Commentary

The SPLM Political Bureau vs. grassroots citizens

Winnipeg MB, Canada- The SPLM Political Bureau as a higher organ of the people party has disrespected the grassroots citizens as political commodities. The SPLM has an obligation as a party that fought to free marginalized communities by bringing human equality and dignity in Sudan regardless of race, religion, colour, gender, as well as freedom of expression, freedom of speech and right to vote as it’s the case of upcoming election.

The SPLM Political Bureau has obstructed the selection process for the upcoming election; some of candidates have met the legitimacy of democratic process, some have not.  Individuals who were chosen by the grassroots voters during the pre-election were replaced by the SPLM Political Bureau in Juba without consultation with grassroots citizens as political commodities.  The SPLM Political Bureau decisions of selecting loyalists and long-term savers have become detrimental in some parts of semi-autonomous region.  What is the point of having a democratic process if individual names that were not on the lists have appeared while the ones who were on list disappeared? 

 In some areas, there was no collaboration between the Political Bureau’s decision - made by the 27 persons - and grassroots citizens at each level of the government, including: payams, counties, states and country at large.  The Political Bureau has neglected citizens’ right to choose by appeasing their personal loyalists rather than accommodating the best interests of citizens.  Candidates are elected by the grassroots people at different constituencies to represent them at each level of the government.

 In my view, they are ‘political commodities’ similar to ‘market commodities’.  Their choices are more valuable in this democratic arena.  Without grassroots on the ground, the SPLM as a people party cannot operate, but local communities can function without the SPLM.  Consider the example of the Islamic government in old Sudan where local people from marginalized communities were mistreated and denied social services intentionally.  One could not imagine how many atrocities were committed against local communities and they survived.

The SPLM Political Bureau has obstructed the selection process in following ways: first, The SPLM Political Bureau should have done a screening by short listing all the candidates contesting in each post and then sent them to their respective constituencies.  This step would have allowed the SPLM Political Bureau to make sure he/she has the criteria and then leave it open for the citizens to decide which candidate they want to represent them and in what level of the government.  By doing so, citizens would have the opportunity to experience the democratic process.  This election is the first multiparty election as well as it would be a first time for majority of Southern Sudanese to cast their votes.  Secondly, Southern Sudan Electoral College should have received the names of candidates from Juba Office then sent them to different constituencies; it would have avoided misunderstanding between some candidates that their names were screened out and the Electoral College officials. 

Thirdly, the SPLM Political Bureau would have only to congratulate individual candidates who made it on the SPLM tickets by winning the interests of citizens at grassroots, which will allow the SPLM to function as a democratic entity to bring institutional changes in Sudan as a whole.  Keeping that order would also propel the SPLM to win more seats at different levels of the governments.  This would have credited the system rather than discredited the system as the Secretary General has admitted that: “On Tuesday, February 9, during a press interview with journalists, in the regional capital of Juba openly admitted existence of irregularities in the selection of candidates for various positions”.

Not utilizing the above three steps have caused two distinctive challenges: First, it has discredited the people party system that the SPLM portray. The Government of Southern Sudan (GoSS) appears incapable of making a healthy decision on behalf its citizens.  Secondly, it has created a concept of independent candidates within the same party that may put the SPLM Party on a weakened position because voters will be split up into so many selected vs. independents candidates.  Equally serious, the SPLM Political Bureau should know that these Independent Candidate groups are motivated by what I have termed ‘political commodities’ because they are in touch with grassroots citizens.  They clearly indicate that they do not want to let their supporters down -that is a promise!  These grassroots voters are the engine of the democratic process anywhere in the world, so neglecting their choice is a political risk, miscalculated by the SPLM Political Bureau, unknowingly.  If the system was not done in reverse, 340 independent candidates across Southern Sudan should not have run independently. As well, they are calling on the Secretary General to resign from the SPLM higher post because of that mess!  Consider this, if they were to screen through pre-election done at the grassroots level these independent candidates would have been left with no option other than respecting political commodities decisions because nobody else they expect to vote them in any constituencies they would want to represent.

