We outlined in our statement on the founding of the party a year ago, the reasons and circumstances that led to the formation of Sudan People’s Liberation Movement – Democratic Change (SPLM-DC), as well as its objectives. A keen observer to the activities of the party for the last one year cannot fail to see the great achievements made in this short time which has put its name firmly on the political map as a force to reckon with.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The birth of SPLM-DC was necessary to fill the vacuum created by the leadership of the SPLM, to generate a political discourse based on firm original thought in order to complete the programme for reform and change started by the founders of the Movement and to transform the SPLM into a political party that can lead competitive politics in a plural society, especially that the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) has laid upon its shoulders tremendous responsibilities to govern Southern Sudan. All these challenges demanded a strong conscious leadership imbued with far-sightedness and self-confidence. The new leadership of the SPLM since 2005 did not measure up to these challenges and the Movement became rudderless. This condition was exploited by a few opportunists that consumed the energy of the party in uncalled for internal squabbles and continuous unnecessary confrontations with the partner to the CPA. Such a situation had to be corrected and the change that the former party Chairman, Dr. John Garang, had been struggling for be advanced. Therefore, the emergence of SPLM-DC was inevitable; it presents a political viewpoint steeped in the struggle for freedom and democracy, and founded on the Sudanese character which in turn is a result of the interaction of old civilizations.
It was not out of the blue that we called for change, why and how? The events at hand have proved that what we warned against has become true. Today there is a clear fissure within the SPLM as evidenced by the rebellion of the Independents within it, the mutiny of Lt. General George Athor and other senior officers of the SPLA, and unjustified arrests without charges within the leadership of the SPLM such as Major General Telephone Kuku. Also, mismanagement, financial irregularities and corruption have gotten worse to the extent that the Government of Southern Sudan has become a laughing stock in the area of corruption.
One year of the long life of the party has gone and it was not easy at all. The SPLM left no allegation or plot without putting it on the SPLM-DC. For them the party was stillborn and when we were born alive, our members were arrested and tortured. Some of them are still languishing in the prisons of the SPLM/A. Finally, the President of GOSS issued in November 2009 an order preventing our party from practising politics in the South. All these intimidations and obstructions were meant to frighten off the citizens who rushed to join the party so much so that the membership rose to hundreds of thousands in less than three months.
Our reaction to these provocations from the SPLM was to resort to the courts of law. The Constitutional Court on 17/1/2010 ruled that the decision banning our party from involvement in politics was null and void. Despite that decision of the Constitutional Court, the obstructions continued in different forms as we saw during the elections campaign in Wau on 28/3/2010 when we were not allowed to disembark from the plane for more than 30 minutes, even the journalists were assaulted and the offices of the High Elections Committee were stoned. In fact, we were denied to campaign in four States out of the ten States in the South!
As we speak today many of our colleagues are under detention by the military intelligence of the SPLA. For instance, in Malakal, Hon. Mustafa Gai Lual, member of the Upper Nile State Legislative Assembly, and Dr Odol Ochemi were arrested at midnight on Saturday the 22nd of May, and in Bentiu, the Chairman of the Party, Cde Peter Gatluak Biel, was driven away from his home on Thursday the 3rd instant. No charges were produced against any of them and their whereabouts are not known. We appeal to the regional and international community, especially organizations concerned about human rights, to bring pressure to bear on the SPLM and SPLA to release these detainees or allow due process of law to take its course. It is totally unacceptable for the army to arrest civilians in a democracy.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Your party is imbued with clear thinking and far-sightedness born out of hopelessness to usher our people into wider horizons in the field of public activities and is deeply concerned with the problems facing the feeble and the marginalized. Many free thinking people have joined it as witnessed by the National Delegates Congress, which was attended by around two thousand delegates, and the huge crowds that attend its rallies all over Sudan.
In answer to some irresponsible and malicious statements repeatedly made by some characters in the SPLM trying to link us with military activities as a way of targeting our members, we would like to make it absolutely clear that our party believes only in peaceful methods to achieve its objectives. We have made a pledge on this in writing to the Political Parties Affairs Council. A sober person would ask the question as to why would a party winning popular support be causing instability in areas of its political control. These allegations don not make sense. But as it is said, commonsense doesn’t seem to be common. Those people think a repeated lie will become a truth. We have tolerated their lies long enough and if they do not stop, the party shall take legal measures against them.
Ladies and Gentlemen, One year is a moment of reflection for us to take stock of what we have done and what needs to be done. What we have done includes the following: –
1. The process of registering the party was a difficult one in which we had to struggle hard until the party got registered. Some forces used their immense resources in order to obstruct the registration of the party using some weak elements among us who joined the party for personal gains.
2. The preparation and convening of the National Delegates Congress (NDC) brought together members from all over the Sudan, a fact acknowledged by foe before friend.
3. After the NDC approved the Basic Rules we embarked on constituting the structures of the party through direct and free elections, i.e., the Chairman, the National Council, Deputies of the Chairman and the National Executive Committee. Later on the General Secretariat was formed.
4. The party opened offices in all States of Sudan and abroad.
5. A consultative meeting was held with businessmen on 16/3/2010. It was a unique meeting in which the party was exposed firsthand to the ills of the Sudanese economy and the financing problems. Some of these issues were included in the party’s election manifesto.
