Editorials

On Referendum Day

EDITORIAL- Welcome to 2011, the year history will be made in Sudan.

After what was hailed as successful voter registration in December 2010, millions of Southern Sudanese now literally hold the fate of the region in their hands.

On January 9, 2011, millions of those registered voters at home and abroad will exercise their first-ever right to vote--and, needless to say, this will be no ordinary voting

So this is to you the voter: on referendum day, make sure that historic vote counts by casting it correctly and with great keenness.

Editorial: In disowning independents, SPLM is no longer wedded to a better way of solving its own crises

Editorial - Sometimes it takes the best to see a political party at its worst. And in an election full of many superlatives and historical significance, the worst is what we are seeing between the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement Party and the emergence of its 'independent' wing.

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Some Senior SPLM Political Bureau and Secratariat Members in 2008 in Juba, South Sudan (Photo Courtesy of the SPLMToday.com)

After decades of liberation struggle that culminated with the death of over 2.5 million and decimation of resources in the region, we would assume that as people hungrily gear up for their first credible elections viewed as a last attempt in creating a young republic in a generation, that they would put aside egos and work diligently to lay that first anchor in history-- a liberation marker—that enduring legacy of standing true as one, behind one leadership.

But that has been nowhere near in the case of the SPLM vs. independents. And for the SPLM, it is dawning that such hue and cry of the nomination process and the people behind is becoming a southern affair that needs not to be ignored.

Over the last few weeks, the electoral college—a  nomination process  adopted by the party’s political bureau for April elections—has resulted in quandary so much so that if the discontented are allowed to contest as independents  -  the party risks losing seats to opposition; if they are expelled, the divide would  prove even catastrophic.

If people disagree with the process, the sane thing to do is to correct those wrongs and then people move forward. That maturity to deliberate on issues so small and large is fatally missing from the party and will even make the party vulnerable in an environment where we expect a burgeoning of political interests, where opposition parties are going to crop up in people’s houses, trying to show they are have the guts in taking on the SPLM and confusing voters with tired acronyms and untested platforms.

The Political Bureau’s decision to disown those refusing to withdraw from running as independent candidates may make the matters worst politically for the SPLM. We understand the view of the PB, but no options are great. We should all look forward and not backward. The independent candidates should have forgiven the mess caused by the PB and withdraw. Most of these independent candidates are popular with the people, and in a democracy, it is who the people want that matters. The PB should have kept this in mind by correcting the irregularities to allow those most favored at the grass roots level to run on the party tickets.

The question we want the PB to ponder is that if the very few who are in leadership or who happen to be looking for leadership are the same ones who are quick to violate the SPLM’s principles compared to the masses that have clung to the movement since day one ,then where is the future of the Movement?

To prevent the debacle from bringing the party to its knees, here are three suggestions that the SPLM leadership can incorporate as part of strategy to contain the mess:

MOVE BEYOND NOMINATION CRISIS BY IMPROVING ON POLITICAL MESSAGING

It is obvious the SPLM has gotten its first post war leadership test and the situation is untenable. Entering this season, there has been a mindset within rank and file of the SPLM leadership that says elections matter less vis-a-vis referendum . But that is a false choice and a gamble on political future.

The fate of the SPLM Party now hinges on the will of the voters and we urge the leadership to take seriously any proposals aimed at face-saving and not sit on your hands expecting people to grasp the nuts and bolts of the party in a society in which all sections are not politically active.

So far the messaging by the Political Bureau, the SPLM senior leadership and decision making organ that created this mess, has been poor. Their attempt at dissuading the disaffected members who are running as independents failed. The oppositions have been having a field day with that. And this is where presidential leadership is needed.

In  light of all this nomination mess, Chairman  Salva Kiir must reach into his consensus building streak and emphatically say to the independents to swallow their  pride and work for the SPLM-- work to craft laws and foundational leadership for Southern Sudan —for the Movement which, while imperfect, has shepherded the marginalized people this far.

Liberation cannot wait but individual desires for elected offices can wait and there is no point in rendering the party vulnerable to oppositions this early. We feel the SPLM has squandered the last five years in terms of not of reaching citizens with leadership statements that inspire them to build the base.

Speak to citizens in Junub parlance by explaining what is at stake here: elections, referenda, and the SPLM. Show that the party can provide security, eradicate corruption, deliver services, spur nation building and welcome the Diaspora contribution.

COMPETENT AND ACCOUNTABLE LEADERSHIP

In a representative democracy, something as quaint as party nomination should not threaten the party’s very existence. There is an understandable amount of fatigue and backlash coming from people who see the way the nomination was hatched and executed and conclude that some members who got forced back after losing as an attempt at 'lionizing' certain leaders.

The SPLM invited its own conundrum when it jumped the horse by adopting to nominate instead of letting incumbents and aspirants face voters. The easiest thing many politicians will do in a crisis like this is finger pointing, blame game and calling heads. There were calls for resignation of Mr. Pagan Amum, the SPM Secretary General, from members of Political Bureau. Pagan even humbly said: "I respect voices of the majority members of the SPLM and will not have problem stepping down from my position if this is what they think as solution."

