February 2011 - Posts
By Atok Dan Baguoot
February 18, 2011 — Since the opening of doors of all kind of freedoms including freedom of expression as a necessity to have freedom reigns in our hearts and huts, pen-holding colleagues called journalists or public writers started exploiting the market with their abilities. We were able to be informed and inform others on what taking place within and our nearby vicinities. In this new market, both trained and untrained writers are writing but what puzzles people a lot is the quality of their writings.
Some are truly unethical. They don’t adhere to principles and good practices of career called journalism. Indeed, journalism is a very sweet but sometime become a bitter career depending on how you approach it. It is in fact an undeniable fact that most of our guys writing today in both the print and electronic media really go beyond the ethics of media in the sense that they use language that can plunge this young nation into genocide.
There are several areas in which our instincts really tell us that whatever we do don’t meet the standard of freedom of expression because we normally overdo it. In earlier 2008, the market started flooded with stories of Dinka grabbing lands in Juba, stories of certain ethnic communities rapping women at gunpoint and many other more nuisance stories of the kinds whose motives were none other than intentionally meant to portray them as negative. They are not truly stories meant for news but destruction to achieve the aims under the cover of freedom of expression.
I remember a story carried by one of the English news papers of an SPLA Dinka soldier who raped an Acholi Woman in Magwi County in Eastern Equatoria. Another story was written by a colleague of mine describing the rebel General George Athor soldiers as people from one clan or tribe as indicated by the language they used in a video cassette which was captured from Athor, after SPLA overran one of their hideouts in September last year.
Literally, the meaning of such descriptions are not meant to relay news but to inflict a direct harm on certain group of people including their innocent persons. This in fact add to none but a genocidal language crafted by media. There are several occasions in which such unprofessional descriptions have been used by media.
In the recent unfortunate incident of Pangak in Jonglei State in which forces loyal to General George Athor attacked the SPLA target, overran the civilian settlements, usage of the same language is found almost in all news papers and popular websites, use commonly by South Sudanese both inside in and the diasporas. A lot of helpless, bogus and destructive releases were in circulations and of which almost none really meant to quell the already worst situation.
While attending to a media training on conflict sensitive reporting in the Kenya’s capital Nairobi in 2010, a certain friend of mine asked a trainer if there was a single journalist whose name appeared in the yellow envelop brought to Kenya by the ICC Chief Prosecutor in the Hague, Luis Moreno Ocampo. It was a laughable question before the really names were made publicly.
Indeed, the training was mainly to tell journalists from conflicts prone zones of South Sudan, Uganda, Kenya, Burundi and Rwanda that whatever language they use while reporting can be more worse than utterances made by loose tongue politicians. Later after the revelation of names by the ICC , a presenter was named among the politicians suspected by the ICC to borne the greatest part of the crimes committed after the Kenya’s post election violent in which more than one thousand people lost their lives and several scores wounded in addition to large numbers displaced.
The 1994 genocide in Rwanda was aggravated by poor handling by the media. Radio stations, TV and other media presented ethnic lines of reporting news stories. Hates and biased stories dominated the Rwanda’s public media and as a result, the magnitude of death took the shape that any of us knows very well. The worst part of our media houses in South Sudan is that, they never bother to take their reporters to refresher course or training to prepare them for daily changes in media field.
Journalism is not only knowing language or able to craft your message in English language or whatever language you use. it is a career full of don’ts than dos like religious books. In my wider reading of stories of conflicts in South Sudan, my colleagues especially the young writers are doing more harms than good to our population. Most of the stories they write imbalanced, biased, and represent a position of a certain partner whose story suits. They are full of emotions and never carried authentic facts proven. Some reporters are even public relation officers representing their senior relatives yet they claim to be writing for public when in fact they poised different stance.
Of course, readers have to believed in media regardless of the sources and quality of pieces presented to them for consumption, therefore it is upon the media practitioners to learn how to sieve off agitating particles contained by the information they intend to give out to public. The only area in which our media shows maturity is in writing defamatory stories. There are no complainants aggrieved by the writing of journalists and I think this could be the connected with the cultures of South Sudanese people which preach respect of elders and different age groups. Fellow writers, let us desist from using dangerous descriptions which can plunge our beloved country into state of anarchy without intention.
Atok Dan a resident of Juba and is reachable at firstname.lastname@example.org or 0955410005.
By Osman El-Hassan
February 12, 2011 — The Sudanese government welcomed the revolutionary change in Egypt which led to the fall of Hosni Mubarak’s regime under the pressure of the people who took the streets in an unprecedented manner. The departure of the Egyptian president after continued protests during 18 days comes at the heels of Tunisian revolt and the overthrow of Ben Ali’s regime.
In both cases, the Arab revolution is motivated by demands for freedom and social justice and aiming directly at corruption. Youth immolated themselves to express the mounting distress, and despair as the jobless young men and women realize they have no future in their country where the repressive regimes demolished any perspective for peaceful political change. The political parties became dysfunctional because they are weakened by autocratic regimes.
However, reading the different statements released by the Sudanese presidency and the ruling party yesterday one can see an attempt to absorb the impact of revolutionary atmosphere in the region and steer it to another direction.
All the organs of the Sudanese regime spoke about the diminishing clout of Egypt in the Middle East and said its absence led to the lack of solidarity in the Arab and Islamic World. According to the official propaganda, Egypt’s alliance with the United States and Israel paved the way for the disintegration of the Arab world and the decadence of the region.
That is the reason of the collective fury which led to the radical change in Tunisia and Egypt, according to the Sudanese official, but there is no talk about hunger or oppression. This kind of argument makes one recall statements and remarks by government and National Congress Party (NCP) officials saying that the recent demonstrations in Sudan calling for freedom, democracy and protesting soaring food prices were organized by “agents” based outside the country.
Nonetheless, the detention of dozens of protesters proves the opposite.
The truth should be pointed out that the Sudanese regime which controls the country since more than twenty years crushed the opposition through brutal means, committed war crimes and crimes against humanity in the South only to repeat it later in Darfur and confiscated freedoms in the country. Another truth to be said, this regime since its inception on 30 June 1989 seeks the recognition and the normalization of relations with the international community. Ironically, it was Mubarak who sought international support to Bashir’s regime in its early days.
No such naive explanation or claims to impose an Islamic state in the country will prevent Sudanese from uprising and put an end to this injustice. Sudan’s history is rich with two precedent experiences in 1964 and 1985.
The virtue of the Tunisian and Egyptian revolution is that they showed the world that change can be done without political parties and this is the main source of fear for Khartoum.
The author can be reached at email@example.com
Human Rights Watch
South Sudan: Improve Accountability for Security Force Abuses
Leaders of New Country Should Build Respect for Rights, Rule of Law
(Juba, February 8, 2011) – Southern Sudan should focus on improving respect for human rights and promoting the rule of law as it becomes an independent state, Human Rights Watch said today. On February 7, 2011, Sudanese authorities announced the final results of the southern independence referendum, confirming the near-unanimous vote for the South’s secession from northern Sudan.
“Sudanese leaders deserve congratulations for a peaceful referendum,” said Daniel Bekele, Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “But now they need to cement this progress. South Sudan should move quickly to show its commitment to democratic governance, transparency, and human rights.”
With just five months to independence on July 9, Southern Sudan has enormous tasks ahead, such as reviewing its constitution and laws, reforming its institutions, and making provisions to accommodate the political opposition. Opposition parties have already complained of being excluded from the forthcoming constitutional review by the ruling Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM).
Southern Sudan is also faced with enormous human rights challenges, Human Rights Watch said, including inter-communal fighting, abuses by its security forces, a weak rule of law, and a growing culture of impunity.Abuses involving the southern army and reports of abuses by newly trained police officers demonstrate some of the challenges facing the new government and its donors. Some of the worst documented abuses occurred in Upper Nile State, where unrelated clashes in recent days among soldiers in the northern Sudan Armed Forces stationed there killed scores of civilians in Malakal town.
Human Rights Watch called on the new government to retain the full bill of rights in the transitional constitution, to strengthen systems for investigating and prosecuting abuses by the military, and to provide better oversight of its police forces. Donors providing assistance to improve security forces should tailor their programs to address these needs.“Soldiers and police are the face of the government and are supposed to protect citizens, not harm them,” Bekele said. “The new government of South Sudan needs to control these forces and send a strong message that abuses against the population will not be tolerated.”
