By Justin Ambago Ramba
May 17, 2010 (SSNA) — One thing for sure is that we in south Sudan will continue to suffer the consequences of having to put up with a government which at the end of the day never genuinely represents the aspirations of the people. It has never been the wish of our people to ever be under a system that made it to office through a rigged election, fraud, and intimidation. Now in spite of all the ascertains from the local, regional and international observes and officials alike, our people will still be served by a system that sprung from deceit, the worst of human vices.
Was it important to have had the past elections in the first place? The answer is simply “YES”. It is what was agreed upon in the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), and went on to become part of our interim constitution. As some people high up in leadership talk about the importance of the referendum scheduled for January 2011, so also was the election an important provision in that agreement document and in that sequence.
If there is anything to gain from the CPA, it should have been the democratic transformation. Even the referendum on south’s self determination is a step within that transformation process, otherwise why would people of south Sudan want to move from one undemocratic system to yet another. Those who have today insulted the intellect of our people under the current status will never by all measurements be loyal to deliver even should south Sudan move into a different setting in the post referendum era. As the traditional African saying goes, “the leopards will never change their spots.”
We have spent many valuable times writing critical articles with the primary aim of empowering our masses so that they can see for themselves that they are being taken for a ride by a bunch of people who though claim to be representing them, yet their sinister intent to dominate, humiliate and thrive at the expense of the helpless and the voiceless can never be ignored as it reaches its climax.
Reflecting on some of the many empty promises made by the incumbent president Salva Kiir during his elections campaigns; one comes face to face with the hard fact that the chief and his crew never kept any of their words. All that was uttered during those long campaigns were not in fact ever meant to represent any genuine campaign and were neither deemed to see light.
Politicians only campaign if they are to convince the electorates for their votes, but they don’t really need one when they had already conspired with their cronies to exploit the state apparatus in order to rig, intimidate and remain in office. Under those circumstances that prevailed in south Sudan in the run for the elections, the SPLM politicians in fact didn’t need to have gone for any campaigns. And if they did, then they were just out there to fool the electorates into the false belief that their choices ever mattered. Unfortunately it didn’t.
Whatever the real elections trends were, today the dominant SPLM party is guilty conscious of forging the peoples will. The US, Britain, Norway, EU, and the Carter Foundation, all say that the entire election was fraudulent. And for sure you will genuinely risk being labelled a hypocrite if you are to come up in defence of the SPLM which claimed victories through fraud and intimidation in almost all the legislative constituencies in south Sudan in spite of the huge evidence presented by the observers.
As a result of SPLM’s irresponsible behaviours that abused the basic code of conduct signed by all the political parties which called for neutrality of the state apparatus during the voting process in south Sudan, our people are now being forced to put up with the most impotent of all political status quos and that is a widely rigged legislative assemblies, who lack the genuine mandate to act on behave of the people. And one can even argue that the previously appointed institutions that existed immediately following the agreement were even more appealing as they were relevant to the circumstances that led to their formation and composition.
How shameful would it be for a politician who in fact made it to the public office through a massive fraud and a regrettable public intimidation, to turn around and preach for a free and fair referendum? Can such a politician ever be taken to have a clear understanding of the true meaning of the words” Free and Fair”, leave alone if they actual believe in freedom and fairness in the first place, given the fact that they themselves violated these very noble values just a few weeks back?
No one at this stage in the history of our struggle should disillusion themselves into thinking that whoever are now in the leadership seats are really there at the wish of the people. Equally so, none should underestimate the political crisis that the fraudulent elections have already dragged us into. We are all aware that mood wise, south Sudan is back to square one.
Many foreign observers had noted on several occasions that even if south Sudan survives the uncertainties that are bent to surround the referendum, it still has to stand up tall to face issues as represented by the an unequal ethnic representations in the SPLA (the southern army), the security, the diplomatic mission, civil service and the political institutions. Points highlighted were meant to be taken on board by the so-called dominant ethnic groups so as to practice much wider inclusiveness if we are to avoid any likely tribal confrontations and possible genocides, issues both common in our ‘Great Lakes Region’ of Africa.
