‘Lam said the Truth’, SPLM affirms ‘genocidal’ utterance

The ruling party, SPLM, has come forward to clarify on the alleged hate speech by its Secretary General, Peter Lam Both.

In a short footage, which was recorded two months ago and appeared on the social media at the weekend, says “Riek Machar declared war against Dinka,” adding that “Any Nuer who declares war against Dinka, all Nuer will rally behind him.”

This angered the SPLM-IO party, describing it as an incitement to violence and “genocidal“.

Oyet Nathaniel, deputy chairperson, also said the statement was frustrating the efforts to reconcile the citizens and a violation of the peace agreement.

‘The truth’

However, the SPLM said in a press conference on Tuesday at the party national secretariat that Both did not mean to “destroy or dismantle” the revitalized agreement but it was “the truth”

“Comrade Peter Lam is a victim of the scenarios. ‘Say the truth and the truth shall set you free’,” Bol Makueng, SPLM secretary of external affairs told reporters in Juba on Tuesday.

“He is just hitting on the fact that violence in this country has been caused by the [SPLM]-IO in person of Riek Machar.”

Two years after independence, a political crisis in the newly-formed country erupted into a large-scale civil conflict took an ethnic tone.

This occurred when Dinka militias and supporters of President Salva Kiir fought against Nuer forces loyal to the then former Vice President Riek Machar.

“He was telling people that his [Riek] war was against the Dinka. That is what triggered all these which is true because the soldiers who used to come back during all these conflicts used to say that ‘We have been misled. We are told that we are fighting the Dinka.’ They say it over the media many times and it is in the archives,” Makueng continued.

He argued that Both was actually advising the people of South Sudan, especially the politicians, against ethnic politics.

“Mentioning Riek Machar was an example of those of Malong, Pagan, and Cirilo – who are actually articulating on ethnic sentiment. But this has been taken out of context,” he added.

For his part, Kuol Atem Bol, SPLM secretary for political affairs and mobilization, said:

“Peter Lam Both is being fought by his own tribal men and women because they are surprised how Lam peter got the position of Secretary General and why he did not follow Riek Machar.”

The conflict has claimed more than 400,000 lives, according to a report by human rights groups.

SPLM and SPLM-IO are the two main signatories to the September 2018 revitalized peace agreement. They are expected to implement all the provisions in the peace accord before going for elections in 2025.