: The CPA Partnership versus the Opposition
By: Dr. Justin Ambago Ramba, M.D.
The forthcoming Sudanese elections are going to be the first democratic and inclusive elections to be held since 1986. It is both fortunate and unfortunate that the elections are held at this particular time in the history of this turbulent country which has spent most of its time at war with itself.
It is unfortunate to hold the national Sudanese elections at this particular period in time because those now in power are the very group that deprived the people of the
from practicing democracy in the first place by ousting the democratically elected government in a military coup on
31 June 1989
As we all remember well this vey coup plotters brought in the most incompatible system of the hell they called "Al moshru Al hadari" which in practice alienated most of the Sudanese people more so to the detriment of some marginalized groups especially those from southern
The concern here is that, as the blood-thirsty Islamists were and are still hungry for power and given their records of rigging elections wherever that is held, leaves those who desperately yearn for democratic transformation in yet another dilemma and pessimism.
And why are the National Islamic Front/National Congress Party all of a sudden trying to champion the democratic transformation in the
? Generally the NIF/NCP after having remained in power for the last two decades, it simple sees out of greed that the seat of power is normally where they should be and never ever to get back to the opposition seat that they occupied only second to the south Sudanese for decades .
It is an undisputable fact that the greedy Islamic Movement mentored by sheikh Turabi had been in the opposition and unable to sell its non inclusive vision of a Sudanese Islamic state since the abnormal birth of the Sudanese nation in 1956 until the evening that they overthrew the democratic system in a coup which brought them into power.
Those who worked in alliances with the NIF/NCP understand the point here; this applies to all including its todayâ€™s partner the SPLM. The NIF/ NCP want everything done its way whether it is an alliance, a partnership, or a collusion. They even go at length to dictate on people how they should express themselves, how â€“ why - and where they should pray. They spy on and monitor the individualsâ€™ choice of faith, belief and orientation, and now they tactfully want to appear as leaders of a democratic transformation in the country.
But in reality they are dictators, totalitarians, militants, chauvinistic, and the mongers of forcible Islamisation, Arabization and Arabicisation of the entire Sudanese communities with possible over spillage into the neighboring African countries.
The fortunate part is that, this coming election gives all the Sudanese the opportunity as stipulated in the CPA to have their say and evaluate the two decades of the NIFâ€™s totalitarian rule in which they have left the country paralyzed except for the CPA that unfortunately they are also trying hard to dishonor.
The Sudanese opposition parties including the SPLM have all expressed their concerns about the role of the ruling NCP in conducting the elections as it monopolizes all the platforms and practically pushing all its opponents to seek survival in corners too remote from the centre where the real power lies.
In a hope to regain their positions in the transformation to democracy, some 17 opposition parties formed what is known as the Alliance of the Sudanese opposition parties and it includes the Umma (Al Sadiq), Umma party Reform (Al Fail Mubarak), Peopleâ€™s Congress Party (Al Turabi), the Sudanese communist Party (Ibrahim Al Nugud), the National Democratic Alliance, Socialist Baaâ€™th Party, Sudan National Party (Late Rev. Philip Abbas Gaboush), the Alliance Party, the United Democratic Front, the Justice Party (Mekki Balail â€“ one of the many parties created with the help of Dr. Lam Akol, before going back to the SPLM and now finally out of both to form the newly born SPLM-DC), the Unionists Nasiristsâ€™ Party and many others.
The basic aim of this
is to alienate the ruling NCP from power by facing the elections on a joint ticket at least primarily to challenge the candidacy of President al Bashir. But who will be the agreed presidential candidate of this group is left to be seen.
