SPLM Leadership on-going power struggle unhealthy for South Sudan

BY: Taban Abel Aguek, RUMBEK, JUL/21/2013, SSN;

In his book, 48 Laws of Power, Robert Greene advised against appearing too perfect. “Appearing better than others is always dangerous, but most dangerous of all is to appear to have no faults or weaknesses,” stated Greene. Within the context of the current wrangles going on in the leadership of South Sudan this can be a very valuable advice.

South Sudan’s Vice President, Dr Riek Machar Teny has openly declared his desire to replace Salva Kiir Mayardit as the Chairman of SPLM with hope of transiting to the country’s top most job. Some other SPLM big wigs have equally made public their interests in leading the country. From there all the echoes of SPLM losing vision, corruption, Kiir’s incompetence and the country losing direction have been pouring in non-stop.

Without restraint, all that has been happening is pointing at every log in the eye of the head of state while every one of the aspirants ignores a lot they have in their own eyes.

Those who think they can change the direction of the country or restore the vision need also to learn one more thing: it is dangerous in politics to appear like a complete Messiah.

The war within the SPLM makes many of us think that the role of the opposition party, SPLM-DC and Dr. Lam Akol Ajawin has been unjustifiably snatched by those within the ruling system. That is unfair to the SPLM-DC, the ruling SPLM and the whole country.

Dr Riek, just like any other South Sudanese, has every right to contest to be president of the Republic of South Sudan as per the constitution of South Sudan. And requires him not appear so piously patriotic and some developmental. One can be a leader in his own means.

What is only very bad is for someone to use the situation imposed on the country by inter-state duels with Sudan to stage a campaign of failure on another so as to advance their self interests. We have not achieved what we are supposed to achieve because there has been constant aggression over there and instant sabotage also in here.

Every human being needs to put in a proper juxtaposition both the past and the present in order to calculate and measure the future. If we can look at that quite seriously through the fair lenses of righteousness then we need to be careful when we drive through our ambitions or even when we are driven by our dreams.

The most important thing that I would like to put across is that South Sudan, as a young nation, is struggling to stand on its feet. The number one thing this country needs is not a new president who can drop manna from heaven.

No! Rather we feel that unity of the country is a prerequisite to all the other priorities. This country needs to be kept stable and united until it has surmounted the challenges and threats posed by Sudan as well as other difficulties that have to do with new nationhood and nation building.

With the current state of affairs and with Khartoum playing it so topsy-turvy, it is a blatant lie for anyone to think that he or she can ascend to power today and change everything tomorrow for South Sudan. We are undergoing what every new country can go through. We only need to be patient, calm and resilient. That is the only means through which we can achieve our dreams.

South Sudan did achieve an official independence but it is still short of so many things that are very important to the very existence of the nation itself. First of these is the issue of the southern contested borders. The area of Abyei, Heglig, Kafia Kingi and so many others have not yet had their future decided.

Our economy largely depends on oil which again has to pass the territory and infrastructure of Sudan – the country that has pledged right after our independence to play some dirty cards with our statehood and existence. We are faced with rebellions in the country whose causes are not clear. We have an army that is not yet established into a world class army. Our air is open to an enemy’s use any time they feel like.

Our diplomacy is still at an infant stage. When one looks at these unresolved issues plus so much more than one tends to think who seeks power quite so vigorously at this time is laughing at us. Those who scramble for your wealth when you are on a death bed actually had been wishing your death, people say.

Similarly, those who want leadership at a time South Sudan needs to stand together to fight external aggressions and internal state-building hurdles are letting us down either knowingly or maybe unknowingly.

There is a serious need for SPLM leaders to stand together behind President Salva Kiir because when SPLM falls the country will similarly go in tatters. And it will be disgusting that the country was allowed to fail simply because most senior leaders are fighting for the top most positions.

Not only does South Sudan need all tribes together and but it equally needs Salva Kiir, Dr Riek Machar, Pagan Amuom, Madam Rebecca Nyandeng and of course all of us together.

If Dr Riek wants to count on failures of Salva Kiir to build a platform on which he should rise to power then it is a complete mockery. No one can climb a mould hill and then condemn the ground.

There is no where Salva fails and Dr Riek goes clean. If SPLM led government did fail then it must have been allowed to fail by all the partakers.

