BY: Bol Khan, SOUTH SUDAN, MAY/15/2018, SSN;
Should the South Sudanese people continue celebrating the official date of SPLM/A foundation on 16th May of 1983 every year, even after the independence of South Sudan? I repeatedly, on some few occasions, put this question to several South Sudanese citizens since May 2011.
Of course, there were both YES and NO groups of people from those that I asked. However, the vindications and answers the YES group would give me were in some ways ambiguous and contradictory.
They would tell me that 16th May was SPLM/A’s inception day; some say it was the day the SPLM/A’s Founder, Dr. John Garang de Mabior, rebelled against Khartoum, some would say it was the day Keribino Kuanyin, William Nyuon and others mutinied in Ayod, others would say NO, 16th May was the day on which Southern Sudanese people shot the first bullet in a fight for total independence of South Sudan from Khartoum’s successive regimes …etc.
Hence, they all believed that 16th May was a national day which people in South Sudan should celebrate every year, even after independence.
Now, it has been exactly seven (7) years down the line —after South Sudan’s independence, 2011. Therefore, today, I would like to bring up a similar question as I did in 2011: Is 16th May still a celebratory day in South Sudan?
Our recent past observations evinced that majority of South Sudanese citizens, including the SPLM/A members have developed a very huge apathy towards 16th May, that’s it’s less important after South Sudan got its independence from Sudan.
Since then, the expected turnout of ordinary people was increasingly becoming low right from 2012-2016. In May 2017, the day was entirely not celebrated/commemorated at all and as this one of 2018.
This tremendous disinterest developed by the people towards 16th May remembrance day did not come out of the blue. Below are varieties of moral and legal reasons identified to be the main causes:
First, after South Sudan’s independence in 2011, the name “Sudan People Liberation Movement” (SPLM/A) morally and lawfully appeared outdated — it bears the name of another country (Sudan).
Therefore, the Transitional Constitution of Republic of South Sudan talked of both military and political transformation and reform of the Sudan People Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A).
Now, there in the constitution, the ‘Sudan People Liberation Army’ (SPLA) was changed to be ‘South Sudan Armed Forces’ (SSAF). And the SPLM political wing was set to change its name in 2013 National Convention that turned into the 2013 National Carnage.
Again, President Salva Kiir Mayardit, on 16th May 2017, restructured the army and changed the “Sudan People Liberation Army (SPLA)—to South Sudan Defense Force (SSDF). All these were legal and constitutional names transformation South Sudan should have used (instead of SPLA) since 9th July 2011 and 16th May 2017 respectively.
Why, because anything enshrined in supreme law of the land or announced by the President in the name of the nation needs to be implemented as long as it is the populace aspiration.
The current SPLM/A’s factionalism are: (1) SPLM/A-N (which is the real SPLM/A without mentioning North Sudan), (2) SPLM/A-IG, (3) SPLM/A-IO and (4) SPLM-FD. Among all these factions, the only faction which took the lead in transforming itself and erasing the name was the SPLM-DC of Dr. Lam Akol.
Perhaps, the SPLM-IO of Dr. Riek Machar was going to change its name in Juba, either in late 2016 or early 2017 (but failed). SPLM/A is plainly extraneous in the Republic of South Sudan.
Secondly, given the past and current events, South Sudanese people have realized that the SPLM/A is a flagrant, hooliganistic and predatory movement which only feigned a war for dictatorship and global terrorism in the name of freedom and democracy.
Historically, the SPLM/A’s ideology is full of hatred, antagonism, blood & loss of lives which are always caused by the ambiguity of its visions and missions!
For instance, going back to those deadly splits that occurred among separatists and unionists in 1983, 1991 and again in 2013, all those events could describe the SPLM/A’s principles in details.
The people of South Sudan are now with such a great dislike of not only seeing the SPLM/A (with all its factions) as ruling party gone but also want to depose its existence in the Republic of South Sudan.
Thirdly, the war and struggle for Independence of South Sudan wasn’t started first on 16th May 1983. The SPLM/A was taking on the same objective which the already existent Southern Sudan Liberation Movement/Army (SSLM/A—Anyanya 1 & 2) of those of nationalists Gai Tut and Akot Atem were fighting for.
Sadly, it was SPLM/A founder, Dr. John Garang and current president Salva Kiir Mayardit who colluded and killed these true nationalists in Bilpham, Ethiopia, the name ironically given to the SPLA Headquarters in Juba.
History is a higher mountain of facts!!
The South Sudanese people from all walks of life have lost appetite and moral support (not interested any more) to continue celebrating the 16th May 1983 after the independence of South Sudan.
The nation now looks up to the day it will officially integrate the 16th May celebrations into the real day. What is the real day which the nation supposes to be celebrated yearly?
That is your delicious food for thought! So, 16th May 1983 is not a celebratory and popular day in South Sudan.
The author is a South Sudanese freelance Writer. He can be reached for comments on firstname.lastname@example.org