also dissolved the whole cabinet.