In short, the SPLM/SPLA has taken up arms against an oppressive regime in the name of marginalized communities.  With that, the SPLM Political Bureau should respect that protocol by refraining from the mass not to interfere with the selection process in order to educate its people and Islamic government about democratic values.  However, advancing such transparency, open process and a fair pre-election process will translate into a smooth election in April as well as continuity of that accountability will further the ends of the referendum in 2011.  The SPLM political Bureau should know that SPLM/SPLA is an engine of change in Sudan: West, East, South, North and Central, and in turn will allow for changes on a larger scale: socially, economically, culturally and politically.  The case in point is that, in the past, there was no Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) without sacrificing of two millions lives, there was no Government of National Unity (GNU) without SPLM to negotiate and there was no sharing of natural resources without people party to advance that course.  I believe that the SPLM is vanguard for all marginalized communities without looking at different identities, geographical location, religion and race.  Being a vanguard means taking a lead by addressing various issues at different levels, of government, be visible at grassroots levels and be protective of political commodities as well as respecting their choices as it was the case of the last two months pre-election process in the autonomous South Sudan.

*David Mabior Atem de Kuir, Canada, is a Masters candidate in Public Policy and Public Administration Program, Specializing in Strategic Planning and Management at the University of Manitoba with proposed Thesis on Immigration Policy. He can be reached at: E-Mail: 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.

 

 

 

Leadership Institute of New Sudan 2009 Graduation Ceremony

As part of the 2009 Graduation Ceremony for the 2009 Leadership Institute, LIONS  Founder and Executivewebsite20head

Director Mangar G. Amerdid gave the following speech:

 

I have the honor to greet you and welcome you to the first graduation of the Leadership Institute

of New Sudan (LIONS). On behalf of LIONS, I wish to express my gratitude and thanks to the

University of Denver's Josef Korbel School of International Studies for partnering with us in this

pilot course, and to Humanity United, which provided the funding for the course.

 

Tonight we are taking a step, a step forward in the history of the nation of Sudan.

 

Since the time of our independence in 1956, over half a century has gone by. Half a century is a

lifetime in Sudan. Civil wars have been fought, peace agreements have been made and broken,

MILLIONS of people have died, millions more have been forced to flee.

 Many of the best and brightest of the older generation have died or have lost the will to lead. On some level, we might

ALL agree that prospects for a new Sudan are bleak. Yet I see it differently. I see a more positive

future. I see that Sudan, especially the central and southern regions, is rich in natural resources,

water, minerals, oil, and farm land, and all of Sudan is even richer in her human resources.

 

The women and men of Sudan must now rely on themselves. They must develop the capacity to

develop the best leaders. With good leadership we can emerge from the long years of suffering

and take our place in the community of nations.

 

Since coming to the United States of America I have realized that in every generation, there are

those that have the gifts to lead, still others will be thrust by fate into situations where they must

lead, and still others, if given the opportunity, can develop their unique talents, so that they are

capable and competent to serve their communities in Sudan.

 

I believe investing in the development of leaders is the key to a strong, peaceful and democratic

nation and the way to bring equality, human rights, and access to basic services to all the people

of Sudan. An ongoing program such as this Leadership Institute will yield major returns by

providing the human resources needed to sustain democratic development in Sudan.

 

In this way, the affairs of our governmental structures, as well as the management of

development projects, whether on a large scale such as building roads, or on a smaller scale such

as building local schools and digging wells, which some of you are already involved in, those

projects will be managed and prosper and will benefit from the skills and abilities of individuals

who know what it means to lead.

 

Without this investment, any New Sudan will be like a new car with the best technology but

without skilled drivers to take it safely on the road. We cannot squander the investment being

made by the United States by failing to develop the women and men who can carry forward the

programs being developed as a result of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement.

 

This is why we have established the Leadership Institute of New Sudan. We call it LIONS

because we know that the image of the “king of beasts” will send a message that we intend to be

strong, we intend to be courageous, we intend to stand up for our rights, and we intend to care for

the next generation and build our Leadership Institute so it becomes a lasting program and will

one day soon provide courses throughout Sudan.

 

Ladies and gentlemen,LIONS is a young program as we gather here this evening. But, we must

grow well and grow quickly because there is an urgency to bring together the best people from

our Diaspora with those willing people holding positions of responsibility in Sudan. We need our

skills, and all our knowledge to be shared by all constituencies and all ethnic groups. Our core

purpose is to develop leaders so that the people of the New Sudan can experience what has been

denied to them: the benefits of prosperity, civil rights, and social equality.

 

 Our focus isdemocracy, which is, political freedom, economic freedom, a free and open media.

We seek to prepare those who are committed to serving their communities throughout Sudan.

 I emphasize serve. Not only are we interested in preparing those who will serve in all levels of government,we are interested in preparing men and women who will serve in civil society, in villages, in rural areas, in schools and health care programs, in setting up businesses to build local economies, in environmental projects and farming endeavors.