Human Rights Watch research in Sudan has documented numerous violations of the rights of civilians by southern security forces. These include illegal land-grabs in Juba and other towns, excessive force during military operations and while disarming civilians, and unlawful arrests and other intimidation to suppress opponents of the ruling party, particularly in the period surrounding elections in April 2010.
Abuses in Upper Nile State
In one example of an abusive military operation documented by Human Rights Watch, soldiers went to Panyikang and Fashoda counties in Upper Nile State after the elections to carry out a disarmament operation against community members and suspected local militia groups with links to an opposition political party, SPLM-Democratic Change (SPLM-DC).
The disarmament was perceived by the community as punishment for supporting the opposition party, and local leaders said the soldiers used excessive force, injuring many people. On May 22, a paramount chief and several other civilians who had supported the disarmament operation were killed by unknown gunmen.
In the following days, soldiers arrested at least five of the opposition party’s members in the state parliament, accusing them of involvement in the chief’s murder. It held them in military detention for more than six months, then freed them without bringing any charges.
In June, after armed men ambushed a boat, killing a soldier, the crackdown spread to another county, Fashoda. When soldiers and police investigated the incident, they clashed with local militia, which led to more soldiers’ deaths. Following the armed confrontation, more soldiers were deployed to Fashoda county.
Witnesses interviewed by Human Rights Watch said that more than 100 soldiers came on July 7 looking for weapons, and harassing and beating civilians. They remained in the area for several days, looting and burning the property of civilians they suspected of belonging to a local militia group. At least five civilians were killed in extrajudicial executions.
One 26-year-old man from the area told Human Rights Watch in August that the soldiers arrested him with a group of ten others and held them in military detention in extremely poor conditions for four months, without charge. He said the 11 men spent the first month of detention tied together by a rope.
One 50-year-old woman, who fled after her home was destroyed in the operation, said soldiers shot and killed her son and three other young men at close range. “My son was begging [the solders], saying he didn’t know where the weapons are and he is a civilian,” she said. “Then they shot him in the neck, spraying bullets with their gun.”
The military replaced its commander following complaints of abuses, but based on information Human Rights Watch has been able to gather about the episode, no soldier has been held criminally accountable for any of the specific human rights violations committed by the soldiers in Fashoda.
Potential for Further Abuses
In the weeks leading up to the January referendum, post-election violence and political tensions in the area greatly subsided. However, underlying land disputes between Shilluk and Dinka communities, which factored into the political tensions between the ruling party and supporters of the opposition party, have yet to be resolved.
In addition, despite a January 5, 2011 ceasefire agreement, the government soldiers have continued to clash with rebellious renegade soldiers led by General George Athor in Jonglei and Unity states, with civilians caught in the middle. It remains to be seen if the ceasefire will hold.
The southern government has also announced it intends to resume civilian disarmament operations in coming months. Soldiers taking part in these operations have carried out human rights violations in the past, Human Rights Watch found.
The government should ensure that rank-and-file soldiers know and understand their obligations to respect and uphold human rights and will be held accountable for violations, Human Rights Watch said. Soldiers should not unlawfully arrest and detain civilians in military facilities. Civilian disarmament operations should respect human rights, in keeping with the government’s own policies on disarmament.
Police Abuses in Juba
The government graduated more than 6,000 recruits from a flagship training program in mid-December. The program began in early 2010, designed to create a new multi-ethnic police force, made up of members who had never fought in the war and were untainted by guerilla warfare experience. Much-lauded by the United Nations and donors, the training program was marred by serious abuses of the police recruits, Human Rights Watch found.
In late December, the recruits were linked to a series of incidents in Juba and other southern towns in which they harassed and assaulted civilians who were wearing clothing or hair styles of which they disapproved. One Juba resident, a 29-year-old woman, told Human Rights Watch that police stopped her while she was going to work as a referendum observer, and ordered to her to go home to change out of her trousers. When she protested, they surrounded her and beat her to the ground, then used a razor blade to slit the sides of her jeans up to her hip.
Several similar incidents from December 24 to 26 were reported to UN and civil society groups and widely viewed as part of a recurring campaign against young men wearing low-slung jeans and long “rasta” style hair. The campaigns have also targeted women wearing tight skirts and trousers.
The internal affairs minister has said publicly that police have no orders to target people based on their appearance, but some police officials told Human Rights Watch that newly-graduated recruits who were responsible for the abuses had been encouraged by their commanders and may have been inspired by a speech by President Salva Kiir at their graduation in mid-December, encouraging police to combat criminal gangs.
These incidents underscore the need to improve oversight and training of police, Human Rights Watch said.
Some of the new recruits told journalists, UN-staff, and Human Rights Watch in December and January that during their training, they had endured harsh military-style drills and poor living conditions. They said they were subjected to collective punishments – such as repeated beatings and being forced to stand for long periods in the sun – after they complained about their lack of payment and inability to vote in the April elections. Several reported that one of their colleagues had died after he was beaten during the training.
Police sources said recruits died of disease and weather-related accidents, but they did not attribute any of the deaths to mistreatment. Human Rights Watch could not independently confirm exactly how many died or the causes of their deaths.
In addition, several female recruits alleged they had been sexually harassed, and some said they had been raped, by male trainers during initial phases of the training. One woman told Human Rights Watch she was dismissed from the police in retaliation for having described these allegations publicly to a foreign journalist who visited the training center in early December. Fearing further retaliation, she fled Juba.
The recruits told Human Rights Watch that as far as they knew, there were no procedures for registering formal complaints to authorities, or other oversight mechanisms.
Human Rights Watch urged the police authorities to ensure that respect for human rights and internal accountability be a core part of police training and operations. They should investigate the circumstances of all reported deaths, hold anyone responsible accountable and put mechanisms in place to ensure that any abuses do not recur, Human Rights Watch said.
Human Rights Watch also called on donors to make assistance contingent on improved standards and training practices.For more Human Rights Watch reporting on Sudan, please visit:
For more information, please contact:
In New York, Jehanne Henry (English, French): +1-212-216-1291; or +1-917-443-2724 (mobile)
In London, Tom Porteous (English): +44-20-7713-2766; or +44-79-8398-4982 (mobile)
In Paris, Jean-Marie Fardeau (French, English, Portuguese): +33-1-43-59-55-35; or +33-6-45-85-24-87 (mobile)
In Johannesburg, Sipho Mthathi (English): +27-82-067-3363 (mobile)
Chairperson receives UNAMID Deputy Joint Special Representative
February 12, 2011
The Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Dr. Jean Ping, today, 12 February 2011, in his office at AU Headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, received a high-level delegation from the United Nations African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID), headed by Deputy Joint Special Representative (DJSR), Mr. Mohammed Yonis. The delegation had been earlier received by the Deputy Chairperson of the Commission, Mr. Erastus Mwencha. During both meetings, DJSR Yonis formally introduced to the AUC leadership the newly appointed Director of the UNAMID Joint Support and Coordination Mechanism (JSCM), based in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Ambassador Abiodun Bashua.
In his introductory remarks, the Deputy Joint Special Representative requested the Chairperson to use his good offices to facilitate the work of Mr. Bashua and underscored the importance of the Joint Support and Coordination Mechanism by recalling its origins in the joint report of the Chairperson and the UN Secretary-General of 5 June 2007, which served as the basis for the establishment of UNAMID, through UN Security Council Resolution 1769 of 31 July 2007.
Mr. Yonis stated that it is because of the importance attached to the work of the JSCM by the UN, the AU and the Government of Sudan, that UNAMID has deployed one of its most senior officers to head the office. The DJSR described the new JSCM Director as a strategic thinker and a consummate political analyst, who will reinvigorate the JSCM to deliver on its core mandate.
Welcoming the delegation, the Chairperson expressed his satisfaction that a senior and able diplomat has been appointed to lead the JSCM, adding that the AU and UN are joint partners in the quest for a durable peace in Darfur. He called on Ambassador Bashua to execute his duties with vigor and a high sense of dedication in close collaboration with his AU colleagues.
