Articles and Analysies
Do Ministers belong to the Party or to the Government? *By James Okuk
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Oct 14, 2007 - 9:50:11 AM

Do Ministers belong to the Party or to the Government?


*By James Okuk


The above question might look dull but it makes someone who answers it wrongly to look obtuse. For someone to answer this question well, it is sine qua non that he understands and differentiates between the government and the political party. The political party can become a government if it takes hold of the state powers but a government cannot become a political party even if it loses its powers. If one political party becomes a government then a country becomes a mono-party state. It two political parties become a government then a country becomes a bipartite-state. If more than one party become a government then a country become a multiparty-state ruled by government of national unity. The status quo of the Sudan today falls under the last category.


Though the government is branched into Legislative, Executive and Judiciary, it has become common that the Executive arm is what is referred to when people talk of government. The CPA provides that   prior to mid-term elections: 1) the legislative institution at the national level shall be shared thus: 52% to NCP and 14% to other Northern political forces, and 28% to SPLM and 6% to Other Sothern forces; 2) the Executive Institution shall have the same shares but with 2 NCP over 1 SPLM in the Presidency. The percentage of the other sectors of the Executive (e.g. Security, Police, Civil Service, etc.) have not been specified but are supposed to be equitably representative of the people of Southern Sudan and other marginalized areas of Northern Sudan . The main duty of GoNU shall be the promotion of national unity, defense of the national sovereignty, and implementation of the CPA, among others.


However, the dilemma which is still haunting the CPA is the mismatch between the mentalities of some of the leaders who have negotiated it and the transition that has taken place after. Some of the SPLM leaders, members and supporters still behave as if they were still a pseudo-government that had controlled the liberated areas before the CPA was reached; they still have hangovers of the past movement authority in spite of the transformation of the SPLM into a political party. Likewise some of the leaders, members and supporters of the NCP still behave as if they were the only party in the government who take decisions on their own whims. This mismatch has been there from day-one when SPLM and NCP decided to become partners in the government in all its levels (National, Southern and States). In Juba last week SPLM stated that they have suspended the activities of their presidential advisors, ministers, and ministers of state in the GoNU until the pending issues of the CPA implementation have been eased. This statement might look appealing to an ordinary citizen who is not happy with the NCP but it looks juvenile for someone who is neutral or the one who is not happy with the SPLM. Do those advisors and ministers belong to SPLM or to the State? In other word, are they ministers in the SPLM or ministers of in the government of the State (country)? What I know is that those people became advisors and ministers when they took the state constitutional oath for the government and so they are not minsters of the SPLM, though they were recommended by SPLM to those executive constitutional posts. It would have looked rational if SPLM could have stated that it was suspending its cadres who are ministers in the government rather than saying it has suspended its ministers.


It has also became clear from the statements of the official spokesperson of SPLM that the main concern for that political strike was the reshuffle of the ministerial positions that are held by the SPLM cadres in the GoNU, particularly, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs which is headed by H.E. Dr. Lam Akol. The justification which has been presented for the reshuffle is treacherous: Is it a crime if NCP commends a good work of a SPLM cadre in any ministry? Is it also a betrayal if SPLM commends a good work of a NCP cadre in any ministry? Yes, it is the right of SPLM party to be represented in GoNU by its preferred cadres   but it is also the right of the President of the Republic of the Sudan to reject the nominated SPLM member if he finds his records risky for the national interest even if agreeable to the   SPLM interests. The President is the only one who has constitutional powers to issue appointment or relieve decrees at the GoNU level. Even if he consult and receive recommendations from other parties who share the government with him, still he is the only one who has the final say in forming his government. Therefore, it looks babyish when some SPLM say they have formed the GoNU in Juba and will forward the list to the president for announcement before they call off the suspension strike.


I am sure that the reshuffle will not solve the real problems facing the delay of the implementation of Abyei Protocol, the demarcation of South-North borders of 1/1/1956, the withdrawal of SAF in Oil fields in the South, the population census funding, the commitment and honesty for development of Southern Sudan, etc. It will only solve the problems of those who would want to become ministers, state ministers and presidential advisors. Is this all what CPA is about - positions and perpetual reshuffles? If this is the way Joshua is leading us to the Promised Land, I am not amused totally.



James Okuk is a Sudanese and a PhD student in the University of Nairobi . He can be reached at: [email protected]


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