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South Sudan needs a new order By Nhial Bol Aken
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Jan 2, 2010 - 9:46:09 PM

South Sudan needs a new order

By Nhial Bol Aken

Your Excellency, I am writing to you as an individual and editor of one of the Southern Sudan leading newspapers (The Citizen) to alert you and the leadership of the Government of Southern Sudan that your recent remarks about media bills in an interview with BBC has signaled to the world that issues related to democratic transformation and bills of rights are subject to be question.

Your Excellency, since 2005, I have been alerting your government that without media laws, there would be a vacuum. Such absence of laws would allow individuals to make their own laws. I championed jointly with my colleagues to draft the media bills with the support of your Party (SPLM) and GoSS..

In 2008, we reached a great compromise position with your Ministry and the Ministry of Legal Affairs and Constitutional Development over four media bills but to our surprise, we were shocked with the media bills which were presented to Southern Sudan Legislative Assembly in October 2009

Your Excellency, the current media bills will create gaps and we hope to address these gaps without intimidation. Your complaint in the interview with BBC that someone approached President Kiir and asked him (Kiir) and I quote: Someone had approached the president asking him to change the proposed law - to add in parts which had been left out. The individual used the wrong channel and should not have gone straight to the president with this complaint.’

As an individual, I see President Kiir as a president of the people of South Sudan and the citizens of South Sudan have a right to complain direct to him.

Your Excellency, it would have made sense for you to inform the BBC that President Kiir is the President of the Ministers of the Government of Southern Sudan.

The BBC quoted you saying that you were not aware of harassments of Bakita Radio and people telling them what to broadcast and what not to air”

This statement also shows that you are not informed of difficulties facing the media houses in Southern Sudan .

Your Excellency, the aim of this letter is to alert you, your party and the leadership of President Kiir that the current media bills would invent war which I believe neither your Ministry nor the SPLM leadership is prepared to handle. Juba may witness stages before the SSLA to demand democratic media bills and this might develop into a bad image for your government.

Your Excellency, did the SPLM not demonstrate in Khartoum and before the National Assembly in order to demand passage of democratic media laws or their amendments to be in compliance with the Interim constitution?

The Media in the South is capable of staging demos to demand democratic media laws to be passed before the 2010 elections, and GOSS and SPLM could be on the spotlight with adverse publicity if your ministry doesn’t handle it carefully and candidly to implement agreed policies.

Your Excellency, your government through your short thoughts will be the one to lose with Southern Sudan now being touted as a failed state!

Your Excellency, your interview with BBC has pushed South Sudan Rights groups and Civil Society to stir public pressure. Public Pressure is coming as the last resort given the dragging on this issue for so long now!

As I listened to your interview, I developed the impression that some of you are divorcing the vision of the SPLM by inventing the Northern intellectuals’ creative lies into Southern Sudan . The history of Southern Sudan doesn’t know dictatorship and your attempt to champion bills that tolerate dictatorship will set a new political development of our people.

I, like many fellow citizens, rallied for the support of the SPLA and SPLM during the years of struggle. We were not blind as assumed by some of you; we were hoping that SPLM vision would translate into more choice and plenty of life’s sustaining needs such as cheap bread, clean water, good schools, and hospital, and freedom from fear of any sort. I strongly weighted myself to support SPLM policies simply because of these few needs.

Today, some of us are observing excellent fighters like you, President Kiir, Comrades Pagan Amum, the list is long, putting up a fantastic fight against the National Congress Party in the North while in Southern Sudan you are developing the desire to impose dictatorship. You deserve our applause. When you were fighting, we loved you dearly because there was that assumption that SPLM was the voice of the voiceless.

As one of the intellectuals, Your Excellency, your interview has set new political agenda, like the British system with Labour Party as a Service Party whereas Conservative party is a war party.

Your choice to ignore our demand for media rights means we will elect the SPLM (party of war) to fight the NCP while we are developing ideas to create another party of services and freedom of choice.

Your Excellency, history tells us that the British Labour party lost elections to Churchill’s Conservative Party when Hitler threatened to invade British Isles . Churchill won the elections but lost the elections at the end of the war. The Labour Party came back to power; don’t you think we will end up like British Parties, exchanging power between war and service parties? With your rejection of bills of rights, don’t you think that SPLM is a party of war, no more?

In short, we need a new order- that of freedom, choice, and opportunity.

The drafted media bills are an opportunity for the long deprived and marginalized Southerners to open their own political choices. I believe you fought for freedom but your current attitudes indicate that many of you do not know how to care for your supporters and what you fought for.

Your Excellency, your party made a lot of commitments to all. We were made to believe that SPLM was out for freedom but your current political attitudes toward the people whom you assumed to liberate shows that you were driven to the bushes by your collective dictatorship. However, I want to remind you that politics is a challenge for survival and one day, don’t be surprised if someone somewhere fiddles with the rules of the game in order to create a new political situation.

One thing is clear, Your Excellency, you cannot convince people’s hearts to be part of your dictatorship, failure, bad governance, corruption, tribalism and nepotism by being bad or intimidating. SPLM won us over by being nice to us in the past. The rule of free choice will one day win, even behind your back.

Your Excellency, human nature has the tendency to gravitate towards more freedom and more choice. And as long as this law of nature holds, the future belongs to those who want us to have more choice, not less.

Sincerely,

The author is the Editor-in- Chief of The Citizen.

 



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