Speaking earlier, Ambassador Bashua assured the Chairperson of his determination to enhance and facilitate the joint AU-UN strategic partnership, citing among his priorities, the establishment of weekly briefings between the AU and the JSCM in order to keep the organization abreast of evolving events and activities in the political, military, police, civilian and humanitarian operations of UNAMID.
Ambassador Bashua seized the opportunity to thank the UNAMID Joint Special Representative, Professor Ibrahim Gambari, for giving him the honor and opportunity to continue serving the people of Darfur through the JSCM and promised to discharge his duties with diligence, devotion to duty and loyalty to the African Union and the United Nations.
The new Director of JSCM brings to the position 35 years of experience as a career diplomat and international civil servant at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). He has also served as senior peacekeeping policy specialist in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Cote d’Ivoire and prior to his latest appointment, was Director of the UNAMID Political Affairs Department in El Fasher, North Darfur.
Government of Southern Sudan (GOSS)
Office of the President
Date 9th January 2011
Message of condolence from the President and the Government of Southern Sudan to the Damily of the Late Jimmy Lemi Milla, the Minister of Cooperatives and Rural Development who Murdered today 9th February 2011
The President of the Government of Southern Sudan, H E. General Salva Kiir Mayadrit, and the entire leadership of the Government of Southern Sudan express their deep sorrow over the assassination of Mr. Jimmy Lemi Milla, Minister of Cooperatives and Rural Development who was killed at his desk at his Ministry at 10:30 this morning.
Late Jimmy Lemi Milla was shot dead in his office by a certain Emmanuel David Luga, a member of the Pajulu ethnic group. The killer is a former driver and brother-in-law of the late Minister.
The Government of Southern Sudan conveys their heartfelt condolences and sympathy for the bereaved widow and children of the late Milla.
The Government of Southern Sudan hereby declares a three-day mourning period during which the national flag will be flown at half-mast, on all buildings and locations, starting from Thursday 10th February 2011.
May the Almighty God give solace to the widow and children of the late Jimmy Lemi Milla and rest his soul in eternal peace.
February 10, 2011
Tarmacking Begins on Juba-Nimule Road, Southern Sudan’s First Highway
On Thursday, February 10, 2011, the US Consul General in Juba, Ambassador R. Barrie Walkley, will join the President of Southern Sudan H.E. Salva Kiir Mayardit, and other senior Government of Southern Sudan officials at Aswa Bridge, in an inauguration event to witness the launch of tarmacking of the 192km long Juba-Nimule road. The road is fully funded by USAID and is estimated to cost $225 million by the anticipated completion date in February 2012. It is a living testimony of the partnership between USAID and MTR since construction of the main roadway commenced in May 2009.
Juba-Nimule road is southern Sudan’s highest priority road, linking Juba with Uganda and is the most efficient route to the Port of Mombasa in Kenya. It will be the first major paved road to be constructed in southern Sudan since the signing of the CPA in 2005. The first phase of this project involved a feasibility study, engineering studies, repairs to existing bridges, and demining. The construction of the seven bridges was completed in August 2009. The construction of the eighth bridge, at the border of Sudan and Uganda started in November 2010 and will be completed by April 2011.
In addition to road construction, assistance is also provided to build capacity of local contractors. Rhino Stars Suppliers and Construction Ltd., a Sudanese company, was subcontracted through a competitive bidding process to repair seven existing bridges along the Juba-Nimule road. Another Sudanese Company, Bright Stars, was contracted to grade and maintain a section of the road to ensure an uninterrupted flow of traffic between Juba and Nimule.
Completion of this economically vital road will catalyze business transactions between southern Sudan and the neighboring countries. When completed, it is estimated that travel times between Juba and Nimule will be reduced from 8 hours at the beginning of the project, to about 2½ hours. The project is also providing assistance to improve road safety along the road, which is critical as traffic volumes and speed increase.
Other projects funded by USAID in southern Sudan include: 260 kilometers of all-weather gravel roads in Western Equatoria State, which will be completed in April 2011; upgrading of Kurmuk airstrip to paved standard; and 7km of gravel road connecting the airstrip to Kurmuk town at the border of Ethiopia.
The United States is the single largest donor to Sudan, contributing nearly $10 billion in assistance to Sudan and eastern Chad since the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in 2005. For more information on USAID programs in Sudan, please visit www.usaid.gov/sudan.
By Maker M. Marial
February 10, 2011 — After casting my vote on Sunday, January 9, 2011 in a referendum that has been termed as “the final walk to freedom,” in Alexandria, VA, USA, I became thrilled because I had just made my right choice for the independence of southern Sudan. However, after reflecting on the days leading up to the referendum, the year 2010 and beyond, I sadly thought about a 13 year old, Nyandiar Makur Kachuol who will not celebrate with us as Southern Sudan will be declared an independent country in July after nearly 99% voters chose independence. Nyandiar, who was a 5th grade student at Bar-aliep Primary school, was beaten to death by a gang of brothers and relatives on January 1st, 2011. Her death came at a time when all Southern Sudanese were celebrating the New Year with joy and hope for the independence of south Sudan.
According to some statements from witnesses, she was accused of being pregnant, forcefully taken to the forest, tied to a tree, and constantly beaten in turns by six young men in hope to extract confessions from her. But, as innocent as she was, Nyandiar adamantly kept telling her brothers that she wasn’t pregnant. Nevertheless, no one among the ruthless brothers could listen to her, and they kept beating her until she became unconscious and subsequently passed away.
However, moments leading up to her death, Nyandiar didn’t want us to be left wondering much about the circumstances surrounding her death. She left us a message, saying “these men have killed me while I am not pregnant and I want you to know that,” (Gurtong, January 5, 2011). A report from a medical examiner later confirmed her statement.
Nyandiar’s recent murder adds to a number of unresolved murder cases in Lakes State. In September 2010, a 16 year old, Form one student at Hope and Resurrection Secondary School, Martha Athou Lueth was beaten to death by her father when she got pregnant. Subsequently, Nyikada Ngoki, a primary school pupil in Wulu County committed suicide in October after being forced into a marriage she didn’t consent to.
Cases like these are common in Lakes State but they are kept secret within the family or at the community level. The government on the other hand does not take the issue as a serious matter it should address.
Since the death of these three young girls, the government’s position in Lakes State has been deplorable. Until now, there are no measures put in place to prevent repeating such obnoxious crimes.
In the circumstances where customary laws fail to enhance necessary protection, an intervention from the government is needed to rescue the situation. Beating to death of a fellow human being is a crime punishable under any criminal law. Pregnancy has specific arrangements such as fine according to Dinka Customary Law hence there is no justification for physically abusing someone simply because she got pregnant out of wedlock.
As we are moving toward independence, Lakes State Assembly should make laws that are reasonable to address varieties of crimes.
Last year, a controversial pregnancy law was passed. To them [government officials and the members of the Assembly] impregnating a girl would mean that a young man is sentenced to death – what I mean is that ten years prison sentence, plus 3,000 SDG and three cows is a kind of death sentence.
This is law has caused rage in the whole of Lakes State and left people with a lot of confusions some lingering questions. Until now, people are still wondering about how did the traditional chiefs who crafted the pregnancy law forget to make laws that would protect the minors from odious acts such as thrashing to death of young girls when they get pregnant out of wedlock? Similarly, how did the chiefs forget the issue of forced marriage which had led Nyikada to commit suicide?
The truth to the matter is that the traditional chiefs who made this contentious pregnancy law in Lakes State failed to also make laws to protect girls from physical abuse and forced marriages. For this reason, it’s feared that many of the helpless young girls will die since the government does not have laws in place to protect them.
Beating young girls to death is a new crisis in Lakes State, replacing revenge killings which have caused hundreds of lives. Revenge killings came about as a result of application of partial justice when those who were in charged resorted to shielding their own relatives from being punished while others who had committed similar crimes paid heavy price for their deeds. Therefore, many people were taking laws into their own hands because they believed that the government wasn’t doing anything to apply equal justice.
Similarly, people are now killing their own daughters because they believe that they have all legal rights to take the lives of their daughters without being punished for their acts.
Hence, the killing of Athou in October became precedent for the recent death of Nyandiar while hundreds of girls have already been abused or threatened to be killed when they became pregnant — many more will die in days and months to come if the government does not act now.
