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March 2011 - Posts

Leaders’ accountability

By Zechariah Manyok Biar

March 27, 2011 — Those who read my article, “Good governance and its importance in the independent South Sudan” on January 5, 2011, remember that leaders’ accountability for their action to the people was one of the elements of good governance that I promised to write articles on. I have already written articles on security of citizens, respect for law or rule of law, and fair management of public expenditure. The remaining elements to write articles on include leaders’ accountability for their actions to the people, political transparency, and meaningful citizen participation. But these elements share the same idea of accountability. I will touch them all in this article.

Accountability mainly means the external scrutiny and counting. It has political, administrative, and financial components. According to Anders Hanberger, “Accountability for finances has to do with controlling how well the responsible individuals or departments have performed their obligations and functions.” I am not going to focus much on financial accountability in this article because my article on fair management of public spending has touched some ideas on the issue. I am going to focus on political and administrative accountability in this article.

In political accountability, citizens have a greater responsibility in making sure that “power, individuals or departments, have paid due attention to ethical standards such as fairness and equity.” Our problem today in South Sudan is that our citizens are not yet well informed about their democratic rights. But that is not an excuse for not holding leaders accountable.

Elected representatives are supposed to hold the executive administration accountable for policy implementation and citizens should play “the role of holding the elected representatives to account for the general direction of public policy,” as Hanberger puts it. That is the participatory administration in a democratic government.

Today in South Sudan, we think about the government as the executive only. The President, the Vice President, the Ministers, and the Governors are the only people we blame for what goes wrong in the country, which is justified to a larger extent. However, executive is a drop in the ocean. Legislators, civil servants, and the general public have a greater role to play in good governance. A weak parliament and a weak civil service mean a weak system of governance in which scapegoat becomes the order of daily affairs.

Having said the above, we should remember that the people-based accountability system would be easy said than done in our current system of decentralized governance. Hanberger defines decentralized governance as “forms of governance originating from the centre, which have been devised for local and regional levels, as well as governance that evolves from the discretion of local and regional government, and governance that develops in local networks and partnerships.”

Since I am part of the system now in South Sudan, I experience the difficulties of a decentralized system of governance. It is becoming increasingly difficult to distinguish what the state policy is at policy implementation level as well as on the prevention of community clashes. Legislators in the federal parliament in South Sudan avoid their responsibility by saying that the government of state will deal with a particular pressing issue even when the role of legislators in the process is clear. The state government, on the other hand, avoids the responsibility by saying that a system is controlled in Juba. This confuses citizens on who to hold accountable.

The current operation of South Sudan police is a good example. When there is a tribal conflict, a decentralized police take side instead of controlling the situation. That is a big problem.

The other problem is the lack of rapid response from the decentralized police. Recently in Wanglei Payam of Twic East County, Jonglei State, civilians fought for six hours on March 3, 2011 without any intervention from the police. The police Commissioner in Jonglei State was on his way to Juba when the gun-fighting started at about nine o’clock in the morning in Wanglei area. So he could not do anything. The central command of police could not send an urgent intervention force because of the decentralization policy. So who do you hold accountable here when you are a concerned citizen? Not clear.

I should remind my readers that I am not against decentralization. What I am saying is the difficulty of leaders’ accountability to their people in a decentralized system. It is challenging.

But a solution can be found, since we have a decentralized system of government in other countries. We can learn from those countries on how to improve on leaders’ accountability to their people. In those countries, citizens are active in sharing the responsibility with policy makers by providing them with needed information, and the policy makers respond and act on the information they receive from citizens without any excuse. But these kinds of responses can be possible only when the policies on decentralization are clear.

The giving of information is not free of challenges either. Information that our citizens give sometimes is mixed with rumors. The solution to this problem is that the Members of Parliament should visit their constituencies from time to time to find out growing problems at their early stages. They should encourage dialogues among different communities so that rumors that provoke tribal conflicts are reduced. I will write on the idea of dialogue later when I turn my attention on how to solve our current tribal conflicts in South Sudan.

Other possible solution is that the media should be supported as part of leaders’ accountability to general public. The media in every government is one of the important tools that force wise leaders examine their daily performances in the government, or even in the private sector. Only leaders who do not want to improve on their performances hate the media.

However, media personnel should be responsible in their criticisms of leaders. They must always be objective. They must always base their reports and criticisms on facts. Freedom of speech is good when it is constructive, but it is destructive when it is irresponsible.

All in all, the accountability of leaders in their action towards the people of South Sudan can only work, to borrow Hanberger’s phrase, if “public actors and institutions join networks and partnerships in order to resolve pressing problems and challenges” in our newest nation in the world. Scapegoat tactics practiced by some of our people must be discouraged in our country if we are to achieve the freedom and the happiness that we fought for over the last two decades.

