ís NCP is planning to rig elections at census level
By Sabrino Majok Majok*
The census conducted in Sudan between 1955 and 1993 all ended in national controversy and allegation of a deliberate slash of Southern Sudan population. Although there had never been accurate and fair headcounts in the country since independence in 1956, some regions were better off than others in terms of representations in running the affairs of the nation.
For more than fifty years, Sudanese people have suffered enormously under the yoke of colonization-like successive administrations in Khartoum up to the current National Congress Party (NCP).
However, the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) signed on January 9th, 2005, has addressed contentious national issues and concerns, including Southernersí right to Self-determination, human rights, freedom of expression, and power and wealth sharing. Furthermore, Darfur Peace Agreement (DPA) and Eastern Sudan Peace Agreement (ESPA) have also attempted to resolve chronic neglect and marginalization in Western and Eastern Sudan, respectively.
Rosy as they seem, the provisions contained in the said agreements can be nothing but empty promises in absence of a scientific affirmation of numerical strength of each region or state since power and wealth sharing arrangements after elections will defend on actual population of each region or state. An upcoming fifth census, therefore, is crucial and so must be done correctly and on time, for the outcomes of which will lay a historic foundation for future national events such as general elections, referenda in South Sudan and Abyei; and popular consensus in Nuba Mountains and Southern Blue Nile.
To succeed in this challenging and importance task, every member of marginalized majority of Sudan, pro-democratic parties, especially the Government of South Sudan (GOSS) should adequately prepare between now and November 15, 2007, a date set for the census by the Government of National Unity (GONU).
Although NCP minister responsible for national census has already set a stage for failure (to their advantage) by allotting 15 days only for registration, we peace-loving citizens must advise our respective constituencies to pressure the minister to increase the time for ample preparations so that each and every Sudanese is counted, without exception. Hindering factors such as rainy and so-called ďhungerĒ seasons must be noted and excluded from the timetable.
Like difficulties faced during the last four censuses, the next headcount wonít be easy. There are a number of challenges ahead of us. For example, the old, spontaneous desires by successive ruling parties in Khartoum to trim Southern Sudan population to all time level at ď6 millionĒ persons; lack of transportation for and communication equipment amongst registrants (especially in Southern Sudan); citizensí lack of knowledge as to why government wants to register their names or childrenís names, etc., are envisaged to complicate an already confused process by NCP.
Failure to address the above constraints, among others, will erroneously prove that the marginalized are in fact ďin minorityĒ in Sudan. As such any future victory by NCP will be justified. Indeed, without adequate preparations between now and 2007 will eventually lead to unfavourable results. In particular, the population of South Sudan will inevitably record the lowest figure ever since time immemorial, for we have millions in IDPs camps, neighbouring countries, and Western world. In the same token, the effect of displacement and immigrant will negatively affect Darfur, Nuba Mountains, Southern Blue Nile, Abyei, and Eastern Sudan.
In addition to obstacle poised by massive displacement and immigration, NCP-sponsored selective insecurity in the country is expected also to hinder a smooth and orderly census among the targeted populations. For instance, if a proper security measures arenít put in place, it will be difficult for citizens to participate in registration, not to mention those who will be doing a field work: the registrants.
Although security concerns are supposedly responsibility of GONU, GOSS, and state governments, every peace-loving Sudanese has a role to play to ward off any eventualities, lest the NCP might misconstrue lack of citizensí involvement as indifference or ignorance. If we the marginalized allow NCP to engineer the much anticipated census, then we should be ready to accept the outcome in entirety, albeit disastrous. After which time the country will certainly spring back to a half-century era of oppression, poverty, slavery, wide-scale genocide and dictatorship, to detrimental consequences. And hard won peace agreements, together with hopes, will have been dashed forever.
As usual, the NCP and its preferred floated constituenciesówhich are less than six states out 25ówill heavily and greedily draw from a national purse and commandeer every power there is in the country. The unwanted citizens of the remaining 19 states (10 in South Sudan, 3 in Western Sudan, 3 in Eastern Sudan, 1 in the far North, Nuba Mountains and Southern Blue Nile) will be either annihilated in abroad daylight or hopelessly face a natural death. Since each of these two options is deadly, we the marginalize majority must exert our utmost political strength to make sure that a fair and complete census is conducted in our country. This will deny NCP from rigging upcoming general elections at census level. By so doing, we will definitely regain or wrest back our long denied rights and effectively put an end to oppression, manipulation, slavery, genocide, and dictatorship.
In the meantime, we must make sure that North-South border is demarcated; Abyei Protocol implemented; adequate preparations are in place before census; most IDPs and refugees are repatriated; and every peace agreement in Sudan is on schedule without exception.
*Sabrino Majok Majok is a Sudanese; reach him via [email protected]