Dr Lam Akol Ajawin, Minister of Agriculture and Food Security in the South Sudanese cabinet, has resigned his position saying that “there is no more peace agreement to implement in Juba.”
Lam was one of two members of the non-armed opposition parties to be appointed to ministerial positions in the Transitional Government of National Unity under the terms of the peace deal signed last August.
The ‘unity’ government is showing more signs of fractures with the departure of SPLM-IO Chairman Riek Machar from Juba with several other officials and now Lam Akol’s resignation.
The National Alliance chairman in his resignation statement blamed President Salva Kiir for dealing a “final blow” to the peace deal by his actions since the first week of July “culminating in the military attack on the First Vice President, dislodging him from Juba and invoking his absence to fill his position with a person of his choice in the name of SPLM-IO.”
“One cannot with a clear conscience serve under such a regime,” the minister wrote.
Lam cited other violations of the peace deal including the creation of 28 states, delays in forming the transitional assembly, obstructions of ceasefire monitors, and “ethnic-oriented killings in Rjaa, Wau and other ares in Equatoria, [and] refusing to lift the state of emergency.”
The outgoing agriculture minister condemned and mocked the president’s decision to replace Machar with his top lieutenant Taban Deng as first vice president, calling Taban Deng a ‘poodle.’
Lam pointed to the violence last month in Juba as marking the end of the security arrangements of the peace deal. “History teaches us that whenever the security arrangements of any peace agreement collapse the whole agreement collapses,” he said.
The minister has also resigned his position within the non-armed opposition National Alliance and the Democratic Change party, saying that there is “no free political space in Juba.”
Lam Akol, who never endorsed the use of violence during the 2014-2015 period of the civil war, now hints at the possibility of joining the armed opposition, though in his statement he did not specifically say he would do so. He disclosed, “We are consulting with like-minded compatriots so as to build a broad national front to lead our relentless effort to save our country… The people of South Sudan will not sand more of a callous, totalitarian and ethnio-centric regime that seems to thrive on the suffering of its own people.”
Sources confirmed to Radio Tamazuj prior to Lam’s departure that opposition groups are organizing to form a new coalition to battle the Kiir government after the breakup of the SPLM/SPLM-IO government, though the details of these efforts are yet to be reported.
In Juba, meanwhile, Kornilo Kon, the head of the National Alliancein Juba, confirmed to Radio Tamazuj that his former boss Dr. Lam Akol submitted his resignation on Monday to the party members after consultation.
He said that the party members have accepted his resignation and appointed immediately a new leader. Meanwhile, they plan tomorrow to nominate someone from their ranks to replace Lam in the cabinet as agriculture minister.
Meanwhile, guarantors of the South Sudanese peace deal, which include East African nations, China and Western powers, met in Khartoum on Sunday to discuss the situation of the transitional government after the July violence and the removal of Machar.
Festus Mogae, Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission Chairman, urged the guarantors to “do everything… to prevent a relapse into full-scale war and salvage the Agreement.”
But Lam Akol called the guarantors “impotent” to ensure that Kiir respected the agreement, “a situation that emboldened him more to dishonour the agreement.”
“The agreement was the only hope to save our country from the abyss. Yet, Kiir has opted to leap into the dark. This is the worst nightmare for the people of South Sudan,” said the former minister.