Articles and Analysies
Dilemmas of CPA and Mechanism of Self-determination By James Okuk
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Jun 25, 2009 - 2:44:08 AM

Dilemmas of CPA and Mechanism of Self-determination  


By James Okuk  


I am writing again here to remind my readers of the article I wrote in 2007 regarding what I saw a head as some dilemmas inherent in the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) between the Government of the Sudan (GoS) and the Pseudo-government of Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A). Now with the opening of serious discussions on Referendum Commission and Referendum Law, the dilemmas I enumerated are getting revealed slowly.    


Some people have already leveled me as determined pathological killer of the SPLM, but as far as I know myself, I do not wish the SPLM any incident or accident of death. I can accept this historic movement to give birth to different bodies (SPLM-DC or SPLM-whatever) if it cannot stay together as one body. I will not accept that the SPLM should die totally. That is why I become more concern and alertive when this historic movement becomes sickened and strangled by bad leadership.  


Lest you misunderstand me, my criticism aims at keeping the SPLM on toes so that it does not forget its sole objectives or deviate from good deeds that should trickle down to the marginalized masses that have been neglected to linger in poverty on their own rich Motherland. I know it very well that the fallen heroes/heroines and martyrs of the struggle will curse me alive if I let down their good wishes for the prosperity of these masses. I do not envy SPLM leaders and members driving expensive cars and enjoying luxury but I hate life of luxury in the midst of mass poverty, it contradicts the meaning of liberation from cliques’ controls and selfishness of power and wealth. Africans are known for their spirit of sharing and solidarity for the weaker and the poor.  


The First dilemma: the de facto and de jure status of the Government of the Republic of the Sudan (GOS) and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A); the two parties who decided to give birth to the CPA, has become obsolete. GOS has transformed itself into a different image with its current levels (of Government of National Unity, Government of Southern Sudan, Government of States, and Local Government), which are comprised of multi-party representations as stipulated in the CPA. Thus, the CPA government is no more synonymous to National Congress ruling party (NCP) and its previous cronies from other political parties.  


Also the SPLM/A has transformed itself into a political party called SPLM, which is separated administratively from the independent standing army of Southern Sudan called SPLA whose Commander-In-Chief is the President of the Government of Southern Sudan (GoSS). From then, the SPLM/A was no more a pseudo-government (with legislature, executive and judiciary arms) as it used to be in the liberated areas before the CPA. This means that, H.E. Salva Kiir is only the C-In-C of the SPLA by virtue of GoSS and not by virtue of being the Chairman of the SPLM political party.  


The CPA gave both the NCP and the SPLM the lion share in governments in the North and South respectively prior and pending the formation of the new governments (in the South and North) after the results of the mid-term elections (February, 2010). This control has extended to the two independent standing armies (the SPLA in the South and the SAF in the North) and also to other agreed armed forces (Civil, Fire-Brigade, Wildlife and Prison Polices respectively) but not the militias or other paramilitaries.  


The motive behind these separate controls was the deterrent from any possible worse political deviation by any of the partners or any of the opposing political parties. Other represented supporting political parties in the government will only be a minority or a disguised of the two partners until the mid-term elections change the share of power according to magnitude of people’s votes gained by the contesting political parties or individuals, pertinent to the Elections Law that has been promulgated in accordance with the provisions of the interim National Constitution (including the CPA provisions) for guiding the elections procedures.  


The Second Dilemma of the CPA is in regard of the People of Southern Sudan versus the black people of Southern Kordoan (Nuba), Blue Nile (Funj) and Northern Kordofan (Dinka Ngok of Abyei) states who are located Northern Sudan. Those people struggled seriously side by side with Southerners in SPLM/A in its wish to liberate the whole Sudan and abolish the vices of marginalization and colonization of the periphery by the centre.  


When the wish of the people of Transitional Areas was impaired by the corrective Nasir Declaration and the Split of SPLM/A in 1991 for including the right of the people of Southern Sudan for Self-determination in the SPLM/A agenda, the paradigm of the New Sudan came up strongly to woo these northerners from disserting. Because that paradigm was vague and based on military victory for liberation and not on political dialogue, those Northern comrades thought this ideology would continue to address their grievances. However, they did not think that the New Sudan ideology could mean Southern Sudan liberated from the North by political negotiations and compromise as it had happened in the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA).  


