Monday, April 04, 2005

SPLM finally in Khartoum!!

Well, we finally have the 100+ SPLM delegation in Khartoum to jump start the implementation of the Sudan Comprehensive Peace Agreement. Its a good omen, at least, cuz now the rubber hits the road and the two parties can finally start putting some legs on their promises to implement fully the outlines of the agreement.

As usual, snags and obstacles loom all around us. The Northern traditional parties have their fangs out ready to do battle over the composition and outcome of the agreed upon interim constitutional commission.

Myriad southern groups, both ideological soul mates of the SPLM, and die-hard opponents, are looming in the shadows demanding their rightful place on the table.

I say rightful with reservations however, because many of the groups challenging the movement are asking for shares in the cabinet and various government seating arrangements, and not necessarily prepared to present a viable national political program for the future of Southern Sudan. At least the Northerners couch their disagreements around their varied positions on addressing the challenges and accomodating the demands from the south and the other marginalized areas.

Moreover, its unfortunate that many Southern groups formerly aligned with the Government are using blackmail by threatening to reignite the war if their demands for shares in the future dispensation of power in Southern Sudan are not accomodated.

I would hope, and many southerners would concur, that the wise thing to do would be to challenge the SPLM as a political party and offer alternatives that are more practical, forward looking and inclusive that what they believe the Movement is offering. Dangling the threat of resorting to being a proxy for the elite Northern power cabal within Southern Sudan is only irresponsible, and will certainly not reap any political dividents with the Southern Sudanese masses.

However, I must note that not all opponents of the SPLM and its leadership are sellouts, and not all of them are potential reincarnations of Mangosuthu Buthelezi in a Sudanese guise. As many of us remember, Buthelezi played an unfortunate role in fomenting violence and hatred among blacks in South Africa when he used his ZULU-based Inkatha Freedom Party to challenge the ANC after Mandela was released from prison.

A good number of Southern Sudanese have geniune disagreements with the SPLM, and I hope and pray that the SPLM will engage them fairly in the political arena and let the competing view points duke it out for the support of the people.

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