September 6, 2021 (JUBA) – A prominent South Sudanese opposition politician has said only citizens are capable of removing dictatorial regimes from power, not armies under their control.
- Lam Akol, chairman of South Sudan’s opposition National Democratic Movement (NDM) (AFP/Samir Bol Photo)
Lam Akol, in an op-ed published on Friday, said South Sudan government should address the root causes of discontent among the country’s citizens, instead of threats and intimidation.
Akol heads the National Democratic Movement (NDM), a non-political organisation which is a signatory to the September 2018 peace accord.
“It is important to stress that the army will never intervene in favour of the uprising unless and until the masses are on the streets in huge numbers. Therefore, the critical and tipping support of the army is conditional on a well mobilized and disciplined mass of people thronging the main streets of the national capital. Herein comes the centrality of mobilization and organization of the people for mass action”, he opined.
Akol’s opinion was in response to what Atem Garang de Kuek, a legislator from Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM), wrote.
According to De Kuek, societies in neighbouring Sudan possessed some sociological fundamentals that made it possible for the people to overthrow the dictatorial government of the former President Omar al Bashir without the use of guns or violence.
Anti-government demonstrations began in Sudan in 2018 with protesters calling for long-time leader al-Bashir to go, before the military stepped in April 2019, launching a coup and arresting him.
However, Akol, who witnessed these events in Sudan, disagrees with de Kuek.
He instead argued that semblance of an independent civil society organizations is lacking in South Sudan because the government wants to control them or in some cases ensured they are led by its members so that there are no spaces and voices for discontent.
“The government should also open the political space so that the people can vent their feelings including their constitutional right to demonstrations. Being preoccupied with the fear of a possible Uprising and nothing is being done to deny it the ingredients that make it happen is the surest way of its ultimate occurrence. History teaches us that no military might have ever defeated the will of a people,” said Akol.
“What has happened is that our neighbors here have decided to block, lock, or close their boundaries for cars that are coming in with goods, fuel or any other goods. This is the one responsible for the current scarcity of fuel and other items in the market”, he added. He denied assertions attributed to senior government officials that they were busy with the implementations. He pointed to delays caused by political brinkmanship and intransigency,” he added.
Meanwhile, Presidential Affairs minister Barnaba Marial Benjamin said the government wants to ensure the peace deal signed with the parties to end conflict the five-year civil war is implemented.
“The parties and the people of this great country need to move forward and the only way to do it is through the implementation of the revitalized peace agreement. The implementation of the agreement is the only way and opportunity to organize elections in which people will have a choice to elect leaders”, he told Sudan Tribune on Monday.
President Salva Kiir, opposition leader Riek Machar and several opposition groups signed the revitalised agreement in September 2018 in an attempt to resolve the conflict.
Under the terms of the peace deal, the rival parties are to create a unified army, settle disputes over the number of states and form a transitional government that will run the country for three years until elections.