Zechariah Manyok Biar, BA. Edu., MACM, MSSW. He can be reached at manyok34@gmail.com

A lesson South Sudan armed groups from Libyan crisis

By Zechariah Manyok Biar

March 23, 2011 — Citizens in Africa and in the Arab World who were eagerly waiting for their turn to change their dictators in the Tunisian and Egyptian style might now be reconsidering their planned actions. The choice made by the Libyan demonstrators to arm themselves against their dictator Muammar Gaddafi is a great mistake.

It is clear that the demonstrators were in danger of losing many people to Gaddafi’s forces during their peaceful demonstration, but the mistake is that they have now chosen a side that isolates them in the eyes of the Libyans who initially supported the protest against Gaddafi. Libyans all over Libya who wanted to force Gaddafi out of power were determined to die in the hands of what they believed to be foreign fighters, fighting for Gaddafi only. Such a belief was eventually going to convince the Libyan army to be on the side of the people.

Now, the army is fighting against what they believe to be rebels, not the peaceful demonstrators that they wanted to side with. A large number of women and children who were part of the demonstration will play a minimal role in the current armed rebellion against the Government. Tribes that are loyal to Gaddafi will now defend him because they may perceive the rebels as threats to their tribal interests and identities. Government officials who like a short term regime change will now side with the Government in order to have something on the table for their families.

The international community will also slow down on asking Gaddafi to step down since there are laws that apply to armed rebellion. Armed rebels are not regarded as innocent by the international community. So, those who were planning to support the demonstrators in Libya will now think twice on how they market their support to the members of the United Nations Security Council. One permanent member in the Security Council can veto any military action against Gaddafi’s Government if such action does not convince his or her country. The United States is already stretched to the point where intervention is something its leaders are reluctant to engage in before they free themselves from Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Libyan rebels are now on their own. They will have to accept both a defeat from Gaddafi’s forces and end the rebellion, or they will have to plan for a lengthy liberation war. Tough choices.

I once wrote that one should not kick the buttock of an elephant if he knows he is not strong enough. Anybody who sings the song of violent must first check his muscles.

We have now seen that those who took arms against some Governors in South Sudan in the year 2010 have not yet ousted the Governors that they wanted to topple. They have now discovered that the process of toppling a leader militarily is not easy. These renegade Generals must first defeat the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) and other organized forces before ousting those Governors. They will then have to convince the Government in Juba that they are no threat to its leaders before they are allowed to sit in state offices that they may occupy by force. Will they succeed? I doubt.

Am I saying here that the SPLM/A were wrong in taking arms against the Khartoum Government in May, 1983? The answer to this question is no for two reasons: First, there was not even an imperfect democracy existed in the Sudan of that time. To make matters worse, Shari’a Law was declared the Law of the Government by the time of the rebellion. Second, the SPLM/A knew it would stand against the Government in Khartoum militarily because it was able to rally the marginalized people all over Sudan against the regime in Khartoum.

This is not the case now for those who have armed themselves against the Governors of Jonglei and Unity States. Their focus is so narrow that they cannot convince more than ten tribes to join them against those Governors. So, the rebellion of people like George Athor against Governors like Kuol Manyang of Jonglei State will fail or it will be lengthy if it is to succeed magically.

To avoid the Libyans’ mistake, our politicians should follow a democratic means that convinces both the local citizens and the international community to side with them. Armed rebellion against any elected leader does not have a place in a democratic society, however imperfect such a democracy could be.

Any armed rebellion must have a clear justification in order to get enough support locally and internationally. Losing elections in democratic elections is not a good reason for taking arms against an elected Government; however messy one regards the process of elections. Demonstrations in democracy are the only way to change imperfection in democracy, even to the point of toppling dictators like we witnessed in Tunisia and Egypt this year.

Zechariah Manyok Biar, BA. Edu., MACM, MSSW. He can be reached at manyok34@gmail.com

SPLM: Now is the time for retaliation!

By Luk Kuth Dak

Marchg 23, 2011 — It’ unfortunate, truly is, that even after more then two decades of warfare and marathon negotiations with the so-called National Congress Party (NCP), the Sudan Peoples Liberation Movement (SPLM) hasn’t really mustered the art of the NCP game plan, its mentality and the way of thinking.

In all truth, today, the party of the late Dr. John Garang de Mabior, that rightfully became the undisputed liberator of the people of South Sudan, is now in a very serious danger of losing the reputation that organization has built over the years, with the unexplained dire security “mess” underway in very many parts of the heartland of our nation, and with the renegade George Athor Deng increasingly becoming more and more comfortable in attacking the SPLM strongholds.

Subsequently, when the renegade, George Athor first defected, we were told by some SPLM leaders- names withheld- for now, that the whole thing was a hoax. “Athor has only a couple of hundreds of followers with him, and it’s only a matter of time before he was brought to justice, for the crime he committed against innocent civilians as well the SPLA soldiers, they said.”

