Political parties urged to steer clear of direct tickets
A political expert has cautioned the political parties against giving candidates direct nominations, saying the culture roils the spirit of intra-party democracy in the politics.
Dr. Abraham Kuol, who is attached to the political science department at the University of Juba, told The City Review in an inclusive interview yesterday, that members of mainstream big parties like the SPLM and SPLM-IO should have a fair chance of competing with the guns within their respective political parties to ensure that parties align with the basics of democracy.
“What the parties should do is promote internal democracy during the national convention. They should request that if there are people who are interested in vying for the top seat, then they be able to have internal competitions among themselves,” he said, in reference to the nomination by the SPLM, where President Salva Kiir sailed through unopposed.
The political analyst argued that the best practise of democracy is to give the members a chance to show their interest in running for the top positions.
“You can be the head of the party, but at the same time, the party knows the person who will have the wider support across the country,” he argued.
He added, “If the head of the party is believed to have wider support across the country, then the party will nominate that person as a presidential flag bearer, but if the chair of the party is not very popular, then this is where some parties always nominate some of their members that are very popular.”
President Kiir was picked to fly the SPLM presidential flag in the forthcoming election after the party’s Political Bureau made a unanimous decision back in December 2022.
Paul Akol Kordit, SPLM’s deputy secretary general for political affairs, said, “This is a collective decision of the SPLM Political Bureau. That tells you we have no candidate other than our chairman in the political bureau.”
Dr. Kennedy Gaaniko, who is the SPLM state chairperson and deputy governor in Western Equatoria State, said the party has its own way of doing things per the constitution. He said the nomination followed an irrefutable approach.
He said, “The members of the political bureau are 32; these are senior carders of the party who made the decision of the party.”
“It was asked, is there anybody who has an interest in contesting?” People said no; they are standing with comrade Salva.”
Although Dr Kuol further cautioned against setting the country in an electoral mood over a year before the polls, he observed that the preparatory political moves by the two leading parties are a true indication that the country is mature for the electoral phase.
“These activities being done by the SPLM in Wau and the SPLM-IO in Malakal are an indication to the international community and the people of South Sudan that these parties this time around are ready for elections,” Dr. Kuol said.
Kuol called on the parties to pressurise the assembly to ensure that the election act and political parties council act are enacted and passed into law to solve the issue of identity.
“There is already a problem; the Political Parties Act states that in any election, no two parties should be able to have the same name and the same symbols. Now the SPLM-IG, and the SPLM-IO always have the same name and the same symbols. This will make it for them very difficult to register.”
He argued that if the two parties continue to use the same symbols, there will be a conflict because if one registers before the other, it will make it hard for the other party to register.
The political party name has courted controversy, especially with the two leading parties claiming a fair share of the abbreviation “SPLM”.
When he was unveiled as the party’s flagbearer last year, President Kiir did not mince his words about the party’s identity. He pointed out that the party he heads is not “SPLM-IG” but “SPLM”. His comment was a response to the SPLM-IO led by First Vice President Dr. Riek Machar, which had made it clear that they were not planning to relinquish the name.
“We are SPLM, whether people like it or not. We are SPLM,” Kiir said. He added, “[There is] no party with the name SPLM IG; there is SPLM, and there is SPLM/A-IO.”
South Sudan is planning for a December 2024 general election upon the completion of the transitional period in the space of 24 months.