January 11, 2020 (JUBA) – South Sudan’s National Democratic Movement (NDM) leader, Dr. Lam Akol Ajawin has said the forthcoming Upper Nile state conference be an opportunity for communities in the region to dialogue among themselves, reconcile and live-in peace and harmony as it had been for centuries.
- Lam Akol (Photo Reutrers)
In a public statement issued last week, the opposition leader strongly opposed the idea of tying the conference with the appointment of Upper Nile governor, insisting that was a matter for the leadership of the SPLM/A-1O and the president to resolve.
“The people of Upper Nile have nothing to do with it,” said Akol.
The Upper Nile State conference, which was to take place from December 16-19, 2020 had to be postponed due to logistical delays.
Organized by the presidency under the theme, “Peace, reconciliation, healing, and unity among the people of Upper Nile State,’ the conference aimed at offering a platform for the people of Upper Nile to dialogue and address their grievances, enhance the process of reconciliation and healing, restore the destroyed social fabric and encourage the return and resettlement of the IDPs and refugees.
Akol said on January 3, he wrote a proposal to the Minister of Cabinet Affairs on the holding of the Upper Nile State conference.
“In that proposal, it was suggested that the conference be convened in two stages. First, a Preparatory Committee undertakes the ground work necessary in order to prepare for holding the conference. Second, the Preparatory Committee would then convene the Conference that will deliberate on all the matters of concern to the communities in the State and take the necessary resolutions to bring about the desired reconciliation, healing and unity of the people of Upper Nile State,” said the NDM leader.
He added, “The pivotal points in the proposal are that the conference is a people -to-people process and must be owned and controlled by the communities in the State; that the Government must be kept out of it because the government’ s direct involvement would arouse suspicion as none of the two principals in the peace agreement, and now at the apex of the executive, enjoys the confidence of all the five communities in Upper Nile State”.
The outspoken opposition leader, however, questioned President Salva Kiir’s recent order for the formation of a steering committee to convene the Upper Nile Conference.
“Not only did the order take away the conference from the Upper Nile State communities, but it also turned it into a government gathering with the steering committee comprising the top government heavyweights headed by the President, First Vice President, the two Advisors to the President, Minister of Cabinet Affairs, nine Governors, etc,” he stressed.
Akol insisted that the conference is not owned by the people of Upper Nile State, but rather a forum being controlled by top executive of the government in Juba for reasons best known to them.
He further expressed concerns that the presidential order issued on the conference it is unlikely to bring about the desired result of reconciliation, healing and unity of communities in Upper Nile State.
“My appeal to my brothers and sisters in Upper Nile state is that we should not allow ourselves to be used as pawns in the chess board of political gimmickry in Juba,” he said, adding that the Upper Nile conference must be owned and controlled by communities.