Articles and Analysies
The Ultimatum to Boycott the Elections; Will It Hold? By: Dr. Justin Ambago Ramba, MD.
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Nov 27, 2009 - 7:11:20 PM



The Ultimatum to Boycott the Elections; Will It Hold?  


Look out! “The Credibility of the   Juba   Dialogue and National Consensus is at stake.”**

By: Dr. Justin Ambago Ramba, MD.

It was barely two months ago that the Sudan Peoples’ Liberation Movement (SPLM), which dominates the government of South Sudan (GoSS) hosted a group of Sudanese political parties and politicians including the main outstanding northern opposition parties, the UMMA of ex-prime mister Sadiq al Mahdi the Leader of the Ansar sect, the Peoples’ Congress Party headed by the Islamist scholar, Sheikh Hassan al Turabi, the Sudanese Communist Party headed by comrade Ibrahim Nugud and manly others.

 This so- called All Sudanese Political Parties Conference (ASPPC) which extended from 26th  to the 30th  September 2009 , was although boycotted by the National Congress Party (NCP) of President Omer al Bashir, it was attended in total by 28 political parties and 5 civil society organisations, diplomatic corps and representatives of the International community.   However, the conference also witnessed the walk out of some southern Sudanese parties who thought that the set agenda was not doing much to address the outstanding problems between the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) partners (SPLM and NCP) as the engagement between the two was already on its way to a stalemate.

 To many observers   Juba   conference was an attempt of two folds. Firstly, the SPLM has chosen to invest in this new alliance, but of course can be viewed as resuscitation of the old National Democratic Alliance (NDA) that during the war brought SPLM/A closer to the northern Sudanese traditional forces, under this mainly strategic club after these parties have been forced into opposition following the “Ingaz” coup plotters firm grip on power following their successful bloodless take over in 1989 and onwards.

 Whereas the second view no doubt brings to light the wits of the two most manipulative figures in the Sudanese political life, non but the two brothers – in – law, Sayed Al Mahdi and Sheikh al Turabi. After having missed out of the CPA, a document that now largely defines who is who in the Sudanese power and wealth sharing, these two political jackals would want to come closer and have a say on the Sudanese political arena which has become exclusively dominated by the Naivasha ever quarrelling partners.

 Al Mahdi, as usually never misses any   forum and was quick to make the best of Juba Conference to air his views,   some of which almost seem like re-negotiating the CPA,  especially when he proposed  the CPA Plus clause  to be adopted as the way forward by the conferees. Nevertheless, the average south Sudanese do not believe an iota in any common interest with the northern opposition parties. And all are crystal clear that people like al Turabi, Al Mahdi or the rest went actually to   Juba   with the primary intention of slowing down the growing south Sudanese nationalism and imminent development into secession come year 2011.

 On the other hand, the South Sudanese people who look at the SPLM to be representing their interests, coupled with the clear call for secession come 2011, they expect this party (SPLM) to continue engaging the NCP and expose it to the local and world opinion that it is the one (NCP) who does not want to implement the CPA by cliquing to those bad and unconstitutional laws, yet it would want to be seen as doing its level best to cooperate.

However, the author’s initial concern on writing this article is in fact to expose some of the weird decisions taken at the conference that are meant to be binding to all the political parties that attended the conference and participated in drafting the declarations. There are of course, many resolutions but let us read the following which is  an extract from the   Juba   Declaration on Dialogue and National Consensus: 


I. Upholding of basic freedoms as stipulated in the Basic Human Rights Charter which has been incorporated in INC.

ii. Amendment of all laws related to freedoms and democratic transformation and bringing them in consonance with the INC, namely the National Security Law, Criminal Procedures Law, Trade Unions Law, Immunities Law, Personal Status Law, Press and Publications Law, Public Order Laws.

iii. Amendment of the above laws within a period not exceeding November 30, 2009 as conditional to the participation of all the political parties participating at the APPC in the upcoming general elections.”

Up till here everything looks fine except for the ultimatum bit which though meant to put pressure on the stubborn NCP so that it can reverse its position on the mentioned issues, but given the records of events, obviously little is expected to be achieved by it, especially now that the decision to boycott the elections has been pushed to after the end of the voters’ registration, possible some days after the Eid-Al Adha feast from the initial date of the 30th  November 2009. Which ever way you look at it , the last date for the voters’   registration is   only two weeks away ( thanks to the one week extension) when SPLM and other 20 or so opposition parties will have to come face to face with    the ultimatum put forward by the Juba Dialogue and   National Consensus as stated above.

Whatsoever may follow will   hopefully be as reflected in the following statements, "On November 30...the parties will meet and decide on a date and venue for the (party) summit before which we will put our reports on whether they boycott or not," said opposition alliance official Farouk Abu Eissa. (Independent online IOL )

 Senior SPLM official Yasir Arman told reporters the meeting would happen after the electoral registration period which had been due to end on November 30 but which was extended for almost a week. The joint news conference gave no new date, ( Independent online) .Because of the Muslim Eid Al Adha festival,   Sudan   will be on holiday for five days beginning on Thursday, making any decision on a boycott by November 30 impossible, the parties said.(Independent Online)   

What then do we expect to happen should the new date even come to pass and  yet none of the contested laws are amended?   Are these parties including the SPLM (who played a leading role in making these resolutions), going to boycott the forthcoming Elections in line with the basic intentions of the ultimatum and their public credibility? Or is there going to be a change of positions thus, clearly painting the Juba Conference and this particular part of the resolution as childish, hurried and lacking the depth of judgement when it was initially adopted,   thus only benefiting the NCP to continue dragging its feet on implementing the rest of key provisions of the CPA.

 But as the outcome of the Juba Dialogue and National Consensus Conference is NOW, a public document we will keep watching lest it become just like the rest of the many dishonoured documents in the Sudanese political journey towards the unknown. On the other hand, we would also like to believe that the SPLM, the UMMA, the Popular Congress, the Sudanese Communist Party and all those other parties that converged at Juba will live up to their resolutions and proceed to boycott the Elections. If this may become the real scenario should the laws fail to be amended and the Juba conferees insist as expected not to back off, then where would that leave the greedy NCP? Will the NCP proceed with the elections without SPLM, UMMA, Popular Congress, Sudanese Communist Party and the other political parties? And what wisdom is there for such a unilateral (Karzai type in Afghanistan ) elections in a country already gravid with endless list of uncertainties?   It is here that the credibility of the two Sudanese political camps will be judged now that it is already put to the test set up at Juba Conference.

 This is not an instigation for people to boycott the elections, but rather a reminder to those who are very quick to take positions on crucial issues to the extend of issuing ultimatums that may end up unaccomplished, consequently damaging their credibility and paradoxically strengthening their political opponents who are hence made to falsely look more consistent and thus more appealing to the public and the international community alike.

 It is however, the wish of our people to have the elections held on time and in accordance to the CPA that clearly stresses the amendment of all the laws that do not promote democratic transformation in the   Sudan , prior to any election process. This is crucial for any credible, free and fair elections.

  Dr.   Justin Ambago Ramba,   M.B, B.Ch, D.R.H, MD. Secretary General of the United   South Sudan   Party (USSP). The party that stands for the independence of   South Sudan . Can be reached at either [email protected]  or   [email protected]

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