No rhetoric can replace genuine security.
By: Dr. Justin Ambago Ramba, MD.
By the look of events , it seems that we are already in an election season and as the culture goes every political group, camp or alliance is now more than ever
no doubt much preoccupied with how they would want to face this nerve racking, though civilized practise.
And it is only natural for us at this stage in time to be
concerned about how peaceful the coming election should be. We have already seen a relatively peaceful voterís registration, but like the Population Census that preceded it, the aftermath was a lot of contradictory talks and much finger pointing.
The above however are a bit different in the sense that any mishaps encountered though are at times quite disturbing, but because there is always enough time to sort them out before the elections, they tend to settle down peacefully if given the deserved level of attention.
But with the real elections, it is rather hotter and the things that didnít go well in the preceding stages are unfortunately usually carried forwards and could become seeds for troubles.
Electoral campaigns are by themselvesí issues that need a high level of awareness from the citizens who unfortunately havenít had such a privilege in the last two decades or so.
People donít only need to be tolerant of one another, but physically they must accept the other as legitimate before things can ever go well.
It is effectively necessary to involve all sectors of the communities, the politicians, the security organs and the government when addressing the security situation during the elections period (i.e. campaigning period Ė voting period Ė and vote counting Ė declaration of results and the rest of the aftermath).
The way we conduct ourselves during the above periods always matters. We also need to watch out for things that can spark ill feelings and they are usually contained in the derogatory phrases and statements that some of us prefer to use in addressing their political rivals.
Preaching pacifism thus becomes a necessity to all our aspiring candidates. They must refrain from promoting this warrior culture that has dominated our picture in the world media.
If we properly consider all the causes of election related violence, a thing that was not part of the political tradition of south Sudan, and we still have elders to testify to that, we will realize that south Sudanese of today are very prone to such sad incidences given the turn of events throughout the year (2009) and the whole of January 2010.
Should we really be aspiring to have this ďsouth
SudanĒ, with its ten states and twelve million citizens as our own separate nation come 2011, then we must be ready to face the challenge.
And this entails a lot of self denials, drastic change of attitudes as well as a great deal of critical thinking.
On January 23, 2010 (JUBA) ó The Minister of Internal Affairs in the Government of Southern Sudan, Maj. Gen. Gier Chuang Aluong was reported in the media
warned politicians from influencing police and other organised forces to promote their political interests during the upcoming general elections scheduled for April in Sudan.
The Ministerís warning is indeed deemed necessary at this stage. Nevertheless we are only contented should such warnings be reflecting what the government has in mind.
An example at hand is none but Gierís boss, the chairman of the ruling SPLM party who insists to run for the elections while maintaining his position in the army in defiance of the Constitution and the Electoral Laws.
What does our friend, Maj. Gen. Gier make of this politician (Salva Kiir) who is still in uniform, and what is the guarantee that he wonít use his military position to manipulate things in the elections?
This particular issue concerning the SPLM leaderís connections with his SPLA army has been for awhile in the media with his aides unfortunately coming up with inconsistent and conflicting information.
While the Secretary general Paígan Amum was reported of saying that the big man would resign from the army as requested by the laws, yet Dr. Luka Biong, the
GoSS Minister for
the Presidential; Affairs , in a typical ďTariq AzizĒ style declared that the man was retired before even been sworn in office in 2005.
However from the looks of events, the south Sudanese President has his own reasons that made him to get back into the army after having been officially retired by the late Dr. John Garang. Anyway the coming days will confirm which way things will go, though it could be another cause for worry.
Maj. Gen. Gier Chuang Aluong will have to keep an eye on his colleagues in the ruling SPLM party, as it is only them who have the upper hand to manipulate the police, the army or any other organised forces, given the current setting. Otherwise the other opposition parties are even praying for their own safety leave alone approaching these guys in Khakis.
Meanwhile coming to the strong statements uttered by Gier saying that any politician who tries to influence the police force or any other organised forces will be subjected to full force of the law, and he went on ďI want to ask politicians to stay away from the police. Any politicians found to have influenced the police to promote their political agenda will be dealt with accordinglyĒ, the minister stressed.
The Ministerís above statement is also a responsible one, but the whole world is watching what Gier would do given the fact that similar politically manipulated crises have already happened in the Unity State, when there was skirmishes between forces loyal to the incumbent governor Brigadier Taban Deng Gai and his arch Ė rival Lt. Gen Paulino Matiep the current SPLA deputy Commander in Chief or still the perpetual conflicts in both Jonglei and Upper Nile States.
