A C-turn and SPLM is full swing into Regionalism

BY: Justin Ambago Ramba, UK, MAY/21/2013, SSN;

Regionalism has made it back into the South Sudanese politics, thanks to the leadership of the ruling SPLM that sees these as a way to grainer regional loyalties before the 2015 general elections.

So far three regional conferences have already been sponsored and held by the SPLM ruling party that brought together party leaders from the three states that comprise the Greater Equatoria Region.

But although other quarters did voice some criticism to the holding of these conferences, it’s now clear that the top leadership in the country was indeed not only directly involved in planning and executing them, but is in fact the primary beneficiary.

We don’t need any more evidence to prove that these regional gatherings are being used by the SPLM as alternatives to the party’s national conference (or so-called convention). The resolution adopted at the Greater Bahr el Ghazal Region’s first ever regional gathering recently held in Wau to support president Salva Kiir Mayardit’s candidacy for the forthcoming 2015 general elections has said it all and this is an extract of what it said, I quote:

“The greater Bahr el Ghazal regional leaders have adopted a resolution to fully support the leadership of President Salva Kiir Mayardit now and beyond 2015.” Gurtong 20/05/2013.

In contrast, the position held by the SPLM Equatoria leadership in its last conference was to uphold some neutrality on the issue of supporting any one candidate for the party chairmanship. The assumption is that a real SPLM party convention will be held sooner or later and it will be there that they express their views on the issue.

This position to avoid openly being seen in favour of any one presidential candidate also reflects how divided the Equatoria SPLM leadership is in its preference for the two self-declared candidates. Nowhere can this be better seen than in Hon. James Wani Igga attendance of the Wau conference as a representative to president Kiir.

So going by what has come from the Greater Bahr el Ghazal (SPLM) regional conference, should a similar regional conference be held by SPLM in Greater Upper Nile Region, the outcome will for sure have the final say on whether regionalism has finally become the way to go by in SPLM’s South Sudan politics.

None of these unravelling scenarios are far from explaining the country’s stratagems and polity. Equally so is the much evidenced statements emanating from the SPLM top echelon as can be seen the deputy chairman, Dr. Riek Machar’s warning in Juba as it appeared in the Sudan Tribune and I quote:

“May 19, 2013 (JUBA) – The deputy chairman of the South Sudan’s ruling Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM), Riek Machar has warmed of a possible collapse of party, unless it democratically transforms and re-focuses itself”. It went on to say.

Addressing senior officials at the party’s general secretariat that the SPLM had “lost direction and vision”, making references to reports from various state secretariats across the country, which depicts the party was largely unpopular.

Obviously a political party that is continuously dodging its National Convention and instead chooses to settle major party issues in regional conferences that should have been better confined to inter-states affairs – has for sure lost direction and vision.

However the truth be said and said loud, for its no secret any more that regionalism which many superficially minded people would want to criminalize and equally blame for being responsible for the rudimentary state of affairs in the country, is in fact ignoring the fact that this is just the symptom of yet a huge organizational defect that the people of South Sudan under SPLM rule are forced to take refuge in.

You can talk all your bla bla blab la about political parties; however the bottom line is that all these so-called political parties are more than ready to succumb to regional loyalties. Don’t look far for a proof. It’s all there embodied in the SPLM where once everyone was referred to as comrade. Not too long when they all went back pointing fingers at one another this time as Dinka, Nuer, Bari, Azande, Fartit, Shilluk, Murle etc ………..name it.

Now it seems that the best that RSS can ever get to under Salva Kiir’s SPLM leadership, is to refer to people by their regions or former colonial provinces of Equatoria, Upper Nile and Bahr el Ghazal. No one needs to be ashamed of that and should we all agree on it – since we are already doing it in our daily lives, then we can go ahead to adopt it as the government structure for our so much talked about federalism – thus pleasing both the regionalists like Hon. Kiir and Hon. Wani Igga and the federalists like our prolific opinion writer none other than elder, Jacob K. Lupia.

SPLM has lost both the direction and the vision; in other wards it has become blind to follow any clear direction. People can deceive themselves by pretending to resuscitate it, however for the people in the grassroots, this thing called SPLM was to some extent good until the declaration of the Independence. Thereafter believe you me, even those born after the independence are aware that this party has since become irrelevant.

In brief but to the point, it is important to draw the attention of my dear readers to this very important fact, and that is both president Salva Kiir Mayardit and his deputy Dr. Riek Machar Teny can only use their ethnicities and their regional (Provincial) backings to run and win the 2015. This will have nothing to do with the so-called SPLM vision – for it no longer exists.