Well, now what? Almost a year later? Today, George Athor Deng has only gotten stronger and certainly more aggressive by the day, and it seems he isn’t even fearful in facing it off with the mighty well-armed SPLA.

The question now becomes: Was the SPLM transparent with the people of South Sudan when it said what it said in the above- mentioned statement? And what excuses does it have for Athor’s unanswered aggression and continued cold-blooded murders of innocent children and women in Upper Nile, Jongolei and Unity states?

WE NEED SOME HONEST ANSWERS.

Underneath it all, the people of South Sudan are in a state of shock, that after battling the “ Jallaba” for over two decades, it’s apparent that the SPLM still has some leaning to do in order to better understand the obvious – which is the fact of the matter that the one and the only language the NCP/ NIF truly understand, is literally, the confrontational language, which they have mustered to the letter.

But, armed with the whole truth over the involvement and the continuation of the NCP and its Southern culprits in smearing our nation, one would think that this must be the time to put an end to the so-called “sugarcoating” and political correctness. Now, it isn’t only necessary, but also legitimate to confront this aggression by any means possible, in order to protect the interests of the people of South Sudan.

However, the title of this article doesn’t necessarily mean calling for a war, as much as it’s to persuade the SPLM to send a clear message to the North. That message should be pure and simple. If you (the North) continue to undermine our security, we, too, will undermine yours. Also, the SPLM should make it very clear to the NCP that it will officially and openly rallies its support and resources behind our comrades in Dafur, Angassana Hills, East and the Blue Nile, respectively.

The second phase should be for the SPLM to back its words with actions, and not just stick to the same old rhetoric of giving futile threats, but only to soften up a few days later.

Quite frankly, if the SPLM shows the NCP its true color, and what it’s inclined of, I can really and truly guarantee you that anything and everything will be running very smoothly, and for a host of good reasons: One of which, is the fact that the last thing the NCP “ Pit Bulls” bullies would ever wanted to do, is going into a warfare in all directions, which will ultimately lead to unprecedented defeat, and subsequently, the destruction of what they have looted from the people of Sudan ( both in the South and the North), for the last couple of decades and counting.

And by the same token, they won’t dare seeing some of their leaders – including al Basher, being fallen at the hands of the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), Judge Luis Moreno Ocampo.

There’s a saying in America that goes: “ If you can’t stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen.”

That being said, if the current SPLA commanders aren’t able to eliminate the renegade George Athor Deng, and bring about the much needed security and stability to the territory, then, may be someone else should pick up the baton.

Undoubtedly, the NCP and the NIF would welcome a government run by its allies in South Sudan, so that the life line (oil revenue) continues to pure in without any discrepancies. But make no mistake about, the people of South Sudan will not be fooled again this time around.

The author is the Vice President of the Sudanese Journalists Union in the USA, and a former anchorman at Juba Radio. He can be reach at: lukedak@hotmail.com.

Fair management of public expenditure

By Zechariah Manyok Biar

March 23, 2011 — In every government all over the world, development takes place only when there are clear plans for developmental activities. Good plans in themselves are not enough in achieving sustainable development. There must be commitment to the laid-down plans in every institution in the government. The implementation of plans is what matters. And the better way of the implementation of plans is to ensure that there is fair management of public expenditure.

Fair management of public expenditure should be result-oriented in order to meet the requirement of good governance. The Government of the Republic of South Sudan is now leaning on this direction.

There is a three-year plan going on now under the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning in the Government of Southern Sudan in preparation for the new state of South Sudan. This three-year plan meets the element of fair public expenditure in good governance, at least in theory now. The plan becomes practical in July this year after the full independence of the Republic of South Sudan.

At the level of theory, the plan is looking into the priorities of the government. These priorities consider the relevance, applicability, sustainability and effectiveness of program areas in various sectors. For the plan to be result-oriented, it considers inputs, activities, outputs, and the immediate outcomes within the next three years.

It is exciting when one follows the process of the above mentioned plan, but the problem will come at the level of implementation. Bad governance does not mean that leaders do not know good plans. They know them but are often reluctant to implement them as they are planned. Researchers believe that the problem in low-income societies or governments is that the practice of results-oriented public expenditure management is very rare.

The implementation that conceals the policy objectives can easily derail from the intended goal, leading to unwanted expenditure of public funds and obscure the policies on their true budgetary costs. In good governance, implementers of plans respect financial procedures in order to produce their intended results. This is the only way that public administration can be more efficient and effective.

The procedures of implementation should always be guided by the objectives of the plan which are clear and precise on the results expected of each employee and service provider. In this case, personal responsibilities are needed. Any institution, whether public or private, pays its workers because of what they do for the institution. It is a waste of money if individuals who do nothing are paid for doing nothing.