Or the public shall not rule out a possibility of attributing any failure of the government to an un-cooperating VP and his friends. It has already passed down to the understanding of the public that the VP and his friends are pulling down the efforts of the President, engage him so as to take him off his plans and throw mud at him so that they stand cleaner than him. If this is the case then Salva Kiir can be the angel of the power contest.

President Kiir cannot rule forever. President Kiir does not want to stay in power because he is not a power hungry person. If he was a power hungry person he would not have toiled for all the years in the bush under Dr Garang without complaining any single day.

The interest of Kiir is to ensure that he leaves a stable, dignified state for all the sons and daughters of South Sudan.

More still, Salva Kiir Mayardit has not completed even one term as the President of South Sudan. During the CPA, the President of one united Sudan was Omer al Beshir. Mr Kiir was 1st VP and President of a semi autonomous South Sudan that was still being managed by one Beshir in Khartoum. The rightful independent term as Head of State just began on 9th July 2011.

So, President Kiir has been in office for just two years. Even the very democratic USA, a President can stay in office for eight years if elected the second time. Why are South Sudanese scrambling so much when they still have time to be Presidents later on?

Many of our leaders have stayed close to Salva Kiir for decades but how did they fail to learn just one thing from him: patience. Had it not been for his patience, SPLM would have divided even further after 1991 Riek’s split.

Salva underwent some mistreatment in the bush but he did use the heavy weight of Bahr el Ghazal to rebel. He never wished Dr Garang dead. He rose to the throne courtesy of his calm, humble and resilient heart.

If our senior leaders could learn that, one day they can land on the leadership they so much aspire for, just one at a time because there is time for everyone.

If leadership is all what our people want then the big word is ‘WAIT!’ If anybody thinks he can replace Salva Kiir and change things tomorrow, that is not possible now even if it is battled twice a year on the ballot because South Sudanese people are very much aware.

What is only possible is the use of the NCP long promised cards including the one to divide the South’s senior leadership. Our leaders may have fallen into the trap designed somewhere to cause internal turmoil maybe with or without their knowledge.

May God bless South Sudan!

Taban Abel Aguek works in Rumbek. He can be reached at abelaguek79@gmail.com


  1. AW Joseph says:

    Dear Taban Abel Aguek,
    The Addis Ababa agreement of 1972-1983 achieved tangible results. What has the SPLM/A done in the last, more than 8 years with the billions of Aid and Oil money at their disposal?

    In 1978 in one of his visits to Kongor, the Youths sang the following lyrics to Former President Numeiri; “we have nothing now but herd of cattle, the ornament of our life”.

    Are the current Youths of Kongor free today to herd their Cattle in crime infested independent South Sudan???? I guess you claim to live in Rumbek. Are you aware of last week’s story where a young man was shot to death in front of one the safest place on earth, that is the Lakes Sate Parliament Compound???

    Taban, you are a disgusting, pathetic serial Dinka liar and not worthy of listening to. South Sudan has enough of your type to say the least!!!

    • Taban says:

      AW Joseph,

      If the 1972 Addis Ababa Agreement brought any tangible results then why did the people of South Sudan start on another struggle in 1983?

  2. A. Peat says:

    Dear Mr. Aguek, how many years do you want Mr. President Kiir to rule the Country for? Kiir has been ruling the nation since the tragic death of SPLM’s leader Dr. John Garang in 2005. Simple arithmetic- he ruled for eight years now. Furthermore, what did he achieve & what will he achieve if given more years? I don’t think he’s going to make any difference even if he stays for more eight years in power. In my opinion, he should go, give others a chance.

  3. babilon says:

    your essay was so well at the very beginning but you have damaged it from the middle, it became full of EGO and selfishness and apartheid, and i as well discovered that you are very tribalistic person.
    regarding kiir and machar, you can fight or kill that person because he or she is gona vote for machar…oh my GOD. but you must understand machar is a political reality on the ground and your mind must be flexible with this input, i know it’s hard but you must accept it like this because it’s like this.
    i know you as a dinka person because you have done so much bad to others that is why you have this fear from unknown when machar is a president of this republic, you have so much hatred in your heart….

    • Taban says:

      If I am a tribalist then why do I call on Kiir, Riek, Pagan and all of us to stay united?

      • Taban:

        Please read between the lines. You are considered tribalistic because you did not support Riek’s political campaign or had miserably failed to insult Kiir and Dinka in your article. Does South Sudan belong to Kiir and Machar, Dinka and Nuer? Can anyone other than Kiir/Machar or any tribe other than Dinka/Nuer be president of South Sudan in 2015? This question is for all of us, Dinka and Nuer. Anyhow it is a great article. Keep it up!