We are all aware that these two candidates and their so-called SPLM party has since regressed into a rudimentary organisation and if anything just read what president Kiir said in his letter to the 75 senior SPLM officials who were implicated in the embezzlement of no less than $4 b dollars of the public money. Here I quote:

“We fought for freedom justice and equality,” Kiir added, about the decades-long war against Khartoum. “Yet, once we got to power, we forgot what we fought for and began to enrich ourselves at the expense of our people.”

Under SPLM one party system and Kiir’s totalitarian leadership, South Sudan has gone all the way to make a C- turn and embrace regionalism as the nation’s direction, vision and only way to leadership. You can agree or disagree, but the truth remains that more of these are likely be witnessed should the same leadership remain unchanged.

Author: Dr. Justin Ambago Ramba. Secretary General – United South Sudan Party [USSP]. He can be reached at: justinramba@doctors.net.uk


  1. Simon Tongyik says:

    You’re right, Doctor Justin, but brother what we should bear in mind is that, the tribal politics in old Sudan should not work. One thing we should note was that, eagerness of leadership of South Sudan would damage the future of our young nation that could one day turn into disintegration of our nation. I in person don’t agree with the so called regionalism.

    South Sudanese mind set is based on tribe that’s why you have seen Salva Kiir who’s supposed to be the peace maker tried to energize the tribal war that could cause genocide that is not much needed. Therefore, an venous is possible, whether is peaceful solution or through bullet as a last resort.

  2. Dau-network says:

    Your article makes sense today. I will be happy to any leader who will put two things as priorities in politics:
    First presidential term limit!! And governors terms limits, too, as well as primary voting.
    Secondly, put development as a priority rather than leadership.

  3. MALITH ALIER says:

    Many would-be parties should take this opportunity, metamorpose in order to take charge after SPLM demise
    We all love RSS

  4. Dreamliner says:

    It doesn’t make sense for either regional or tribal politics in South Sudan since we all have common interest. I don’t see good reasons for Greater Equatoria & Bhar el Ghazal showing up their regional concerns toward the nation. What is wrong with competition in the SPLM? Why is it a concern of every citizen when SPLM, D/Chairman, Dr. Riek Machar is challenging his boss SPLM chairman, Dr. Kiir mayardit while all South Sudanese are not SPLM members?
    What is wrong with competition if we are really people who want change? If it happens that it is only SPLM party running for presidency and i don’t belong to SPLM, so I better chose not to vote. Choosing who to lead you in the country is an individual choice not group like what people of Greater Bhar el Ghazal concluded in their conference. If it’s regional politics telling others that Kiir’s candidacy is confirmed for 2015 election and beyond, what comes out of your mind for the reaction of other two regions?

  5. Diu J.Kuek says:

    Dr Justin Ambago Ramba
    In fact this regional ideology fashion has being a pursuance by some leaders who want to achieve their personal interests which do not concern with the national interest, this will have more negative impacts worst than 1970.
    We the South Sudanese nothing new to us in politics, all kinds of political crisis we were gone through we should have do our political games with due care because we’ve passed through so many stages as I say we take an example .

    Autonomy for South Sudanese from 1972-1983 it was first Southerners to rule themselves by themselves– what was the end… this rule Equatorian were adopted so called kokora or whatever can be named against Bahr el Ghazal and Upper Nile regions, such forgotten history now being recalled by our leaders for us to promote such unacceptable ideological thought. why we choose such division among our nation? this evil ideology is against fundamental principle of our constitution because we used to put blame on our enemies in Khartoum as a divide and rule policy so we take very serious political path.
    Therefore every one should be ready for inevitable serious consequence of this ideological regionalism which can not yield any fruits to this nation except regional hatred follow by tribal behaviour which is the worse one.

  6. Itikwili says:

    It is good you have brought back this regionalism thing. i was hoping people would react to it in the same measure, but because regionalism is a second name to equatoria i guess there is no reason why analysts should see the Bahr el Ghazal’s regional conference as somewhat strange. A third regionalism conference and all is normal. while in Juba you get the whole contingent speak ken ken, benj, benj, in the public offices as if the offices were family homes, it is not being challenged, equatoria is the problem. people have changed names to dengDit, dinkadit, lualDit, ladoDit, no body is questioning the framework, equatoria is the problem. indeed, what is South Sudan up to?

  7. Dan says:

    Dear Dr. Justin AR,
    For the first time I absolutely agreed with your observation. Regional politics has never been absent in South Sudan political systems especially so among the Equatoria and Bhar el gazel politicians. However, I doubt if there will be any greater Upper Nile regional conference any time soon and if there is, I do not think the participants will come out with unanimous decision. Riek Machar and Lam Akol have made the Upper Nile region more vulnerable politically due to their poor decision in the past to turn their so called ” Nasir forces” to tribal forces that went to loot, kill, abduct in Dinka areas in greater Upper Nile especially in Jonglei state.
    Sometimes I wonder whether they knew that one day South Sudan was going to be independent and politics was going to turn regional and that the people they were trying to eliminate were going to be needed as allies. I am sure Salva Kiir has already won this contest by the look. He has already secured one region out of three regions and maybe few more individuals from the remaining two regions. The only hope the Upper Nile region may have for political consolidation is to forget about Riek and his mate Lam Akol, and come up with politician with less blood stain on his/her hands.

