Joseph Lagu and Bona Malwal – The elder statesmen as NCP campaign Apparatchiks

Category: Writing aboard the Kenya Airways: A story on coming to Rwanda for the first time
Published on Tuesday, 09 March 2010 23:45
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(Washington DC) - Like many Sudanese following keenly the unfolding election drama in my country, I know that the ruling National Congress Party will stop at no bounds in its quest to re-engineer itself as a legitimate ruling party through all manner of disinformation, bribery, deception and even outright violence. However, doing that must have proven a big challenge as its savvy strategists surveyed the electoral landscape. In an environment where much of its opposition has coalesced into an alliance, and at a time when a credible case can be made for its wide unpopularity across the whole country, and with the world community looking closely at the unfolding situation, the NCP must reckon that its old habit of just using brute force and the machinery of state would not be the optimal approach.

Those crude forces needed to be supplanted with some good ole political chicanery, the kind that can help it wreck the alliance between the SPLM and other opposition forces, and as a bonus, possibly confuse the general public. These Sudanese general public necessarily encompasses different groups, with distinct grievances and political trends. So the cabal at NCP headquarters in their devious non-originality must have settled upon the strategy of playing upon those sentiments.

In the case of the South, the NCP was now facing an electorate overwhelmingly hostile to it and supportive of the SPLM, but more importantly, committed to exercising the right of self determination in January 2011 by all means. The hostility of the Southern Sudanese is primarily motivated by the intransigence and obstruction exhibited by the NCP throughout the life of the agreement, while their allegiance to the SPLM stems from its well-earned reputation as the main champion and guarantor of the CPA, notwithstanding any shortcomings in governance it may have shown during its tenure as the ruling party in the South.

Playing upon what is perceived to be Southern yearning for independence from the North come 2011, the NCP needed to execute an acrobatic move that would be the envy of that famous motorcycle daredevil, Evel Kneivel. As you may recall, Knievel did execute some awesome stunts and daredevil moves, but he did crash very often, usually when he ignored the simple rules of physics as his hubris got the best of him. So the eggheads at the NCP, under the supreme guidance of some severe veterans of the Jihad in the South, settled upon trying to morph their current Presidential candidate, Marshall Omer Albashir, from being known as the Emir of that genocidal religious crusade in Southern Sudan to the ONE AND ONLY champion of the CPA and the right of self-determination for the people of the South. A more comical and daring election strategy has never been attempted in my estimation, but I could be wrong.

Alas, the newly retooled message of the NCP as being the vanguard protecting and guaranteeing the precious self-determination for the South could not credibly be peddled by the likes of Nafie Ali Nafie, but needed to be foisted upon willing Southern leaders and elders to sell to the masses. So an eminent persons committee compromising prominent politicians from all of Sudan was established, with the objective of using their perceived personal statures to delude the general public from focusing on the well-documented misdeeds of Omer Albashir and his regime. The Southerners in this esteemed body had the singular task of selling their compatriots the utterly preposterous claim that re-electing Omer AlBashir is essential to protecting the CPA and their referendum vote.

I would have bet some precious pennies and wagered that people like Joseph Lagu and Bona Malwal would not have struck a faustian bargain, and essentially undertaken what seems like the task of selling the devil to the Franciscan monks. They could make the case for AlBashir’s candidacy as preferable in their opinion because they like him personally and enjoy his largesse, or maybe because their antipathy towards the SPLM and its leaders compels them to support the NCP candidate, or a myriad of other motives. However, what they should not do is expediently ignore the historical record and claim that AlBashir is a champion of the CPA and the only person to ensure that the referendum takes place. All the provisions of the CPA that are outstanding right now are in such state because of the refusal of the NCP to implement them. The border demarcation, Abyei ABC report and subsequent Hague ruling, oil sector reforms, and even these upcoming elections, are items that should have already been resolved more than a year ago if not for the refusal of President AlBashir and his lieutenants.

Sayed Joseph Lagu, in his zeal to boost Omer AlBashir, likened him to an indispensable pilot with his co-pilot Salva Kiir diligently steering the wheel of the craft that is the CPA. He believes that so-called diligence should be rewarded with a new mandate to complete the work as President of the Republic. Our elder missed the mark widely on this, because in fact the NCP candidate is more appropriately analogous to a saboteur masquerading as a driver and who has tempered with the vehicle that is CPA, while Salva Kiir and the SPLM push it up the hill with him sitting behind the wheel as he claims to be trying to restart it. Maybe a different, more honest and helpful driver of this vehicle is what we all need to get to the final destination.

Honorable Bona Malwal, along the same vein wrote recently that the people of Southern Sudan should vote for Omer AlBashir. He wrote and I quote:

I am not clear why Honorable Bona Malwal finds this to be such a profoundly prophetic pledge that we can all bank on, when the same speaker of these words also pledged many things, only to expediently dishonor his words. He said in Naivasha at the conclusion of the talks that the signing of the CPA was a new independence day for Sudan, and that he will implement it to the letter and spirit of the text. He has unequivocally dishonored that pledge, starting with his infamous greedy monopolization of the Ministries of Energy and Finance in 2005. He pledged some serious development projects to be funded by his government in the South, and he has not paid for one cornerstone of a building. We all remember his forceful pledge to build the University of Rumbek, and myriad other mind-numbing promises. He was making those pledges as a sitting President, and he has not delivered, and now we are supposed to believe the promises of a candidate facing some tough prospects at the polls.

Our elder Bona Malwal also makes some emphatic statements that are belied by the record. He writes that Omer Albashir is the only candidate who has committed himself publicly to the CPA, unlike the rest of the eleven candidates. However, the candidates of the SPLM, UMMA party, Communist Party, UMMA-Renewal have all participated and committed themselves to the Juba declaration on Dialogue and National Consensus that Sayed Bona disparages. The declaration commits the signatories in Article 3 to the full implementation of the CPA and the protection and unimpeded exercise of the right of self-determination by the people of Southern Sudan as stipulated in the CPA and the Interim Constitution of Sudan. Moreover, the candidate of the SPLM, Yasir Arman, is on record in far more instances that can be counted for not only supporting the implementation of the CPA, but for actually fighting for it in the bushes of Southern Sudan and the halls of power against Omer Albashir and his party. Therefore, if Honorable Bona’s criterion for supporting a candidate is the measure of their commitment to the CPA as it is written and to the timely implementation of provisions like the self-determination vote, then his ideal candidate is Yasir Arman, and certainly not Omer AlBashir.

It is comforting to know that Omer AlBashir’s candidacy in the South was met with the steely eyed realism and skepticism that it deserves, not withstanding the vigorous advocacy of elder statesmen like Joseph Lagu and Bona Malwal. However, it is also a pity that they were willing to reduce themselves to mere campaign apparatchiks of an unrepentant instigator of serious violence all over Sudan, and to really promote him and his party in the name of the solemn struggle of the people of Southern Sudan. Like that stuntman Evil Knievel, the ploy of deluding the people of Southern Sudan will crush and burn, and Omer AlBashir would be best advised to just stuff the ballot boxes as a real respectable dictator like him should.

*Parek Maduot is an occasional commentator from Sudan and a regular contributor to The He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.