By Dr. James Okuk
May 20, 2010 (SSNA) — Can a de facto referendum (whether for unity or separation) managed by an illegitimate government in the South be legitimate and durable if it is not recognized by the people and their other political forces in the context of genuine democratic transformation? I don’t think so because the people may not accept to go for any fake kind of referendum whose winners or losers shall be declared by the SPLM and NCP in the same way they did to last elections in defiance to the genuine votes of the people.
The IGAD and its partners and friends from the international community knew that it is only through genuine democratic transformation that the referendum could be seen as a success, both de jure and de facto. Referendum itself is part of democracy and there is no way you can subordinate democracy to save or rather serve the referendum.
When a confident political party or an individual goes for elections, they are supposed to avoid temptation of riggings and other irregularities. This did not happen, especially with the SPLM in Southern Sudan. As a consequence the legitimacy of the very so-called elected Kiir and other SPLM candidates remains contested.
That is why no single country from the known democratic entities within the international community congratulated Kiir for his fake victory. They only congratulated the people for going out to vote peacefully although their votes were not given a value to speak for who is chosen to be a leader with confidence and public mandate of representation. The votes of the very people got spoiled by the madness of riggings. This became bad news to germination of genuine seeds of democratic transformation in the country.
Thus, even if Kiir forms his government today without a final court ruling regarding the objection levied against his victory, his declared government shall still be considered illegitimate government. If such a government attempts to manage the referendum, that referendum may be considered illegitimate too.
Any legitimate government is supposed to be both de facto and de jure at the same time. A government that lacks legitimacy is not supposed to conduct the referendum because this shall be contradictory to democratic transformation.
So the real question for the public in Southern Sudan now is not "what to make and do about the de facto government in Juba in these circumstances?" because they have lived with this government and know how it behaves.