Some people may argue that the workers in the Government of Southern Sudan do not do what is expected of them sometimes because they do not have any idea on how to do it, since we just came out of the bush. This could be true, but it is still not an excuse for spending public money on individuals who do not do what is expected of them.

There are solutions to the above mentioned situation. One of the solutions is job training that helps the government make sure that every employee knows what is expected of him or her. Workers are not just needed to do what they are told to do; they are also expected to plan on how to maximize performances in their respective areas of responsibilities. These plans do not need the President, the Vice President, the Ministers, or the Governors to do them. They are works of directors and managers.

Directors or managers in various service areas should not stick to one-side-fit-it-all style. They must be flexible, creative, and innovate to seek efficiency in the improvements of services. They must be realistic in the choosing of their target areas of activities and periodically review their functionality so that they identify and remove deficiencies in the structure of incentives. Without a continuous assessment, nothing could be achieved. Remedial actions take place only where there are assessments.

The problem we have now in the Government of Southern Sudan is that contracts are given to contractors with so little amount of assessment that they either do a very poor job like the roads that we see in some states or they do not move further enough to convince the public on whether it was worth spending a particular amount of money on a particular project. Some of these contractors are enriching themselves at the expense of public because of deficiencies in our system.

In order for our Government to ensure fair management of public expenditure, a clear procedure of assessment should be put in place to identify underperformance in any project in order to terminate such a contract and look for alternative service providers. Those who perform above expectations must often be rewarded to encourage underperformers do better job.

Zechariah Manyok Biar, BA. Edu., MACM, MSSW. He can be reached at manyok34@gmail.com

Can corruption be minimized in South Sudan?

“What matters most in life is not the amount of property or wealth you leave behind; but the number of lives you have transformed into better life through your service”. (Source unknown)

By Deng Riek Khoryoam, South Sudan

March 14, 2011 — The revelations by the whistle-blower website, the wiki leaks last year, are a big blow to some African countries; especially those that were on the road to re-establishing themselves as democratic nations, and who were striving to also restore the tarnished image and reputation in the eye of their citizenry and that of the world.

According to these revelations, Kenya, our sisterly neighboring country was said to be the most corrupt country in the horn of Africa, though it’s not the only country to get such rating for good or bad reasons. Kenya should be consoled that it’s not the only country to fall under this unfortunate predicament or labeling, especially in the horn of Africa, there are many others too. Even though there are a lot of controversies surrounding these revelations and the fact that it exposed such corrupt countries; the veracity and credibility of these revelations cannot be denied altogether!

Talking about corruption, I am reminded of a very powerful encounter I had with one immigration officer at Juba international airport, in South Sudan, last year. I was travelling to Nairobi for my exams when the immigration officer (his name withheld) shamelessly asked for money after stamping my passport on exit to the foreign country. However, this was not the first time this had happened; they used to take money for exit visa from me and every other South Sudanese, who frequently travel abroad, so business was just as usual.

That day I decided to inquire from him as to why I was being charged for exit visa as if I am a foreigner, thus I decided to be hard on him that particular day. I told him point blank that I will not pay the required fee unless he explained to me why I was being charged yet I am a Sudanese or South Sudanese, and whose 10 (now 15%) percent of his monthly income goes to the government every month. The guy became furious with me over my queries, which he saw as non-compliance to their open corrupt practices and exposing them to the general public, hence, I was causing a terrible situation for them since other passengers were keenly listening to our conversation-turned-bitter; at the airport that day. To make matters worse, everytime you give them money for stamping the passport, they don’t give you a receipt as a proof that its something official.

He tried to justify the act by saying that it’s the old system of the Sudan government, which by then used to charge Sudanese nationals for exit visas and that was even during the war; that money was used to help sponsor militias to fight their proxy wars in the South. Then I asked him again, now the war has stopped, after the CPA was signed and the government of Southern Sudan was accorded self-rule, (though part of the old Sudan); with its own sources for revenues collection as clearly defined by the constitutions.

The logical question that I asked him was: which militias has the government of Southern Sudan been supporting using the illegally collected money from the Southern Sudanese at JIA? The guy paused for a minute and decided not to answer the question but instead argued saying if I am not satisfied with the indignant treatment then I should go and raise the complaint with the parliament. He decided to let go of me and gave back the 50 dollars to me.

Corruption, with all its forms, has been the common practice and the order of day’s business in our government in the South over the last five or six years of the interim period. Millions of dollars was found put into the coffins as dead bodies being transported back to their foreign countries by the first and former minister of Finance and economic planning – government of southern Sudan. The same thing happened again with the Dura or grain saga, in which millions of dollars were also lost in corruption spree by the second minister of finance, his cronies and the dubious companies claiming to have delivered the food to the ten states of Southern Sudan. Two million dollars was caught from a certain gentleman in his briefcase at the airport in the UK, which he said was meant for building or setting up embassy there.