In a similar development the second partner in the government of national unity, the ex-rebels of the SPLM, who participated as an observer in the Alliancesâ€™ meeting held last month in Khartoum was represented by the Secretary General Paâ€™gan Amum, who rejected the Allianceâ€™s call for a caretaking government to supervise the National Elections for the fear that any election that would be conducted under a NIF/NCP led government is prone to grave malpractices, fraud and rigging, that is if it hasnâ€™t already been rigged. The above meeting ended with the SPLM extending an invitation to host the next
â€™s meeting in
the capital of the semi-autonomous south
and the seat of the SPLM led government of south
As time goes, voices are now being heard in Khartoum from those opposed to the Opposition Alliance, and one such a voice is that of Abdullah Masar, the pro-NCP chairman of a new Umma party faction, who called on SPLM chairman to â€śbe well awareâ€ť of what Al-Fadil is planning saying the latter has an agenda aimed at distancing the Southern movement from its allies in the government of national unity.
â€śThe conference sends negative signals that will primarily impact the CPA,â€ť Masar said.
Currently SPLM has been in sore relationship with its partner the NCP obviously for those reasons mentioned elsewhere earlier, but of course many other things done and said behind doors could have also aggravated the situation.
However as elections are looming, SPLM finds itself hanging between the NCP and the Opposition Alliance. It would have been easier for SPLM to form alliance with its partner to the CPA, the NCP and things could have perfectly looked normal and within the context of the Peace agreement between them had it not been for the patronizing attitude of the latter.
But as things stand now, SPLM is in no way ready to enter into any alliance with the NCP leaving that to the other smaller parties in the GoNU to sort it out. And obviously out of the uncertainty of the opposition parties forming a northern alliance with the NCP, a thing which if allowed to happen, it will no doubt render SPLMâ€™s position worse and even more weaker at all the three levels which include the GoNU, the National Parliament as well as the Presidency.
And it seems that in an attempt to block the above scenario, SPLM is now desperately trying to get closer to the Opposition Alliance and possibly work with it against the NCP and the Presidency of Al Bashir (the supposed to be partner in the CPA). Should this possibly happen, then whatsoever the outcome would be, the relationship between the SPLM and the NCP will never ever revert to normal and in that case they will have to finish the rest of the days left for the CPA as frank antagonists until the last minute that ends with the referendum for the south in 2011.
Opposition allianceâ€™s presidential candidate.
The Sudanese opposition alliance is yet to agree on one candidate to run against the NCPâ€™s presidential candidate who is none but the indicted president al Bashir himself.
On the SPLMâ€™s side, Salva Kiir Mayardit has not yet made it public as to whether he will run for any of the offices be it at the National Presidency or for the top position in the government of south
For Kiir to maintain his current position is in deed a difficult task as it will have to take the southern Sudanese a lot of sacrifice if they ever opt to retain him in office after his terrible failures after failures during the past four years or so.
While the northerners in the opposition strongly want al Bashir out, their initial intensions to have a president come from the south in order to maintain the unity of the country as well have been terribly shaken by Salva Kiirâ€™s poor records both at the Presidency and the GoSS.
As such the opposition alliance may be forced to reconsider the nomination of a southerner to run against al Bashir, knowing well that the NCP candidate stands a better chance of winning.
However even if the whole exercise do not translate into an immediate political victory, yet mostly SPLM and to some extent the other political parties shall have lessons to draw from it.
This Sudanese opposition forum will no doubt provide the SPLM and some of its emotional supporters to come into terms with the fact that there are three or more Umma parties in existence and operating separately without putting any fights over the usage of the name Umma by any of them.
Two Umma parties i.e. the Umma mainstream (Sadiq al Mahdi) and the Umma for Reform and Renewal (Mubarak Al Fadil), these will come to
, while the Umma National Party of Masar will remain n
and is an ally to the NCP.
The SPLM shall also be a host to the many factions of the Baaâ€™th Party which are: the Sudanese Baaâ€™th Party, the Socialist Baaâ€™th Party, and the Pro-Syrian Baaâ€™th Party, while within the south the SPLM and its supporters worldwide should have already acquainted themselves with the USAP1 and USAP 2.
The biggest lesson here is that these parties were obviously one unitary body that split over policies and individual egos and still all of them do maintain the main stem name of where they originated.
This is one thing my SPLMâ€™s friends must come to accept as both normal and healthy political developments.
Even not to go far, we all know that following Al Bashirâ€™s fall off with his mentor Dr. Al Turabi, the latter broke away from the National Congress Party and went and formed another congress (party) which is now known as the Peopleâ€™s Congress Party.