Thus, the Lakes State government bears the blame for Nyandiar’s death because it had failed to come up with laws to protect the young girls from physical abuse soon after Athou was killed. Her life would have been saved if the government was quick to ban beating and educate the public about the consequences of use of excessive physical abuse against young girls.
Without the intervention from the government, this new trend of beating young girls to death will continue unless the state government takes some serious steps to punish all forms of physical violence against young girls and women in general.
Maker Mabor Marial lives in the United States. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
By Zechariah Manyok Biar
February 8, 2011 — The future sometimes seems far away, but it is often at the door in any situation. It was not long time ago that we were talking about the future of the independent South Sudan, but now that the final results of the referendum have been announced, the future that we were talking about is now current. There will be no excuses for us not to put our system in order now.
My writing about good governance is going to focus on what we need to do now as an independent nation. In this article, we will examine the importance of the respect for the rule of law in the independent South Sudan.
Respect for the rule of law is a very importance element of good governance. The rule of law can be twisted and used as a means of oppressing people in a totalitarian government. We know that African constitutions act as nothing more than symbols in most cases. It is in Kenya now that the new constitution seems to guide the government. It was not long time ago that coup d’état was the commonly used means of obtaining power in many African countries. In such a system, respect for the rule of law is the first victim.
But things are now changing in Africa, and even in the Arab World. Democratic rule is becoming popular and good governance is an important component of democratic rule. In good governance, respect for the rule of law helps citizens predict what is required of them and act accordingly. Many scholars agree that the rule of law means the rule of men through law.
Yet, human beings are human beings. It is not easy for any citizen, including leaders, to respect the rule of law against his or her selfish self-interest unless there is a clear definition of legal procedures and institutional structures. Official actions and declared rules must be consistent. The rules must be coherence and clear.
Not only is it important to have clarity in how one applies a declared rule, it is also important that all citizens be treated equally before the law. In South Sudan, what threatens our legal system is the fact that some people commit a crime and get away with it, while others spend a long time in prison for the same crime. A system like this gives people an indirect license to take the law into their own hands.
If a leader accused of corruption is released by force by those loyal to him or her (as has happened in the last five years here in Juba) and nothing is done about it, then who would not have defenders when accused of the same crime next time. If every leader accused of wrongdoing would then be relying on his/her loyalists or relatives to defend him or her unlawfully, then where would the rule of law be? For the rule of law to work, everybody must be answerable to the system on equal bases.
Equality before the law means that everybody who commits a particular crime gets a sentence mentioned in the Penal Code for such a crime, regardless of where he or she belongs. A law that is made to benefit a particular society or a particular class of people in society and disadvantages others is a bad law. If we have such a law in our current system (even when it is not in a written form like the defending of wrongdoers by relatives), then it should be discouraged.
A system where some people break the law and no action is taken against them produces social values, norms, attitudes, or practices that are often inhospitable to even a limited conception of the rule of law. Mariana Mota Prado in an article entitled, “The Paradox of Rule of Law Reforms: How Early Reforms Can Create Obstacles to Future Ones” argues that “Groups of interests will resist reforms that eliminate their privileges, do not foster their interests, or do not offer them any gains.”
Strong groups of interests now a day in Southern Sudan are family members and other relatives. They bemoan the lack of the rule of law when their interests are at stake, but they support lawlessness when their interests are putting the interests of other groups at stake. This double standard must stop if the rule of law is to function well in the independent South Sudan.
In conclusion, our leaders must follow the law and apply it consistently without favoritism, even when the law-breaker is a member of their immediate family. That is what good governance is all about.
Zechariah Manyok Biar, BA. Edu., MACM, MSSW. He can be reached at email@example.com
Sudan: Violent Response to Peaceful Protests
Government Responds Harshly to Khartoum Demonstrations
(Juba, February 3, 2011) – Sudanese authorities used excessive force during largely peaceful protests that began on January 30, 2011, Human Rights Watch said today. The government should immediately release protesters detained by national security forces and investigate the reported killing of a student who took part, Human Rights Watch said.
Inspired by popular uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia, thousands of Sudanese students and their supporters gathered in Khartoum and other northern cities on January 30 and 31 to call for an end to National Congress Party rule and government-imposed price increases. Similar protests were reported on February 1, and activists called for the protests to continue.
“The Sudanese government should not use violence to cut off peaceful demonstrations and political expression,” said Daniel Bekele, Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “The people of Sudan, like people everywhere, have a right to protest repression.”
The government responded to the demonstrations by dispatching armed riot police and national security forces to the protest sites, including university premises. The security personnel used force to disperse the demonstrators and arrested more than 100 people, including nine journalists, during the first two days of protests. Many of the protesters, including two arrested journalists, were subjected to beatings and ill-treatment.
One student, Mohammed Abderahman, reportedly died from injuries inflicted by security forces on January 30, activists said. Human Rights Watch could not independently confirm the death, but called on the Sudanese government to investigate the allegations immediately.
The protesters on January 30 and 31, organized by youth and student movements using Facebook and other electronic media, rallied in public places and at university campuses in Khartoum, Omdurman, El Obeid, and other towns. Witnesses in Khartoum and Omdurman reported that armed riot police and national security personnel dispersed groups of protesters using pipes, sticks, and teargas, injuring several people and preventing some people from joining the protests. Some protesters threw rocks at riot police, but most were peaceful, witnesses said.
The majority of those arrested were released within hours, but more than 20 are still missing and believed to be held by national security forces. Among them is a southern student at the University of Khartoum, Louis Awil Weriak, who bore signs of ill-treatment, a fellow detainee who was released said. Human Rights Watch also received information that on February 2, national security staff arrested two staff members of the communist party newspaper, Al-Maidan. Sudanese authorities have long used national security powers to arrest and detain political activists, often mistreating or torturing them in detention, based on cases documented by Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, and many other groups over the years.
“Sudan’s track record of using national security officials to target activists and political opponents and subject them to ill-treatment and torture raises serious concerns for the safety of detainees,” Bekele said. “Authorities should charge or release all the protesters immediately.”
International standards require authorities to bring charges promptly after an arrest. However Sudan’s repressive National Security Act gives the National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) broad powers of search, seizure, arrest, and prolonged detention of up to four and a half months, without judicial review, in violation of international standards. Human Rights Watch urged the government to ensure that any detention is properly recorded and that anyone detained has all due process protections, including access to counsel and medical care.
Human Rights Watch also urged the government to lift restrictions on the media immediately. Government security forces blocked international and Sudanese journalists who tried to cover the demonstrations. Authorities also went to the offices of two newspapers, Ajrass al Huriya and Al Sahafa, on January 31, and to Al-Maidan on February 1, to order them not to distribute the editions on those days.
“With the southern secession vote over, Sudan is entering a new chapter in its history,” Bekele said. “Rather than violently repressing basic freedoms, the Khartoum government should uphold the rights enshrined in its own constitution, allow freedom of political expression, and let journalists freely report on events.”
The demonstrations coincided with the announcement by officials in Juba on January 30 of the preliminary results of the Southern Sudanese independence referendum, in which over 99 percent of southerners voted to secede from northern Sudan. The referendum was called for by the terms of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement that ended Sudan’s 22-year civil war.
The protests also occurred at the same time as Sudanese government and rebel attacks on civilians in Darfur have dramatically increased. Despite commitments, the Sudanese government has yet to disarm militias or improve accountability for past and ongoing human rights violations in Darfur, Human Rights Watch said. The International Criminal Court has issued arrest warrants for three people as part of its Darfur investigation, including President Omar al-Bashir for war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide.
For more Human Rights Watch reporting on Sudan, please visit: http://www.hrw.org/en/africa/sudan
For more information, please contact: In New York, Daniel Bekele (English, Amharic): +1-212-216-1223; +1-917-385-3878 (mobile) In London, Tom Porteous (English): +44-20-7713-2766; or +44-79-8398-4982 (mobile) In Kampala, Jehanne Henry (English, French): +249-91-310-8458 (mobile) In Brussels, Lotte Leicht (English, French, German, Danish): +32-2-737-1482
By Elwathig Kameir
Northerners in the SPLM: Transforming Liabilities into Assets!
NORTHERNERS IN THE SPLM: AN END OR A BEGINNING?
