We had initially hoped to see some positive changes in the upcoming period, and this was only possible through suffrage as our people would seize that glorious opportunity to express their dissatisfactions by not voting for those who had just been sleeping in parliament at times when crucial debates on issues affecting the community were taking place, which would have shaped their lives and changed for the better. But now to our dismay, it turned out to be something contrary to our expectations! In fact fellow country men and women, the recently concluded polls were just mockery and were a serious blow to our judicial systems which now suffer credibility problems as it has depicted a bag image to the world how deformed the laws are at this time.
In my own opinion, which I don’t know if I share with anybody with regards to elections that had just come to pass, I didn’t see any need at all to have the elections conducted. And there is no way a sound minded person could have expected them to be free and fair in South Sudan given the state of lawlessness in this country-in-the-making!! Hence, the title of this article: Was there a need to conduct the elections under the State of Lawlessness in South Sudan? Of course people have different reasoning capacity, with some who may only look outside the box.
Why I say there was no need to conduct the elections in South Sudan is largely based on the following grounds:
Firstly, the National Election Commission, also known as NEC (but not National Electricity Corporation or NEC) failed to live to its obligations of enforcing the election act 2008 and ensuring that all candidates vying for any political positions across the country comply with the law in words and deeds. The NEC had a legal obligation to have made sure that all meet the conditions and requirements set forth in the legal framework without any exception and distinction as to political stance or favoring one or two political parties more than the others, and to distance itself from the political patronage if it were to remain credible and fair for all.
Unfortunately, we did not see the NEC to have possessed some of those aforementioned qualities in their carrying out of duties in various parts of the country, and this has contributed negatively to the poor conduct of elections. We had witnessed some elements of political parties contesting with uniforms on them as opposed to what the law permits or prohibits. I am not a legal expert and I do not claim to know it better than anyone but I just share with you the little I know and agree or disagree based on the foregoing analysis against what we had seen with our own eyes!
It’s said that if one piece of onion gets spoiled, so the whole sack or bag gets spoiled too. This is in illustration to the chairman of the NEC; the whole thing was made worse and possible by the weakness of the Chairman as he was never impartial in handling these sensitive elections issues, and reference to my article written prior to the start of the election campaign. What the he and his NEC staff did confirmed the worries mentioned in my article: “Questioning the impartiality of NEC, Friday 12, Feb 2010.”
Secondly, SPLM and its political bureau as its kitchen’s cabinet: it was a known fact that SPLM screwed things out of proportion within the party hierarchy, forgetting that people had choices to make when it came to choosing their representatives at various level of governments. They decided to ignore what the masses wanted, and thus created the conflict of interests between the party and the people. The grass-roots received great disappointment from the SPLM Political Bureau (PB) when it opted to be bureaucratic in addition to forgetting that the long suffering people are lacking the needed public services. Failure to the provision of services as well as imposing unwanted leaders (i.e. governors) in some states in Southern Sudan coupled with rampant corruption which became the order of the day for SPLM-led GOSS, were some of the reasons why people wanted to see change so that only those who are popular at grassroots level and who have their support are voted into offices. Alas! The SPLM leaders’ actions were diabolical during the conduct of the elections, something completely devoid of good politics!
It’s worth mentioning that because SPLM and its PB had their parochial interest; and because they then realized that they have miserably lost the support from the people, they had to ignore the candidates of people’s choices. No wonder why SPLM opted to use security parameters and or SPLA forces to unleash fear and to terrorize the people to the point where one would say why should I risk my dear life to vote for the candidate of choice when am being threatened to only cast my vote for particular group of candidates, otherwise the consequences are dire as this completely puts him/her at imminent risk.
And in most cases, the ballot boxes were seized and the papers ticked in favor of SPLM candidates in most polling stations and centers in the South. Other party‘s agents as well as international/national observers were denied access of such centers characterized by lack of transparency and fairness for all other political parties. Thus, the SPLM snatched the popularly garnered votes from the opposition candidates by rigging the results in favor of the SPLM candidates in most parts of Southern Sudan.
The most unfortunate and annoying part was when SPLA, the supposedly national army of South Sudan, was being used to persecute voters who were anti-SPLM candidates. I don’t really know what made them think that they belong to one party in the South and were just executing the order or instructions given to them by the army chief – Mr. Kiir Mayardit who deliberately refused to step down from the army position in order to contest as a politician as the law requires.
Thirdly, there was no or very little civic education done in the South. Prior to the election or polling, people and especially the eligible voters, were supposed to have been informed through a comprehensive civic education so that they are made aware of the complexities surrounding the elections and how to go about it. This would have basically included information on choosing freely who to vote for without any intimidation or violence threat whatsoever. This would have made the so-called elections free and fair. Unfortunately, that did not happen and, especially given the intended weaknesses of the NEC to ensure that rigging and other elections irregularities did not happened. Although am aware of the fact that even if they‘d carried out civic education, and even if people would consciously chose their representatives and voted freely for the leaders of their choice without intimidation, yet the results of the polling would have been snatched from the ones that won or got the majority votes. The SPLM losers would have been declared the winners by all means as we have witnessed recently from the shamelessly announced results by Mr. Abel Alier and his partial NEC.
It isn’t fair for SPLM to keep imposing leaders who are no longer needed by the communities. They are supposed to popularize the party (the SPLM) by endorsing only candidates who are popular at the grassroots levels and not at PB party level, because by so doing, lots of people would overwhelmingly vote for them and make the party democratic. By promoting the PB interests only, I think the SPLM is doing more harm than good to its life-span in near or far future. How will the unpopular SPLM governors and others rule the people successfully when they have not been voted in by the very people they will pretend to rule?
What we experienced was totally different and shocking. As much as we can draw some of what happened as lessons learnt but it was something done purposely by the SPLM and the implications of announcing losers as winners are becoming imminent nowadays as we can hear of some discontented candidates taking law into their hands by attacking SPLA barrack in Upper Nile and some reported to have rebelled against SPLA in Northern Bahr al-Ghazal state. This is an alarming situation, which calls for a number of things to be considered before the situation runs out of control. It seems as SPLM and SPLA are facing popular uprising if some of the rumors and reports we are getting are confirmed true!!
It has become very clear now that Kiir and his SPLM PB sycophants don’t really care about Southern people but about what they get to enrich themselves. Kiir and his SPLM cronies do not have the interest of the people of Southern Sudan at hearts except their own interests. There is no dispute on the fact after the referenda in 2011, and regardless of its outcomes (though I predict on Southern secession), these corrupt officials including Kiir himself shall be dislodged whether they like it or not. They shall have no choice because they have really messed up the systems with incompetence in administering the affairs of the people in South Sudan.
I was completely distraught and could not believe my senses when Taban Deng, Simon Kun, Clement Wani, Paul Malong, Kuol Manyang and other SPLM candidates, even at parliamentary levels, were declared winners when the people knew that they did not get lots of votes. Not many people voted for them, which would have made a ground for getting these positions. Therefore, to me I didn’t see the need to conduct the elections given the fact that those facts presented above were not taken into account and nothing was done about it to curve what happened during the election from happening in the first place and with the shame that the SPLM has shown to the world.
Deng Riak Khoryoam lives in South Sudan, and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org