  8. Diu J.Kuek says:

    Please know that no one is interested by this so called regionalism . in Upper Nile we are satisfied with the ten states in the Republic of South Sudan which are supervised by the central Government, nothing more than that .
    This evil ideology is supporting by the weak hearts people someone who may see the bright future of the nation can not support this .
    Mr Dan, nothing wrong with Upper Nile people, among themselves they can stand as one block but the concern is what will be the consequence if we take such a move, my friend. peace is most important for our nation and peace is most important weapon for the mankind. anyway you may have natural hatred toward any individuals, its your personal opinion right but let not forget the interest of our nation.
    This regional ideology I will call it Wani Igga regional doctrine because he devoted his extraordinary time to promote such divisional idea of regionalism instead of to dedicate to a genuine national healing process and building the trust and confidence in our society. its opposite is working hard to divide the people based on regional geographical indications like goods in commercial market, completely unacceptable ideology so President Salva Kiir Mayardit should oppose too as has been opposed by Vice President Dr Riek Machar Teny Dhurgon. for the interest of our nation we still have a long way to go.

    • Mr. Diu J.Kuek:

      This is a great comment from you. It seemes that the politicians in Greater Equatoria and Bhar El Ghazal Regions are replacing the Kokora and tribal politics with the regionalism. They are doing it in order to achieve their political ambitions and this will lead or steer the Country into the directions of sever tribal and regional disunity. The politicians in the Greater Upper Nile Region are not far behind this political and regional grouping. However they are hindered from pursuing the same regional/political ideologies by their internal political and tribal differences.

      They would have adopted similar political strategies if they were in peace and harmony in Upper Nile. Although I don’t condone the regional and tribal politics in South Sudan, I strongly advise the politicians and tribal leaders in the Greater Upper Nile Region to put their tribal and political differences aside, forgive themselves for the past mistakes and be united for the sake of their region and the Country as well. Certainly, their unity would challenge the regional grouping of the Greater Equatoria and Bhar El Ghazal Regions. The unity and peace in the Greater Upper Nile Region must be attained by its Native politicians and tribal leaders and it must not be accomplished through the Barrel of the gun.

  9. GatCharwearbol says:

    Dr. Justin Ramba:

    You hit the nail on the head precisely. Those who would differ with you are blind to see the facts that are glimmering in our faces.
    Regionalism seems to promise Kiir re-election into the office notwithstanding the mess he created. Our people are bent to tribalism and regionalism rather than who is determined enough to rescue us from the mess Kiir has created and uplift us to the world’s standard regardless of what region or tribe that individual might be.
    Rest assured if Kiir is re-elected into the office, South Sudan is doomed at best. The abyss Kiir dug us in will get deeper as Kiir stays longer in the office. It is time to give someone else a try and see what happens.
    The “OYEE” party has lost direction in the face of Kiir and he is doing nothing to resuscitate it. What do we think Kiir will bring to the table if given another opportunity to run our affairs? I do not see it worthy to give Kiir another chance.
    People of South Sudan, please vote wisely. These politicians are no joke and we must deal with them accordingly. We have the right to choose whoever, but let us not be blind enough to vote on tribal line. We will fail flat on our face.

  10. AbielAkol says:

    Thanks Dr.Justin, for your article. i think there is no problem with the tribes… God created them and nothing bad with the regions are a direction if there are no hidden agendas. the greater Upper Nile will come out with a different declaration than the greater Bahr el Ghazal and the greater Eguatroria declared. the greater Upper Nile had been suffering under the president Kiir leadership. the greater Upper Nile lost greater number of heroes. 1.Maj Gen. Malok Riing Kiir .2.Col Wuor Dau frm Upper Nile 3.H.zechahariah Bol from unity state. 4.Meg Gen.Isaiah Abraham Jonglei state 5.many leaders from Nuer community. all these happened without a question who really beyond the dead?

    • Abiel Akol:

      The killing of our heroes and heroines have been ocurring in the the SPLA movement since it was formed in 1983. The first victim of the SPLA’s brutality was Benjamin Bol Akok from Aweil, Northern Bhar El Ghazal State. He was murdered in cold blood by Dr. John Garang in Addis Ababa in 1980’s. I’m not surprised of what is happening in Juba now because the killing is being carried out by the same groups with the same mentality.