January 31, 2011 — This article examines the status and future of "northerners" in the SPLM in light of the criticism and disapproval to which they have lately been exposed to, whether motivated by retribution and "gloat", or out of compassion and support, and in view of the confusion and uncertainty experienced by the northerners themselves, at a time when secession of the south has become almost a fait accompli. On the one hand, many believe (erroneously) that the establishment of an independent state in southern Sudan will implicitly put an end to the political future of northerners in the SPLM, while some has gone even more extreme to explicitly call for banning and outlawing their political activities in northern Sudan, and on top of that holding them responsible for the separation of the south. It is both naïve and dangerous to call for or promote such wishful thinking, obnoxious as it may sound, which does not stand on a firm footing and defies the truth! Those critics seem to mix between, and confuse the "northern sector", as an organizational structure, dictated by the nature of the historical development of the SPLM to regulate the political work of the Movement in the thirteen States of the north, with northern Sudan as a "geographical" concept, which we have come to understand since independence in 1956 to include all of northern Sudan except for the three southern Provinces (Upper Nile, Bahr Elghazal, and Equatoria). Thus, not all northerners in the SPLM are organizationally attached to the "northern sector", while the membership of the "sector" is not confined to northerners from the centre and riverain areas only, but constitutes an organizational structure that accommodates all the membership of the Movement in the thirteen northern states, including all residents in these states from the South, the Nuba Mountains, and Inqesna, except those residing in the south or these two regions, as they organizationally belong to the SPLM "southern sector".
Therefore, the Movement has two essential pillars in the "geographic" north of Sudan, «Southern Kordofan and Southern Blue Nile», as substantial areas of these two regions had formed part of the land controlled by the SPLA during the war period, however, the constituencies and social bases of the SPLM in these two states will remain in northern Sudan, following the separation of the south. So, do the quarters that repeatedly make reference to the "northerners" in the SPLM harbor an ethnic definition of the concept, and are skeptical of the people of Nuba Mountains and Blue Nile affiliation and belongingness to the north of Sudan? This is merely an innocent question! What reasoning, argument, right or law, do these quarters advance to justify their vehement call for banning (for that matter, the sheer thinking of) the political activities of all northerners in their own country on the pretext of separation, and the democratic and constitutional right of southerners in the SPLM to choose secession and independence of the south as their preferable option in the self-determination referendum? The issue, in my opinion, is not the future of the northerners in the SPLM following the separation of the south, rather the most urgent and important question is the fate of all northerners who will remain in the north, in particular the northern "nationalists"? As a corollary, the million-dollar question, however, is: what are the long-term strategies of the various sectors of the forces of change in the north in the aftermath of separation? What is the nature of the state they will be aspiring to build in the north?
On the other hand, the SPLM grassroots and supporters of the country’s unity among northerners (ethnically and geographically) and southerners harbor many questions searching for answers, and find themselves helpless, and feel embarrassed in responding to the endless queries of both friends and foes about the position of the Movement on issues of unity and separation, self determination and the referendum, and the fate of the two transitional areas (Southern Kordofan and the Blue Nile). Indeed, in the wake of the predicted separation of the south an intricate and complex situation has transpired, resulting in an observed confusion and ambiguity in the vision of some northerners in the Movement, which in turn have pushed them to narrowly restrict the challenges they face, and confine their concerns, only in the SPLM leadership’s position on whether southerners should vote for unity or secession! In terms of the approach and proposed solutions, they look at things from the perspective of a "zero-sum" game that only tolerates the victory/gain of one party (advocates of unity), and the defeat/loss of the other party (advocates of separation), and vice versa. Thus, it seems as if they do not contemplate a solution save for the SPLM leadership to unambiguously instruct the southerners, especially the Movement’s members and supporters, to vote in favor of "unity", otherwise this leadership deserves to be stigmatized by betrayal and breach of promises, which calls for severing any sort of links between northerners and this leadership.
Within such a context the aim of this modest contribution, therefore, is: first, to clarify that such a perspective would only lead to disillusionment, frustration, and the feeling of disappointment and defeat. The separation of the south, even if it is a curse, it remains to be a perceptible political reality that could be turned positively, while transforming its cons into pros, and its liabilities into assets, through the perseverance to continue the struggle to achieve the ultimate goal of building a true citizenship-state. Indeed, this is an objective that is not precluded by the aspirations of southerners in the establishment of their own independent and sovereign political entity, a challenge that they themselves have to confront!
However, sincerity and objectivity of the analysis obliges one not to overlook the objective criticism of the SPLM leadership regarding its retreat from steadfastly moving forward with building the united Sudan on new bases, its disappointing political performance at the national level, lack of strategy, and disregard of the Movement’s institutions in the decision-making process. Secondly, the exercise of all northerners, who are a part of the overall organizational structure of the SPLM, of their political activity, represents an added–value that would enrich the pluralistic political life in the context of a viable, coherent, and stable, "new" political entity in northern Sudan. Thus, the separation of the south should by no means distract our attention from the overriding objective of achieving sustainable peace and building the citizenship state both in the south and the north.
THE SPLM: A LOST OPPORTUNITY!
During the past three years, I wrote a series of articles that dwelt on the Vision of the New Sudan and the call of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) for building the Sudanese citizenship state, and the Movement’s strategies for translating this “theoretical” concept into reality whether at the federal, or regional level in southern Sudan. The conclusion reached in these contributions was that the actual political practice of the SPLM following the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), particularly after the departure of its historical leader in late July 2005, carried many indicators of the Movement’s observed retreat from the Vision it had been preaching for more than two decades. Furthermore, it has abandoned the struggle for achieving the ultimate objective of realizing the country’s unity on new bases preferring separation and the establishment of an independent state in the South. I also underlined in these writings the disillusionment of the northern members of the SPLM, and all its supporters in the north, who had pinned their hopes on the Movement to lead the process of the long-awaited change by moving forward the post-CPA situation (dubbed by the late SPLM Chairman as the “minimum New Sudan”) for achieving voluntary unity. In a nutshell, it seems as if the SPLM has substituted or replaced the Vision with the CPA and its literal implementation, thus withdrawing into a cocoon, waiting for secession of the South, instead of taking it as a drawing board, which in reality is all that it is, in achieving its declared objective of achieving the Sudanese citizenship state! Indeed, The CPA incorporates several aspects of the New Sudan Vision. Although it is essentially a political compromise between the SPLM and the National Congress Party (NCP), the CPA provides us with the required framework for the continued pursuit of the objective of the New Sudan through purely political means as opposed to the pre-CPA combination of political and military methods. Thus, the leadership of the Movement is obliged, both politically and morally, to subject the issue of reconciling the objectives of self-determination and New Sudan (unity on new bases) to serious dialogue and open discussion inside its institutions due to a mixed blend of objective and subjective factors (The Imperatives of Internal Dialogue: The SPLM and Returning to the Drawing Board. Sudan Tribune, 23 December 2009).
On the other hand, following the completion of the organizational structure of the Northern Sector, in its first phase, it was hoped that the SPLM Second National Convention would provide the opportunity for the fair representation of the "northern sector" in the leading organs, and its active participation in the formulation of strategies, programs and policies of the Movement, particularly in relation to reconciling the twin objectives of unity and self-determination. The Convention presented a long awaited opportunity to which the movement’s grassroots, especially supporters of unity whether northerners or southerners, aspired in order to participate in a serious and transparent dialogue on the critical issues related to the evolution of the movement and its transition from a military-based organization into a political party, that can lead economic, social and cultural transformation, and achieve the country’s unity on a new bases.
Contrary to expectations, however, the agenda of the Convention and its outcomes proved disappointing. The Convention was successful in settling the internal power struggle in an amicable and democratic fashion and was able to preserve the Movement’s unity and consolidate its leadership, in addition to endorsing the constitution. However, notwithstanding the consensus on the vision of the New Sudan and though the Manifesto was passed by acclamation, yet the Vision was not translated into strategies, or detailed programs and policies, that could guide daily political activity and on which the Movement’s electoral manifesto or program could be based. Until the writing of the present paper, none of these documents has been circulated for discussion and dialogue, nor has the National Liberation Council (NLC) been convened to approve them.
