By Dr. James Okuk
January 9, 210 (SSNA) — The critical mentality will immediately ask me here: But are you sure Dr. Salva Kiir has been nominated by the Politburo of his SPLM political party to run for the presidential position of the Government of Southern Sudan (GoSS)? But I will reply, assuring that I’m not answering with absolute certainty but only a realistic hypothesis based on many indications pointing to Mr. Kiir’s running for GoSS presidential seat in April 2010 general elections. One of the clues is Kiir’s disinterest to gain popular support in Northern Sudan as he has never bothered himself to appear to all parts of the Sudan as a possible national leader like late Dr. John Garang. Also Kiir has been so excellent in confining himself to Southern Sudan (Juba, Yei, etc.) and neglecting his national duties in the Gordon Palace in Khartoum. The pulpit of Catholic Church Kator Cathedral in Juba also gives some clues from Kiir’s several political sermons to the faithful who went there to pray in that house of God on Sundays and other occasions.
Thus, in this article I have decided to focus and speculate on the possibility of the National Elections Commission (NEC) rejecting Kiir’s nomination to the GoSS Presidency in reference to the conditions required in accordance with the 2008 Elections Act and the Interim Constitution of the Sudan with its corollary, the Interim Constitution of Southern Sudan. The motive here is not trouble-shooting as some narrow-minded political proponents of Kiir might think. It is rather a refresher alert so that those who seem to take the open political possibilities for granted (including Kiir himself) are not taken by surprise if my hypothesis turns out to become a theory for practice, once it stood unfalsified by the unfolding political events in the country.
According to the NEC nomination procedures for April 2010 general elections, any person shall be eligible for nomination as a candidate for the office of President of the GoSS in accordance with the provisions of the Interim Constitution, provided that he/she shall satisfy the following qualifications: a) be a Sudanese (‘by birth’ has been removed); b) be of sound mind; c) be at least forty years of age; d) be literate; and e) not have been convicted of an offence involving honesty or moral turpitude.
Also according the NEC, applications shall be submitted starting from Tuesday, 12/01/2010 until Friday, 22/01/2010, from nine (09:00) a.m. to five (17:00) p.m. including holidays. The Sudanese aspiring for the presidential seat of GoSS shall need signatures of Ten thousand eligible and registered voters from at least seven of the Southern Sudan states, with no less than two hundred voters from each state for nomination secondment. In addition, Article 43/3 of the Elections Act provides for the deposit of five thousand Sudanese Pounds (an approximate equivalent of US$ 2,000) for nomination to democratic contest for this highest office in the South. This fund is refundable if the candidate secures more than ten per cent of the valid votes cast, or if the candidate withdraws at any time forty five days prior to polling day.
After the submission of candidates’ nomination applications, the NEC shall inspect them to ensure that they satisfy the legal conditions. The most prior of these are the following conditions: 1) Commitment to the Comprehensive Peace Agreement; 2) A signed certificate of assets and liabilities for the year prior to the date of nomination including the assets of spouses and children.
After the inspection, the NEC shall publish the list of persons nominated as candidates and the names of those who nominated them and their respective political parties, or independents. Also the NEC shall publish a list of rejected nominations and the reasons for such rejection. All the Sudanese shall have access to the list for any remarks or objections. The person whose nomination application is rejected by the NEC has the right to appeal against the decision to the court within seven days from the publication date. The court shall decide on any objection within a period of seven days from the date of receipt of the objection. The court decision shall be final. Lastly, the NEC shall publish the final list of candidates in the Official Gazette and other mass media inside and outside the Sudan after all objections to the court have been decided. By then, the official campaigns and public rallies by the contestants kick off.
No doubt, Dr. Salva Kiir shall meet all the conditions set by the NEC for the nominated candidates for the GoSS presidential seat or even more (a joke: having participated in the SPLM/A struggle for not less than ten years and without having run to the enemy in Khartoum as a traitor). However, I still want to speculate the possibility that the NEC might disqualify him from contesting the April 2010 general elections in the Sudan. Why? Because I think Honorable judge Abel Alier who chairs the NEC and other colleagues of his, are faithful judicial experts who even don’t regret pronouncing judgments on their mothers if found guilty of legal misconduct and defiance.
The political parties and individuals whose electoral democratic rights have been violated and upset by Kiir’s directives might send their objections to the NEC once they get informed that this Sudanese is amongst the lists of the nominated candidates for GoSS’ presidential seat. Also the constitutional court might object to Kiir’s nomination since he ignored their ruling to declare null and void the 9/11/2009 GoSS official letter that banned the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement – Democratic Change (SPLM-DC) party from the practice of constitutional and democratic rights by its members in the ten states of Southern Sudan.
Other objections from Dr. Kiir’s opponents might pop up too, limiting his chance to get a free ride to second term in GoSS’ presidency. Let me think here of objections regarding corruption spree in the South and the big amount of smuggled money that have been caught in some international airports. On his side, Dr. Salva Kiir shall be presented with tough political options, the less evil of which is to appeal in the competent court and prove himself innocent before the objections levied on his candidacy. The other option is to resort to military threat with an outlaw political conduct that shall create unfavorable and hostile political environment in Southern Sudan for democratic practice within the dictates of the law. Of course, Kiir might get some supporters to trench him against the consequences of acting outside the higher law in the country, the constitution.
But he shall also get opponents to confront him and force him to evacuate the public office in Juba because he supposed to no longer enjoy constitutional immunities and privileges outside the law. He shall be considered a renegade against the national interest and the public good, especially in Southern Sudan. If he tried to take back some SPLA ranks and files to the bush, Kiir shall be reminded of the bitterness of days of the twenty one years of SPLM war. The enlightened SPLA commanders might tell Kiir to keep his hands off the army affairs and resign to his home peacefully even if he takes refuge in Australia or elsewhere. This shall not be regarded as a quo.
Many Southerners and people of the transitional areas and other marginalized parts of the Sudan might not be willing to volunteer fighting under rebellious commandership of Kiir and company. The nostalgic past of the SPLM shall never come back on a golden plate. Things will be different!! The international community, especially the USA politicians/statesmen who are interested in the full implementation of the CPA and the revival of democratic governance in the Sudan shall call upon Kiir to resign peacefully from public affairs in the South or face the wrath of international isolation. They might even ask Luiz Moreno-Ocampo of the ICC to start investigating Kiir’s war history and indict him like Pres. Omer Hassan Al Bashir for atrocities committed in Darfur under his rule in the North. Kiir shall start hiding from public like Joseph Kony of Uganda LRA.
This warning statement from the chief diplomat, the US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, could serve as a valid hint to remind Kiir that even the world is not happy with the current status quo in Southern Sudan under his rule. Marking the fifth anniversary of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) ending Africa’s longest civil war, she said: “There must be no efforts to restrict freedom of speech and assembly and there must be no prohibitions on peaceful protests….Southern Sudan must increase its institutional capacity and prepare to govern responsibly, whether as a semiautonomous region within Sudan or a newly independent nation.”
Is there a serious objection against Kiir’s rule in the South than this diplomatic concern from USA World Power?
The fact that keeps on portraying themselves on the ground are undeniable proofs that under Kiir’s rule, Southern Sudan is becoming a tomb of dignified freedom from insecurity, tribalism, corruption, incompetence and poverty. As far as democratic freedoms are concerned under Kiir’s SPLM, Southern Sudan is being ruled in a style of state of emergency de facto though undeclared de jure. Otherwise, what makes the SPLA security agents to meddle and poke their noses into civilian political affairs regarding political parties’ democratic practices?