Corruption unveiled recently by the international aid agencies or donors in the police force is another serious blow. They’ve now threatened to withhold their money for lack of accountability and transparency, marred by corruption in the ministry of internal affairs led by Gier Chuang and his inspector general of police, Acuil Tito. Corruption is also prevalent in various government departments in South Sudan. But what is worrying is that no one implicated in corruption –related crimes has ever been taken to court to answer charges, except for the innocent Josephine Lagu, the former undersecretary in the ministry of education who was incriminated to have been involved in the scandalous act of diverting students’ money into private account in Uganda. She was later acquitted of all the charges brought against her by the court!

The two former finance ministers are just moving freely in Juba and are getting maximum protection by their kinsmen, if not the state. We are not trying to paint a grim picture of our government but we have to be open and honest and hold the government to account, as responsible citizens of this nation in the making!

With all that mentioned afore, the only question a concerned and sound-minded person may ask is: can corruption be minimized in South Sudan, given the magnitude? In my view, yes, it can be minimized. But only if people are committed to the rule of law; that is no one should be above the law and only if we adopt the culture of constitutionalism. If laws are followed or enforced then we can be sure that this could be minimized to a certain lower degree. We are not talking about total eradication of this social vice - because it’s nearly impossible to eradicate it, we can only minimize it.

Corruption poses a serious challenge to socio-economic development and impoverishes citizen’s lives. We can attest it to lack of service delivery over the last five years or so and this is undeniable fact. It also undermines democracy and good governance by subverting formal legal processes like we’d seen during the last general elections in 2010. It seriously undermines the legitimacy of any government and its democratic values such as trust and political tolerance needed for viability of the state. Given the corruption of the highest order in the government of Southern Sudan, could one be wrong to assert that this is Kleptocracy? Which literally means ”rule by thieves” because it’s like no one is clean in the current government, they all dipped their fingers into it.

A practical example is that of the Nile Commercial Bank (NCB), which was liquidated by the big shoots in 2009 due to exgratia payments of loans. The top echelons of government took advantage of Kiir’s administration inertia to rigorously fight corruption and to honor his words. His slogans such as “determined to fight corruption” zero tolerance to corruption” towards South Sudan free of corruption, etc” are wonderful but wanting. This is also known as neologism Kleptocracy! Is Kiir a man of his words? I doubt! Because if these slogans/words (bearing his photos in the billboards) were translated into action then, we wouldn’t be talking about corruption now; perhaps may be about other things, unless one is not in his rightful mind.

In conclusion, there is no dispute on the fact that corruption is deeply entrenched into our system, be it blood system or government system, we have seen it over the years. We need to acknowledge the fact that we cannot totally eradicate it as has been on the lips of many people – government officials included, it can only be minimized. Giving someone a position because he/she is a close relative to you, which is called nepotism, other than on ability it’s a form of corruption. Giving positions to people based on royalty other than ability is called patronage, and it’s also a form of corruption; a case in point is the SPLM accommodating its comrades based on royalty and not on ability to do. Issuing contracts illegally to friends’ companies is called cronyism and it’s also a form of corruption, and other nefarious activities e tc.

So my humble view and opinion, I would opine that we adhere to the rule of law as the only central pillar of good governance in the new nation. We need to establish strong institutions and strengthen the already existing ones. Parliament as the government’s watchdog and law-making organ of the government needs to re-double efforts in order to fight and minimize corruption. The laws are and have been there but the only thing missing is: who to enforce them? Even the interim constitution of Southern Sudan, currently under review shall not realize its fundamental objectives if our leaders continue to be hubris on the supreme law of the land.

It will need constant nurturing by the people of goodwill! We would be lying unto our good self were we to say that we want corruption to be totally eradicated, it’s nearly impossible, if not completely impossible!

The author is a concerned Southern Sudanese living in South Sudan. He can be reached at driakfangak@hotmail.com

The reasons to revolt in northern Sudan

By Osman El-Hassan

March 13, 2011 — Lord Cromer, the author of the condominium agreement between Egypt and Britain in 1899, described the birth of the new country, Sudan, as a “child of opportunism”, saying that the child might “eventually die”. It will be noted in our history books that a group of not more than 1,000 faceless*, almost alien, men descended on Sudan one dark night, killed democracy and tolerance first and then finished up by slicing the country apart, vindicating Lord Cromer’s cynical prophecy.

Now, following the referendum on 9 January 2011, the remaining Sudanese people in the north, in addition to their great sadness at seeing their country split up, have been promised more economic hardship, more flogging, amputation and stoning by the current government in the north. Those who dare to protest, speak out, or complain will be met by merciless force and subjected to harsher treatment. Our religion will be Islam, our language will be Arabic, there will be no diversity of ethnicity or religion as we will all be declared Arab. No one knows what we have done to deserve such a fate and such pathologically cruel rulers – maybe this is our hell without knowing it!

