Articles and Analysies
Check with Improper Balance: SPLM Risky Politics of Partnership By James Okuk Solomon
By [unknown placeholder $article.art_field1$]
Oct 22, 2007 - 8:28:17 AM

Check with Improper Balance: SPLM Risky Politics of Partnership


*By James Okuk Solomon

James Okuk Solomon
Proper Checks and balances have been known in politics as helpful tools for conflict resolution and reforms of governments. It had worked in advanced democracies because it prevented and stopped the tyranny of the majority and/or the control by the minority. It had kept governments on their toes to implement their pledges to the people and do their duties efficiently and prudentially. But the Sudanese are a bit confused now whether this is exactly what is meant by the SPLM and the NCP with their politics of partnership in the
Sudan . More than a week ago in Home and Away Hotel in Juba the SPLM Interim Political Bureau (IPB) under the chairmanship of H.E. Mr. Salva Kiir took a decision to suspend the activities of its cadres who have been holding advisory and ministerial posts in the GoNU. They listed the reasons for their decision and sent a three-men delegation (without a woman) to present the agreed memo to the president for immediate action. Their demands were clear, valid and time-framed except for the unclear limit of the suspension of the strike itself.


The funny part of it was that all ministers (with exception for few) and one presidential advisor were relieved by the president from their posts immediately in the mid-night after the delegation met H.E. Al-Basher and presented him the list of SPLM nominees for the reshuffle. Logically, that action invalidated the suspension value (except for those who were not dismissed) – that is, SPLM got it wrong to continue saying that it had suspended them when it had also dismissed them at the same time. That is called contradiction and some SPLM top leaders have been committing and spreading this logical disease without any shame or sensitivity. Funny enough, some SPLM top leaders got the guts to go on air as usual to protest that the announcement was so quick and should have better been delayed till Mr. 1st VP arrived in Khartoum from Juba . This implied that they wanted the suspension to continue and were not willing at all to end it after Ramadan Holidays as it was stated by one of them. If Mr. Salve wanted that reshuffle list to be announced in his presence he should have not looked for a mediator between him and the President; he should have handed it directly in person to his colleague Mr. Al-Bashir and discussed it in close doors before the announcement. Another awkward scenario is that Mr. Salva was said to have sent a message the following day to all the newly announced ministers and presidential advisors to come to the palace for constitutional oath taking on his arrival. Majority of them turned up but few disregarded his message and stayed away from the palace. Having realized that disappointment, he excused the President to postpone the oath till further notice. Again some top SPLM leaders went to the media and said that the reshuffle was not the priority and the SPLM cadres will stay away from the GoNU ministries and from the presidential palace (except Mr. Salva) until other pending issues mentioned in the memo got resolved.


In my freely expressed opinion and in reverence to truth, the above picture shows that Mr. Salva Kiir is not in control of his new team because any of them can disobey his message at will without any fear of disciplinary action. Not only that, but his decision to postpone the oath-taking suggests that he is willing to extend the current stalemate, perhaps, up to next year as indicated in the 9th January 2008 deadline of the memo or to an unknown risky end. He has been singing here and there that he will not attempt to draw the South back to the war situation but the path he is taking now is fragile, risky and opposite to his song.


On one hand, the IPB move is a good check on the NCP monopoly of GoNU decisions but a bad balance on the SPLM claim of democratic transformation because of the manifested internal contradictions by its leaders. By abandoning the GoNU and leaving it under the mercy of the NCP, the SPLM has surrendered its top rights and privileges in Khartoum, which is also going to affect Juba as far as it is still depending on the NCP controlled central government for the transfer of the oil revenue share, honour of the sovereignty, direction of higher education, etc.


