By Dr. James Okuk
April 13, 2010 (SSNA) — The rigging of elections by force in Southern Sudan that has been carried out by SPLM candidates and supporters in some constituencies should never be taken lightly by Hon. Abel Alier and his staff of the National Elections Commission (NEC). Tough measures should be taken immediately to disqualify the ballot boxes in stations in which the rigging was witnessed so that the cheaters are punished for their wrong actions and for future deterrent lessons.
The number of votes in the suspected ballot boxes should be compared with the officially registered voters who turned out to cast their votes in the stations where rigging took place. If it is found out that the voting papers in those boxes are more than the turned-out voters in the registry of the constituency, then such kind of rigged boxes should be declared null and void without any compromise. The good thing is that the counting of votes shall take place in the very stations where the voters came in to cast their choice of the preferred leaders.
Thereafter, new polling and counting should be conducted in such spoiled centers under intensive observation and scrutiny before the winners of the elections are announced officially. Any cheating winner even if he is Mr. Salva Kiir should be declared a loser. Otherwise, the process will end up in ‘Kenyanization’ where AU or UN mediators shall rush in to strike a deal of Government of Southerners Unity that shall include all the divergent candidates whose non-recognition of SPLM winners are proven legitimate. Is this Kenyan style of Kibaki-Raila’s democracy what we want to achieve in South Sudan after the decades of our struggles? No and No and No!!!
In the course of the implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), I always remind myself of a philosophical wisdom I learnt in my university lectures on ethics and morals that “lesser evils should be allowed sometimes if the end-results is greater good for the people.” This ethical principle was developed by Christian intellectual clergy men like St. Augustine of Hippo, St. Thomas Aquinas, etc., and given the name: Principle of Double Effect. This principle has saved many human societies from catastrophes as it allowed reasonable compromises on many contentious issues and conflicts. Above all, this principle has been the mother of success of many negotiations and common-interests calculations worldwide.
I am so glade that Dr. Lam Akol Ajawain, Hon. Bona Malual and some other wise Southern politicians have been applying this principle in handling the arrogant SPLM/SPLA leaders and blind supporters during the process of the general elections; right down from the voter registration across the campaign period to the polling stage that has been mixed with shameless irregularities and rigging as witnessed in some constituencies in Southern Sudan. I don’t have a doubt that these savvy politicians and true sons of Southern Sudan will continue to handle the bad SPLM politicians and some indiscipline SPLA military men using this prudent ethical principle until the greatest good has been achieved for South Sudan. Nothing is so disturbing for the concerned Southerners at this critical moment than the possible spoiling of the dignity from the genuine right of self-determination for her beloved people of Southern Sudan in the 2011 referendum.
Some wrong SPLA elements who have been misbehaving and meddling on civilian affairs during this elections process couldn’t grasp, so far and so bad, why Dr. Lam Akol refused to withdraw or boycott the elections despites its unfairness even to the extent of not allowing him to vote for himself in the South; leave alone his massive supporters. If Mr. Salva Kiir and his arrogant supporters and Security/SPLA agents were in place of Dr. Lam Akol as elections proceeds now with many SPLM rigging manifestation, they could have declared war immediately. This could have affected the polling stations and nullified the whole democratic exercise in the expense of the 2011 plebiscite. May the almighty God gives Dr. Lam long life and more wisdom for keeping the common interest of the people of Southern Sudan high above his shoulders. Nothing keeps a politician greater than keeping greatest the common good of the people!!!
When a savvy and confident politician goes into a democratic competition in an elections period, he/she considers both possibilities of gain or lost. Mr. Candidate, Salva Kiir Mayardit, has been saying during his campaign rallies in Greater Upper Nile and Juba that if he fails he will fall with/on Dr. Riek Machar. Why does he talk of failing in election if he is sure of winning it? Why does Mr. Kiir allow his security/SPLA agents and indiscipline supporters to harass and intimidate the supporters of Dr. Lam and his Southerners team if he (Mr. Kiir) is confident that the people are happy with his rule?
This Mr. Kiir’s developed attitude is bad news in the journey of democratic transformation the SPLM has been advocating for under the slogans of the so-called New Sudan. But does Mr. Candidate Kiir and the group care of achieving the mission of New Sudan vision these days with the elections fever? No, otherwise Mr. Kiir would have not disvalued the SPLM Northern Sector and disowned Mr. Pagan Amum Okiech and Mr. Yassir Saeed Arman.
Until now, it cannot be told absolutely who is going to win the elections between Dr. Lam and Mr. Kiir if no SPLM-rigging and cheating on the people’s votes is taking place in the South with the help of the NEC. It should have been only the counted votes that could have confirmed to the whole world who is to be a leader of the people, by the people, with the people and for the people. If some of the boxes have been rigged in order to make Mr. Kiir win by fraudulence, Dr. Lam Akol and his supporters and allies in the South should never recognize the stolen government of Mr. Kiir and the group. And if this non-recognition becomes the order of the day, surely, Mr. Kiir and the group shall never sit comfortably in the wrong public chairs they try to occupy by military force and theft of votes.
Not only this, but also even if Mr. Salva Kiir has to become the President of the GoSS after elections without recognition by Dr. Lam and his supporters, he shall have a minority SPLM members in the parliaments of the GoSS and of the states across the South. He shall also have minority of SPLM governors in the states across the South. Thus, he shall find it very difficult to form his government because he needs the approval of the majority in the parliament to pass his list of cabinet and other agenda or program. This hitching situation alone shall oblige Mr. Kiir to beg for cooperation and collaboration with the opposition in the GoSS parliament and the Southern states if ever he wins the elections fairly.
On the other, Dr. Lam Akol shall be in a better position whether as the President of the GoSS or the Chairman of the leaders of the opposition in the GoSS and Southern states parliaments because the winners of the SPLM-DC, the Alliance of Southern Political Parties, and the majority of the Independent Candidates have already forged a common understanding with him during the elections contest. This is a bitter truth the naive SPLM leaders and supporters need to know before they get shocked by this hard reality soon after the announcement of winners by the NEC. Let them not make a mistake of declaring state of emergency or stupidity of military coup.
*Dr. James Okuk is a concerned Southerner for genuine democratic change in the beloved country-in-the-waiting, reachable at email@example.com