Now at hand we already have a rebellion in the state of Jonglei, and it is led by a renegade Lieutenant General who as it is, surprisingly comes from the dominant ethnic group – a group generally viewed as the dominant in both the SPLM (party) and the SPLA (army). Was this what the observers were referring to? Maybe…… maybe not. Do we still stand to see similar violent and militarized expressions from the other ethnic groups should the status quo remain uncorrected? Both are difficult to tell at this stage, though everything is possible in south Sudan given our long histories of wars and civil unrest.
The mounting rebellion building up in the Jonglei state seems to have its immediate roots in the corruption that dominated the past elections. The leader of the new rebellion renegade, Lieutenant General George Athor Deng has become a major media personality in south Sudan politics given his recent past that links him to the SPLM AND SPLA (as he was the deputy chief of staff in south Sudan’s army) before running as an independent candidate against his rival and former comrade Kuol Manyang Juuk, to whom he lost.
SPLM was much vocal in antagonizing its arch-rival, the splinter SPLM-DC of Dr. Lam Akol Ajawin which it accused of harbouring an armed militia. However SPLM’S claims were defeated at the constitutional court and reduced to mere party propaganda thus allowing Dr. Akol and his party to run in the general elections. But of interest remains the bitter hatred that the former rebels continue to display against their former senior official, to the extent that there were initial futile attempts to link SPLM-DC with the 30th April 2010 attacks at the military barracks at Doleib Hill, near Khorfulus.
SPLM-DC per the media have released press statements distancing itself from George Athor Deng and his followers, thus throwing the ball back to SPLA courtyard. General Athor himself has now come out openly to declare his opposition to the government of south Sudan GoSS, but no one can deny the sympathy that this renegade General continues to enjoy within the SPLM party, the SPLA and the Dinka community as evidenced in the countless articles which found their way to the media outlets.
General George Athor Deng like everybody else in south Sudan is fully aware of the sensitivity of the current situation especially so as related to the holding of the much anticipated referendum on the fate of south Sudan, scheduled for January 2011. On the other hand the renegade General is not the only SPLA General to have lost the past elections in the dubious way as they happened. But how would Athor want us to view him? Is he the only southern nationalist who can never tolerate any injustice as such and chose to confront the issue head long, as opposed to the other Generals and politicians who are currently seeking justice in the courts of law, though the chances of winning these cases remain very remote.
Can we now go out openly to accuse renegade George Athor Deng to have joined the Jallaba in an attempt to derail the CPA or is his ethnic background too strong to insulate him from being labelled as a NCP stooge unlike the massive and calculated degradation campaigns being continuously and selectively directed against people like Dr. Lam Akol Ajawin and Dr. Riek Machar Teny by particular tribal groups and other hostile elements.
With the divided views on this rebellion and similar developments in south Sudanese politics, southerners of all walks of life need to revisit their core values before demeaning others. Should we be the ones to start cheating, deceiving, corruption, nepotism, favouritism, vote grabbing …etc, we must be ready to face the consequences of our own deeds.
However a massage for all to share is that, no one should assume themselves that they care or are more concerned about the welfare of the people of south Sudan than others do, when they on the contrary have already shown that they are merely being driven by the intense greed to dominate and cling to power. The elections that were meant to bring about the peaceful transfer of power have been abused as a tool to illegally retain power. What a mockery to our collective intellectuality?
South Sudan is now officially a one party state, and it is run by a party that lacks any respect for democratic values, to the very extent that it cannot even appreciate its own pressure groups leave alone the official opposition parties. Many hidden elements in our political fabrics will become more evident in the very near future once the new cabinets are formed. And the reactions of these governments at all their levels, on how to accommodate, contain and deal with the ill effects of the ‘sham elections’, will remain critical to the success of the period ahead, which involves among many other crucial issues, the conduct of the referendum.