Abyei’s protocol case is not so simple because it had been complicated by the so-called experts who produced a report that was contrary to the date of 1905 agreed in the CPA. CPA itself has confused the Abyei issue because it has defined it as the bridge between the South and the North inhabited by Ngok Dinka, Misseriya and other tribes who reside there. CPA also made the Abyei Area to be administered independently under the presidency without any link with the GoSS except through SPLM as a political party and the SPLA as a stakeholder in the JIU. It is known that Abyei issue almost destroyed the negotiations for the CPA in Naivasha in 2004 and the rescue was got from the US intervention through the so-called Abyei experts. Now when the Sudanese are closer to the mid-tem interim period of the CPA, the issue of Abyei is almost destroying the implementation of the rest of the protocols. What is Abyei in the history of the South and what have the people of Abyei sacrificed for the Southern Sudan struggle more than the neglected Nuba people in the Nuba Mountains who were never visited once by Mr. Salva Kiir and those who think they are the cash cows of the SPLM?  What has the South to do with the few SPLM cadres from Abyei and from the communist Arabs in the North that Mr. Salva Kiir always tend to please in the expense of Southerners? The difference between Abyei and Nuba Mountains is that the Nuba people have no top leaders closer to SPLM/A chief to make influential noise though they have so many soldiers who were used for the interest of Southern Sudan during the struggle. I would have been happy if the South is being sacrificed for the cause of marginalized Nuba people because they have shed their blood to free the South as it stands now under the super control of SPLM and SPLA. Ngok Dinka of Abyei Area and Communist Arabs did not had soldiers who struggled in the SPLM/A or in any Southern movement except only some top commanders who were very courageous and intelligent to command southerners and Nuba guerrillas in the struggle against Khartoum. Therefore, Southerner should not accept to be fooled and stupidly crowded to stand behind a crisis that has no much value and interest for the development and peace in Southern Sudan or Nuba Mountains .


The Borders demarcation and Population Census funding is connected with the GoNU yearly budget and also with the donors’ commitments. If something is expected from the GoNU it would be from next year, unless it has an emergency reserved budget to fill the gap before the next approved budget by the parliament and the cabinet. If donors become willing to give something sooner, then this will be a great relieve indeed to enable the South-North Border Demarcation Commission (SNBDC) to finish their started work in a convenience time. But, so far so bad, I am not optimistic of any quicker action on this because the NCP politicians are not going to abandon their interest so easily. Also the donors are much concerned with Darfur problem more than the CPA implementation, and are also fatigued with aiding Sudan for so long. Even if some donors give something and channel it through the World Bank, it is going to delay because of its (WB) known administrative financial policies of drag-your-feet-and-make-interest out of the poverty money. The terrain of the Southern Sudan is itself a natural problem for the work of SNBDC because it hinders travels during the rainy season, which ends in November every year but leave some areas wet and impassable till March. So even if the money is availed there is no faster progress to be expected from the SNBDC by the 9th January 2008 except politics of emotions and wishful thinking from some illusioned SPLM politicians.


Withdrawing of the SAF from the Oil fields is connected with the JIU law, which has not been presented to the National Legislative Assembly for ratification and to the GoNU Council of Ministers for execution yet. The draft of the white paper for the JIU might be ready but it has not yet been deliberated critically. And of course, unless the SPLM cadres are present in that Council of Ministers nothing will materialize or will be regarded proper as far as CPA partnership politics for the JIU is concerned. If the SAF pulled out from the Oil field and left the area to the SPLA, the Oil Companies operating there will also pull out because they will not accept the risk of working under the SPLA protection, since many of them know that they are in the black list of SPLM and Southerners for having empowered the NCP/NIF government with the “blood oil dollars” during the war time. Also no credible oil company in the world will accept to risk its business under the protection of a guerrilla army or of the JIU who are not yet integrated and mixed as one national force. Even the USA Chevron Company will not risk working in Southern Sudan with the current situation unless South Sudan became a well-established independent state with a well-organized modern army, security, police and other robust state apparatus. Chevron had learnt its lessons from the warlike Sudan and will never accept any possibility of loss again.