But, though the CPA was meant to solve the problem of the South in reference to the North, yet it has been controlled by the two partners (SPLM/A & NCP/SAF) who are totally different and extreme in their power visions. The NCP is Pro-Islamic Sudan because it is controlled by Islamists Arab Northerners who see themselves as superior Sudanese. The SPLM is Pro-Secular Sudan because it is controlled by African Southerners (mostly Christians) and a pocket of some communist Arab Northerners.  


Both the NCP and the SPLM have not been faithful partners to the North-South paradigm, which made it easier for the power and wealth sharing and security arrangement in the CPA.  The SPLM still holds to its old paradigm of Liberated Areas in the disguise of New Sudan while the NCP still imposes the Sharia law and other Islamic norms in Khartoum and other parts of Northern Sudan. Ask the drunkards in the North and they will explain to you more (100 lashes) what I mean here.  


The Third dilemma is that though the two native CPA partners defined Southern and Northern Sudan Geo-politically (cf. Interim Constitution of Southern Sudan, 2005, Ch.I, art.1), they have not done it Anthro-politically. That is, they have identified the land territory and the type of government but they have not constitutionally defined the people who inhabit that land and territory. They have not bothered to define who is a Southern Sudanese as well as who is a Northern Sudanese. Is the Northerner or the Southerner defined by the:  

1) Residential Status where everybody who has settled legally for a long time (ten years and above) in either Northern or Southern Sudan becomes identified with it;  

2) Ethnic Status where someone is identified by the location of the tribe he belongs to even if he/she does not live within that location. For example, if my tribe is Collo(Shilluk) whose original land falls within the vicinity of Southern Sudan borders of 1/1/1956, I should belong there even if I am settled officially elsewhere (in Khartoum or Washington DC). Also if my tribe is Jahali whose root settlement falls within Northern territory, then I should belong there even if I was born and lived in Malakal in Southern Sudan;  

3) Racial Status where a black African Sudanese is seen as a Southerner and a Brown Afro-Arab Sudanese is seen as a Northerner. For example, a black Nuba or a Funj person is seen as a Southerner by most of Southerners and Northerners; likewise, they see the brown Afro-Arabs only as Northerners. This definitional and identificational negligence has put Ngok Dinka of Abyei Area, the black African races who fall within the Northern border of the British colonialists of 1/1/1956, and the Malakias (Afro-Arabs) group who mostly live in Malakal Town into a pathetic political situation within the agreed North-South and Arab-African paradigms in the CPA.  


Abyei Area (with its residents: the Nine Ngok Dinka, Misseriya and other Arab nomadic peoples, etc) is only defined by CPA as a bridge between the people of the Northern and Southern Sudan, pending the result of the referendum for self-determination. Its residents neither belong to any of these territories fully. They can be seen as unreliable for reflecting the interests of the North or South specifically in any decision-making position given them in GoNU or GoSS. Southerners may sympathize with Abyei Dinka on ethnic basis but not residentially because they are not alone in that Area. Other Abyei Area residents are going to determine its fate as well during the simultaneous referendum for self-determination in 2011, so that the Area becomes either part of Bahr El Ghazal or continue to be part of Northern Sudan (CPA, Ch.IV, 1.3, a.b). Unpredictable destiny!  


The Fourth dilemma: what will be the paradigms for the mid-term general elections? Shall it be South-North or African-Arab or Registered Political Parties for democratic competition for government power? Should the political parties be forced to adopt the CPA’s South-North & African/Arab paradigms (particularly Ch.II, 2.3.5 & 2.3.7) conditioning the structure of the presidency and president of GoSS? Regarding this paradigms, how did Southerners feel when, for example, H.E. Salva Kiir rose up in a morning with a decision replacing the Foreign Minister H.E. Dr. Lam Akol who was a SPLM member from the South with a SPLM Northerner – pending the results of simultaneous self-determination for Abyei Area – (H.E. Deng Alor)?  


How will they feel if they see Kiir replacing the Vice President of GoSS (H.E. Dr. Riek Machar) who is a SPLM Southerner with a prominent politician who is a SPLM Northerner (e.g. Hon. Yaser Arman)? With no doubt, Southerners will immediately criticize H.E. Kiir for selling out the rights of Southerners in the CPA’s lion share, though they know that those Northerners have been struggling together with Southerners in SPLM/A for decades. This dilemma is generated because CPA is not based on Political Parties’ identification but on regional and racial categorization (North-South and Arabs-Africans).  


