By Gatkuoth Deng, USA
Speculations are never thrown out of widow especially when some of them begin to resemble the situation on the ground under which such rumors are being speculated. There are highly suspicious ‘zip your mouth’ and ‘I will zip my mouth’ kind of understandings between the two dominant political parties in the North and South, with respect to the outcome of the recently conducted elections in the country. These are the National Congress Party (NCP) in the North and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) in the semi-autonomous South.
There have been speculations, even from well placed speculators, that the two partners to the Nairobi peace accord, agreed few weeks before the conduct of the elections to allow each other to continue to dominate political power through the outcome of the elections in their respective regions. In other words, it is about allowing each party to rig the elections results in its candidates favor at all levels, without the other party blowing the whistle about it.
This is with the understanding that the NCP should continue to dominate the political life in the North while the SPLM should continue to dominate the political life in the South. The two parties would then and again form the next Government of National Unity (GoNU) in Khartoum prior to the conduct of referendum in January 2011.
This has now been manifested by the level of guilty quietness of each party in the face of riggings, intimidations, harassments, tortures, vote grabbing by force of army, inflating of results using officials of the very National Elections Commission (NEC), even after results were counted and recorded by parties’ agents, etc. These characterized the recently conducted elections and its results, some of which have not yet been announced, while the two dominant political parties have zipped their mouths leaving the complaints to the lost opposition parties in both regions. Even the so-called national and international observers have smelt the rat and chose to stay away from its odor while seeking a neutral ground.
NCP has allowed its junior partner, the SPLM, to freely rig the elections in the South even if they wanted to inflate the results to 100% winning percentages for their candidates at all levels. Dr. Lam Akol Ajawin, the only presidential challenger, who was previously feared by the SPLM thinking he was the proxy NCP presidential candidate in the South, was sacrificed by the black-mailing agreement. He was left in the cold and at the mercy of SPLM-controlled electoral officials. Some of such officials were good Samaritans enough and probably donated 7% to the pre-fixed defeated Dr. Lam Akol for the sake of calling it an election in which one could get votes even from family members.
General Salva Kiir Mayardit would have been given a 100% result if the SPLM had wished for it. But 93% was satisfactory as reportedly said by Rebecca Nyandeng; widow of late Dr. John Garang de Mabior. “I had expected more than 93%. We did not want to be very greedy to make it 97%,” she told journalists in Juba and the comment was repeatedly broadcasted on South Sudan TV on the day of announcement of the results for the Presidential elections. Nyandeng was clearly saying that those who complaint against elections results are not “patriots.” Well, according to Madam Nyandeng, it seems that only non-patriots complaint for their stolen rights.
The SPLM was given a blank cheque by the NCP to write whatever figure it wants on that cheque in the South as long as it ‘zipped it mouth’ about what was going on in the Northern Sudan’s elections. The boycotting of elections by the SPLM Northern Sector was another bonus by the SPLM to allow the NCP to score a sweeping victory in all the gubernatorial and overwhelming parliamentary seats in the North.
Actually the NCP has won all the governorship positions in all the Northern states except only the Southern Blue Nile governorship which the SPLM allegedly had ‘desperately’ asked the NCP to allow it to go to its Deputy Chairman, Malik Agar.
Those of Pagan Amum, SPLM Secretary General, and Yasir Arman, his deputy in charge of Northern Sector, have been pretending not to know what has been going on by trying to raise concerns about the conduct of elections in the North but fall short to raise the same concerns in the South. They just end up entertaining the media and retire to their seats as the leadership does not want to provoke a situation where the NCP may fire back and also reveal the whole issue in the South.
It looks as if the agreement to allow each party to dominate its region while black-mailing each other may continue until there may be a future difference which may force them to disclose each others’ mischief. Or probably the wicked NCP may just want the elections dust to settle in the North and secure SPLM’s blessings before it could resort to its dirty tricks of exposures in the SPLM and give it a hard time within its controlled region.
You could really sense the lost of interest by the NCP to have considerable representation in the ten Southern Sudan States while the SPLM has lost interest to have representation in the 15 Northern Sudan States, including Southern Kordofan (Nuba Mountains) which is also taken by the NCP. With the exception of only one state of Southern Blue Nile given to the party’s third deputy chairman, Malik Agar in the black-mailing agreement, the rest of the North is none of SPLM’s business.
The issue looks like if the parties are politically dividing the country into North for NCP and South for SPLM before the real separation of sovereignty occurs in the next eight months (January 2011). It wouldn’t take a rocket scientist to figure it out that the dream of ‘New Sudan Vision’ built on the unity of the country is dying if not already dead. This is a dream which many people call it a political “gambling” given its changing objectives since 1983. The recent ‘black-mailing agreement’ could be putting the last nail on its coffin. Many people do not, any way, believe that SPLM as such will continue to survive in the North after secession of the South.
So in this case each party is given a green light to do whatever it wants in its zone of ‘jurisdiction’ in order to maintain political power. This has now resulted to the SPLM robbing the voters in South Sudan at will through the “vote grabbing” system it applied, by inflating results in favor of its unpopular and truly failed candidates. The same rigging of elections results, though with some degree of different styles, has occurred in the North. As if the two parties wanted to fool the Sudanese people and the international community, each party allowed one gubernatorial candidate to win outside their respective parties. This is a mockery!
The so-called National Elections Commission (NEC) officials in Khartoum have shamefully been symbolically involved in the technical process like dumb witnesses, as real results were being fixed politically by the two parties. Their state branches and local officials at the polling centers were the worst in the rigging process. ‘Most’ of the SPLM candidates were not elected by the people but re-appointed by their institutions through NEC! Thanks to the “HERO” Suluba of Western Equatoria state for boldly deciding to stay away from the organized crime against the people’s right to freely and fairly choose their leaders.
