By Justin Laku
April 13, 2010 — In January 2005, the government of Omer Hassan Al Beshir and the Sudan People Liberation Movement/ Army (SPLM/A) signed a Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA). Under the CPA provision of “one country, and two systems” model, the north and south will share power, resources and wealth which are located in the disputed areas of Abyei, Blue Nile State and the Nuba Mountains. These disputed areas are still officially part of the north but may have an opportunity to join the south pursuant to a public vote under the CPA provisions. In addition, as per the CPA, both the north and south will maintain separate armies in addition to a join integrated army that they share. Following a six year transitional period, the south will determine whether it wants to secede via a referendum or remain part of a united Sudan.
Sudan like other African States is facing a democratic test through transformation from a one party state to a multi-party rule via good governance and its key components of fair, free, transparency, credible, inclusive, legitimacy, accountability, and rule of law. However, the main issues of disputes are the census, free press, the Election Commission, Security law, and ballot papers.
The census is a periodic count of the population and the results are use to define electoral constituencies, affecting the number of parliamentary seats as well as state budget for each Sudanese state. The 2009, census in Sudan reduced the South Sudan population, while increasing the population of war-torn Darfur which resulted in the IDPs displacement, 400,000 died, and loss of life as a result of hunger and drought. Reliable source from the GoSS suggested that the SPLM and NCP agreed that 60 more seats will be created in the national parliament in order to compensate the census results as well as will give SPLM veto power in the national parliament.
SPLM could have organized a census of the South Sudan population and contrasted its results with 2009 census to demonstrate its position credibly, as well as to provide the international community and donors and trustees in particular with substantial evidence about the census. It has not done so.
The free press is compromised by the politics of the state parties in North and South. Since the CPA, neither the South nor the North state parties have been able to transform themselves towards democratic behaviour with respect to other parties.The SPLM part restricts other political parties not to campaign in South, and South Sudan TV under Government of South Sudan (GoSS) mandated not to cover non-SPLM political rallies. For instance, in the first week of March 2010, the SPLM-DC was obstructed in Wau by GoSS security officials not to hold rallies, further, in a letter dated November 9, 2009, “Salva Kirr, the first vice president of Sudan gave directives orders through Dr. Luka Tombekana Monja, Minister of Cabinet Affairs, to all the governors of ten South Sudan States to cooperate and not to hinder works of other political parties except the so called SPLM-DC.” Such orders and directives go against the rules of the National Election Commission (NEC).
Most of the northern political parties including SPLM accused NEC of been bias in favour of NCP, and they suggested that the election be postponed. President Al-Bashir warned that there will not be referendum without primary election in April 2010. The opposition’s arguments and allegations if biases are baseless, due to fact that the CPA provision mandated that referendum must held after the elected government in Sudan. The oppositions and SPLM parties are not ready for election, disorganization and badly financed. Furthermore, SPLM is afraid of losing seats if the election is held in April 2010, which will lead to lost in control of the South Sudan Parliament since there are a large number of independent candidates within SPLM who are nominated by their constituencies and the road for referendum would be difficult. For the NCP, the only way to weakening the SPLM and to break the horns of separatists in South is through this upcoming election because SPLM failed to deliver neither services nor real development on the ground since it assumed power in 2005. In short, it is not ready, and it is also inexperience in politics of election.
The NCP in Khartoum have delivered many development projects such as building new roads that connect North, East, and West. Currently the NCP is proposed new highways that will connect Port Sudan and Senegal through Chad; Sudan and South Africa; schools, universities, hospitals, bridges, airports; electricity and water network; and initiated new agricultural projects in Geizra agricultural Scheme. To contrast NCP achievements with SPLM, there are no new schools, hospitals, roads, bridges, airports and electricity and water networks that connect South major cities, the water services and electricity network still very poor; and no one agricultural schemes initiated in South to meet the demand of South Sudanese for food. Most food supplies and basic necessities of daily life are imported from Uganda, Kenya, and North Sudan. Furthermore, the SPLM is invisible in the North, East, and Western Sudan. The Chairman of SPLM did not visit many cities and states in the North except GoSS Speaker of the parliament. SPLM failed to initiate one project in the North, East, and Darfur. In addition to that the performance of the SPLM in the national parliament and South Sudan is very poor. During the heated discussions SPLM tended to walkout of the parliament sessions and this behaviour, of incompetency and inexperienced reflected SPLM inability to govern the Sudan as well as South and most likely majority of population will not vote for SPLM presidential candidate. Therefore, based on the above factors, early exist and withdrawal of Yasir Arman and not campaign in North is the best solution to avoid disappointment and shame, because the upcoming election is about service delivering and real development on the ground.
So, SPLM’s new strategy is to consolidate its power, present in the south and hope to win the referendum at all cost, and it is trying to buy time to avoid the April 2010 election. April election may cause more harms than good to SPLM, the party might lost power in South as well as a majority in parliament and the road to independent would not be easy. So, the two theories; regarding referendum and unity, will be apply; one theory has to do with separation of South as independent state. If South Sudan under the SPLM achieved referendum than the small tribes will be under the major tribes which control SPLM/A currently and South Sudan will be face with issue of majority versus minority and South Sudan will turn like the Balkans in Eastern Europe. "We’re trying to separate ourselves from the Arabs because of marginalization,” said Clement Maring Samuel, a Mundari SPLA pastor now serving as Terekeka’s Commissioner. "But if the Dinka don’t behave well, we will separate again."(additional reporting by Chen Aizhu in Beijing and Andrew Quinn in Washington; editing by Sara Ledwith).On another hand, if the referendum failed, the South Sudan will remain under the control of the North and the dream of forefathers of South Sudan separatists and liberation movement will die.
In the case of Darfur the situation is rather different. Al-Bashir was indicted and the ICC issued arrest warrant, but the population of Darfur see Al-Bashir like Saul of Tarsus who persecuted the church of Christ and became one of the best apostles of Christ to advanced church mission. With supports and extra funding from Arab princes and heads of states, Al-Bashir is currently building 100 pilots housing projects to relocate IDPs from camp to new housing (built with red brick). Each house consists of two bedrooms, bathroom, and kitchen, and 85 medical clinics. With this real development on the ground, will the IDPs vote for Al-Bashir or Abdel-Wahid Al-Nur who lives in France since 2007 an invisible on the ground?
Election rigging and fraud such as those that occurred in Nigeria in June 12, 1993, Iran in June 2009, Kenya in 2007, Zimbabwe in 2008, and Afghanistan in 2009 should be an eye opener for the chairman of NEC who was appointed by SPLM. The decision of NEC to print presidential ballots in government owned printing press was beginning of unfair rigging and possible fraud of election materials. The contract could have been awarded to privates printing companies to prevent boycotts and withdrawal of some political parties from election. In order to prevent rigging, fraud, and manipulation of the casted ballots through logistic processes; the casted votes must be counted at the polling centers by the end of each day especially the casted ballots from outside Khartoum. Failure to do so will result in boxes been change during the transportation from polling centers to counting centers in Khartoum, stuffing of box with unofficial votes.
It has been almost six year of transitional period that south will determine whether it wants to secede via referendum, or will remind a part of united Sudan. However, the road to the referendum is fair, free, transparent, credible, inclusive, legitimate, accountable, and follow the rule of law in the election process. Is there any lessons that can be learning from Kenya’s last election?
The author is a Graduate candidate at Ottawa University.