“If pigs could vote, the man with the slop bucket would be elected swineherd every time, no matter how much slaughtering he did on the side.” Orson Scott Card. By Justin Ambago Ramba April 21, 2010 (SSNA) — All eyes are now on the Sudan as it counts its most controversial polls. However the very observers…
April 16, 2010 (Juba) — 1.ARREST OF AGENTS IN MAIWUT: The polling agent of the party in Maiwut was taking the IDs of the party polling agents for Maiwut and Longichuk counties from Malakal when he and the party Chairman in Maiwut were arrested in Maiwut on the 10th of April. The ID cards, a sum of 7,900 SDG the agent was carrying and their mobile phones were seized. After protest by the party he was released at about 9:00 am on the 11th but the cards, the money and the mobile phones were not returned.
2. ARREST OF CHIEF AGENT FOR LAKES STATE IN RUMBEK: The Chief Agent of the candidate for the President of the Government of Southern Sudan for the Lakes State, Mr Abraham Mapour, was arrested in Rumbek town on the 10th; the second time within a week. He was only released the next day.
3. INTIMIDATION AND INTERFERENCE WITH POLLING IN FASHODA COUNTY: The Commissioner of Fashoda County, Paul Arop, State Minister of Education, Dr Munyikwan, Major General Alfred Akwoc (a candidate in the elections) and Akwoc Dok (Also a candidate in the elections for a different seat), all from the SPLM, moved with a force of 30 SPLA soldiers led by a Brigadier, two Lt Cols and Police Col Obwonyo and intimidated the voters in three polling centres: Lul, Bhol and Agod. They threatened the citizens that if they vote for the Torch (symbol of SPLM-DC) they will not see the sun again. When the citizens did not seem to be intimidated, they took away the polling boxes of Bhol Centre and drove to Kodok without the elections officers. The boxes contain the ballot papers cast that day. The same group later went to Golbany Centre and prevented some people from voting.
4. IRREGULARITIES IN KAPOETA TOWN: The polling officer was just ticking the Star (symbol of the SPLM) and handing the papers to every citizen that comes to vote. The party agents present protested and the officer concerned did not listen to them. Because of this obvious rigging, they wrote a petition to the High Elections Committee and withdrew from that centre.
5. IRREGULARITIES IN TORIT TOWN: (a)– Malakia Centre: The party agent, Bona Sebastian, was picked up by an SPLA Brigadier from the polling centre, taken away in a car and threatened with death if he goes back. His sin was that he protested against the irregularities committed by the polling officers who were ticking the ballots in favour of the SPLM. (b)– Malakia and Gumba: In this centre, the people were voting without identification, opening the door wide open for rigging. (c )– Mishony Centre: The party agent, David Legga, was asked to leave the centre not to witness the rigging being made in favour of the SPLM.
1. IKOTOS: The Supervisor of the party agents in the county, Mr John Caesar Lokordok, was attacked at about 9:30 pm this evening by two armed men in plain clothes and the motor bike he was riding seized by the attackers. The attack was politically motivated. When he went to the Police to open a case against them, the Police officer on duty said no case will be opened until after the elections!!
2. PIBOR: In Pibor, the SPLA security personnel were forcing the voters to vote for SPLM candidates only. Those who dare to defy their orders are beaten up.
Date: 12 April 2010
1. LAKES STATE: (a)- Ulu: The security threatened the voters who did not vote in the way theywanted. (b)- Yirol: At Barbakeny Centre the voters were told to vote for the SPLM and when they refused a scuffle broke out. (c)- Rumbek East: At Malek Centre the SPLA personnel were threatening the voters to vote for the SPLM candidates only.
2. WARRAP STATE: The party agent, Mr Madut Chan Ogwak, was detained since yesterday in Tonj and is still under detention. Eleven agents of other political parties were also arrested on the same day.
1. NORTHERN Bahr El Ghazal STATE: (a)- Udhum, Aweil West County: An old man that the SPLA security saw voting for Dr Lam Akol was arrested in the polling Centre and his ballot paper torn. He is still under detention. He is called Luol Ochalla from Riang Angon village. (b)- Aweil East: One of the candidates from the SPLM contesting for the Southern Sudan Legislative Assembly, Garang Diing Akwong, closed down the polling centre when he realized that the people were not voting for him. (c)- Aweil East and Aweil West Counties: The two Commissioners each took the ballot boxes to their homes and packed them with ballot papers in favour of the SPLM (d)- Aweil South: One of the candidates from the SPLM, Garang Majak, took two ballot boxes from Maper Centre. (e)- Thirty-two (32) centres were closed down by the State Government.
