23 Jan 2021

South Sudan Democratic Forum

The SSDF – which is not related with the former Southern Sudan Defence Force (SSDF) militia and not to be confused with the South Sudan Democratic Front (SSDF) – was founded in 2001 in London by some of the most prominent exiled Southern Sudanese leaders. Amongst those veteran politicians were Joseph Lagu and Bona Malwal.Lagu had been the leader of the Anyanya rebel movement during the first civil war and signed the Addis Ababa agreement in 1972 that settled that conflict. Later he became the president of the High Executive Council of the autonomous South Sudan (1978-1982) and Vice President of the Republic (1982-1985). Malwal was minister of information during that time and subsequently became a senior fellow at Oxford University. He traces the party’s origins back to the Southern Front (SF) of the 1960s, which promoted self-determination and was with SANU one of the two main South Sudanese parties. The SSDF chairman is Dr. Martin Elia Lomuro, who went into exile soon after the military takeover of 1989.

While it strongly opposed the SPLM , the SSDF urged a South-South dialogue, which started in 2002. At the same time it supported the negotiations that led to the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) in 2005, advocating self-determination for South Sudan. When the Government of South Sudan (GOSS) was formed in 2005 Dr. Elia became Minister of Agriculture and he currently serves as Minister of Parliamentary Affairs. Malwal was appointed Presidential advisor in the Khartoum Government of National Unity (GONU). The SSDF has committed itself to close cooperation with the SPLM yet also to keeping a critical view, for instance on the SPLM’s handling of the Abiyei issue.

Stressing self-determination the SSDF has become a chief proponent of separation in the referendum of 2011. Party chairman Dr. Elia was quoted in a 2007 interview with Sudan Radio Service at the closing of the SSDF conference in Khartoum: “If today we were asked what we would advise the people, if it was referendum day, I would just say vote for independence. The implementation process does not show us that there is a change in attitude of the major political parties in the Sudan or indeed in the government, because since we took over, there is nothing which shows you that something is happening and this is because the Government of Southern Sudan does not have money to do it.” In January 2009 the chairperson of SSDF in Western Equatoria State stated: “SSDF objective is clearly for the separation of the Sudan. SSDF plans to tackle good activities for youths, women and common men on the streets to explain the CPA and to enable them to make a right decision by separating from the north.” The Southern Eye magazine reported that Dr. Elia advised Vice-President of GONU and President of GOSS Salva Kiir against running for President of the Republic in the upcoming elections saying they should concentrate on the 2011 referendum.

In April 2009 the SSDF held its second National Convention in Juba under the theme: “To be a nation we must be united, to be united we must espouse equality and freedom to all our people regardless of their clan, gender, region, religion or political affiliation.” Dr. Elia was unanimously re-elected as chairman. He reportedly urged the delegates “to work hard for uniting southerners by embracing forgiveness and reconciliation”. Senior SSDF politician Bona Malwal stated with regard to the issue of unity or separation: “As a party, we are duty bound, to make our recommendation to the people of South Sudan, as to what we believe as a party, is in the best interest of the people of South Sudan. This is a responsibility that we cannot take lightly as a party. That is why our opponents in the South and the North, call us separatists.”

There is no official website.

Information Source: www.electionnaire.org

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