Analysis: Is it a sensible decision to boycott southern Sudan diaspora poll?

Category: Writing aboard the Kenya Airways: A story on coming to Rwanda for the first time
Published on Saturday, 04 December 2010 20:48
Written by Peter Towongo, The New Sudan Vision (NSV), newsudanvision.com
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(Vancouver, BC) - This article is simply trying to see into the unforeseen “repercussions” which might result from the decision made by some Southern Sudanese communities who have decided to refrain from the ongoing out of the country registration, especially in East Africa and the Western World. As this article goes on media, the registration for the voting in the highly anticipated referendum (9th Jan 2010) for the people of South Sudan to either confirm a united Sudan or a split Sudan is ongoing till December 1st 2010. South Sudan has waited this chance for long since independence of the Sudan from the Anglo-Egyptian rule in 1956 AD. Many Southerners, including their friends, see the “sacrosanct” January 9th referendum as a God-given chance to grab back the brutally taken-away freedoms, human rights and progress of the South Sudanese people by the northern elites including their allies. Apart from the registration and voting in Southern Sudan many want to see a free, fair and credible out of the country registration and voting including its final results. Therefore to make the referendum process of the out of the country registration and voting (OCRV) for South Sudan free and fair without direct influence of the Khartoum government lead by the National Congress Party (NCP) of President Omar Hassan el Bashir and the Government of South Sudan (GOSS) lead by the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) party chaired by H.E. President Salva Kiir Mayardit, the Southern Sudan Referendum Commission (SSRC) mandated the International Organization for Migration (IOM) to take charge of the out of country registration and voting (OCRV) of Southerners in the countries of Kenya, Uganda, Egypt, Ethiopia, Australia, Unites States of America United kingdom and Canada.

However, many South Sudanese from the Diaspora who openly profess South Sudan independence cast doubt on the South Sudan Referendum Commission (SSRC) inKhartoum. They believe the SSRC is not fair and can manipulate the out of the country registration as well as voting thus favoring united Sudan come January 9. When IOM held several conferences with the South Sudanese communities in the Diaspora informing them about the process of the registration and voting in the mentioned countries, almost all the addressed communities asked IOM with questions concerning the credibility of the outcome of the referendum results if they register and vote, and when their names and results are sent to the SSRC in Khartoum. They wanted their votes to be taken to the South Sudan Referendum Bureau (SSRB) in Juba, which they trust rather than directly sending to the SSRC in Khartoum. Others even cast doubt on IOM itself; they doubt whether IOM is credible enough to be entrusted with their votes. For example, in Uganda South Sudanese accused IOM for collaborating with the NCP and feared their votes would be manipulated. Thus, they urged South Sudanese in Uganda not to register there but to come to South Sudanborder towns like Nimule or Kaya. In Canada, some South Sudan communities have tried to refrain from registering for the coming referendum. They cited many scenarios that lead them not to register. In addition, even in the press statement of Nov 6, 2010, the Coalition of South Sudan Civil Organizations for Referendum in Juba accused IOM for “mysteriously recommending 33 organizations” in Sudan to get funds from the South Sudan Referendum Basket Fund (SSRBF) for the conduct of civic education for the referendum registration process.

To justify the “credibility” of  IOM, the Organization’s officials told the skeptical South Sudanese in Vancouver Canada that "neither the NCP nor GOSS will have the chance to influence the out of country voting. The entire process will be the responsibility of IOM just like the Organization did during the 2005 Iraqi out of country voting. Following the guidelines set by the referendum commission, IOM will conduct the registration, voting, counting and transmit the results to the referendum commission with two copies one going to the SSRC inKhartoum (the doubted one) and other to SSRB in Juba. So Southerners should not worry about NCP rigging". Likewise as the skepticism continued mounting with the Southern communities, the Vice President of the Government of Southerner Sudan H.E. Dr. Riek Machar, who is also the Chairman of  Southern Sudan 2011 Referendum Taskforce on 13thNovember 2010 urged all “ South Sudanese community leaders, South Sudan Faith- based leaders, South Sudan Civic Society Organizations leaders and representatives of political parties to full cooperation with IOM in the conduct of the Southern Sudan referendum on the 9th January 2010.”

Candidly, those who question and stay away from the ongoing out of the country registration for the South Sudan Referendum favor independence of South Sudan from the brutal northern government as seen in their verbal expressions. They feel their results would be manipulated; therefore, it is better not to register to avoid any rigging by NCP and allies. And yet , some Southern Sudanese have individually decided to register and to vote for the independence ofSouth Sudan. However, those who favor a united Sudan, whether they are Southerners or imposters  would also want to register by all means and vote for unity of the Sudan. But let us ask the secessionists who refrained from registering this simple but important question: Is it actually a wise decision to stay away from registering for the referendum to avoid rigging of the votes for a untied SudanGeoffrey Nsubuga who authored a book entitledWells of Wisdom (2002) asserts that "Decisive moments give two alternatives: paradise or hell". Any decision a person makes can bring forth fruitful outcomes or bitter outcomes. For that reason, a person must carefully think before deciding on any important matters. Conversely many analysts recently believe that if a good number of Southern Sudanese from the Diaspora (the secessionists) decided to stay away from registering for the referendum voting, they would likely allow unionists to have a considerable vote in the out of the country voting thus creating confusion in the final results. Their decision would encourage the “unionists” to massively register and then their number of votes might shoot up. So those refusing to register will have no say because they wasted a “once for life” chance that comes through the blood of millions of martyrs. If analysts are correct, then this might have been one of the reasons the Vice President of GOSS issued the aforementioned directives for all South Sudanese organizations and individuals to “fully” cooperate with IOM and participate in the plebiscite. On the same way, it could have been the reason as to why authorities from South Sudan are now telling South Sudanese, especially in the West and East Africa to go to register and then vote.

The author of this article, Peter Towongo, is a South Sudanese living in Vancouver Canada. He is also a contributor to The New Sudan Vision. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..