However, the Convention turned into a political “demonstration”, while northerners were faintly represented in the leading organ of the party, in light of an observed onslaught against the Northern Sector. Indeed, it deserves to be aptly dubbed "The Convention of the Lost Opportunity"! On its part, the leadership of the "northern sector" did not disappoint its adversaries by squandering the opportunity of harvesting votes in the general elections, in particular since the northerners do not have a constituency within the ranks of the SPLA! Thus, they were left lurking outside the legislative and executive institutions of the state, a predicament that has weakened the position of the Sector in the structure of the SPLM, and completely undermined its influence.
THE NATIONAL LIBERATION COUNCIL: FEASIBILITY OF CONVENTION!
In light of these developments, it was hoped that the NLC would be called for a meeting shortly after the convening of the Second National Convention in May 2008, with the purpose of initiating serious and frank dialogue, by involving of the grassroots of the Movement from all ethnic groups, regions and political visions, as the only appropriate approach for addressing the burning issues, and providing answers to the attendant questions. Nonetheless, this did not happen, and the intention to convene the NLC was only referred to in the official invitation of the SPLM Political Bureau at its last meeting (August 2010). However, the insistence of some leaders of the SPLM to manipulate the envisaged NLC meeting towards officially adopting separation as an institutional decision (along the same lines of the zero-sum game), in an atmosphere already charged with "nationalistic" emotions and the growing tide of secession amid large sectors of young southerners, no doubt would have cast a thick shadow over the upcoming meeting of the Council, and led to a sharp polarization between the unionists and separatists, threatening to split the ranks of the Movement and its eventual disintegration as a united entity, both at the political and organizational levels. Therefore, in view of such circumstances, and without proper and careful preparation, the mobilization of each party of their respective supporters would have made the explicit adoption of the NLC of one of two options, unity or separation, an uncalculated risk that would have had detrimental consequences for the Movement.
It seems unbecoming to stigmatize the SPLM leaders (or some of them) of "betraying" the vision of the New Sudan or pointing fingers at the southern elites of deciding the fate of the south, thus denying ordinary citizens the right of choosing their preferable option on their own free will. On the one hand, we must realize that it is the same leadership that led the people of the south to the armed struggle under the banner of the New Sudan vision, and we have been working with them for more than two decades, without questioning whether they had apriori explored the desires and aspirations or opinions of their grass-roots in this regard. Even if we thought that the southern elite, especially the Movement’s leadership, misled southerners or forced them to vote for separation, these very citizens might one day come to realize their miscalculation and would, then, call for voluntary unity. On the other hand, the attitude of the SPLM leadership is reminiscent of the way in which the independence of Sudan itself was declared on 15 December 1955. Ironically, though the ruling party at the time (the National Unionist Party) had been calling for, and promoting unity with Egypt as an option in preference to independence, the leadership of the party, however, circumvented in the last minute the text of the Self-Rule Agreement of 1953, which provided for the exercise of self-determination through an elected Constituent Assembly. Thus, this leadership tore up the Agreement and declared the Independence of the country from within the parliament, setting aside the union with Egypt, an option that had never been tabled for voting, especially after they secured the support of the South representatives in the parliament. Indeed, the ruling elite had reread the general mood of the Sudanese at the time, thus jumped on the accelerating bandwagon of "independence", which guaranteed for this elite sovereignty and the unchallenged leadership of the nascent "national" state.
If the SPLM leadership is the same elite that had led the people of the south and pushed them to make sacrifices under the banner of the New Sudan and voluntary unity, how could we blame or hold them in contempt if they found themselves, following the loss of the Movement’s historic leader and his inspiring ideas in a situation, even though their own policies contributed to its precipitation, which rendered persistence in the struggle for a united New Sudan a costly and expensive option on part of southern Sudanese? Such an option would put the bulk of the burden on the shoulders of the people in the south, depriving them of enjoying the gains of the CPA, after years, even throughout decades, during which their sons and daughters sacrificed their lives to end the war and achieve peace, while subjecting their people to the hazards of displacement, asylum, and physical and psychological disability. Indeed, the general atmosphere in the south has become charged with emotions and an entrenched feelings of "nationalism", the craving and aspiration to achieve the dream of an independent state, a dream that has been enthralling southerners since the mid of last century. I am inclined to think that it is neither fair nor politically realistic to bully the Movement’s leadership, at this intricate juncture and complex situation, to adopt or take the initiative of the continued preaching for unity, without being subjected to the wrath and curse of the masses in the south. Alas, this would open the door wide for hardened separatists of chauvinistic inclinations to have their day, a ready-made recipe for a violent and bloody struggle for power, thus returning back to infighting and squandering opportunities for peace and stability! Besides, it should be noted that the imprint and legacy of the "southern nationalist movement", which has persisted in calling for the separation and independence of the south since the second half of the last century, still casts a shadow on the evolution of the southern political movement as a whole. Above all, it is no secret that there is a widespread separatist sentiment within the ranks of the SPLM, which made the reconciliation between the two objectives of unity and self determination an arduous and inaccessible task.
SCENARIOS FOR THE EVOLUTION OF THE NEW SUDAN
The strategic basis of the principal scenario lies in continuing the struggle for liberation and the achievement of the New Sudan, by employing the political means provided by the constitutional arrangements arising from the CPA, leading to "dismantling" of the Inqaz regime from within through democratic transformation embodied in this political settlement. This is exactly what the Movement and its allies from the other political forces have failed to achieve, It was equally not accepted by the other partner in rule, the NCP, in the sense of not allowing the fulfillment of some of the provisions and reneging on some requirements of the CPA.
Therefore, if we really want to make a credible, and politically feasible contribution to safeguard the unity of the Movement and preserve its cohesion at this intricate historical juncture, while helping in progressing the situation forward, and without "reinventing the wheel", it is imperative to admit the implausibility, if not the impossibility, to achieve the New Sudan in the framework of the current form of unity, as all available evidence and observations suggest. However, a great deal of the failure in realizing the Vision is attributable to the inability of the SPLM leadership (and lack of enthusiasm on the part of some) to develop the necessary strategies and programs in the context of transitional arrangements consequent on the CPA (dubbed as mini New Sudan by the late Dr. John Garang) to achieve unity. In order to realize the ideals of the New Sudan, the concept should be viewed in evolutionary terms. Initially, the normative principles of mutual belonging, and full equality of citizenship can be articulated and agreed upon, but this full realization can only be pursued incrementally. However, it seems that the SPLM has turned its back on this "gradualist" approach, and substituted or replaced the Vision with the CPA and its implementation, instead of using the Agreement as a launching pad, which in fact is all that it signifies, to realize the Movement’s stated objective of building the Sudanese nation-state, thus withdrawing into a cocoon, waiting for secession of the South!
Public opinion in the southern Sudan has already been clearly shaped in favor of separation and independence, notwithstanding the role that the Movement’s leaders have played in this respect. It is, therefore, utterly meaningless to be intellectually incarcerated and narrowly think of political unity through the lenses of a rigid framework, and lose sight of the ultimate objective of building the citizenship-state, whether in the southern or northern Sudan. It is also inept to bemoan the failure of achieving the unity of the country on new basis by the end of the interim period of the CPA, as had been hoped, which would only lead to frustration and despair. This should have been, though undesirable, an expected outcome! Indeed, in the proposal of the “Solution Modalities for the Sudan Conflict” presented by the SPLM delegation during the Abuja talks in 1993, it was the opinion of the late Chairman of the Movement, Dr. John Garang, that the best way o maintain unity is to move directly from Model 3 (Old Sudan) to Model 1 (A Transformed Democratic Sudan). However, if this was not feasible, then the second best would be to go to the New Sudan through Model 2 (the Minimum New Sudan or a “Two Systems-One Country” Model). Understandably, this option bore the risk of the outcome of Model 5 (Separation) and that is the price of the failure the New Sudan advocates had to pay to achieve this transition. Thus, the late leader did not rule out the possibility that southerners might opt for secession in the event of the failure of the transition to the New Sudan, through the expansion of the shared "commonalities" during the interim period. In reality, this was exactly what the two partners in rule, each according to its respective share of responsibility, and the rest of the political forces, have failed to realize. In a long and protracted war, we have to expect losing battles!
