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Civil liberty must precede the civil divorce. By: Justin Ambago Ramba, MD.
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Mar 27, 2010 - 9:47:47 PM

Civil liberty must precede the civil divorce.

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By: Justin Ambago Ramba, MD.

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No way that we can forget president Salva Kiir’s description of the comprehensive peace agreement (CPA) that the   deal which continues to    stagger like a drunken person,   thank   the US administration,  it is still walking   on its feet. To an insider of the Sudanese politics, this description not only reflects what this historical agreement has to go through, but in fact it captures how the entire country of Sudan is managing to cope up. Since 1956, the Sudan has been a staggering country.

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When the CPA was signed in 2005, besides bringing peace to south Sudan, the agreement was also expected to achieve two other top priority issues which are the democratic transformation in the Sudanese politics and the self determination for the people of south Sudan.

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Currently the democratic transformation process that started with the conduction of the disputed population census, the equally disputed voter’s registration, was supposed to reach its climax by the holding of free, fair and credible general elections. However given the political realities of the Sudan, democracy under the dominant National Congress Party (NCP), which itself came to power by overthrowing a democratically elected government , two decades ago, remains elusive in ever meaning of the word.

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The Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM), which is the junior partner to the NCP in the government of National Unity (GoNU) having realized that it is no match to its northern counterpart in the run up to bring about any tangible political change in the whole Sudan, is now made to concentrate on maintaining its rule only to the semi-autonomous south given the dominance that it apparently enjoys here as a legacy of the CPA. So, this now being the position of the SPLM, its initial dream to bring about a true democratic transformation in the Sudan can now be assumed to have reached a dead end. And those northern political opposition parties who until recently gambled heavily on the SPLM’s position in the presidency should now come into terms with the bitter truth that, if there is any change to happen to NCP led regime, it will obviously become something for them as northerners to pursue sometime to come after the referendum, and not before the south is long gone.

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However although the SPLM feels better after withdrawing from the national battle in the centre, yet its position in the south, for so many reasons, all related to its weak leadership , suddenly finds itself in a state of an unexpected confusion. The party now faces fierce competitions from both the numerous south Sudanese opposition parties who are largely small parties, who enjoy selective regional popularities as well as from those popular former SPLM candidates who chose to contest the elections as independents in defiance of their party, which led to their excommunication.

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There is however no way that, the south on its part can ever see any free, fair and credible elections, because the SPLM which still commands high number of followers in the key government positions, as well as its undeniable grip on the SPLA, the south Sudan’s army, has resorted to manipulations, harassment and intimidations of rivals, abusing its free access to the public funds and assets. It is only by seeing the giant posters all over the country that one can come to appreciate the abuse of public position in Africa’s politics as opposed to what we see in other bigger democracies.

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But as everybody in the south is of course for obvious reasons, made to focus more on the coming referendum in January 2011, where they intend to vote for their independent state, little criticism is being directed to the many and countless irregularities associated with the ongoing election process. Yet with all these riddles, the southerners are determined to use their votes to bring a change to the current leadership which remains accused of incompetence, and massive corruption.

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The slow pace of progress in the post war south Sudan has been largely attributed to the lack of capacity to establish creditable institutions that can then deliver the peace dividends so much expected by the grassroots.   This lack of capacity is not necessarily the lack of qualified people, but because the new rulers in this Oil rich region took a very long time to adapt to the basic guidelines of good governance. The effect is a sad list of all kinds of unprecedented corruptions and grafts that stand tall at no less than 6 billion US dollars. The way forward is to vote in new faces, take the thieves to face justices and reclaim the public money. In short, the current faces must vanish from the public institutions.

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Although the corruption ridden SPLM party under its incompetent leadership continues to generate oyeeeee cries wherever they set their feet, the sensible should know that not every oyeeeeee is genuine. How are the electorates to believe these politicians who up till the last minutes want to continue in office by skipping the elections if their unjustified attempts to postpone the elections were to succeed?

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Our people must remain optimistic for their dreams for better governance can still be realized. Today it can be seen that both the opposition parties and the independent candidates, are the groups which command the popular appeals to the electorates. Those old timers whose records are flawed with all kinds of political and social scandals can no way make it back to offices. We are about to see a radical change first at the state governors levels as there stands a great chance for the independent popular candidates to win landslides victories over their SPLM rivals.

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However we are aware that a new strategy has been developed to break the solidarity line of the popular consensus of the people of south Sudan to fight the dictatorial attitude that exists within the SPLM in the different states. This party (SPLM) after having fallen victim to the policies of a few, who run and dictate their wishes through the so-called political bureau, is no longer the popular party it once was.