The Fifth dilemma is that whose force should the SAF and the SPLA be during the interim period of the CPA? Should SAF be controlled by NCP rather than by GoNU? Should SPLA be the monopoly of SPLM rather than of GoSS? If it happened that NCP or SPLM lost elections shall the Non-NCP/SPLM elected president of the Sudan or elected president of the GoSS be the C-in-C of (SAF) and C-in-C of SPLA respectively? Should these two standing armies be identified with NCP and SPLM political parties? According to ideals of democracy, a country army should always be nationalized and never politicized for the sake of protecting the sovereignty of the Republic.  


The Sixth dilemma is the arrangement for the exercise of the right of self-determination for the people of Southern Sudan and Abyei Area by the two native partners of the CPA by the end of interim period. Does the politics employed by the SPLM and NCP to make unity of the Sudan attractive (for the people of Southern Sudan) imply making secession unattractive before these people determine their independence fate? Who shall be the GOS by then when it had been transfigured into a different shape? Shall it be the NCP? Who shall be the SPLM/A when it had become separated into SPLM as a political party and SPLA as a military army? Shall it be SPLM or SPLA? Shall SPLA change its name to fit within the context of GoSS rather than the whole Sudan? For example, change it from SPLA to South Sudan People’s Army (SSPA). In short, which parties are the present signatories of the CPA when the old parties who signed it have transfigured themselves though the individuals who appended their signatures on the CPA documents are still there? What will be the role of the elected government by then on the agreed plebiscite if they happened to be Non-NCP/SPLM political parties?  


All the questioned asked in this article puts a critical concerned Sudanese citizen into serious political dilemmas. These are dangerous dilemma in the Sudanese government and party politics. It needs to be resolved clearly by the two partners in consultation with other major political parties in the country so that the people get assured of the desired outcome of the CPA without succumbing to rush hour crises. But since dilemmas are resolvable through prudent leadership, I think what is needed in the Sudan is a better change of leadership that is capable of understanding the spirit and letter of the CPA and its implementation modalities.  


Based on the above scenarios, a reflective person is forced to ask these questions: Will NCP and SPLM still be the North-South government majority partners after the mid-term general elections in 2010? How will they organize jointly the referendum for Self-determination of the People of Southern Sudan and Abyei Area in 2011 (CPA, Ch.I, 2.5, Ch.IV, 1.1.1) when their statuses had changed from governments to political parties? Will they still do it as political parties who are partners if they happened to be voted out of the government by the people in the 2010 elections?  


Having identified the CPA dilemmas and being optimistic that they could get resolved, let me turn to the mechanism of the exercise of the right for self-determination for the people of Southern Sudan, which is being deliberated by the SPLM and NCP these days?  But to be on the right track, let me clarify that this right is not an end in itself but only a mechanism or a procedure for achieving two options: Affirming the Unity of the Sudan as it stand now or Separating Southern Sudan so that it could become an independent African country neighboring the North Sudan Country (or whatever name they will give it after the separation).  


The where-about of the Referendum Commission has already been provided in the CPA, Khartoum not Juba. There is no need to create unnecessary trouble by proposing Juba because this will amount to re-negotiating the CPA.  


The who-about of this Commission has already been identified to be comprising of Nine members including the chairperson. However, to say that it should be headed and chaired by a staunch pro-separatist will be unfair and extreme because the exercise is meant to find out scientifically and technically whether it is the majority or the minority that wants separation of the South from the North.  It is two free options not one option.  


If I were appointed as the head of this Commission I will decline because I am a separatist and will make sure that I dictate the process and rig its results to suit my desire. Therefore, I think it is fair to give the chairpersonship of the Referendum Commission to a neutral person who is neither a pro-separatist nor a pro-unionist. Justice must be done in the formation of Referendum Commission so that the different voices of the people of Southern Sudan and Abyei Area are given equal opportunity and a fair chance to compete on Separation or Unity. It should not be forgotten that there will be people who will not vote for either options, their neutrality should be respected.  


Though a separatist, I will not impose my position on the people of Southern Sudan and Abyei Area; I will accept the lost and join the majority who will exercise this right if they happened to be pro-unionists. I will congratulate them and tack my separation tail between my leg in respect to the rule of transparent and free democracy. I also expect the same from unionists.


James Okuk is a Democratic Separatist Southerner and PhD Student in the University of Nairobi, he can be reached at: [email protected]

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