The economic budget’s objective for 2011 is simple, let the poor eat cake or nothing; it is all about the protection of those in power. More than SDG5 billion has been allocated for the security sector (police, army and National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS)) with the NISS alone receiving over SDG1 billion, while the health sector has received a meager SDG445 million, and education about SDG500 million. With the anticipated reduction in the oil revenue in July 2011, the ordinary Sudanese people, mostly poor, will be expected to pay the cost of being badly governed. Currently an estimated 6 million are employed in the government and private sector. The rest of the population are left to fend for themselves in the form of “cannibal capitalism” where the state, at all levels, literally feeds itself off the sweat and the hard work of the remaining 12-14 million self-employed.

On 20 June 2010, UNICEF called on Sudan to increase the budget for children’s welfare, as about 3.6 million children in Sudan, the highest in Sub-Saharan Africa, were reportedly out of school, either due lack of infrastructure, a shortage of trained teachers, or existing cultural barriers. Only 1% of Sudan’s Gross Domestic Product is reportedly dedicated to the education sector.

In 2010, Transparency International ranked Sudan at 172, seventh from the bottom, while Tunisia and Egypt ranked 59 and 98 respectively. All the checks and balances that are supposed to be in place to minimize corruption are non-existent; strong parliament, independent judiciary, good anti-corruption agency, vigorous law enforcement, as well as free and independent media and a vibrant civil society.

In Sudan, corruption spreads from the top, permeating every level of society. The ruling party controls over 166 companies at least, most of them working in the oil, telecommunication, construction, banking and import and export sectors. The General Auditor’s report of 2010 noted that a total of 106 out of 237 government’s department have not submitted their annual reports – including 14 ministries, also many government officials issue decrees to establish companies while completely disregarding the law or conflict of interests. Ali Hassan Ahmed al-Bashir and Abdella Hassan Ahmed al-Bashir, the president’s younger siblings, own at least 22 companies under the umbrella of the Hi-Tech group. Their activities range from telecommunication, oil, construction, pharmaceuticals, trade, industry, mining, and services. The two brothers were virtually unknown in business circles before 1989, but their company now holds shares in SUDATEL (Sudanese Telecom Company) 9%, Higleig Petroleum Services and Investment Co. 16.47%, Alwaseed Aluminum 47%, and Giad Industrial City 43%.

Furthermore, to protect his grip on power, al-Bashir has introduced a deadly African tradition that has always ended in disaster – Rawanda (Habyarrimana), Congo (Mobutu), Liberia (Samuel Doe) and now Libya – as he increasingly relies on a number of elite military and police units, such as the Security Special Force, commanded by a select group of officers from al-Bashir’s own relatives and tribe which he rewards with high pay and perks.

Any of the above is a credible cause for you to explode, however, the struggle against such regime should not be only about food prices, unemployment, corruption, torture in prison and rape, or to stop war crimes in Darfur, as grave as they may be. A common thread runs through all this calling us to; restore the nation’s dignity. You can’t find a job, you can’t find food, you can’t speak your mind, you beg for school’s fees for your children, you beg to treat your father and mother, in airports around the world you are treated like a terrorist, your country dismembered, and you are helplessly watching war criminals bragging about their crimes. In short this is a calculated humiliation. The journalist Fathi Al Daw also noted in his recent article that, “the code word that could reignite revolution in Sudan is ‘dignity’”. Those who were, and still are, humiliated in Sudan include; “you, your father, daughter, son, mother, uncle, friends, neighbors, acquaintances, it is the whole country”, stressed Fathi Al Daw.

As many similar regimes are crumbling in the region through popular revolt, the question in Sudan is not about “if” but “when and how?”. The game that the people cleverly mastered in Tunisia and Egypt is more like a chess game which ended in a checkmate for their kings. However, in Sudan, as in Libya now, we need to act differently than this because our faceless rulers are more callous and morally inferior; if they perceive that their end is imminent they will overturn the chessboard. They stop at nothing to protect themselves. The best chance we could have with this bunch is to play Spanish-style bullfighting, although it is dangerous for the players, the raging beast will be slain at the end. Meanwhile, we should continue with a “plucking the bird” strategy, as one USA General remarked on the Somalian situation, “take one feather at a time, one day the bird will not be able to fly”.

More importantly, we all know revolution will not just happen in Sudan because it happens in other places, we have done it twice before, 1964 and 1985, without help or inspiration from other people. It might happen again, but in our own time. Please do not despair, of course we have thousands of reasons to revolt to get rid of our nightmare, but remember Martin Luther King once said (quoting the abolitionist Theodore Parker), “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward just.”

