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By Dr. Luka Biong Deng - 3 Feb 2019

Opinion: What is the utility of the SPLM unification now?

The former detainees (FDs) and SPLM-In-government (SPLM-IG) declared the unification of the SPLM as per Arusha Agreement. This raises many questions with some supporting such a move while others vehemently rejected it. Is this reunification a real or fake as such attempts were made before in Arusha, many times in Entebbe and Cairo but all failed.

Maybe the real question is the timing rather than intention. While some of us are convinced that SPLM has a critical role to play in implementing the revitalized peace agreement, the unification of the SPLM would have been ideal after Juba committed itself to implement the provisions of the revitalized peace agreement during the pre-interim period and the revitalized Transitional Government of National Unity (R-TGoNU) is formed.

After the formation of R-TGoNU, one expects the SPLM-FDs to play a bridging role in unifying all factions of the SPLM (SPLM-IG, SPLM-IO of Taban, SPLM-IO of Dr Riek and SPLM-FDs).

The Arusha Agreement is not about the SPLM-IG and SPLM-FDs but about all SPLM factions. The real question is what is the rationale for such a rush for the unification of the SPLM when the implementation of the revitalized peace agreement during the pre-interim period is facing serious challenges.

 Instead of the SPLM-FDs to be co-opted cheaply by Juba, they could have played a positive role in ensuring the full implementation of the revitalized peace agreement during the pre-interim period. 

By surrendering themselves cheaply to Juba, the FDs are no longer one of the signatories of the revitalized peace agreement but they have become the sub-set of SPLM-IG and may not have any right to challenge Juba and to claim the share and the rights accorded to them in the revitalized peace agreement. It seems SPLM-FDs are becoming transactional rather than a real force for change that some of us have attached so much hope. 

It seems we are now destined to the continuation of the current status quo of autocratic hegemony of Dinka ruling elites with paradoxically the blessing and participation of the SPLM-FDs.

I wish the FDs were to wait until the R-TGoNU is formed and to play a leading role in addressing the critical issues during the pre-interim period.

 Apparently, the spirit of struggle for good is fading away and it has gradually been supplanted by survival and transactional spirit in the political marketplace of South Sudan.

The author, Dr. Luka Biong Deng Kuol, is a Global Fellow of Peace Research Institute in Oslo (PRIO).

The views expressed in ‘opinion’ articles published by Radio Tamazuj are solely those of the writer. The veracity of any claims made are the responsibility of the author, not Radio Tamazuj.