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BETWEEN GENUINE DEMOCRACY AND THE CLEPTOCRACY OF THE RULING GROUP by Arman Muhammed Ahmad
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Mar 17, 2008 - 9:52:28 AM

Sudan

BETWEEN GENUINE DEMOCRACY AND

THE CLEPTOCRACY OF THE RULING GROUP


                                    

    

                             Arman Muhammed Ahmad


Arman Muhammed Ahmad
Cleptocracy and democracy are two opposites which will never meet. While democracy is defined as rule by the people, cleptocracy means rule by thieves. The cleptocratic elite are politicians and senior officials in the state who misappropriate public money. Some of them give lip service to democracy, but they don't really believe in it. From a cleptocratic point of view, the people are the servants of the government; however, in a true democracy, the government must be the servant of the people. Public wealth in a true democracy is not restricted to certain elites or group; it is shared equitably among all citizens. Every citizen thereby has his or her stake in the national wealth. Further, in a genuine democracy, the citizen is the real governor in the sense that he appoints the rulers. The basic duty of the rulers is to serve the interests of the citizens, because the citizens appoint them, hold them accountable and can terminate their services through the informed and enlightened use of the ballot.

                                                                 

Financial and administrative corruption

               
One of the strangest manifestations of the cleptocracy in Sudan was revealed in a recent auditor's report. In clear defiance of the provisions of the Auditor General's Act as well as Article 205 of the Transitional Constitution, many government officials refused to allow their institutions to be audited by the auditor general. Article 205 of the Transitional Constitution, based upon the Naivasha Agreement, states that:                                                                                                      

                                                                                                 

 

    "The National Audit Chamber shall assume auditing of   the accounts of the National Executive organs, the National Legislature, and the National Judiciary as well as the accounts of northern states, public institutions corporations and companies and any other institutions as may be determined by law.".                                                               

                                   

        

The government has not yet taken the necessary legal steps to counter this large-scale and dangerous corruption. However, it will probably eventually form a commission of inquiry. The true aims of this will be to calm and anaesthetise public opinion, and to divert attention from such issues. As a delaying tactic, the National Congress (NC) ruling junta may also form false committees or hold fake conferences to debate the epidemic of corruption. It may even set up, on the strength of such conferences, a new commission, headed by NC members and employ a number of them, on ridiculously high salaries, to tackle this corruption thus creating even more corruption!

 

The rule of law is the foundation of democracy, while cleptocracy stems from a lack of respect for the constitution and violation of the law by its presumed guardians. This epidemic of financial and administrative corruption infects all institutions controlled by the NC cadres, such as the Chamber of Zakat (Charity), the Pensions Fund, the Fund for Supporting Students, the Communications Institution and the Duty Free Corporation, as well as the investment corporations of the army, police and security services. The volume of corruption and other irregularities in the banking system is estimated at 1000000000000 Sudanese pounds (1 trillion Sudanese pounds). This universal, shocking and dangerous level of corruption is a direct result of sleaze and political incompetence. Tackling it requires only one thing the resignation or dismissal of the officials of the NC junta from top to bottom, to make them accountable for this corruption and to bring them to justice.                                                     

                                                                      

Economic growth and social injustice in Sudan

       
  Oil revenues in
Sudan over the past ten years (1998 2008) should have been higher than the returns announced, but the current oil contracts were signed by members of the cleptocracy.   These contracts were signed in the absence of democracy and transparency, and are still shrouded in secrecy .  The economic growth is now 8.3% thanks to the global increase in oil prices, but this growth has not been reflected in the lives of ordinary Sudanese citizens. One of the most prominent manifestations of social injustice is that the ruling junta spent, and continues, to spend money at the expense of the Sudanese people from squandering money on ridiculously expensive celebrations, to unmerited award ceremonies for NC cadres. Meanwhile, Churches and Western relief agencies are providing for the NC group fellow Muslims and their hungry children in Darfur . Reports issued by The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Food Programme at the end of 2007, showed an increase in the suffering of Darfur's children from acute malnutrition, at a rate greater than the 15% determined by the World Health Organization. In northern Darfur the rate increased by 20% in comparison with other regions.

 

                   Cleptocracy and the 'mixed' electoral system

 

The ruling junta in Khartoum is currently trying to call a National Accord Conference, after passing the 2007 election bill based on what they call the 'mixed' electoral system. In fact, the National Accord is a ruse aimed at preventing other political forces from boycotting the elections. Thus, it tries to make the election look real and legitimate, because boycotting it would result in the 'elected salvation' government losing its false legitimacy. In effect, the ruling group is trying hard to convince leaders of the larger parties to accept the idea of being nominated for the presidential elections. Once caught in this trap, the mechanism of the proposed election law will be used to subject these parties to a crushing defeat. In order to force through this National Accord, the ruling group has formed several ad hoc committees, such as the National Line Unification Committee, the Committee of 'proclaimed' Wise Men and other committees, where old cadres are infiltrated by opportunists. In addition, certain members of these puppet committees are bribed, and from time to time the regime will pull their strings.

 

 

The transitional constitution of the Naivasha Agreement included international charters on human rights. It, thus, ensured on paper the fundamental rights and freedoms of the citizens. But, under this constitution, Sudanese citizens have been exposed to murder and torture in the villages of Darfur , in the south of Sudan , as well as in Amri, Kagbar, Port Sudan , Khartoum and other regions. The arrest of citizens and the theatrical release of political prisoners by means of presidential amnesty continue. Press freedom is also curtailed and journalists are persecuted. This is in addition to other memorable violations of constitutional rights in the recent past.