The truth is that the Peopleâ€™s Congress Party (Al Turabi) is a break away party from the NCP yet both remain as diehard Islamists. And though on the ground the two are the bitterest opponents and rivals yet we have never heard or seen them entertaining any quarrels over the use of the word congress by any.
But the basic truth is that SPLM remains a popular movement and when it was launched in 1983, it was the national events of that period which made the movement to appeal to broader number of the masses and the aim was to oppose, resist and possibly defeat the governments of those days.
Now SPLM has become purely a political party but also enjoys a big chuck of power and wealth. As a party and a government it can no longer shine like when it was a popular mass movement. All those who joined the movement are now settling back to their previous ideologies, social strata, ethnic realities and the immediate survival instincts.
This is the fate that awaits all movements which were totalitarian at their inceptions as they become shuttered during the events of democratic transformation at a time when emotions gets less and less while critical, rational and sober thinking surface. It is usually during these moments that people who view things otherwise are prone and tempted to split, break away or even commit political suicides within the mother political structure.
Getting back to how the opposition alliance will function as a unit given it diverse background and ideologies, is something yet to be seen. SPLM had been a member to National Democratic Alliance during the civil war with
and it knows well how these alliances work.
However following the CPA many of the parties included in the opposition alliance have expressed different degrees of reservations towards the agreement. And even now many still continue to voice out their concerns that the CPA is not a national document as it was only negotiated and signed between the two partners (the NCP & the SPLM/A) to the exclusion of the others.
Furthermore some of SPLMâ€™s former friends in the NDA do consider the CPA as a sell-out on SPLMâ€™s side, as to them it comes short of the set target of total regime change in the
. Yet others do not quite agree with most of the CPA protocols and more so is the article that clearly spells the right of the south Sudanese to self determination in an internationally monitored referendum to be held in January 2011.
It is also no secret to all including the SPLM that the majority of the alliance members actually want a renegotiation of the CPA and a point in place here has been their recent call for the establishment of a caretaker government of national unity to foresee the elections. This was categorically rejected by the SPLM and the NCP as it doesnâ€™t in any way reflect what is in the CPA.
These groups have not yet given up in their search for a regime change, and the suspension, renegotiation, or even abrogation of the CPA and they can go to lengths even campaigning for a Christian southerner to become the president of the
in order to achieve their goal.
What these group of northern Sudanese see here is that, there are some power hungry ethnicities in south Sudan if given the chance to rule the Sudan even just for a while and definitely which would be the case, these ethnic groups could easily in return make a U-turn and relinquish their calls for a separate and independent south Sudan nation.
Our enemies have done their homework and they have prepared where to strike the hardest. But fellow south Sudanese should remember that once they doze off and voluntarily end up stuck with the north, then that will be it for good or for worse.
All that the northern opposition parties should be made to understand at this moment in our history is that, the north represented by the NCP of President al Bashir has so far implemented the CPA in a way that has come to consolidate the calls for the emergence of a new African state, â€śthe Independent South Sudan Nationâ€ť. And presently that is the view of the majority of the south Sudanese who are proudly going to confirm it come January 2011 referendum for the self determination.
The only issue left here negotiable with the northern Sudanese opposition alliance is the just demarcation and peaceful maintenance of the border between the north and the south if at all they are peaceful people left in the north, especially the likes of Burma Nassir, the deputy chairman of the Umma mainstream of Sadiq al Mahdi and the other Islamic oriented groups.
In summary, we in the various south Sudanese political parties, including the ruling SPLM, if it has lastly accepted to be portrayed so, we must jointly understand that we as south Sudanese parties or people have no friends in the north. And all those northerners who are trying to get closer to us are but just interested in delaying our progress toward the achievement of our justifiable goal of independence.
The only legal and recognizable forum for southerner to deal with the north as far as politics is concern should be the CPA and none other, because it is this agreement that stopped the war and itâ€™s this agreement that has a light at the end of the tunnel.
Long live an Independent south