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SPLM leaders pull out of NLC meeting over “lack of dialogue spirit”

December 14, 2013 (JUBA) – Senior leaders of South Sudan’s ruling Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) said they have pulled out from the meeting of the National Liberation Council (NLC), accusing South Sudan’s president and party chairman, Salva Kiir Mayardit, of deviating from the spirit of dialogue.

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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)

Senior members of the SPLM highest executive organ, the Political Bureau (PB), including the party’s deputy chairman, Riek Machar Teny, as well as members of the NLC on Saturday announced that Kiir has not replicated their “good gesture for dialogue” on democracy in the party.

Earlier on Friday, the group announced the postponement of a public rally that had been due to take place on Saturday in order to inform the wider public about the party’s current affairs.

Machar said the decision came following calls from SPLM supporters to postpone both the rally and NLC meeting in order to allow more time for internal political dialogue on contentious issues affecting the party.

While the rally was subsequently postponed until 20 December, the NLC meeting went ahead as planned.

Machar and his colleagues had attended the first day of the NLC meeting on Saturday, where they participated in deliberations on the passing of the basic documents, namely the manifesto and the constitution.

However, the party deputy chairman said Kiir’s statements during the meeting had deviated from the spirit of dialogue and reconciliation which had been called for by SPLM supporters.

He said the chairman, who has previously been accused of “dictatorial tendencies”, did not heed to the voice of “wisdom” by bishops and sheikhs who graced the opening session to remind the leaders on the need for dialogue and reconciliation.

“Kiir’s statements were of hostility, [and provided] no room for political dialogue”, Machar said.

“We attended the NLC meeting despite the fact that the Political Bureau did not convene. But there was no freedom of debate. Members of the NLC, who are also members in the Political Bureau, were told that their views were already made in the Political Bureau”, he added, referring to a PB meeting in March, which has yet to be concluded.

He said his group has decided to dissociate itself from the “undemocratic process” amid fears it would pass undemocratic resolutions in the meeting.

Machar added that his group did not want to be involved in the dismissal process of the party’s suspended secretary-general, Pagan Amum, whom he said was tried in absentia by a hand-picked committee appointed by Kiir.

During his opening speech at the NLC meeting, Kiir said the committee that investigated Amum had recommended his dismissal and urged the members to act on the report.

Machar called on other members of the NLC to withdraw from the meeting and its undemocratic processes.

He said his group now planned to review the party’s current situation in light of Kiir’s lack of enthusiasm for political dialogue, which he said would have resolved contentious issues on democracy in the party.

(ST)