Peter Lam Both

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Peter Lam Both (born in 1972) has been the Governor of Latjoor, South Sudan since 24 December 2015.[1] He is the first governor of the state, which was created by President Salva Kiir on 2 October 2015.[2]

He was a high-ranking South Sudanese diplomat of the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) who was appointed as Commissioner for National Relief and Rehabilitation Commission in the National Government of South Sudan on 7 June 2012 by President Salva Kiir. He served in this position until 27 November 2013 when differences arose between him and the newly appointed Minister of Gender, Child and Social Welfare, Awut Deng Achuil who was also entrusted to head the defunct Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management. The Commission which Peter headed is responsible for delivery of humanitarian and relief services to the people of South Sudan while the function of the Ministry for Humanitarian Affairs was for policy formulation and development. When Awut became Minister, she frustrated the work of the commission as she wanted to takeover the functions of the Commission and that didn't sit well with Peter. As a result, he wrote to the President of Republic demanding that the Minister be asked to function within the confines of the constitutional mandate or he be relieved so that the Commission does not die in his hands. Instead of correcting the situation, the President relieved him on 27 November 2013. Since his relief from office, the commission is no longer functioning as its work is usurped by the Minister and the Ministry. The new chairperson will either have to remain dormant or he will also lose his job if he challenges Awut because President Kiir is known for abandoning government interest in order to protect the interest of Awut.

Before the outbreak of South Sudan crisis on 15 December 2013, Peter warned the people of South Sudan that the Vice President was provoking a crisis in the country in a meeting they held with President Kiir on 1 May 2013 which he reiterated on national SSTV. He and a group of other Jikany leaders met with former Vice President Riek Machar on 4 May 2013 in which they warned him not to involve and politicize the community of Nuer and SPLA Nuer elements in an SPLM power struggle. On 6 May 2013, Peter and Riek Machar met in his office in which Riek wanted to find out from him what he talked about on National SSTV on 1 May 2013. In front of his aides, Peter explained to Riek that he was taking the country to brink of war by invoking ethnic Nuer sentiments to support his bid for chairmanship of the party rather than using SPLM political flatform to convince voters to elect him. Peter was the first official to call on South Sudanese leaders to stop the crisis before it happened, but instead, he was criticized by Dr. Riek's supports like Hon. Gatluak Riek Jaak and Hon. John Chuol Char saying that Peter was not being truthful and that Dr. Machar was not provoking any crisis in the country. He was also criticized by Nuer Diaspora elements who are staunch supporters of Dr. Riek Machar. But, Peter was vindicated on 15 December 2013 when war brokeout and members of the Nuer community became victims of the crisis because they are from Riek's ethnic group. Peter remained loyal to SPLM under the leadership of President Salva Kiir Mayardit as a symbol of unity and national integration.

Peter Lam served as State Minister of Information and Communications in Upper Nile State from June 2010-May 2012. He was also appointed as SPLM Deputy Secretary for External Relations on August 28, 2009. He was previously posted to Canada from May 2006- November 2008 as the first official Representative of the SPLM to Canada. He was also acting as the Chief Representative for the newly formed Government of Southern Sudan. He was charged by the SPLM leadership to organize SPLM Chapters in various cities of Canada and to rally the support of the Government of Canada for SPLM and Government of Southern Sudan.

Under extremely difficult conditions, he helped form 14 SPLM Chapters across the country with membership of over 4000. He managed to diplomatically seduce Canada to accept SPLM and work with the Government of Southern Sudan, which finally culminated in the establishment of the Liaison Office for the Government of Southern Sudan in Ottawa in 2008 in accordance with the provisions of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement(CPA) and the Interim Constitution of Southern Sudan. Canada is known internationally for refusing to work with rebels, a case signaled by their refusal to work with the former leader of SPLM Dr. John Garang de Mabior. But those who know Peter Lam Both know that he is a highly persuasive, calm and skillful diplomat whose approach can hardly be rejected. Those qualities helped him succeed with Canada. Peter was one of the key leaders of Sudanese community in Canada who defeated Talisman Energy of Canada. In fact, in 2004, Peter was said to have shut up an extremely arrogant Dr. Jim Buckee, the former CEO of Talisman Energy, who always insisted that Bentiu never had people since independence of Sudan, a point which Peter always took personally being a Nuer himself and knows that Bentiu has the largest Nuer population in Sudan.

Peter, a lecturer of Social Work at the University of Calgary, University of Lethbridge and Mount Royal College in Canada, joined SPLM in 1986 after he fled from Sudan at the age of 14 due to civil war. He lived in various refugee camps in Ethiopia, but managed to continue his education with the help of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees(UNHCR). He graduated with B.A in Political Science and International Relations (1996) in Addis Ababa University in Ethiopia (the oldest university in the continent). He also graduated with Bachelor of Social Work (2002) and Masters of International Social Work (2004) from the University of Calgary. He is in his final stages of his Ph. D dissertation in the Faculty of Social Work, University of Calgary.

In addition to his diplomatic work as SPLM/GOSS Representative to Canada, Peter has extensive diplomatic experience in his work with United Nations in Ethiopia (1996), India (2003) and Jordan in 2005. He has worked with various organizations in Canada including Calgary Catholic Immigration Society as Settlement Officer (1998–2000) and with the City of Calgary as Community Development Officer (2002–2005) and as a Social Planner with the City of Calgary (2005–present). He led the first ever SPLM delegation from Canada in May 2008 to participate in the Second SPLM National Convention in Juba where he played a key role in mobilizing the delegates to maintain the unity of SPLM by proposing to keep the current leadership as it is. The SPLM unity was at stake in the Convention, but the party rose to the challenge and opted to keep the status quo.

He submitted his resignation to the chairman of the SPLM on November 15, 2008 stating that he was time pressed with his studies. But those who monitored the situation in Canada said that Peter was humiliated when the Liaison Office for the Government of Southern Sudan was appointed and left him and key SPLM leaders in Canada out of the office. He did not know how to explain this action to the SPLM leaders in Canada who thought he had a role in the appointments. At the same time, he could not point fingers at the leaders in Juba who actually did the appointments due to the political sensitivity of the issue. The appointments made were seen by all southern Sudanese in Canada as tribally motivated, but what is puzzling is that Peter is known to detest tribalism and could not possibly be linked to those appointments. Resignation was an easy route for him to avoid being associated with those appointments. But Peter always denied those claims, saying that he has completed the work he was asked to do. He always says, "I have accomplished what was hard to do; what has remained now is the day today management of the chapters and the nurturing of our bilateral diplomatic relations with Canada, which does not require rocket science."

His publications include: South Sudan: forgotten tragedy (2003), International Relations of Ethiopia (2004) and upcoming memoires entitled Difficult Journey to be published by the University of Calgary Press. He has also published peer-reviewed articles with Journal of Social Work and Journal of Educational Action Research in 2008.

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