Articles and Analysies
Voters Registration: The first step on the democracy ladder. By: Justin Ambago Ramba, MD.
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Nov 15, 2009 - 11:12:58 AM

Voters Registration: The first step on the democracy ladder.

By: Justin Ambago Ramba, MD.

The voters registration for the Sudanese general election that begun on Sunday November the 1st 2009 is the first step for the people of Sudan in their quest for democratic transformation that have been promised in the CPA. However the different political parties are still wrestling the dominant NCP of President al Bashir over some important laws that are seen essential for having fair and transparent elections on top of which is the laws that govern the activities of the national security organs.

No doubt that the voters registration has also kicked off while the SPLM and some opposition parties are currently boycotting the national parliament sessions in Omdurman . This in addition to the already controversial 5th national census results which were rejected by all the southern Sudanese parties as well as the SPLM leaves the general atmosphere completely in a state limbo.

However for us the south Sudanese the experience we had during the 5th Census should have taught us a lesson on how to go around crucial issues in as far as the North / South politics is concerned. This time around our public should not be distracted by what is taking place between the two CPA partners, an issue though important but can be resolved once the political will is secured. And this is exactly what the US administration is trying to broker.

The inevitable message here is that, there is going to be general elections all over the Sudan in April 2010 to be followed by a referendum for the southerners to determine their political fate in January 2011. The UN secretary general has stressed this point on more than one occasion. The same was done by both the US especial envoy to the Sudan Mr Scott Gration and then lately, the Sudanese first Vice President and President of South Sudan, HE Salva Kiir Mayardit who reiterated the same stand. In short we are already winding up the CPA as we implement the last two of its important provisions which are considered to be the real pillars of the agreement.

As we can see, the politicians have brought us this far and as from the 1st of November 2009, the power is being gradually handed back to the masses that will hopefully then bestow it on a new government of their choice. This is a very crucial moment in any nation especially when it is just coming out of a long protracted war like in our case. The act of voluntarily entrusting someone to run a government on your behave is indeed the first step towards democracy.

It is understandable that a majority of the voters shall be making their first appearance at the ballot box and the stress as well as the implications can be both tremendous and quite confusing. But all in all it is the people’s day to make a difference by being able to vote the candidates of their choice into office and rid themselves of all the incompetent, corrupt and irresponsible figures who are now looting and messing the public coffers ruthlessly in the name of the liberation struggle. We have to tell them using our votes that it is we who are going to liberate ourselves by ballots not bullets and remind them that liberation is not a one off act but rather a continuous process which is better done by the masses when they democratically elect their representatives.

To make the best out of the opportunity provided in the general elections, every eligible voter must register. If you do not register your name, then you will NOT be allowed to vote come April 2010. The lesson learned from the reckless way in which the Census was conducted hopefully is still fresh in our memories. Such a disaster should not be allowed to show up again. And every citizen must take it upon himself/ herself that they are registered. Still yet of great importance is that we register our relatives, friends and associates as part of our national duty towards our beloved south Sudan . There may not be enough time to postpone registering yourselves and as such you must take the first opportunity to do just that.

In this article I would like to stress the importance of registration to you my brothers and sisters, because it is at this very early stage that election rigging begins. It begins right here and everything else is built on the registration process and the final voters registry. And I hope that all the political parties and the civil societies will take it upon themselves that the registration process is conducted thoroughly, professionally and peacefully as much as possible.

Judging by the magnitude of the UN involvement in the registration process, which is the biggest in the history of this universal organisation, it is expected to yield a job well done. However, south Sudan is always a place where many well planned things go wrong in the last minute. I hope all the small bits of our local politics should be kept under control and allow the registration process to proceed smoothly. Nevertheless my appeal is directly to you fellow citizens and I hope to see that you take this stage of our democratic transformation very seriously by registering yourselves and getting ready to vote out the wrong people and replace them with people of your choice while you warm up for the referendum in 2011 and I guarantee you an independent south Sudan nation.

I warn all concerned south Sudanese against the way the ruling SPLM party is conducting itself in the fore run to the elections. We can see that though it occupies 70% of the government seats, it remains a party with deep and gross internal divisions which has paralysed the party to the extent that it can not come up with the names of its potential candidates. Up till this moment, this party has not decided as to participate in the forth coming elections or not. We have on more than one occasion heard its leadership issuing dual statements as to whether the party would participate in the elections or not and it insists on a change in the present constituencies that are based on the contested Census results. This demand though genuine, but of course it can only be tackled by transparent engagement with the NCP a thing which unfortunately is still to take place.

However any vague stand on the elections can only take us back to where we messed up with the Census process as southerners were given mixed and confusing massages as to whether the Census was to go ahead or not given the fact that some of the demands by SPLM like including parameters such as the tribe and religion were turned down by the NCP. Unfortunately the international pressure was too much for SPLM to withstand and it had to succumb at the last moments thus leading to a hurriedly conducted head count which yielded the confusing results which we later prefer to call the under-count of the south Sudanese population. A similar pressure from the international community could still be expected where southerners will be forced into a hurried and ill prepared election of which the results may become a source of more unrest thus worsening an already grave situation.

We have all together as a people shared the bitter reality of an ill equipped GoSS for the last 4 years and now south Sudan is in minus US $ 8 billions in development as a consequence of that. Is it not time that we vote in more qualified leadership to sort out this mess and replace it with concrete institutions? Remember that it is in this coming election that we will establish the foundation for out future nation. We can either chose to continue with corruption, tribalism, nepotism, anarchy and impunity OR we say no to it all. But above all we are also establishing the basis for the peaceful transfer and circulation of power which is a fundamental prerequisite in any democracy if at all it has to flourish and bear fruits. It can not be overstressed any further that the kind of a nation that we will have in the post 2011 era will be nothing but the legal off spring of the government to be democratically elected in April 2010.


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