2011: The Making of a Nation - III

Category: Writing aboard the Kenya Airways: A story on coming to Rwanda for the first time
Published on Wednesday, 01 July 2009 18:29
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Jok Gai Anai
(VICTORIA, CANADA) - Since the last time I wrote, a number of important and critical things have happened. These events are so worrying given that the future to which they lead can be predicted with precise accuracy. I had promised my readers that I was going to talk about what to expect in the event that South Sudan declares Unilateral Independence but I am sorry, I have to take a step back and look into a different mirror.

The Missteps

First of these events is the stalemate on the Census Results and subsequent trading of accusations between the Sudan Peoples’ Liberation Movement (SPLM) and the notorious National Congress Party (NCP – formerly National Islamic Front) in the media. True the Census figures are unbelievable – they are not even close to the truth. These results should be treated the same way the war was waged. But wait a minute. Didn’t the SPLM see that coming? The first mistake was making Abel Alier Head of the Sudan Electoral Commission. That was a calculated move on the part of the NIF – same strategy that gave the position of Foreign Minister in National Unity government to the SPLM.

There is nothing in being the head; a lot of technical manipulation of data would go wrong and Abel wouldn’t know. He would just stamp and announce whatever data came from junior officers (if you think about it, he really has no ground to object!). That he did in the last census. And guess what Khartoum would say? “It was your man who did it and you can’t argue with numbers”. That, they also did. It pains me that the SPLM leadership (like every South Sudanese) had seen that coming but didn’t do enough. May be not the time to blame but let us not forget where things go wrong.

The Referendum and the Law

We all have known by now that parliament has gone on recess without passing key bills including the Referendum bill. The parliamentary speaker, Al Tahir is on record as saying “The NCP view is based on the belief that they will not facilitate secession through a law” [Sudan Tribune – June 25th 2009]. You know where that leads to, don’t you? However, the devil lies in the voter definition & qualification, voting centers and the composition of the Referendum Commission. The NCP will try to frustrate every effort to secede and they will do this through numbers that are hard to argue with. Just a good case in point, Al Beshir recently said, and I paraphrase, that the recent increase in the population of Darfur (The Sudan 5th Population Census) is evidence that there is no genocide in Darfur. And just like they did in the Census, they will insert things in the voter definition & qualification, voting centres, etc, that will make their case not to appear fraudulent – the game of numbers! Remember the last minute omission of Religion and Ethnicity from the Census questionnaire? I hope you do. And of course, they will push the Referendum vote to April, just like they are doing it now for the 2010 elections and the previous Census, so that the difficult rainy season terrain becomes one of their ultimate weapons. Don’t expect them to change course, their strategy has been working. Do we need a prophet to predict what will become of the Referendum?

The Washington CPA meeting and Diplomacy

The biggest of these worrying events is the Washington meeting of the SPLM, NCP and international community purportedly to “salvage the dying Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA)”. Was it salvaged? You would have known better. The head of the NCP delegation called the meeting a “watershed” in an article to the Washington Post while the SPLM delegation considered it a public relations exercise; same old stuff except for the fact that it possibly raised the CPA profile in the eyes of the international community. Perhaps next time, Pa’gan Amum and company should also write articles to well read media houses (it is a small but big step!) But hey, when you do, don’t complain: speak with the authority that people of South Sudan have vested in you. What did the two parties come out with? Two more meetings in Khartoum and Juba. So what is a watershed about it? Watershed in agreeing to another meeting? There is already an agreement – why do we need other agreements? The NCP knows better. Did the NCP fool the US administration into believing their side of the story? We don’t know yet. If that be the case, it will be a mistake that shall come back to haunt the US. In my previous articles, I had argued that if the SPLM is not extra careful, these diplomatic wars are likely to be won by the NCP to the chagrin of South Sudanese, Abyei, Southern Kordofan and Southern Blue Nile. My fear was confirmed by what Roger Winter, a friend of Southern Sudan, hinted at (during the last Conference of the Lost Boys & Girls) as confusion within the State Department as to whether or not to accept the decision of South Sudanese to secede.

I log off. But, perhaps the SPLM folks ought to sleep less and strategize more!


Jok Gai Anai is a New Sudan Vision Columnist. He lives  and Studies in Victoria, British Columbia.  You can reach him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.