Note from Jacob Akol (Editor,Gurtong):
An edited version of an old speech by Steven Wondu was circulated widely recently and it was published by quite a number of publications, including Gurtong. It started a debate that had gone on for sometime on this website.
Stephen Par Kuol responded to the article and his response was also published here on Gurtong as well as by other publications. Par Kuol notified Steven Wondu by the note below about his response to his article. Stephen Wondu responded with the clear intention of having his response published to clear the situation.
But by responding so honestly and openly, Steven Wondu has broken a culture of silence or stonewalling of issues among our leaders whenever critical questions are addressed to them. An open dialogue between our peoples and our leaders is indeed what we need and we should all be thankful to Steven Wondu for breaking with the taboo of the movement. Please read on.
Stephen Par Kuol wrote:
This is to inform you that your recent article entitled '' Post War New Sudan Leadership'' has created real life negative publicity that has not only embarrassed us as supporters of your movement but offended us individually and collectively. As a response to its content, please refer to the attached open letter written by Stephen Kuol.
yours in Struggle, Stephen Par Kuol
Steven Wondu replied:
Dear Stephen Kuol,
Thanks for your remarks. I take this opportunity to make the following clarifications:
1.The article was written in 1997 for a symposium organized by the United States Institute for Peace. I think the Sudan Democratic Gazette published a portion of it as well. I do not know why it is surfacing now and who did it and for what purpose. It’s also strange that whoever dug and put it out did not show the date of the article.
2. At that time, Riek was an assistant president to Beshir after signing the Khartoum Agreement. Technically, the SPLM-SPLA was at war with Riek's group and I had the duty of doing the fight in the diplomatic sector. Others were doing it physically on the ground.
3. The anticipation of peace at the time was based on two developments: (a) Operation Thunderbolt was launched and liberated Yei, Rumbek, Tonj, Yirol and the Juba-Yei road up the mile 40. We thought at the time that perhaps Juba or Wau would fall and end the regime. (b) The NIF decided to return to IGAD and approved the Declaration of Principles, DOP three years after they walked out of the talks (1994).
4. There was a lot of doubts in Washington about the SPLM's ability to govern. The NIF's machinery spearheaded by the then smooth talking Ambassador Mahdi Ibrahim and backed by a lot of cash was having effect. My duty as the new representative was to counter that notion. I had to show that the SPLM had a good system in place, especially after the Chukudum National Convention. Secondly, I had to argue that Dr. John Garang is a capable leader who enjoyed the support of the majority of our people. It was my duty to speak in his defence.
5. The explicit mention of Dinka and Nuer, in my view, was necessary because my American audience had been poisoned on those terms and I was arguing that their fears were not justified.
6. I know Dr. Riek Machar very well, going way back to Khartoum University days. My remarks were not personal, but political. He knows it. I said a lot worse things against him and Dr. Lam Akol when I was the spokesman in 1993-1995. They themselves also had a lot of unkind words for those of us who continued to support and work with Dr. John Garang.