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Rift widening between SSOA groups as Akol openly contests Lagu’s leadership

April 6, 2020 (JUBA) - The National Democratic Movement (NDM) leader Lam Akol has rejected six parliamentary seats allocated to his group and contested the legitimacy of the SSOA chairperson Josephine Lagu, pointing that her term ended three weeks ago.

South Sudan Opposition Alliance members pose for a photo after electing new leaders, September 14, 2019 (Courtesy photo)In a letter seen by Sudan Tribune, Lagu urged Akol on Sunday to submit the list of NDM nominees for the transitional parliament stressing they have been reminded by the NCAC to do so.

"I am therefore requesting your good offices to submit the list of six NDM nominees to me within 24 hours. Failing this, I will submit the list of the rest of SSOA constituent organisations to the NCAC, without yours,"

In his response on the same day, seen by Sudan Tribune, Akol recalled that the distribution of the 50 seats allocated to the alliance has to be done by a committee formed to this effect and it had never met.

"Where did you come up with the figure of six (6) for the NDM? You know that the NDM and the FDP have always maintained that representation of SSOA organizations in TNLA must reflect (the) size and regional spread of each. This is the only way to achieve equity in the representation."

By FDP, he was referring to the Federal Democratic Party of Gabriel Changson.

Akol also recalled a complaint he filed to the R-JMEC and the IGAD Special Envoy about the exclusion of his group from the cabinet composition which is still pending and underscored that Lagu’s six-month term as chairperson has ended on 14 March and she had been advised to vacate office.

"Therefore, your current claim to be Chairperson of SSOA is contrary to the provisions of the Charter and Regulations of SSOA," he stressed.

The rift between SSOA’s head Joesphine Lagu and its secretary-general Lam Akol is widening day after day, following the exclusion of his group from a vice-president post and four ministerial positions to be shared by the SSOA groups.

The head of the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission, Augostino Njoroge, in his response to Akol, declined to state on the matter saying it relates to SSOA internal processes.

However, Njoroge expressed concern that the "deliberate exclusion of a particular group within a Party to the RARGSS undermines the principle of inclusivity envisaged under by the Agreement".

"Therefore, I would urgently recommend that you explore all available mechanisms within SSOA to address this issue, but also to approach the IGAD Special Envoy for South Sudan ta help address your concern as regards your potential exclusion within SSOA," he advised.

On Saturday, Akol accused Lagu of abusing its position and reiterated claims that she was compromised by the SPLM-IG of President Kiir.

Last week, Akol said exploring ways to form a new alliance to work for the implementation of the revitalized peace agreement. But Lagu accused him of planning to join holdout groups.

The SSOA has a history rich of divisions.

The first split was led by NAS and some allied factions as they rejected the revitalized peace agreement calling for a federal system.

After the signing of the revitalized peace pact, a split occurred by the end of November 2018, when Changson refused to quit the leadership of the alliance and another faction elected the late Peter Gadet at the head of the group but Akol was often accused as the instigator of the move.

In July 2019, the two SSOA factions reunited and agreed to appoint a successor to Peter Gadet picked by his group, Denay Jock Chagor, to lead the alliance. But, the latter was immediately rejected by six groups that appointed Josephine Lagu as interim leader before to confirm her in September 2019.

However, the IGAD Special Envoy managed to convince the two SSOA factions led by Lagu and Chagor group to work together for the implementation of the peace agreement.

Observers suggest that different divisions within the factions that signed the revitalized peace agreement was motivated by power struggle and the greed for the positions of the vice-president and government portfolios.

Nonetheless, several SSOA leaders, including Akol, say the SPLM-IG is working to marginalize them during the transition within the framework of its efforts to weaken the forces for democratic reforms in the country.