INTERVIEW: DRM’s Lako Kwajok demands federalism, calls for regime change
Dr. Lako Jada Kwajok, leader of the newly formed opposition movement, the Democratic Resistance Movement (DRM), says his party demands federalism, calls for regime change, and accountability for atrocities committed against the people of South Sudan.
Jada recently resigned from his positions in the National Salvation Front (NAS).
He is a United Kingdom-based South Sudanese who appeared on the political scene in late 2016 as the chairman of a rebel outfit known as South Sudan Democratic Front (SSDF) which had just been launched at the time. SSDF’s revolutionary sojourn was short-lived and dissolved in March 2017 to join Thomas Cirillo’s NAS which had just been formed at the time.
Q: Hon. Lako, you have been accused of recruiting members of NAS after your defection, what is your reaction to this allegation?
A: This accusation is not in place because I regard it as a trial to block reality. These people are not sheep to be taken as you like and as if they are not free to think for themselves. Now we have been accused of dealing with foreign entities. Just within 24 hours, have they discovered that we were acting as spies? We know the foreign entities that they are talking about. They know them very well. But as I am not here to mention any name but I would say it is the same foreign entity that is hosting their military leaders for NAS. How can they explain this kind of situation?
Q: Does that mean you were the very people coordinating the work for them?
A: They should answer this question in this regard.
Q: So, let’s now talk about the new movement that you have launched. What are the objectives of this movement?
A: The new movement is called Democratic Resistance Movement (DRM) and its main objectives can be summarized into three points. First of all the main objective of this movement is regime change in South Sudan. We believe that the current regime has failed in its leadership and caused the country and its citizens a lot of suffering. South Sudanese citizens do not have any hand in this war because the war was caused by the leaders of the SPLM. And according to some international data such as the London School of Hygiene, issued a statement some two years back that more than 400,000 people have lost their lives during this war. I presumed this is the least number because some of our citizens died of the effects of war such as hunger, illness, and carelessness. So, we believe more than half a million have lost their lives during this war.
The second objective is to establish a federal governance system in South Sudan. It has been the demand of the majority in South Sudan since 1947. This was expressed a long time ago by the Liberal Party in South Sudan under the leadership of Abdul Rahman Sule, Both Dhiu, and Stanislaus Biasam. This party organized its conference in Malakal town and one of the resolutions was the demand for a federal system.
The third objective is accountability. We want to see that those who committed war crimes, crimes against humanity, and those who looted public funds are held accountable. These three reasons, if not resolved in the right way, our country will not develop and could even lead to divisive destiny.
Q: So, as a new movement how are you planning to achieve your objectives?
A: When we say we want regime change, it can be achieved peacefully or by force. The peaceful approach will only be achieved if the current regime leadership has a patriotic spirit and show some move forward to rescue the country. Because the country now has fallen. If they expressed these commitments, we will now begin negotiations with them.
They should, first of all, admit that they have failed to administer this country. Leading a country is not like being the head of the family. Millions are suffering due to your action. As a leader, you cannot just insist to lead and yet the country is falling. And I am sure some of them know this bitter truth.
Secondly, they should also accept accountability. We don’t say the whole SPLM is bad but there are patriotic members of the SPLM and we do respect them, but the majority of those are not in the decision seat.
If a unit of soldiers has committed atrocities somewhere if you want to identify those who were involved in the atrocities, you don’t go directly to soldiers but you pick the leader. In the same way, leaders of the SPLM should admit that they have failed the country and its citizens and they should be accountable for this. If they respond to this, South Sudan’s problem will be resolved in a very short time. No one wants to fight again.
So, this is the peaceful means that we in the DRM are seeing in resolving the South Sudan conflict. And if they are rejected, the only option will be alternative ways. But we still believe in peaceful means as the only way to resolve the conflict. This is an objective approach. They should admit that they have failed and they should sacrifice to step down and allow others to lead the country. We are not here for any position but we want to rescue the county and are ready for any peaceful negotiation at any time. Our country is in a mess to the extent that our enemies are even feeling pity for our situation.
Q: Any final message to South Sudanese?
A: I want to take this chance to speak directly to our citizens across the country, including elders, youth, and women. All of us are responsible for contributing to uprooting our country from this mess. They should be patient and have high hopes in this journey. Our citizens should understand that along with history, there is now a government more powerful than its citizens. Even if the government has artillery or tanks, the voice of the citizens remains strong. These people have failed our country and failed generations so people should not keep silent. Let our people have hope and be resilient.