May 26, 2014 (JUBA) – The former secretary-general of South Sudan’s ruling party, Pagan Amum, has agitated for political reforms, as well as an end to a more than five-month-long conflict in the new nation.
- Former SPLM secretary-general Pagan Amum speaking at Chatham House in London on 1 May 2012 (Photo: Chatham House)
“The first priority is to stop the war; the second one is to initiate political reforms in the country,” Pagan wrote in a letter seen by Sudan Tribune.
“For South Sudan to achieve political stability and socioeconomic prosperity, there must be cessation of hostilities, formation of interim government and democratic transformation in the country,” it added.
Pagan also dismissed reports attributed to the armed faction of the SPLM led by former vice-president Riek Machar, claiming that the 12 former political detainees freed from detention in Juba were “undecided” on which side to join in resolving the conflict.
“First and foremost, we are not undecided because we have already made up our minds that we can’t be a party to the killing, maiming and displacement of our people and the unwarranted destruction of our country,” he wrote.
“We are saying that there is more to a failed government under President Kiir and to the doomed armed rebellion under Riek Machar. The paths they have chosen only succeed in bringing more suffering and death and heartache to our people and shame on our new nation,” adds the letter, which also copied to both president Salva Kiir and Machar.
The former political detainees, Pagan stressed, allied with Machar before 15 December “in opposition to the creeping dictatorial tendencies of president Kiir who was taking (and has indeed succeeded) our country into the abyss”.
“We represent not only the face of South Sudan, but also its integral leadership, both in the war for independence and post-CPA [Comprehensive Peace Agreement]. As such, South Sudan is our heritage; we own it and we can’t be expected to join in the senseless destruction of our most exquisite possession,” he said.
Added Pagan: “It is our gift to future generations, not a carcass to be scrambled for”.
DEFENDS THIRD BLOC
Meanwhile Pagan clarified that they decided to form a “third bloc” in South Sudan’s laborious search for peace and reconciliation. The bloc, he said, is composed of himself, the presidential advisor, Rebecca Nyandeng, former ministers, Deng Alor, John Luk, Kosti Manibe, Oyai Deng, Gier Chuang, Madut Biar, Majak Agoot, Cirino Hiteng, Lakes state’s former governor, Chol Tong and former diplomat Ezekiel Gatkuoth.
However, he said that being members of the third bloc does not equate to being neutral in the current conflict, stressing they are part of the peace talks and part of any future government that would bring about political reform within the country.
“Both the government and armed rebels prefer a military solution but we in the third bloc fully support the IGAD peace process as the best alternative to the war in our country,” wrote Amum.
“This makes us more than neutral bystanders: we are not part of the bloodshed, but of the sustainable solution,” he added.
Pagan said it was not in the interest of the former political detainees to please the international community “so that [we] may snatch the proposed interim government’s leadership if both president Salva Kiir and opposition leader, Riek Machar, were to be forced to step aside”.
“Never in the course of our opposition to president Kiir’s creeping dictatorship or the rebels’ penchants for shedding the blood of unarmed civilians have we ever said that we are angels. We agree with our colleague, governor Chol Tong Mayai, that we are all responsible for the mess we are in and should therefore sit down in peace and talk like brothers and sisters to sort out our issues,” reads the missive.
“That South Sudan is a giraffe to be auctioned off to the most brutal hunter is the mindset of those whose hands are dripping with the precious blood of innocent South Sudanese. We can’t be cajoled nor forced to join in the bloody orgy,” it added.
Amum and three other detainees were released at the end of April after they were held in for months connection with the December 2013 alleged coup attempt in the country’s capital, Juba.
NO COUP ATTEMPT
The armed opposition led by Machar denied staging a coup, claiming that president Kiir took advantage of fighting within the armed forces to try and silence his critics within the ruling party.
The former ruling party secretary general, for instance, observed that it was never their intention to overthrow the government because it was and is still their government.
“A military coup entails war, death and destruction and that was never our cause,” he said.
Amum stressed that his group would be never be a party to any group engaged in the current conflict or use violence as a means to resolve or react to the political differences and “failures” within the SPLM leadership that triggered the conflict.
“Let me reiterate once more, we are never going to be a party to the bloody war going on in our country. Nor can we be a party to any interim government merely meant to reward evil. We can only be a party to peaceful negotiation toward ending the current evolving catastrophe in South Sudan,” said Amum.
“We can only be a party to the peace talks and an interim government meant to heal wounds and to initiate peace, unity and reconciliation among our beloved people,” he added.