Bush administration has stated it clearly in response to SPLM Secretary-General statement in US last month that it will not support any Unilateral Declaration of Independence of Southern Sudan because its prior interest is the unity of the Sudan . US government is now careful about its relation with Khartoum because it has discovered that any loggerhead with Khartoum would anger other world economic powers who have common interest with the Sudan . Since US has strong business ties with those powers and since those powers have strong business ties with Khartoum , US would rather prefer to leave Khartoum alone than to incur big losses as a result of intrusion into Sudan internal affairs. US is interested always in a strong ally and the weakness which has been demonstrated by the current SPLM leadership will make it shy away from a possible support to SPLM controlled GoSS. They have now realized that the so-called Garang’s boys are not the same as Garang himself and are unable to earnestly usher the Garang’s vision beyond slogans and media. They have now realized that they need to create good relation with both Juba and Khartoum so that they do not give a signal of early separation of the South from the North.


When US government pressured the Sudan to reach a peace deal with the SPLM/A, it was with a hope that Dr. Garang de Mabior will become the strong President of the Sudan after the election results of 2009, given the support he had attracted across the corners of the Sudan, including Darfur. They expected that Dr. Garang will be a strong unifying leader for the Sudan and so they firmly stood behind him. If you study the Sudan Interim National Constitution carefully you can sense that it was designed to enhance the powers of the 2009 President. That could be the hidden reason why the prerogative and veto of the Sudan foreign policy was given to the president rather than the presidency – the foreign minister was made to be an acolyte of the president even if he were from another party. The former FM, Dr. Lam Akol was wrongly victimized by SPLM for this designed acolytism by the Naivasha gentlemen. Mr. Deng Alor is going to face the same problem sooner and later. However, Mr. Salva has failed to understand this up to now because he was not part of the game.


It became clear that the death of Dr. Garang messed up the political calculations and the final answer that was expected to result in the peace politics of the Sudan .  There is no longer any guarantee that SPLM is still strong enough to get the post of the Sudan President in near future under the current leadership. The NDA will not trust SPLM any more because it had sold it cheaply in Naivasha in favour of the NCP. The Darfurians and the Eastern former comrades have started to regard the SPLM as a non-strategic ally because it had turned out to be a separatist party, with its top leader finding the North to be a jobless territory and also with its crucial decisions being taken in Juba when the Headquarters is in the North (Khartoum). Given those fact, it is probably clear that in the coming presidential elections, the SPLM will only get the 1st Vice President post through their popularity in the South (if it continues to be as it is now) because whoever will win the GoSS presidential post in Juba will also occupy automatically the post of the 1st VP in the Khartoum. Where will Mr. Salva Kiir be by then with the current mess he is accepting to be dressed on him?


If Mr. 1st VP Salve Kiir is still interested to continue to be a leader of the South in 2009, I recommend that he adjust his politics and get good advisors with long-ranged sights and clear consciences. Let him be calm and convinced that leadership comes from God and is sustained with the help of sincere comrades who give advises based on intellectual analysis and planning more than emotional suspicions and short-termed deceptive appeals. Let him immediately allow the President Al-Bashir to swear in the SPLM cadres sooner than later so that they get into the business of GoNU and play their constructive role internally for the safeguarding of the CPA. Since each side has confessed and listed the violations committed by the other side, and since each side has declared its unwillingness to take the country back to war, now it is time for the two partners to employ better institutionalized dialogue of give-and-take that will save the CPA from the cold ice poured on it by both of them. Let him reconsider some of the impracticalities of the immediate demanded action by the SPLM on the NCP in the presented memo. I hope Mr. Salva has understood now that the real crisis was created after his decision for the suspension and would get calmed down if he decides to call it off and allow his cadres to do their job in the GoNU in line with the CPA and democratic process. Let him not be deceived by sycophants and cowards supporters. Most of the Southerners will never rally behind him if he messes up the CPA with those whose families are hidden abroad. If he and his team failed to meet the expectations of the people, let them go home peacefully and leave the abler cadres to take up the lead of SPLM and make out good fortunes from the CPA partnership. The secret behind the success of the late beloved hero Dr. Garang in the CPA negotiations was the friendship he established with the VP Ali Osma. If Mr. Salva wants to succeed in implementing the CPA, he should learn how to establish interests’ friendship and dialogue with the Gilaba and get closer to know how they operate.



James Okuk is a Sudanese and a PhD student in the field of Political Philosophy in University of Nairobi . He can be reached at: okukji[email protected]

© Copyright by