  4. please Taban, you fall short of the reason why kiir is opposed by his ruling party senior members. it’s lack of coordination, corruption and many more. letting him rule till 2020 is dangerous to the country rocked by tribal line, insecurity and underdevelopment or no development at all in some areas. think twice before you are enticed by material love rather than public interest.

  5. Dr.Duol Tut says:

    @Abel, why do you think South Sudanese can be united only if we support Kiir? If you are mindful about the future of our infant then advised your boss to allow democratic contest. If he wins through free and fair election well and good. Your delusional message falls short of reality as you’re calculating the future of South Sudan in terms of balance sheet. Be mindful of your job in Rumbek and never educate us on how best we can overcome this challenge in references to ideal democratic principles because some of us will be better than you. Mr president stands a better chance if you allow him to excercise participatory leadership and open door for constructive critism. Stay blessed

  6. Dan says:

    Taban Aguek:
    You claimed in your article that Salva Kiir was mistreated in the bush and at the same time most most of the people from your region including those that have never been to bush claimed that they solely liberated this country. I hope you are not saying the people some of you refer to as cowards did the mistreatment.

    Having not defected to the enemy during the war is not a ticket for the presidency. If we were to be rewarded according to the contribution during the war, then what is it that can be given to families that sacrificed all their children for this liberation?

    I agree with you that Riek Machar is over expressing his ambition for the top job and that he sounds more like an opposition leader than a vice president. If Salva Kiir administration is a failure, then he should take responsibility for part of it because he is the second most powerful man in that government.

    • majongdit says:


      Taban is right 100%. The unity of the country is more important than anything else especially at this time when things are not yet in the right order between us and the Jalaba.

  7. Joseph Milla says:

    Dear Taban,

    Your article sounds good when you talked of unity and I would add to your list other components such as development and service provision.
    President Kirr, as person, is a good and humble man but as leader of a country he has some short comings. Majority of the populace, myself included, admired him given his struggle credentials and finally to leading the country into independence. His short comings comes when he was unable to discipline his boys when they stray from their obligations and embarked on corruption.
    The saying goes that, “When you stay with a thief you are not any different from them”. This is so especially when you do not tell them this is wrong or punish them. He should not have served the public with the list of 75 most corrupt senior civil servants and beg them to return the stolen money. He knows that corruption, in whatever form, is a crime and punishable by law. Then why beg them?. The populace is not interested in pardon for a cooked crime that adversely affect their lives nor are they interested in being led by notorious club of parasites and hang-on’s whose only good is depriving the public from basic services they so much need.

    I am proud of him this time for his bold decision in reducing the cabinet. My piece of advice to him is that, now that he has relieved all his ministers including majority of the most corrupt ones, he should filter out the good ones and re-appoint them living behind the wanted ones, revoke their immunity and allow the law to take its course. He should also bring in new blood and begin advanced democracy. This way, he will be the cowboy of the country coming 2015.

  8. Taban says:

    Joseph Milla,

    I agree with you that as a human being, President Salva has some shortcomings but that should not lead into unnecesary duels and contests. I feel that South Sudanese need to stage a united front against their challenges. Otherwise, I have no problem with your views at all.

  9. AW joseph says:

    Well, we all know in Equatoria that the DINKA went to the bush and started the war because of:
    (1) Decentralisation (KOKORA) policy of Late President Numeiri which was accepted by Equatorians but rejected by Dinka.
    (2) Expulsion or forced removal of Dinka from Juba
    (3) Indiscipline and insubordination by none other than that serial psychopath Kerebino Kuanyin Bol in Battalion 105 in Bor
    (4) Dinka arrogance, Greed and lack of social etiquette let the Equatorians to have nothing to do with them.

    It’s not rocket science to know the problem facing our country now due to Dinka leadership. I am sure you are aware of the public out cry about SPLM system of Governance in independent South Sudan. All the bad things happening now have never been witnessed at this scale in united Sudan.

  10. Taban says:

    AW Joseph,
    The article didn’t say anything about who went to the bush and who didn’t. Why you brought it up under a different topic only you know, why? Secondly, all the other things you have stated as the reasons why Dinka rebel are all wrong. Sons and daughters of Bahr el Ghazal, Upper Nile, Equatoria, Nuba and Funj decided to rebel because of a rightious cause. The reasons for our last rebellion can be 1 million. If Dinka were rebelling against Kokora they should have done against Equatorians, not the ruling regime in Khartoum.

