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South Sudan Ruling SPLM Dissolves Party Secretariat

President Salva Kiir chairs the National Liberation Council, which voted last week to dissolve the secretariat of the ruling SPLM.

Members of South Sudan's ruling SPLM party said Monday that last week's vote by the National Liberation Council to dissolve the party's secretariat and fire its secretary general, former detainee Pagan Amum, is aimed at streamlining the party.

But an analyst told South Sudan in Focus that revamping the secretariat now sends the wrong message to the South Sudanese people and the international community.

The SPLM’s National Secretary for Popular and Syndicated Organizations, Martin Majut, announced Friday, after a long meetng of the NLC, that the SPLM secretariat was being dissolved. Majut said officials who served in the secretariat will remain in their positions, in a caretaker role, until new officers are appointed.

President Salva Kiir said at the meeting that some officials might be reappointed to their old posts. But Majut said that others, like former detainee Amum, who was reinstated as Secretary General of the SPLM in June, will not be coming back to the secretariat. Amum has been sacked, said Majut.

SPLM Political Bureau and NLC member Akol Paul Kordit said the decision to make the across-the-board changes in the secretariat was aimed, in part, at streamlining the party bureaucracy. Paul also noted there is sometimes more than one person doing the same job in the secretariat.

Paul said the NLC has a constitutional right to dissolve any structure of the party it sees fit to dissolve. He argued, in fact, that dissolving the secretariat was called for in the party reunification agreement signed in Arusha, Tanzania in January by the leaders of different SPLM factions.

But University of Juba lecturer James Okuk said dissolving the secretariat sends the wrong message to the people of South Sudan and the internaitonal community.

“It will not unite the party, and if it doesn’t unite the party, it means some of the leaders in that party will remain outside the country because they will be afraid for their lives back in the country," Okuk said.

"And if they are not back in the country, it means the war will not stop as people expect... So this is adding fuel to an already troubled situation. It doesn’t give a good signal for peace to the country at all," he said.

Revamping the secretariat is the latest controversial move taken by President Kiir and his government in recent weeks.

At the beginning of October, Mr. Kiir drew fire from the international community, opposition politicians in South Sudan and some local communities when he announced tht he was nearly tripling the number of states in the country, from 10 to 28.