1. JONGLEI STATE: Bor Town: The SPLM was telling people inside the voting centre to vote for Salva Kiir. The polling officers did not object and it went on for some time despite the protest from the agent of SPLM-DC. Also, yesterday at around 2:30 pm, The GOSS Minister for Legal Affairs, who is a candidate in the elections, moving with a group of SPLA soldiers ordered the voters to vote for the SPLM. When the Policeman guarding the station protested, he was disarmed.
2. UPPER NILE STATE: (a)- Melut County: The returning officers at a number of centres in Geldora were handing the voters ballot papers already ticked against the SPLM symbol and only asked to put the papers in the appropriate ballot boxes. Agents of the other political parties who protested against this kind of irregularities were asked to leave the centres. (b)- Maiwut: The party agent, Mr Thiyang Manytap, was arrested on 11th by the SPLA and is being kept in their garrison. (c)- Many County: The Commissioner of Many County arrested two of the polling officers in Kaka in order to use the rest to rig the elections in favour of the SPLM. He also arrested the polling agent of SPLM-DC, Mr Obach Nyikang. In Athidhwoi and Golo centres, the agents of the party were arrested by SPLA soldiers on orders of the Commissioner. (d)- Renk: Mabior polling centre was closed by the SPLA on suspicion that the voters were not voting in favour of the SPLM.
1. UNITY STATE: (a)- Chotchare: At this polling station, the SPLA and supporters of the Governor, who is a candidate for the same position, took away the ballot boxing at 4:00 pm on the 11th, stacked them with ballot papers of their preference and got them back. (b)- Lingyiera: At this polling centre, agents of the SPLM, Pou Maluak and Garjang Matiop, opened the ballot boxes at 2:00 am in the morning and tampered with them. Other agents who were guarding the boxes protested and reported the matter to the High Elections Committee. This centre should not have been there in the first place but was imposed by the Governor. (c)- Buoth, Koch County: The SPLA Major-General Dor Manjour threatened the voters and beat some of them. (d)- Jak: The SPLA soldiers shot at the voters queuing outside a polling centre hitting one of them in the hand. (e)- Riak: Here the SPLA soldiers opened fire on the voters seriously wounding Mr John Jang Luak who is a candidate in this election. The voters dispersed into the nearby bushes and two of them are believed to be dead. The cars of SPLM-DC and the NCP were seized.
Date: 13 April 2010
1. CENTRAL EQUATORIA STATE: (a)- Jebel Rejaf: on the 12th, our agent, Nhial, requested that the ballot boxes be closed at the time set by the elections schedule. He was arrested by the military intelligence of the SPLA component of the JIUs and taken to their camp where he was beaten. (b)- Customs Souq: Our agents were sent away by the military intelligence of the SPLA because of their insistence to record the last serial numbers of the ballot papers used. (c)- Kator Centre: Our agent, Marko, wanted to record the serial numbers of the ballot papers. He was taken away at about 12:20 noon by the military intelligence of the SPLA to their camp and beaten. He was set free at 4:30 pm. It is left for everybody’s guess what they did with the ballot papers in this period of four hours. (d)- Moniki Payam: The Leader of the elections team in the Payam was ordering the voters to vote for Salva Kiir. When our agent, John Michael, protested he was sent away from the centre.
2. LAKES STATE: (a)- Yirol: the party’s agent was arrested at Lekakodo centre, driven away by SPLA security personnel and detained for five (5) hours from 1:30 pm to 6:30 pm. Note that the polls close at 6:00 pm daily. (b)- Gondu: The Leader of the elections committee was directing the voters to vote for the SPLM and allowing some people to vote more than once (indelible ink was clear). Near the station, the SPLM supporters were parading and chanting SPLM slogans something prohibited by the elections Act and regulations.
“The trouble with free elections is, you never know who is going to win”.Leonid Brezhnev
By Justin Ambago Ramba
April 14, 2010 (SSNA) — People are flocking in their thousands all over the war ravaged South Sudan to get a taste of what it is like to vote in their ever first experience. However, it is true that, this very much anticipated democratic process itself is not free of hiccoughs and snags, which are obviously upsetting at certain times.
“Our two elections agents were each hand cuffed and chain tied to each other by the neck, an act that is reminisce of the old slavery era. They were then driven away from Riau Polling Station,………..”. Wrote, veteran politician Bona Malwal Madut Ring, the South Sudan Democratic Forum (SSDF) candidate for the geographical constituency No.8, Warrap State, who eventually pulled out from the race.