 

LIONS is committed to increasing the number of women in each of our programs and to reaching out to the youth of our country.

 

Today in Sudan there is still an opportunity to grasp the vision of a New Sudan and bring it to

life. We, the Leadership Institute of the New Sudan, ask that you join us in making that vision of

equality a reality.

 

Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, Tonight, we are here to recognize and honor the

achievements of the participants in the pilot course of the Leadership Institute of New Sudan.

These men and women are the pioneers. They came from Sudan, Middle East, Canada, and parts

of U.S., This evening each will receive a certificate of graduation and carry with them our shared

hope and commitment to the future of Sudan. And now I want to take an important but brief

moment to recognize three people who represent our volunteer committees. I would like to call

upon: Margy McKenna, George Tuto, and Mabior Mayek.

 

Ladies and gentlemen, I would like to call upon Dean Tom Farer who took a chance on our new

program and graciously hosted this pilot course at the Korbel School of International Studies.

His authorization made this course possible. His staff has been supportive and encouraging. The

Dean is a man for all seasons and he knows Africa well. A professor, an author, a former

university president, Tom Farer has not only studied processes of economic and political

development around the world he has also been a participant. Just a few highlights ---- He taught

criminal law and procedure to an African police force and assisted in Uganda’s Constitutional

revision process in 1994-95. He served as legal consultant to the United Nations Operation in

Somalia.

 

Intensely concerned about human rights, he serves on the board of the Advisory Board of Human

Rights Watch/Americas and the editorial boards of Human Rights Quarterly and the American

Journal of International Law He is married and has two children and claims to play tennis with

more passion than skill, to play golf with barely controllable passion, and to ski with excessive

prudence.

 

He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and a Magna cum Laude graduate of

Princeton and the Harvard Law School.

 

Introduction of Dean Tom Farer, Josef Korbel School of International Studies.

 

Closing remarks:

It was John F. Kennedy who once said “Ask not what your country can do for you - ask what

YOU can do for our country."

 

Lately we in the Sudanese community have been asking too much from our country, especially

from the government of Southern Sudan (GoSS). But, let me tell you, it’s now time we go home

and do something. We can start by developing necessary leadership skills so that we are able to

engage with today’s issues, that is our Sudanese issues and as well as the global issues. We

cannot win today’s war by using our guns, but we can win by applying our leadership knowledge

and abilities.

 

Our parents have done their part starting from Ananya 1, and ending with the Sudanese Peoples

Liberation movement/army (SPLM/A); Now it’s time to do what our country needs US to do.

And you have made the right choice by attending this LIONS development course.

We don’t know what Khartoum can do in the next years. But let us be ready and prepare

ourselves for the future of our children.

 

We can win tomorrow’s war by spearing up our leadership skills. Put a STOP to tribalism,

clanism, and regionalism; and let us be one! Unity is what LIONS advocates for!

Shape your own future… Completion of your education and developing of your leadership skill

is a must, it can prepare you to be anything you want to be and no one, and I mean no one will

stop you.

 

I would like to send a message to our leaders at home that LIONS is NOT a political party, or is

to be seen as a threat. But you as our leaders should think seriously to adopt LIONS philosophy,

because LIONS will help and can work to support a positive transition to a democratic new

Sudan.

 

Lastly, but not least, I would call upon the U.S government, NGOs, foundations, and American

friends to rally behind and support LIONS as an endeavor that will insure there will be the

capacity to manage, to administer and to lead in the critical years in front of Sudan. Without

strong leaders, aid programs, humanitarian efforts, and community development projects may

not succeed and once established they may not endure.

 

Thank you so very much and may God, the father of us all, bless us all and bless all the people of

Sudan who are suffering greatly.

South Sudan: Remember the past as you decide the future

Over the next two years, and especially on the day when they cast their vote during the 2011 referendum on self-determination, the people of South Sudan need to remember the past while deciding the future.

They need to remember that Sudan as a political entity in its present borders is a very recent creation. The colonial powers drew the boundaries of Sudan in the late nineteenth century without considering the religious, tribal, and ethnic diversity or the interests of the people in the region thus, intentionally or not, preparing the ground for future conflicts.

The people of South Sudan need to remember that they have been deliberately marginalized politically, socially, and economically for over a century and treated as lesser human beings first by the British and Egyptian colonial administrations and later by the successive Arab regimes in Khartoum.