    • Taban:

      Educating a fool and tribalistic is very rewarding and blessing. Please continue to teach those who still don’t know why we went to fight in the Bush. Those of Mr. AW Joseph are liberated physically, yet they still need to be liberated mentally and psychologically. Does Dinka need to go and fight the Equatorians in the Bush?

      • Taban says:

        Lukudu Gatkuoth Garang,
        You are right. I can also understand why you have always been victimised in this forum. It is simply because you have carried an urge to unite South Sudanese people. We need not to give up in urging our people to put politics aside and work towards peace and unity of the country.

  11. Moses malak Arok says:

    You really understand the situation of south sudan because without unity between all parties there is no future even when we change everyday a leader, we still fall into the hole and my message to the writers of this side to be careful fore what they write and I hope everybody to discuss without attaching our background .

  12. AW Joseph says:

    I am not going to involve myself in unendless argument without refering to relevant historical facts. I was replyiny the question you directed to me that, “If the 1972 Addis Ababa Agreement brought any tangible results then why did the people of South Sudan start on another struggle in 1983?” Have a look at this article from South Sudan News Agency on May 14, 2011 (SSNA) about; The Root Causes of Conflicts in South Sudan, then we will talk about the mess Dinka have caused in Sudan in general and South Sudan in particular in the name of fighting good injustice with more worse injustice.

    • AW Joseph:

      Dinka is not the creator or owner of South Sudan. Why don’t you do something to change or fix things in South Sudan if Dinka can not do it well? Whining and Bitching about Dinka online, will not change anything in South Sudan. You have been bitching about Dinka lately. What have you accomplished so far?

    • Mike De says:

      Dear Taban,
      You wrote an extraordinary article that tried to inform and convince most of us to understand why President Kiir needs more time, however some of us may also still answer questions, President Kiir has been in the leadership for 8 yrs, he has been a long serving SPLA commander -a long standing commander with SPLA and still doesn’t know the people he is presiding, what a mess or a joke?

      If a child who was born when the peace was signed is now in grade three and knows how to write, why does South Sudan reach a stage that is in comparison to that child.
      South Sudan has received a lot of money and people are still killing themselves in Rumbek because of hunger. is he achieving that unity you are talking about?
      South Sudan is now experiencing high level of rebellion than even ten years ago, is he achieving that unity you are talking that you want Salva be given more time?
      Correct we are hearing more Amnesty be given now and then but is it helping South Sudan? The uncertain manner is a point against Him.
      He totally does not know what he is doing and he left the Country to be ruled by the people Australia Prime Minister termed as faceless.
      People of South Sudan don’t need more debts? Think again, what more time do you need to be given to Kiir?

      Mr. Lukudu Gatkuoth Garang asked a very good question, Does South Sudan belong to Kiir and Machar, Dinka and Nuer? Can anyone other than Kiir/Machar or any tribe other than Dinka/Nuer be president of South Sudan in 2015?

      Mr President must call SPLM convention and settle the issue of leadership not to mess the Country up and disable it. For him to be happy in the chair, he has to be sure of how many people like him in the Parliament and there is no way he will be sure of that other than calling SPLM Convention. LEADERSHIP ISSUE MUST BE RESOLVED IN THE SPLM CONVENTION BEFORE CREATING OTHER MESS. SOUTH SUDAN HAD ENOUGH PROBLEMS.

  13. Taban says:

    Mike De,
    I dont think you are right when you say that South Sudan existed for eight years now.
    The six year interim period was another difficult era in the history of South Sudan as we were battling to see to it that CPA components are implemented. There was a lot of pulling of strings between Khartoum and Juba on many issues. The hardest of it all was to allow for a timely conduct of referendum for Southerners to determine their fate. SPLM then fought tooth and nail to let the referendum take place. It finally took place and its why we have a country today.
    So, I would like you to accept that we have been a nation for only two years. A child born in 2011 is exactly two years now, able to drag its feet but can not run with those ones born decades ago. This will not change anytime now even if you instal Dr Riek or whoever that you think can do better than Salva Kiir. In fact, you might end up saying ‘better Salva than all this’ one time one day. Thank you

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