Other similar events might have been reported in other parts of south Sudan however so far no serious events have been reported and the foreign observers seem to be to seeing some credibility in the process as expressed by former Ghanaian president, John Kufour: “People generally appreciate the elections, although there are a few glitches and flaws here and there”. John Kufour who is also the Head of African Union Observer Mission in Sudan, said.
But who are we, to avoid disappointments at this stage of our history which is marred by lots of manmade hurdles primarily intended to undermine our will to live as free people.
If you are a south Sudanese or happen to have lived or even just visited this remote area of the human civilization, you will never hold back your appreciation for the strong will demonstrated by these deprived people, who despite all the odds are set to prove all sceptics wrong should they keep their composure the way it currently stands.
Stories after stories have been told about the extreme difficulties encountered not only by the common people who turned up to participate in this historical event, but even some big boys have had their I.Qs tested. I can only say that what we have is a complicated voting process, even by foreign experts’ admissions.
So far I remain optimistic, with a very high hope that our people will continue to abide by their enduring spirits, although of course as usual, the devil always hides in the details. Things are only declared well when they register happy endings. Let us hope that we will continue to behave ourselves, while we learn our first lessons in the school of democratic transformation. It should be a pride for us to see that our people are keen to practice their basic rights by going out to choose their leaders through the ballot and never again through the bullet.
It is also the wish of the author to draw our collective attention, so that clear lessons are drawn from this very chaotic electoral process, such that similar situation are avoided in the coming referendum, especially so when we are barely left with few months at hand.
As south Sudanese we should be able to see that the chaos surrounding these elections is no coincidence. This is a calculated chaos. And those who came up with it are the same people who have spent most of their lives rehearsing these very devilish techniques in the students’ Unions since their school days. While I underline it here, I also would be appreciative that none of our people should ever try to copy it or even carry it over into our future independent nation of south Sudan. These are one of the many bad habits that are to be left behind while we cross over to the Promised Land.
Many people are on record for their persistence in calling for the forward procession with the current elections at a time when most were already fed up. Of course many on the other hand are also on record for underrating it while others out rightly boycotted it. However it is good that the voice of the mind has dominated and here we are voting and learning.
The very slow pace to the democratic transformation as well as the accompanying confusions that surround the entire electoral process are themselves no doubt the work of some political forces. The dominant National Congress Party (NCP) of the Indicted, incumbent president Omer al Bashir, who in himself is not only a human rights violator, but a typical enemy of democracy and a non- believer in any peaceful transfer of power, has a major hand in what we are seeing, however the SPLM & it’s northern opposition parties also did contribute and are still doing so.
Is it not true that he (al Bashir) got where he is now through an unconstitutional military take-over from a democratically elected government? Now at this eleventh hour, who are those out there, who want us to believe that al Bashir has converted to democracy or even that he is in any way convertible?
Al Bashir and his NCP were in no way concerned about seeing any democratic transformation is the country. Asking these coup plotters to revert to democracy is more or less like requesting an assailant to resuscitate its deceased victim. Democracy to the totalitarian Islamists is but, a forever enemy.
Who doesn’t know that, after the Oil revenues started to flow, the last thing the NCP would ever think of is to loosen its grips on power? The same applies to our friends in the SPLM, with more than half a decade of thorough soaking in the Oil money; they too would like to cling to power.
Now no wonder that elections were considered as distractions and to some extent, the government of national unity where other smaller partners are to be silence with Oil money, was seen a better option. What followed was reluctance towards the preparation for the run up to the elections. Delaying tactics became the official way of conducting business at the Palace, the GoNU, and the GoSS and almost everywhere else. Yes! And why should they ever hurry?
Lessons undoubtedly learnt are, lack of political will, poorly conducted population census, delayed naming of the members of the National Elections Commission (NEC), delayed financing, delayed printing of the ballots, non professionalism in dealing with the voters registry (lack of proper revision of the names –and much delay in producing the final registry- confused and contradictory positions of the political parties.
The current general elections, without the least doubt at all, remains the first ever since the creation, where south Sudan is able to vote in a true multi-party democracy without any outside intimidation. Look around and you can see that all the candidates, the voters, and poll managers are all from the south.
In contrast to everything we see now, in the 50’ and the 60’s, not just that the elections were controlled by northern administrators, traders, military officers, but even many of the candidates representing our people where in fact people who weren’t from the constituencies, and contested on the two major northern sectarian parties’ tickets, the UMMA and the DUP. Today it is different, better, and indigenous, though still confused and messy.
With the need to draw lessons from what have surfaced now largely in form of obstacles to free and fair elections, one is urged to call for vigilance among our people and their representatives.
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