6. The party participated effectively in the South-South Dialogue Conference held in the period 14 – 16 November 2009 under the theme “Towards the Unity of Purpose and Democracy”. The conference came out with a comprehensive programme to solve the problems facing Southern Sudan. It also saw the birth of the Alliance of South Sudan Political Parties (ASSPP), which unanimously chose me to be its candidate for the President of the Government of Southern Sudan (GOSS) in the just concluded elections.
7. We prepared and adopted the Party’s Elections Manifesto in both Arabic and English the discussion on which took more than a month.
8. Our party contested the elections at all levels in twenty States. We would have won the majority of seats we contested for in the South and the contest for the President of GOSS. However, the comprehensive and massive rigging done by the SPLM and SPLA denied us our victory. All have seen the extent of the rigging that happened in the elections in South Sudan due to direct intervention by the SPLA, Governors and Commissioners. The National Elections Commission stayed mum towards these corrupt practices. Yet still, our party is the second largest party in both the Southern Sudan Legislative Assembly and the Upper Nile State Legislative Assembly. Furthermore, we have the second largest Caucus of members of the National Assembly from South Sudan. I seize this opportunity to congratulate our party leaders and party workers in the States for this victory despite all the odds against them. It is a sign of their commitment and full dedication to the cause of Change.
The rigging of the elections in Southern Sudan was met with extreme anger and frustration by the citizens whose will was stolen. They reacted by coming out in demonstrations in which some of them were shot dead by the authorities as was the case in Bentiu town. Worse still, some reacted by taking up arms as in the case with Lt. General George Athor and others in other areas of South Sudan. We in the SPLM-DC together with our allies in the ASSPP resolved not to recognize the result of the election of the President of GOSS and filed a law suit before the National Supreme Court to declare it null and void. This was on 2/5/2010. Up till now, the court has not passed its verdict despite the fact that Article 81(2) of the National Elections Commission demands that this be done within two weeks from the time of deposition of the law suit before the court.
The anger and fury of the South Sudanese for the rigging of the elections is understandable. They had hinged their hopes on these elections to jettison the SPLM-controlled government that had failed them for five years. The SPLM used all the state apparatus to deny them their wish. Therefore, the present government in Juba is illegitimate as it is a government voted in by the SPLM and SPLA rather than by the people.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
As we look forward into a new year, we know that a lot of work is awaiting our great party. We accepted the challenge and took it upon ourselves to tread the difficult road of change.
What will we do during the next year?
1. We shall complete the building of the party from the Basic Units to the State Conference through direct and free elections.
2. Formation of the party offices abroad.
3. The National Council will hold its second session next month.
4. Preparation for the exercise of the right to self-determination by the South Sudanese.
The Right of Self-determination:
The right of self-determination for the people of South Sudan is the cornerstone and crux of the CPA and must be adhered to and respected. Our party looks into this issue through the historical perspective that the Southerners have been demanding for a political arrangement that meets their aspirations. It is the only democratic method that will settle once and for all the debate over the unity of Sudan or the separation of South Sudan. Therefore, the South Sudanese must be prepared to vote on self-determination by explaining to them the pros and cons of unity or separation. The referendum will determine the future of the Sudanese people as a whole and should not be used for political opportunism as we see and hear these days. Our party must play a leading role in directing the awareness campaign in South Sudan so that the South Sudanese make an informed choice in the referendum on Self-determination freely, fairly and transparently. Our genuine fear is that the SPLM and SPLA will rig the referendum in the same way they rigged the last elections in Southern Sudan. Therefore, the present illegitimate government in South Sudan cannot be trusted to conduct the referendum as this will render its outcome to be a subject of dispute.
5. Darfur Problem.
The conflict in Darfur is the main problem facing Sudan now. Unhappily, it has become a subject of manoeuvres by the two partners to the CPA, the armed Movements in Darfur and the influential countries in the international community, as such, it has become quite complicated. Our party believes that there must be a commitment by all to seek a peaceful solution to this conflict so that our people in Darfur may enjoy peace and stability. That solution must address the root causes of the problem, involve the people of Darfur in the peace process and should not deny genuine friends of Sudan to play a role in it. On this basis, we support the Doha talks and its framework agreement which we think may form the basis of the peace agreement on Darfur. We salute the people and government of the State of Qatar for their unceasing efforts and generosity in the search for a peaceful resolution of this problem. We also extend our gratitude to all those who have helped in one way or the other in the search for a resolution of this conflict.
In this context, we sincerely call upon all the Darfurian armed Movements to unite their ranks and approach the talks together so that the solution is made easier.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
We welcome the invitation of the National Congress for us to participate in the National Government. This will afford us the opportunity to implement our election programme. The discussions between their delegation and ours have reached an advanced stage in this regard. We shall be keen to see that the government shall carry out its functions in accordance with the election programme that we presented to the masses of the people and that the government shall be a servant of the people taking care of them and not only taxing them.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
6. The Culture of Peace.
Within the next year, our party shall work for the promotion of the culture of peace between all sections of the great Sudanese people under the theme “Peace is in the Minds of People”. Agreements may stop wars but cannot impose peace. Our party shall strive to activate the programme of Reconciliation and Healing stipulated in the CPA, which the two partners chose to ignore. This is vital so that a mutual total forgiveness takes place among the sons and daughters of this country. Your party shall work seriously and transparently in the promotion of the culture of peace.
Long live the SPLM-DC.