* According to Ali Al Haj, one of the six Islamist leaders who had plotted the coup of 1989, that “there are only 1,000 people participated in the coup, 80% were civilians.”

The author can be reached at lastnmail@gmail.com

The Urgency of Implementing the South Sudan Research Council Act

By Jane Kani Edward

March 13, 2011 — Since the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement between the Government of Sudan and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement in January 2005, and the subsequent formation of the two Governments - Government of National Unity and the Government of Southern Sudan respectively, many foreign and national researchers, journalists, consultants, as well as research and academic institutions descended to Southern Sudan. The intentions of these foreign and national entities are to conduct research, collect information, as well as implement programs ranging from service delivery, organizing workshops, conferences and seminars on a host of issues such as capacity building, good governance, public service reform, women and gender issues, transitional justice, food security, etc.

Despite the fact that these activities and research projects and findings in particular, might be useful in influencing and guiding government policies, however, the goal and intent of conducting research in the South is neither clearly defined and articulated nor transparent. Similarly, research methodologies, ethical issues related to consent, confidentiality, and safety of research participants, as well as the impact and benefit of the research outcome were and are still not clearly defined, regulated and monitored by the Government of Southern Sudan. This lack of regulatory measures of research activities in Southern Sudan is partly due to the absence of a government-led institution responsible for reviewing, regulating and monitoring research projects, programs and activities of those individuals, research and academic institutions operating in the society.

The absence of government regulations related to research activities in the South, often might result in the production and dissemination of distorted and/or Eurocentric knowledge that do not reflect the societal realities of Southern Sudan and its people. Such knowledge might also lead to designing of government policies and programs that do not meet the needs and aspirations of the people of Southern Sudan, but rather fulfills the intentions, and agendas of those involved in such research activities and programs.

The people of Southern Sudan will soon embark on the formation of an independent state. It becomes crucial to minimize such misrepresented and distorted knowledge base and to accelerate the process of implementing the Southern Sudan Research Council Act (SSRC Act 2007) so as to address some of the aspects outlined above. The implementation of the SSRC Act 2007 is urgently needed to tackle some of the challenges facing the field of social and scientific research in Southern Sudan which is currently struggling to cope with the changing global knowledge production, inventions, issues, and challenges of the twenty first century.

The SSRCA Act 2007 came into being after a long process of engagement and planning by some officials of various institutions of the Government of Southern Sudan as early as 2006. After numerous meetings and discussions, the final draft of the Southern Sudan Research Council Bill was first tabled and read in the Southern Sudan Legislative Assembly (SSLA) on Wednesday September 26, 2007. The Bill went through second and final readings in the SSLA in mid-November 2007 and passed on 26th of November 2007. It was signed into an Act by the First Vice President of Sudan and President of the Government of Southern Sudan on December 26, 2007. The purpose of the SSRC Act is to establish and manage the Southern Sudan Research Council as an independent public institution. Some of the most important objectives of the Act are related to issues of setting standards, priorities, regulations, and evaluation and validation of research activities, methodologies, scholarship and teaching programs in the South. Therefore, I urge, the Government of Southern Sudan to take an immediate action to implement the SSRC Act in order to enforce standards and regulations of research activities in Southern Sudan.

Dr. Jane Kani Edward is Director of African Immigration Research, & Post-Doctoral Fellow, Department of African and African American Studies, Fordham University. She is the Author of Sudanese Women Refugees: Transformations and Future Imaginings, 2007, & numerous articles. She can be reached at kanilado@yahoo.ca

Southern Sudanese Forces Repulse Rebel Attack Linked to a Renegade Politician

KAMPALA, Uganda — Hundreds of rebels invaded one of southern Sudan’s largest cities on Saturday, leaving more than 20 people dead and adding to a litany of security concerns across the region as it prepares for independence.

Rebel forces loyal to a renegade soldier who was said to be linked to a southern Sudanese politician attacked the town of Malakal in Upper Nile State, near the border with northern Sudan, at 3 a.m. Saturday, firing on the market and battling with the southern Sudanese military before being driven out.

“The militia infiltrated the town at night, and they started shooting,” said Col. Philip Aguer, a spokesman for the southern army.

An ensuing firefight with southern military forces left at least 23 rebels dead and four army soldiers wounded, though civilian casualties were not yet known.

The fighting appeared to have resumed on Saturday evening.

The southern army says the militia, known as the Olony-Lam Akol group, is linked to the politician Lam Akol, a former high-ranking officer in the southern army from the ethnic Shilluk group, who was once Sudan’s foreign minister and is now the chairman of a breakaway faction of the south’s governing party.

“They believe that they have to fight with the government of southern Sudan to get what they want, and we don’t know what it is they want,” said Peter Lam Both, minister of information for Upper Nile State.