Southerners should remember that for the most part of their history, people of Sudan had never had a common language, identity, customs, or culture.

After independence, various regimes and military dictatorships in Khartoum had tried to change this. They attempted to create a common religion in Sudan through the spread of Islam and conversion of animists and Christians in the south by gun.

They had also attempted to create a common language through forced imposition of Arabic in the south.

Southerners need to remember the ruthless terror and persecution committed by their northern countrymen and their allied militias from the west and south. They need to remember the millions that have been brutally murdered in the genocidal campaigns organized by Sudan’s Islamist regimes since 1956.

They should also remember the slavery promoted by the current government in Khartoum, which in the 1980s and 1990s encouraged its allied militias to raid the south and take captured civilians and children with them as slaves and do with them as they like.

People in South Sudan need to ask themselves if they can ever again trust the current or any future government in the north. At the same time when the Khartoum regime was negotiating peace with the south, it began a vicious campaign of murder, rape, and scorched earth policy in Darfur.

The southerners need to realize the absurdity of the calls by northern politicians to "make unity attractive" in Sudan. They need to ask how can the same people who have organized the horrendous war crimes and crimes against humanity first in the south and recently in Darfur talk about unity of Sudan and peace, prosperity, and inclusiveness for all and be taken seriously.

This would be like having Adolph Hitler and the Nazis promote peace and unity in Europe and prosperity of Jewish people and Israel after World War II and Holocaust.

Southerners need to ask themselves are there any guarantees that things will be different from now on in Sudan. Are there any guarantees that the future elected or military regimes in Khartoum will be truly reformed?

Are there any guarantees that the future regimes will protect and respect all Sudanese citizens regardless of their religion, ethnicity, color, or geographical origin? Are there any guarantees that the northern regimes will not start yet another jihad against the south and kill, rape, enslave, or force out of the country the southerners left alive after the last war?

Some people argue that, if the south becomes independent in 2011, the other marginalized people in Sudan – in Darfur, east, and north – will be left alone without any hope and support.

This is an important and valid argument but after so many decades of unthinkable marginalization, death, and destruction, the people of South Sudan need to think about themselves and their future and not sacrifice their wellbeing for the sake of others - especially if those "others" – such as many Darfurians – had taken part in the killings of tens of thousands of innocent civilians in the south in the jihad against Christian and animist "infidels."

Now many people in Darfur say they were used by Khartoum, that they did not know what was really going on in the 1980s and 1990s in the south. This is very hard to believe.

If the people of South Sudan consider all the above before they go out to exercise their democratic right and vote in the 2011 referendum, they will very likely realize that a peaceful separation may be the best solution.

As the president of South Sudan, Salva Kiir, rightly pointed out recently, if "you want to vote for unity so that you will become second class citizens in your own country, that is your choice. If you would want to vote for independence so that you are a free person in your independent state, that will be your own choice" too.

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Savo Heleta holds an M.Phil degree in Conflict Transformation and Management from Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. He is the author of "Not My Turn to Die: Memoirs of a Broken Childhood in Bosnia" (March 2008, AMACOM Books, New York). He can be reached via email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Africa can't sit on Its hands and wait for climate justice

wangari_maathai_potrait_by_martin_rowe The Copenhagen Conference on Climate Change ended dramatically after delegates failed to reach a consensus. Millions of people were disappointed.

The UN will have to create a conducive environment to quickly follow-up on the conclusions in Copenhagen and arrive at a better outcome for the planet; probably a compromise agreement that would remove the impasse and move the process forward again.

Leaders know what humanity is up against as the clock continues to tick, and, indeed, many are deeply engaged with strategies that are preparing citizens at domestic level.

Industrialised countries committed to reductions of greenhouse gas emissions that would maintain levels of increase in global temperatures below 2°C, while more vulnerable developing countries prefer levels below 1.5°C.

But until we get there, leaders from the developed world went back home to face voters, the business community, colleagues and other interest groups, that wonder whether so much money should be committed to foreign countries.

Some need to be convinced that they have a historical responsibility to climate change and therefore, a moral obligation to help solve the problem they have caused. The focus is foremost on national interests and political and economic considerations.

Yet, climate change is also a security issue because it will cause large migrations of environmental refugees that will escape rising seas, loss of land to desertification, and lack of water.

Leaders have to balance between doing right and antagonising their citizens; they will only commit to certain levels of emissions of greenhouses gases and only a certain amount of money.

Their targets are made in the spirit of the principle of "common but differentiated responsibilities and capabilities" that recognises the historical responsibility of developed countries and the moral obligation to do justice.