Should Mr Aluong ever fail to live up to his words and allow any biasness in the observance of the law, he can only count himself answerable to the International Criminal Court. The Kenyan example is there to teach all those who posses the necessary grey matter in their brains.
It would also be necessary to shade some light on the statement made by the First Vice President of the Republic, President of the Government of Southern Sudan, Salva Kiir Mayardit in Yambio,
On the CPAĎs fifth anniversary celebrations and amid a tight security arrangement, H.E Salva Kiir urged the citizens to vote objectively in the general elections and refrain from tribal or sectarian considerations.
Unfortunately there was a terrible turn of events in the aftermath of the celebrations, where the SPLA forces went on rampage and a shooting spree in the whole town, beating civilians of all ages and looting properties.
Live bullets were also used by these soldiers in their uninvited move to crackdown a peaceful school children demonstrations. It is now sad to admit that the tight security that was initially provided was more to protect the celebrities and sooner than later was it turned against the unarmed innocent civilians.
It is thus doubtful as to whether any person in Yambio would still consider any of Kiirís advices.
With such sad events in the background one is bent to tell the President that, there is much to the tribalism and more beyond how the citizens hope to vote.
In fact it is now how these SPLA guys can be permanently stopped from
disrupting daily chorus of life in the communities and they should allow the civilians to live undisturbed in their homes be it in Yambio or other parts of south Sudan.
Canít we all
see that there is
now an urgent need to instil some discipline into
this so called organised forces who were supposed to offer the much need protection, but
are now turning into perpetuators of lawlessness and unrest themselves?
At this juncture I would suggest to the SPLM led GoSS to do more of self criticism and what happened in Yambio can not be blamed on outsiders any more. And should the general attitude right from H.E the President, is the one of undermining the law, then lawlessness seems to have found a blessing in him and his regime to follow.
As for tribalism, I wouldnít want to label you as a tribalist, Mr. Salvatore Kiir Mayardit, because your have been portrayed as a good Sunday Christian given your outstanding records of church speeches.
But how does your Excellency expect anyone with an average mental faculty to interpret and explain the fact that you are already on record for history to judge, for so far you have appointed three consecutive Ministers of Finance and two Ministers of Defence in the GoSS from your own tribesmen? Is that not the bad practise that they call tribalism?
However far from the above and in
yet another development , despite the several attempts by the Sudanese authorities both in Khartoum and Juba to downplay the graveness of their human right abuses, the Human Rights Watch (HRW) has called for more observers for the upcoming elections in
There is now a HRW report saying that violations of political and civil rights by the Sudanese security forces both in the south and the north may undermine the Aprilís general elections.
Creditable reports from opposition parties state that police and national security officials had restricted the movement and speech of election observers.
Restrictions on observers increased when they complained about acts committed by ruling National Congress Party (NCP) members, members of popular committees and local leaders who certify residency.
On the other hand the HRW also reported that southern Sudanese authorities arrested dozens of members from the northern ruling party, NCP and other parties in alliance with groups.
Southern authorities accused these members of irregularities without bringing specific charges.
Now the HRW which is a credible international organisation has clearly told the world that, YES the NCP is abusing the rights of the Sudanese citizens who live in the northern part of the country.
However what we the south Sudanese must also know is that our authorities in the south are no better than their counterparts in the north as far as the human rights abuse is concerned, and that bit has been clearly highlighted in the report.
So Kiir, Gier, and their colleagues in Juba and the ten southern states must not live in the delusion that they can mess up in south
Sudan and yet get away with it. The whole world has become a global village and the sooner people adjust themselves to the dynamics of the game the better for their own survival.
The people of south
Sudan have been all along appreciative of the role of the western countries,
Norway and the entire international community in providing them with the most needed assistance. However all these would be a waste should Human Rights remain to be abused by with impunity the way it is today.
The international community should be tough with both
Juba when it comes to issues of Human Rights and democratic transformations. All human beings are entitled to responsible and accountable governments, and south Sudanese should not be an exception. This impunity must end.
Lastly, if we are to be absolutely be sure that we in south Sudan donít pass through the Kenyan experience of a post election mayhem, there is an urgent need to have a huge presence of international observers on the ground as well as a proper mandate to the UN Peace Corps on the ground on how to move in fast and put situations under control.
Dr. Justin Ambago Ramba, M.B, B.Ch, D.R.H, MD. The 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] NB: those who read this article also visited
and blog http//ussp-news.blogspot.com