Southern Sudanese celebrated in January after approving a referendum on independence from the north, bringing generations of civil war to an end.

Since the vote, though, a troubling picture is being painted of the soon-to-be-country’s security.

With vast, empty expanses of land, little infrastructure and tens of thousands of soldiers who were meant to be demobilized but never gave up their guns, clashes and rebellions have broken out across the region, a new one erupting nearly every week, often with a different enemy.

In February, militias loyal to Gabriel Tang, a rebel general, fought with southern soldiers near Malakal, killing more than 50 people.

In Jonglei State, near Malakal, clashes with another rebel general, George Athor, have left hundreds dead.

In Abyei, more than 100 people died in recent clashes, and a village was razed.

On Saturday, a nun in a Catholic church in Malakal described the atmosphere as terrifying. “There is very little movement around town, the market is completely closed, there are many, many soldiers,” she said in a telephone interview. She spoke on condition of anonymity because she feared retribution against her church.

As she spoke, explosions could be heard, and she said shooting had started again in the early evening.

She said the militia had links to the local Shilluk group, one of the largest ethnic groups in southern Sudan, who she said felt marginalized by the southern government, particularly in terms of employment. “Tribal elements,” she said, could “explode.”

Despite the clashes, Colonel Aguer said that the region was secure, but that the northern government was trying to destabilize the south, and had been supporting the various militias.

Reuters reported Saturday that the southern Sudanese government had accused the north of plotting to overthrow the southern government and had suspended talks with the north. The south has also started to search for new routes for its valuable oil.

Signs of Razing in Contested Part of Sudan

GOMA, Democratic Republic of the Congo — As violence increases before southern Sudan’s expected independence this summer, a satellite image emerged of a razed village in the contested region of Abyei, offering a rare glimpse of fighting there.

Multimedia

Whitened ash is all that remains of several hundred buildings that burned to the ground in the village, Tajalei, satellite imagery taken on Sunday shows. A mix of charred areas and untouched ground suggested an intentional assault.

Tajalei is at least the third village in the Abyei area to be attacked since Feb. 27, when fighting broke out after a rebel militia aligned with Arab nomads attacked villages and the police, southern officials said. The officials said that more than 100 people had died in the clashes, including many police officers.

Control of Abyei, a region with elements of both Arab and African culture, remains one of the most difficult issues to be resolved between the north and south, both of which claim the land.

The satellite image recalled scenes from Sudan’s long civil war, when southern Sudanese villages were regularly razed by marauding Arab militias from the north. Abyei town was burned to the ground during north-south clashes in 2008.

The north, which armed militias during the civil war, is now accused of supplying Arab militias in the border area in an effort to weaken the southern government. The north has said that southern officials have no evidence of its current involvement in the instability around Abyei.

The United Nations on Monday acknowledged the episode in Tajalei, but said officials could not get to the village to verify what had happened.

The image was provided by the Satellite Sentinel Program, an advocacy group conceived by the actor George Clooney in coordination with the Enough Project. The group said the image was evidence that the north was trying to destabilize the country.

“Satellite imagery combined with on-the-ground analysis is pointing to a deliberate attempt to subvert peace,” said John Prendergast, a co-founder of the Enough Project. “If mediators and concerned governments acquiesce to this strategy, it would legitimize local population-clearing efforts and would be a recipe for a wider war.”

Abyei residents and the Satellite Sentinel Project say the Tajalei attackers were Arab nomads known as Misseriya, accused of being backed by the northern government.

Officials in Abyei said that the police had received warning of a planned attack on Tajalei and that they had evacuated its roughly 2,000 residents, many of whom headed to Abyei town, on Friday. The next day the attackers came, setting the town ablaze, the officials said in telephone interviews.

Officials said a mentally handicapped resident had died; the United Nations said it had not independently confirmed the casualty.

Abyei residents said the recent fighting in the villages of Maker and Todach had left them more vulnerable.

During the fighting there “we lost many police,” Akanon Ajuong, a resident of Abyei town, said in a telephone interview. “That is why in Tajalei we didn’t have enough police to defend the people.”

“They destroyed the police station, some tukul huts and watering holes for animals,” Mr. Ajuong said.

“Right now it is O.K.,” he added, “but maybe they will attack again.”

The United Nations said Monday that it could not confirm the details of the attack in Tajalei, particularly who the attackers were.

“We sent out a patrol to verify the facts on the ground, but the patrol was not permitted to get to the village, where the bulk of the houses allegedly were,” said Hua Jiang, a United Nations spokeswoman in Sudan.

She added that it was southern Sudanese forces, not northerners, who were restricting access to the site. “We are going to make another attempt tomorrow,” she said.

In more violence in the south, 56 people were killed Sunday in clashes between militia and southern soldiers in Upper Nile state, according to Reuters.