I reiterate what I had underlined years back, and I repeat tirelessly, that most of the mystification and misinterpretation of the Vision is partially caused by confusing the New Sudan, as a conceptual framework, with the SPLM, the promoter and politically organized actor and vehicle that entrusted itself with the leading role of turning the vision into reality at a particular historical moment. Thus, non-identification with the SPLM in the organizational sense by no means implies a contradiction with actually espousing the vision. Indeed, I would venture to say that all believers in the New Sudan are SPLM(ers) but not all members of the SPLM champion the vision! In other words, the failure to methodologically distinguish between the vision of the New Sudan, on the one hand, and the SPLM (in the organizational sense and in terms of strategies and tactics) and the political process of building the New Sudan in the course of struggle (political, military, negotiations), on the other hand, is one main source of the confusion about the concept.
It is the SPLM that had originally advanced the vision and cause of the New Sudan. However, as the Old Sudan undergoes fundamental change in its transition to the New Sudan, the Movement itself is bound to evolve and undergo fundamental change. So, while its basic content has remained the same, the SPLM/A has undergone a process of metamorphosis over the years and in its various stages of transformation it appeared differently to various people (or interest groups) at different times. Therefore, while the failure of forging ahead with implementing the project on the ground is attributable to the SPLM , as a political organization at a certain point in time, this does by no means casts any doubt on the robustness of the Vision, neither disparage the sharpness of the analysis it has provided of the Sudanese reality, or tarnish the credibility of the concept as a national framework that aims at building a sustainable, genuine citizenship-state, which is capable of accommodating the Sudan’s multiple diversities that cannot be eliminated or wished away by separation or transformed into a coherent social fabric at the blink of an eye, in a way that would deride the value of the New Sudan concept or question its feasibility and viability. On the contrary, secession will further reinforce the pertinence and relevance of the Vision, as ethnic, as economic differentiation and social polarization will further accentuate the already existing ethnic, religious, and cultural diversity in both northern and southern Sudan. Thus, the independence of the south will not be lead to the removal of these manifold diversities eliminating them at the stroke of a pen, making the New Sudan vision indispensable for the realization of justice and equality among all of its citizens.
On the other hand, the entrenchment of the northerners of the SPLM in the position of a doctrinaire and dogmatic framework of unity bears the risk of sliding into "prejudiced nationalism or national chauvinism", which perceptibly contradicts, and is conflict with the fundamental values and principles of the New Sudan the concept. Instead of retreating into the cocoon of our "own selves or beings", a vice we blamed the separatists for, we have to hang on to our "new Sudanist" identity, thus transcending "the narrow national prejudices"!
As we were the pioneers in building bridges, and in joining hands with southerners in the struggle for change towards justice, freedom and equality, for over a quarter of a century, let us remain to be the link for mutual interconnections and interdependencies, should southerners choose to secede and form their own independent state, until such day when future generations may reunify our country again.
We have to recognize that southern Sudanese harbor historical socio-economic and cultural grievances against the centre, as well as they have their own different legitimate concerns and interests, which constitute the underlying reason of our approval of, and support for the right of self-determination as a genuine democratic and human right, So, what do we reap from being inimical to the southern separatists except fomenting national chauvinism, thus defeating the very principles and values we have been upholding and fighting for during the past two decades? The common struggle for justice and equality based on citizenship rights, has created a value-added for the northerners in the SPLM in the hearts and minds of their comrades in the south, which will always make them a bridge for interaction and union between the two new independent states. Thus, why should we waste all this credit, and in whose interest?
NORTHERNERS IN THE SPLM: ALTERNATIVE STRATEGIES AND AWAITED TASKS
In light of this ostensible political reality, the "northern sector" and all northerners in the SPLM are both politically and morally indebted to respect the option of southerners in choosing secession, regardless of presumptions and doubts a propos the technical procedures and processes of the referendum, and to alternatively seriously focus their thinking on:
If we failed in achieving the new Sudan within the framework of a united Sudan, alternative scenarios may include varying forms and degrees of self-determination, ranging from degrees of autonomy and self-administration, including federal and confederate arrangements, to partition on the opposite extreme, all of which can be contemplated. In other words, it is possible to establish a degree of “separation” by which each entity can be self-determining, while advocating peaceful co-existence and mutual interdependence.
Even with partition, the normative principles of the New Sudan will continue to guide the constitutional and governance systems of the entities concerned, whether South or North. In other words, a longer-term perspective can envisage the creation of new frameworks for evolving more constructive principles of varying forms and degrees of sustainable unity, Perhaps the best is to agree on a "union" between the two independent states based on core values, and structured and institutional relations between the two entities.
It is also possible that regional cooperation can be effectively promoted to foster the realization of the principles of the New Sudan Framework.
This objective line of thinking calls for:
First: the emphasis on the commitment, and the principled position of the northerners in the SPLM in support of the right of southern Sudanese to self-determination, as well as the unequivocal acceptance of secession as the ultimate result of the referendum.
Second: the urgent call for convening a general meeting for the "northern sector", taking into account the institutional and balanced representation of the entire membership of the sector in all of in both the northern states, with the purpose of:
Conducting a comprehensive review of the Sector’s political and organizational work experience, and identifying the gaps, shortcomings, and constraints, and building on the successes and achievements, and
Embarking on serious dialogue and frank discussion about the alternative strategy to agree on creative solutions that would meet the ambitions of the politicians and "southern nationalists" to fulfill their aspirations for an independent state, while responding at the same time to the reality of historical coexistence, commonalities, and shared heritage between the south and the north, which is impossible to jump over or subject them to the logic of partition!
Third: initiating dialogue and coordination with the leaders of the Movement in South Kordofan and Blue Nile for the purpose of reaching a mutual understanding and common vision about the alternative strategy, and ensure that the Popular Consultation in the two states are appropriately conducted in order to achieve its objectives and meet the citizens’ aspirations in the two regions.
Persevering to in the demand for convening of the NLC, while ensuring the meeting’s proper preparation, to discuss and approve the alternative strategy, after the completion of its elements, to include a peaceful resolution to the conflict in Darfur and a balanced engagement with the international community to serve the objectives of the strategy, which is premised on the emergence of the two politically and economically viable independent entities capable of mutual interaction, and accommodation of the competing political interests of the various groups within each of them.
Fifth: openness to, and engagement in constructive and frank dialogue with all forces of change in northern Sudan to reach a common vision and agreement on the appropriate organizational form.
CONCLUSION: FROM EXCHANGED ACCUSATIONS TO MUTUAL INTERDEPENDENCIES!
The confusion, inadvertent or intentional as the case may be, between the New Sudan as a conceptual framework, and the SPLM as a political organization and a promoter of the project at a particular historical moment, which shouldered the responsibility of turning the vision into reality, has caused frustration and disappointment amongst the northerners in the SPLM, and subjected them to an onslaught of skeptics, gloaters, and enemies of change. If the SPLM has failed to transform itself into a powerful national movement throughout a united Sudan, and as political organizations are not secluded from failure, the northerners should by no means desist from persistence to invent the of alternative strategy (s) - intellectually and organizationally - to achieve sustainable peace, and the realization of the Sudanese citizenship-state. Indeed, these are two urgent tasks that will remain to haunt the process of our political development for a long time to come! Hence, the failure of the two ruling partners, the NCP and the SPLM, each according to their respective share of responsibility, in the management of the transition by making unity an attractive option, should not turn into mutual partisan exchange of accusations and condemnation, each party holding the other accountable for the separation of the south, which defies both reason and national interest. We must all acknowledge our failure, though in varying degrees, in exploiting the post-CPA constitutional arrangements to make unity attractive. It is, therefore, urgent and imperative to convert the liabilities and challenges of separation, real and perceived, into assets and opportunities, and allow every effort to turn the reality of separation into a situation in which every party is triumphant (win-win situation), and where no one feels defeated or overpowered.
The northerners in the Movement, and unionists among the Southerners, constitute bridges for interaction and channels for interface between the north and south in the overall context of all the national political forces’ endeavor, led by the ruling partners, to establish and organize a strategic, structured, and institutional relationship organization between two independent states, building on the historical, social, and economic interdependences between the north and the south. It is important here to underline the core values and the prerequisites necessary for such a relationship, premised on the formation of two politically and economically viable entities, which would agree on: • Promotion of political stability in the north and the south based on democratic practices and good governance, and rooted in constitutionalism and characterized by respect for the rule of law, and the exercise of human rights and freedoms, including the freedom of association, respect for minority views, expression and of the press, and respect for the dignity of all Sudanese people in their multiple religious, social, cultural and gender identities.