 

 

The electoral bill provides an opportunity for the ruling group, to fabricate the excuses which could certainly lead to the annulment of the election results in whole or in part, as they used to do in elections for trades unions and federations. The bill also enables the commission to postpone elections, and the National High Court to cancel election results. So what can we expect the 'salvation' group to do if they are defeated in elections, carried out in the absence of an independent judiciary and the rule of law?

 

The bill requires the members of the commission to be independent, unaffiliated to any political party, and to behave with transparency and impartiality. But this cannot be relied on, as the Sudanese people have already experienced such 'transparency', 'impartiality' and 'integrity ' before.   A junta of army officers disguised and portrayed themselves as 'neutral' and 'independent', yet they carried out the military coup of 1989. By then it was too late to discover that the officers responsible were just National Islamic Front (NIF) affiliates and its secret cadres in the army.

 

The commission and the electoral register


Under the provisions of the electoral bill, the Electoral Commission is appointed by the President of the National Conference, who is also the President of the Republic. The Commission appoints a general secretariat to work with the Head of the Commission and to carry out executive tasks. In addition, the Commission appoints an Electoral High Committee and Chief Election Officer for each state. The discretionary and the rule-making powers that the bill gives the Commission, enables it to manipulate the outcome of any election.


The electoral register can be used as an instrument for electoral fraud and the falsification of the citizens' will. In a democracy, the state assumes responsibility for creating an electoral register and for including all citizens who are eligible to vote. It normally does this by circulating registration forms which allows the authorities to update the register on a regular basis. In fact, this is considered an essential task of the state. However, it is normally optional for a citizen to stand for an elected position, and it may be optional to vote.

 

Creating the electoral register is one of the basic services that the government should provide the citizen with to ensure his constitutional rights to nominate or to vote. The bill states that registration for elections is an individual responsibility, so the burden rests on the shoulders of the helpless citizen. Of course, there is a hidden agenda behind these provisions. The bill also limits the role of the Electoral Commission to accepting or excluding voters from the electoral register, considering appeals against candidates and voters. However, it takes many measures and actions that could open the floodgates to fraud.

 

Women's representation is a big trick

 

To carry out any election under the present cleptocracy, is merely a truism. The election bill also enables the ruling NC group to perform another trick by setting the representation of women to 25%, bringing the number of women's seats in the National Parliament to 112 out of the 450 seats. All available evidence indicates, that, in the current circumstances, this proportion is tailored to suit the size of the female cadre of the NC. The NC is now using Sudanese women as an instrument to strengthen their cleptocratic grip on power, as it once used the Sudanese army to topple democracy itself.

 

The electoral bill also sets conditions for proposing candidates for the posts of president, the head of the southern government, governors, and members of the federal legislative assemblies. It makes provisions for penalising a candidate who fails to gain enough votes. A candidate will lose his deposit if he does not receive 10% of the total number of votes cast. You may well ask where is democracy and constitutionality in such legislation?

 

The bill allows for a degree of proportional representation in parliament by means of party lists. This figure is set at 15% or 68 seats. By this means it allows the ruling group to create further so-called Islamic parties, in addition to the parties already allied with them. The purpose of the party lists seems to be designed to provide the allies of the NC with seats in parliament. They are to be accommodated within the seats allotted to proportional representation.

 

The aim of all this game is to maintain the status quo. In other words, the purpose of the ruling group's insistence on framing the electoral legislation as outlined above is to preserve an absolute majority of 52% for the NC National Conference reflecting the current situation.

 

 

Funding from heaven

                                                   
Theoretical statements , in the electoral bill, about transparency in the funding of election campaigns and giving equal access to the media for all candidates cannot, of course, be relied on. Broadcasting is a sector controlled by the ruling ideological group. In a recent interview given to the programme (Hotline) the Vice President of the NC of Political Affairs and Management was asked about the sources of funding for the NC Party. He arrogantly asserted that God sustained the NC just as he sustained the Virgin May, and he quoted from the Quran:

 

"Every time that Zachary entered the Apse to visit her, He found her supplied with sustenance. He said: "O Mary! Whence   (comes) this to you?" She said: "From Allah for Allah Provides sustenance to whom He pleases with no limit." 3:37

 

His answer is very revealing. It shows clearly the degree of transparency among the leaders of the NC. In fact it confirms that the anticipated democratic shift by those fanatic ideologues has absolutely nothing to do with true democracy. Who could possibly believe this theocratic official when he asserts that funding of his corrupt group comes from heaven and has no limits? Clearly, religion has nothing to do with such mania. The violation of the constitution, law breaking, and adoption of ideas and slogans, with the aim of emptying it of its content, as already mentioned, are reasonable causes for scepticism and for challenging the impartiality of any election conducted by this ideological group. It is obvious this group would never gain the trust of the Sudanese citizens, in a fair and democratic election conducted by an enlightened government.

 

  In short, the record of the ruling group in terms of electoral fraud, breach of law and public order, political violence against opponents, toppling democracy by means of a military coup and violation of human rights, raises doubts about the feasibility of any elections conducted by these cleptocrats . Today Kenya is suffering violence, fighting, unrest and instability as a result of fraudulent elections. Some might argue that an election is necessary to implement the Machakos and Naivasha Agreements. But, w e on the other hand, would argue that events in Kenya , stand as evidence to the futility of any such elections in Sudan . Even if they are carried out under international monitoring.

 

 

Arman Muhammed Ahmad
 
February 1, 2008

 

 

 

 

                                                                                                 

 



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