Sudan’s constitutional court ruled yesterday that the south’s semi-autonomous government cannot prohibit the activities of a Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) splinter group ahead of April’s first multi-party elections in 24 years.
South Sudan has been plagued by tribal violence which claimed 2500 lives last year alone. With a referendum in less than a year on independence from the north, which it has accused of decades of oppression, many are worried a choice to secede could
create an unstable state without a strong government.
Lam Akol, who split for a second time from the former southern rebel SPLM last year, has complained his party leaders had been arrested and harassed in the south, where the SPLM dominates government.
“This is a victory for constitutionality,” Akol said of the court ruling.
The SPLM has said Akol’s party is an armed movement causing unrest in the south.
Akol said the SPLM was undemocratic and corrupt. Seven of his party members were still detained in the south, he said.
Akol is being nominated by an alliance of southern political parties for President of South Sudan, where he will run against SPLM head Salva Kiir.
His former SPLM colleagues have made increasingly separatist comments after years of mistrust and frustration over delays in implementing the 2005 peace deal which promised power, wealth sharing and democratic transformation.
Tensions are high ahead of April’s national elections and Akol warned secession in the Jan. 9, 2011 referendum would plunge south Sudan into chaos akin to war-torn Somalia.
“Under the present weak government in the south, calling for secession would be suicide,” he said.
Sudan’s north-south civil war, fought over ideology, ethnicity, oil and religion, claimed 2 million lives, drove 4 million from their homes and destabilised much of east Africa.