Developing countries need to do much for themselves because they are especially vulnerable. A lot can be achieved without financial help from Copenhagen.

Here in Kenya, the government is protecting forests so that the country can continue to receive environmental services, conserve biodiversity and get hydro- and thermo-power. It is also investing in wind and solar power.

Kenya is also intensifying its tree-planting campaign. Environment minister John Michuki has already given directives that every person put 10 per cent of their land under trees.

This amounts to about 25 trees per hectare, and offers a great opportunity for agro-forestry. The trees can be fruit or multipurpose trees.

Mr Michuki also directed that any eucalyptus trees planted within 30 feet of a river be uprooted. This will protect waterways and watersheds. Steep slopes should be planted with grass, including fodder, to stop soil erosion.

Kenyans should harvest rain water by collecting roof water, making terraces, and creating cut-off drains and trenches to hold rain water. This also stops soil erosion, stops siltation in dams, and destruction of roads.

Unfortunately, there is still mistrust between developed and developing countries. The former have been slow to commit.

For sure, corruption continues to be prevalent. But unless the mindset changes on both sides of the divide, regions like Africa will continue to suffer from misjudgment and mistrust.

The deep suspicion that money will not be spent for the intended purposes will determine how much of the resources will be committed and directed towards the African region.

Therefore, countries should use this time to set up mechanisms to ensure there is transparency, and accountability and a way to monitor compliance.

Both the USA and China are major players. Both emit the largest amount of greenhouse gases and they are among the biggest economies.

Their divide is not only over the level of emissions by 2020 and beyond, but also over transparency, monitoring and verification that would not violate sovereignty.

Africa is vulnerable because it does not have adequate skilled humanpower and technology. It desperately needs committed, value-driven citizens, who will deliver honourably.

But, unless the people commit for the sake of their countries, much of the money will either disappear with experts or owners of intellectual property rights and technology.

Prof Maathai is a Nobel Peace laureate, and Goodwill Ambassador for the Congo Basin Forest Ecosystem.

South Sudan unity and cohesion will prevail over tribalism

I am making my remarks in response to the Presidential Advisor Mr. Osman Ismail who in his analysis of the future of South Sudan, outlined a possible failure of the political system and governance in the South if the South ultimately secedes.

Leaders in both South and the North have witnessed the escalation of the conflicts in Sudan for a long period of time. Finding a solution to avoid such incidences would be something crucial for the governments of Sudan both in the South and the North.

Effective Leadership often requires optimism as a basis for action to reach solutions for critical predicaments. If it is possible for the South to fight itself, it would also be the same thing for the North. The point is that tribal conflicts do not only take place in Southern Sudan alone. African countries have been occupied by numerous tribes and still exist as nations. Uganda has many tribes and they are all Ugandans.

Kenya has many tribes as well and they are all Kenyans. Southern Sudanese have fought each other for various reasons. They will learn to embrace peace instead of strife as the future brings meaningful changes to the environment and the political status and image of Southern Sudan. Southerners simply behave the way other human beings behave. Conflicts spread anywhere and people cannot change their pursuit of the right course because of fear or threats. Therefore, it is important for the government officials to promote a sense of optimism whether Sudan remains the same or divided at the end of the interim period. The United States is working towards either a united peaceful Sudan or two separate sovereign neighbors whose governments and people feel the need to embrace good bilateral ties with each other as well as with the other neighboring african countries.

His excellency Osman Ismail is encouraging unity with words of warning and intimidation. The war has been fought for many years in Southern Sudan. A united Sudan has not brought and maintained peace. Therefore, the people of South Sudan are aware of what it means to stay united with the North and what it will mean when The South becomes and independent country. It is important to make unity attractive so that Sudan can have a united country that is prosperous and peaceful, however, elements of trust have to be cultivated between the rulers of two regions of Sudan. The problems in the implementation of the agreement signed five years ago have shown so much distrust rather than the opposite.

There are two major differences. The Northern government believes in certain values which are both cultural and religious, while the Southern government believes in the values that are purely democratic as well as cultural. Without resolving these two major differences simply making the unity attractive can be a hard work to achieve. The international community has blessed the CPA and it is my prayer that our country does not turn around and finds itself in another war. Let us all pray and work for a peaceful Sudan in either setting as a result of the referendum. Let us be optimistic Mr. Advisor so that our region in Africa will experience needed and prayed-for peace and prosperity.

*The author can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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