Referendum as the next difficult test to shake the black-mailing understanding
The two dominant political parties could not come to an agreement on whether to rig or not rig the referendum. It is an issue left to surface during its own time! Referendum has proven to be a complicated issue that has now divided each of the two parties into different camps or blocs of ‘separatists’ and ‘unionists.’ It is not like the short cut agreement on ‘rig-me-elected’ kind of common greed shared by officials from both parties.
It is being observed that the NCP has split its opinion into separatists and unionists, with one camp spearheaded by the President Omer Hassan el-Bashir and another one led by his deputy, Ali Osman Mohamed Taha.
The NCP’s separatists’ camp wants to see South Sudan separating from the North and forming its own independent country. This, to them, would relieve the ruling party from the headache that has always been coming from the direction of the South since 1955. This would also cut down its military expenditures as they would not be in demand to fight war against the South. It would then focus on Darfur and resort to forming alliance with like-minded northern political parties including the SPLM-North of Malik Agar. This to them would ease the situation and continue to rule the North for many years to come.
The party’s unionists however do not see the possibility of letting the South go unless they have exhausted all their destructive machineries and failed to control it. They would not afford to lose the vast oil reserves in South Sudan. Even if they were to lose to the strength of the current flow in the South, they would militarily settle for Abyei, another oil rich contested area, and no less.
The SPLM on the other hand is divided into separatist majority and unionist minority camps. There are also speculations that each party’s bloc (separatist or unionist) is having underground communications with the bloc it shares such views with in the other party. These communications are speculatively extended even to the opposition parties in both North and South as referendum approaches. That is a complicating matter!
As of now, the two parties, irrespective of their internal blocs, have understood the desperate need to cover up for each others’ mistakes in the elections. They are congratulating themselves for having successfully divided spoils. This will continue to be the case until a future misunderstanding on the outstanding issues in the CPA springs up and then they may begin to disclose each others’ foul plays.
This can happen any time when elections dust has settled. President Bashir did not bother to talk about the unknown 60 million dollars he allegedly gave to late Dr. John Garang de Mabior soon after the signing of CPA in January 2005 until he was provoked or cornered into being exposed as a corrupt CPA violator by Salva Kiir Mayardit in Juba in 2007. That is when he fired back and disclosed the 60 million dollars saga.
What South Sudan Elected Leadership Should Now Know
While I congratulate President Salva Kiir Mayardit and his “running mate” Dr. Riek Machar Teny, for being elected or confirmed for the presidency in the South, they and their colleagues in the SPLM as the ruling party should not forget that it will be the people of South Sudan to freely choose between unity and secession come January 2011.
They should also read the mood or minds of the people of South Sudan through surveys or hearsays whether they are for separation or unity of Sudan. I am not sure whether or not the two leaders are good newspapers readers or read articles posted in electronic media. One of two important articles which could have helped them in predicting their people’s choice during the coming referendum was the survey conducted last year by an American-based organization and posted on the internet in which more than 90% of South Sudanese were reported to have expressed their will to vote for separation in the referendum. This survey was reportedly conducted in all the ten states of South Sudan. And I hope they already know about it.
Another important article was the sample reactions from some of the Juba residents on the reasons why they thought it was important to vote for the SPLM’s candidates in the person of Salva Kiir Mayardit and his “running mate” Dr. Riek Machar Teny. Their choice was very clear and so I could directly quote them from the article posted on Sudan Tribune website on 27th April 2010.
It says: “voting for SPLM Presidential candidate meant voting for CPA; it meant voting for self-determination; and it also meant voting for a capable defense of the referendum.”
If that is so, then the leadership should not attempt to play around with the referendum. The so-called unionists should allow for free and fair conduct of the referendum and wait for its results, which I hope they should also accept.
“A good percentage of them however indicated that if the elections were to be conducted after the referendum, some of their immediate priorities that guided their choices during the recent presidential elections would change.”
The above quote has clearly indicated that the voters in South Sudan’s presidential election decided to put aside things like development, poverty eradication, education, health services, good roads, clean drinking water, decent shelters, etc. in their choice for President. They were simply voting for referendum on independence and would only vote for such services after referendum when they will be free.
However the people’s mood is not good in the way the states or local gubernatorial and parliamentary elections were handled. If you read the three quotations below from the survey you will get what I mean:
“The general view was that unlike the presidential elections, personality of candidates and their developmental programs mattered to them irrespective of political parties such candidates had come from.”
“They touched with condemnation on the reported irregularities and vote rigging in the states. To them the ruling party, the SPLM, should have left the states elections free and fair so that gubernatorial and parliamentary elections would have reflected the true choices of the people even before the referendum.”
“Some of them cited the defeat of the former SPLM officials, turned independents, as a case in point. To them many independent gubernatorial candidates are popular and would have won governorship positions in many states if votes meant for them were not rigged.”
Nevertheless, as for the elections results, it is already a concluded gone case. Those who will try to go to court to challenge the results will be wasting their time. Judiciary system in both North and South is currently administered by judges (officials) politically affiliated to either NCP or SPLM. Given the nature of the elections results as politically cooked, judges will not help the victims as they will continue to get directives from their politically affiliated bosses to throw away the complaints.
Let us remain calm and forget about the current “vote grabbing” mess and hope for true democratic elections that will be coming in the near future. We should instead begin to focus on the coming referendum as peaceful people, united and vigilant!
The author is concerned South Sudanese living in USA and can be reached at: email@example.com