      In the History of the SPLA, President Kiir was one of the peaceful officers in the movement. He did not kill people like Dr. John Garang, Dr. Riek Machar, Kerubino Kuanyin Bol, William Nyuon Bany, Arok Thon Arok, and Kuol Manyang Juuk. Kiir was not known of killing or turturing people in the SPLA movement.Perhaps, the president is adopting the political strategies of his former Boss of killing those who oppose him.

      Do you know why people were afraid of late Dr. John Garang? The People feared him in the movement because of the killing and imprisonment. It was Dr. John Garang who said that you should kill your opponent with the stick/gun of his/her own Cousin. This means that he would recruit a member of your own relatives to kill you for him and they would take the blame. Perhaps, president Kiir is advised to kill his opponents in order to rule longer. Let us get used to that killing because it has been there since the beginning of the movement. Let us all share the taste of the SPLA’s brutality.

      • Eastern says:

        Very pathetic comment! How can you condone the rampant lawlessness and killing in the country to continue? In this world nobody has the ultimate decision to decide the fate of others. Where are the two top brutal dictators in our times? Where is Saddam Hussein? Where is Muamar Gadhafi? Dr. Garang also died. If you leave by killing now, you will also die; most probably be killed be it in ‘accident’ as was the case of Dr. Garang, or executed as was the case of Saddam Hussein or in action as was the case of Gadhafi.
        Gatkuoth, nobody should use the power of death to threaten others. The same power of death will overcome them!!

      • Abiel says:

        you are right even if you fight with your wife you will say that she was adopted fighting from Dr.John Garang. what about the killing land (giving away) was adopted from Dr.John Garang too? I want to let you know my brother there are a difference between the bushes laws and cities laws.

      • GatCharwearbol says:

        My Cousin, Lukudu Gatkuoth Garang,

        I am pleased to see you coming back into the reality on the ground. Now I know that you knew Dr. John Garang was a killer. Many of you Dinkas have made Dr. John a sacred cow that nobody should talk about. We all now know per your own admission that Dr. John Garang was most feared for his evil ways of killing. This is what confuses me when Dr. John’s supporters brush his mistakes aside and go after Dr. Machar as the only Killer.

        I do not see Dr. Machar as killer: The proof is, we in Nuer society know very well that what failed Dr. Machar in 1991 split was because he does not kill as Dr. John. If he was like Dr. John, I am positive that he would have taken the power from Garang. Those who had abandoned him would have not done so because they would have smelt the death bed right in their faces.

        Just like you clearly mentioned, I never heard any wrongdoing by Salva Kiir. But he was clearly learning from his mentor, Dr. John silently. He is now putting into practice what he learned. That is why many people are dying in his hands and you all dare to want to install him back into the office. What is the matter with you, my people?

  11. Dau-network says:

    Guys, Kiir ready is to go if Dr Evil is not contesting and give others a chance.
    Time for fresh team.
    We like Mr Kiir to block this devil if he is the only option !!
    I don’t see a difference between his supporters and him if they are really patriots. some young guys want to suck our parents’ blood otherwise no support of that man with that heinous personality!
    All supporters are political- hermaphrodites as well looklikes patricides or matricides by their siblings.
    Anybody love this country should not support Mr Kiir Mayardit and Dr devil for upcoming election unless you are a position seeker.

  12. Deng says:

    Kokora has made its way back and unfortunately it is the the ruling party SPLM which is endorsing it, I agree with Dr Ramba. It is those who were condemning Kokora in 80s that are embracing it now because strategy is shifting in their favour. The Nationalism is becoming a history while self-interest is dominating the game.

  13. Mamer says:

    Indeed there is nothing wrong with Dr Machar standing for the top office, and this is a matter to be dealt with by the party members not everyone. Some of you writers should write about your own party politics, programs and plans to attract membership to win elections in 2015, that’s it.

  14. Dominic Agok says:

    The SPLM encouraged tribalism by the tiers of the local government. Starting from the State as you go to the smaller units like county, payams, and bomas, you find that each unit is being reduced to tribes, then clans, and then families. Now it is trying to forge this regionalism to gather people behind certain leader for their political gains.

    The Greator Bahr el Ghazal Conference is the president’s way to show that he has support from back home. However, in reality, Western Bahr el Ghazal State’s community is not a party to this conference but are being coerced into it by the power hungry governor, who hails from Darfur. The recent organization of Bahr el Ghazal cultural week, the schools sport competition and the holding of the conference in Wau are all forced on the people by the governor for political ambitions. Wani Igga himself knows that the conference is a failure.

    The people of Western Bahr el Ghazal have suffered tremendously under Kiir and if there is free and fair elections, WBG will not vote for Kiir. They should not lie to South Sudanese that there is any such unity. We have ten states only and that is what we believe, nothing else.

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