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The SPLM chairman no surprise, started his campaign by vigorously directing his attacks against the independent candidates who not too long were his party members. This only reflects how insecure the chairman has beginning to feel. However as he fells unsafe himself, it even makes it more difficult for him to lend support to any of his party candidates in their different constituencies. This has obviously forced Mr. Chairman to cling to his deputy wherever he goes, typical of a drowning person who once grabs anything, never let’s go of it.

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Recently out of the vogue, the SPLM chairman was reported by the Sudan Tribune, that he, (Kiir), urged voters not to vote someone just because of personality, but vote for someone who has foundations and is a member from the SPLM ticket rotating the same message in Maridi, and Mundri counties. He also recommended not to fight any independent candidate, or any another political party during the campaigns and elections. (Sudan Tribune 23/03/10.)

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However just the next day, on 24th March 2010, around 17 people assumed to be independent   candidates and their supporters were reported to have been arrested in Maridi by security and in uniform authorities , but were soon released. However the very existence of such barbaric, uncivilized and undemocratic actions and intimidations of ordinary citizens simply because they hold different political views are issues to be strongly condemned.

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While on the same of day of March 24, 2010, the SPLM chairman Salva Kiir Mayardit was strangely enough reported by the same media outlet to have said that they in the SPLM party would consider welcoming back the independent candidates after the April elections.

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This statement was made public by H.E Salva Kiir during an electoral meeting held in the Town of Aweil, capital of Northern Bahr Ghazal state, when he said:

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“I need you to elect leaders and representatives of your choice. Those are your people. People who would represent you at all level with requirements and abilities,” Kiir said.

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He also revealed that SPLM would consider welcoming back independent candidates after elections, successful or unsuccessful for them, the report went to say.

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Whatever is Kiir’s motives in sending different and conflicting messages to the electorates over the issue of the so-called independent candidates, where he paints them as wrongdoers in certain parts of the south and deserve to be boycotted by party loyalists, while treating them as equals in other state and even allowing party voters the freedom to choose their representatives more freely draws a great deal of eye brows. He also goes to length to the stress his ties to some independents to the extent of contemplating their come back to the party ranks whether they win or lose in the elections.

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Was it out of Kiir’s dislike to candidates like Lt. Gen. Alfred Lado Gore, the independent candidate for the governorship of Central Equatoria state (CES),    or Gen. George Athor, of Jonglei State or Col. Joseph Bakosoro of Western Equatoria (WES) and the others........... that he chose not to talk about the possibility of reinstating the so-called independent candidates once the elections are over, when he campaigned in these state, but chose to do so in Aweil?

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Or was it the huge numbers of the independent candidates in Northern Bahr Ghazal state that led the chairman to flatter the candidates so that they vote for him and Yasser Arman while sacrificing their party nominees in the state.    

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However Kiir was quick to say he did not come to Aweil to discuss political future of the independent candidates adding he will call some of them once returned to Juba so as to discuss some of the political matters based on their strengths.

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"I will, once returned in Juba, call some of them but now I am for different mission" said Kiir, reiterating his position to accept and respect choice of the local people.(Sudan Tribune 24/03/10)

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It would be very cheap politics if the independent candidates whom we know very well as popular leaders in their various communities are to be subjected by Kiir and his so-called political bureau yet to another round of humiliations or any kind of further political blackmailing.   Whatever Kiir plans to do for these sons and daughters of south Sudan can never heal the wounds of the continuous humiliations being inflicted on them and those grassroots that nominated them in the first place and continue to support and stand by their side. They are the nucleus for a better south Sudan, and we thus declare our stand to support them and work with them jointly to realize a new style of governance based on the rule of law – accountability – transparency – inclusiveness and democracy.

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As for the referendum, the US administration  is prepared for an eventual secession of southern Sudan, said the President Barak Obama special envoy to Sudan who showed optimism there would be no reprise of war between northern and southern Sudan.

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He further stressed that his administration is working with the eventuality of independence more than a united Sudan.

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"I don’t see that the north has to reinvade the south and start the war again," Gration said. "If we can resolve these issues, I think there is a fairly good chance that ... the south can have a civil divorce, not a civil war."

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It is the US who chaperoned the CPA, and non but them can effectively see it through. It is also obvious that Omer Bashir or whoever comes up in Khartoum will remain loyal to the agreement. And we very well know that it is only through a sustained US pressure   the north can be made to negotiate in good faith for completing the rest of the impending issues as well as agree on the post referendum arrangements.

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But to make sense of the civil divorce with the north, south Sudan must make sure that it has invested well in the elections by weeding out all the corrupted figures that are now bogging the whole system down. Our civil liberty must be an integral part of that civil divorce.   It thus goes without saying that, though our friends in the US are keen to see us through, they also expect us to do our bit by electing a responsible government, but never again this over recycled prescription of Kiir.

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 “Changes do not roll on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle. And so we must straighten our backs and work for freedom. A man can’t ride you unless your back is bent” Martin Luther King Jr.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



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