Promotion of inclusive governance in the north and the south, the political accommodation of the competing political interests and groups in each state, and political cooperation between them, in order to better address those challenges that would confront both states. This necessarily calls for ensuring the freedom of operation practice and activity for all the political forces and in accordance with the national laws of each state. This is no doubt an indispensable measure to guarantee that neither of the two states would resort to inflict damage on the other by proxy war, thus threatening peace and stability in both states.
The imperative of engaging political parties and organizations in a participatory constitutional review processes in each of the two states, which represents the will and aspirations of the people of in both the south and north. This is a vital step for Building and consolidating stable democracy.
Promotion of comprehensive national reconciliation amongst the peoples in each of the two states to overcome the bitterness of the past, while devising effective, participatory mechanisms of reconciliation and healing.
Promotion of the popular consultations to meet the aspirations of the people in Blue Nile and Southern Kordofan states, as a democratic and participatory model for addressing political problems in other parts of Sudan.
The necessity and urgency of resolving the Abyei issue in a manner that is consistent with the Protocol on the Resolution of the Abyei Conflict, and the preservation of the region as a bridge between north and south and peaceful coexistence between the two peoples, which provides a model for mutual interdependence.
Resolution of the conflict in Darfur, in which the SPLM would play a positive role before the proclamation of the new independent state in the south in July 9, 2011, thus ensuring sustainable peace and stability on the two new States.
Dr. Elwathig Kameir is a member of the SPLM Political Bureau. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
By Hamid Eltgani Ali
January 3, 2011 — At the dawn of the twenty-first century, where the entire world seems to be coming together as a global society to advance the human cause of a better life for all without prejudice, stigma, and wars, Sudan, Africa’s most promising country, is decimated by wars, violence, and lack of individual liberties. President Al-Bashir, who elected himself multiple times through fraudulent and farcical elections, has ruled the country with an iron fist and explosive violence for more than two decades. In return, the county is violently revolting, from its peripheries, against the concentration of power and wealth by the political oligarchs of the National Congress Party and their entourages. This scorch from the edges will soon engulf the capital, the epicenter of power and wealth. Moreover, the roaring waves of Tunisian and Egyptian’s revolution can be felt in Khartoum by the youth and Northern opposition leaders.
The political climate is rife with uncertainty, but what is clear is that the South of Sudan is gone, not only with its oil but with its people. We have lost the beauty of diversity. The heart and the soul of the country are gone with it. Darfur was left in ruins and millions of internally displaced persons (IDPs) are yearning for freedom and justice. However, the ruling elites of the NCP and their families have opulent lifestyles, indulging in conspicuous wealth, while poverty and inequality are festering in every corner of the country. The government kleptocracy has squandered the oil money, either through military spending or massed into Swiss bank accounts as recently revealed by Wikileaks. The military and the security apparatus consume about 78 percent of the budget, while education and health together consume about 6 percent of the total budget. Ironically, when the government could not borrow for four consecutive months from foreign creditors, they followed austerity measures and made deep cuts in education and health, while the spending on military and the security apparatus came out unscathed. What nice priorities!
The minister of finance did not tell the truth when he introduced those measures at 2:00 AM one night to be approved by rubber-stamp legislatures. I will tell you the truth. The international community, including China and the Arab countries, refused to lend to Sudan because it is not creditworthy. That is why the government ran out of foreign reserves. Making matters worse is the exodus of investors, for the obvious reasons. The sole reason that the budget is in the red is the ICC indictment and the continuing conflict in Darfur. Sad to say, a promising country is left hanging on the defunct ideology of Al-Bashir and his old guard. The country has become the “object” instead of the “subject”; in other words, the country becomes the agenda of every country, instead of being part of the community of nations to solve problems. Today even Somalia has an envoy to Sudan! Virtually nothing valuable, no resource, is left in the country except a president who is embittered by the trauma of indictment and a future that might reserve a place for him in the same class with Louise XV, Ceaucescu and Augusto Pinochet. What a shame.
Moreover, there is deep delusion and festering anger over the current political discourse in which this regime is engaged. The ruling class is blackmailed by the rest of the world. In order for them to avoid accountability for their dreadful actions, they are auctioning the country for cheap. They are willing to give up the pride of the country and its people for their own survival. They lack the vision and strategy to explain why they want to govern. They have lost their legitimacy and moral ground, and do not have the caliber of people needed to keep the country going. For example, they doled out government posts based on loyalty rather than competence. They are consumed by conspiracy, mistrust, and micro-issues. They cannot inspire. When they realized that the South was going to secede, they took the Abyia small enclave to The Hague to be arbitrated by the ICC. They have bungled the issue of Southern Sudan because they lack the courage, the wisdom, and the will to pay the price for unity; they are not interested in South.
The iron rule and the police state for more than two decades did not teach them that power has its own limits. You cannot use the same hammer from the tool box all the time. For example, the demands of the Darfuri have never stopped, even after 300,000 deaths and 3 million IDPs, and the northern opposition demands for freedom, liberty, and pluralism have never dissipated. Do they learn? Ben Ali of Tunisia has learned after 23 years in power. When will the Al-Bashir oligarchy learn? It might be in a courtroom in The Hague. The Sudanese people achieved two revolutions, in 1964 and 1985. In both instances, the people stood up to uproot notorious military dictators, even though those dictators, relatively speaking, were “benign dictators” compared to the Al-Bashir regime. The conditions are ripe for a change. However, this change should not be for the sake of change; it must have purpose and a master plan to save the country. The international community should tie the rope around the regime now. The southern referendum has been secured. There is a need for a new regime to secure and transition Southern Sudan to be a viable country. The people of Sudan are demanding that relations with South as a new state be amicable. However, the Al-Bashir regime will use the continuing issues of the debt, Abyei, and citizenship for tactical gain, further eroding the confidence of the Southern. I strongly believe that the decisive vote of the Southern Sudan citizens is a protest vote against the government rather than against the people of Sudan. I have no doubt that one day, when we have an inclusive country that respects diversity, inclusiveness, and good governance, we will regain the unity of the country, if we have the courage to pay the price for that unity.
The Al-Bashir regime must go today rather than tomorrow in order to have a viable country. The youth and the opposition parties should be organized, with an agenda that focuses on democracy, freedom, rule of law, equality, justice and peace in Darfur. More importantly, the Darfuri movements should join hands with the youth and the northern opposition to transition the country from its smoldering conditions.
The Obama administration should know that quick fixes of the Sudan issue might be good politics but not a good policy. Covering a deep wound with a small bandage won’t help. A quick fix will mean that the Darfuri will not accept a raw deal, even if the current Darfuri leaders are all gone; new leadership will rise to keep up the struggle. Quick fixes will hardly slip the Darfur issue away from the consciousness of the Americans and the rest of the civilized world. As long as there are grievances, there will be someone to stand up against what is wrong. Furthermore, it is matter of time before the rest of Sudan—including the East, the Blue Nile, Kordofan, and the Nubia Mountains—will revolt. Therefore, a long-term solution will kill two birds with one stone. The grievances and the core issues of peace, democracy, and justice must be addressed across Sudan, including but not limited to Darfur, in order to have a lasting peace. The power structure must be changed for good. The country is in need of objective standards to redistribute the wealth and power to all regions. A holistic approach to Sudan’s problems is the recommended policy.
Any quick fixes in the presence of the current regime will only mean a weaker Sudan. The regime will resort to radicalism and the suppression of dissidents to cling to power. The country will break apart, another failed state in the heart of Africa. Southern Sudan will also be a failed state, which will adversely affect the United States’ national security as well. Let us opt for a holistic approach rather than incremental and quick fixes that evaporate before their ink is dry. The change must come from within, and the rest of the world can help. The youth, the Darfuri movements and the Northern opposition parties should start the dialogue and form a new alliance to free the nation from tyranny and substitute the rule of law for the rule of men. The nation is yearning for the dawn of freedom, liberty, and justice for all. This is the time and opportunity to end the rule of the old guard once and for all, if we learn anything from waves of democracy in Tunisia and Egypt.
Hamid Eltgani Ali, Assistant Professor of Public Policy, School of Global Affairs, American University in Cairo, can be reached at: email@example.com