By Paul Ndiho
Over the weekend, the sole challenger to South Sudan’s incumbent president Salva Kiir, Lam Akol, launched his campaign in the region’s capital Juba, promising an end to corruption if he wins in April’s elections.
Lam Akol, the leader Sudan People’s Liberation Movement for Democratic Change (SPLM-DC), is campaigning on a promise to end corruption. Salva Kiir, south Sudan’s current president, launched his campaign recently in the semi-autonomous state, pledging to bring unity, peace and development to the South. Akol addressed corruption as he kicked off his campaign.
“Corruption has defeated people in the government. It needs new people to fight corruption. This corruption – there has not been a single day that a corrupt person has been brought to the court of law and charged. How can the government say it is fighting corruption?”
Akol caused waves last year when he broke away from the south’s leading party — the former rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) — to form the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement for Democratic Change (SPLM-DC).
The former national foreign affairs minister says he formed his party because of SPLM mismanagement of the government of the semi-autonomous south. But the splinter party is under threat, according to its secretary general, Charles Kisanga.
“So we were again faced by the unconstitutional bans and threats against the SPLM-DC. Our members were arrested, intimidated and tortured. Today we have still four members at Mapel SPLA base outside Wau.”
Analysts say it is unlikely that Akol can win in April. But they say Akol may pull some votes from his home area, the oil producing Upper Nile State, and from voters disgruntled by the graft and government of the south.
“The man is so smart, I think you understand smart, he is so smart that he is the right person who can get us out of the territory we are in now.”
Tension between Akol and the SPLM continue, and SPLM accuses SPLM-DC of being supported by Khartoum and for running a militia in the south. The 2005 north/south peace deal gives the south 50 percent of all government oil funds from southern wells. Some Juba residents are skeptical about Lam Akol’s candidacy.
“Lam was the one making crisis during the war. They protected themselves out of the SPLM which is now our government. I can’t support him, I come to see what is happening here, but I can’t support him.”
Sudan’s 22-year-long war killed some 2 million people and displaced another 4 million. The war created much fracturing along tribal lines in the south. The upcoming elections are a key part of the accord that promises the south a vote in 2011 on whether the south should unify with or secede from north Sudan.