But to those in the Political Bureau who were wishing for resignation as the solution, we now say thank you for stopping to assail your fellow comrade Pagan. Go back to the drawing board, show the will to devise the capacity for enduring solutions and bring the independents on board (only if they relinquish their intent to run as independents} to be a part of the committee to develop the party’s platform. Give them the job to craft the SPLM scriptures.

COMMUNICATE ALL-INCLUSIVE, HANDS ON DECK APPROACH that says liberation trumps individual power and grass roots activism will remain the generationally distinguishing hallmark of the SPLM as it embarks on planting hope and promise for young people.

Despite too many bad things from our leadership, we think it is too early for the SPLM to be discredited and  consigned as 'an irrelevant, mere dysfunctional movement  unworthy of its first election' and we strongly urge voters to confirm it as the true salt of the earth whose real time for governing is about to begin.

Editorials are written by the editorial board members and reflect the position of the NewSudanVision.com on key issues. For comment or concern, write to the This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

Making unity attractive: hypocrisy or lack of intelligence

 

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Late John Garang and Sudanese president, Omar el Beshir in 2005. Photo: AP
(Editorial-NSV) - When Sudan’s warring parties signed the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) in January 2005, all the parties seemed to have had hidden agendas as to what the agreement meant to them. At the time, the parties fooled the world that the spirit of brotherhood had dawned and that peace in Sudan was to be given an austere chance.

 Was giving peace a chance the point? At the time, it was ostensibly a ‘Yes’ as an answer. Now everything seems diametrical and at times blurry.

 Sudan People liberation Movement (SPLM) and National Congress Party (NCP) pledged to the world that Unity of Sudan had to be made attractive. Of course the north knew that it is the Northern Sudanese, especially the NCP, which was to make Unity attractive. 

 As the Southerners felt marginalized, they were to be shown that they are a valued part of Sudanese Society. That meant that they were to be allowed to enjoy every fruit and every drop of national resources, equally.  That has so far remained a phantasm and childish hope of Santa Clause existence.

 But why hasn’t the unity been made attractive? NCP will tell us that it is making Unity attractive to South Sudanese. What comes to mind is how in Jesus’s or Mohammed’s name has that happened?

 When NCP took key ministries in the Government of National Unity (GoNU), it gave an impression that Southerners are still not indispensable in the Sudanese politics. They were still Junnubbiin and outsiders.  If there was no compromise to show a changed spirit in Sudan, then saying NCP is trying to make Unity attractive is not only an insult to the intelligence of Northern Sudanese, but an insult to the very notion of any agreement.

 Secondly, NCP rejected Abyei Border Commission (ABC) results and left no compromise that would ensure co-existence in a united Sudan.  When the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in the Hague drew a ridiculous border of Abyei, NCP was excited as it gave them the oil fields. NCP shouldn’t worry about whether the oil fields are in the south or north if they feel it is making unity attractive.

 NCP, too, is adamant on the border demarcation and doesn’t want to compromise. NCP makes sure that any government committee is chaired by NCP officials and deputized by SPLM. Unless of course it is meant to make NCP look good. That guarantees no equality. NCP is now saying that the percentages needed for Unity and referendum should be 51 and 75 respectively. NCP is wrangling as to who is to vote in the referendum and who is not.

 In the definition of NCP, making Unity attractive is to make separation difficult as opposed to making Southern Sudanese comfortable with Northerners to feel 'solaced' in a United Sudan. This is a childish intelligence.

 South Sudanese women are lashed in Khartoum because of what NCP calls ‘indecent dressing’ or when they brew alcohol. CPA guarantees exemption of non-Muslims from Sharia Law.  NCP also refused to scrap Sharia in Khartoum. Stifling the use of Sharia in Khartoum can make all Sudanese feel safe in Khartoum as their national capital. This can actually make unity attractive.

 NCP also manipulated census results so that they can use it to manipulate the distribution of resources. So far, no agreement has been reached on either census results or referendum laws. How’s Unity being made attractive?

 If NCP always wants to make SPLM and Southerners lose every political battle and make them feel stupid in the eyes of the world, the whole scenario begs a question: what actually has NCP done to make Unity attractive to Southerners? Is making Southerners look incapable in the eyes of the world the northern Sudanese understanding of making unity attractive?

 Well, they have made Unity attractive by making sure Southerners feel more resentful and more marginalized that they expected.

 As much as every intelligent Sudanese would want to believe that Unity of Sudan is good for where the world wants to go, NCP has done the opposite of what they should have or should do to make unity attractive. NCP needs to show and do what can make unity attractive. Singing to the world that Sudanese are one and brothers doesn’t make Southerners feel valued and welcome.

 If Southerners feel bad and worse, like outsiders, however much the results are going to be manipulated, South Sudan will succeed: symbolized by dove or symbolized by guns.

 We need the intelligence the NCP always talks about. Use your intelligence to make unity attractive, not your now old-fashioned trickery. The more you think you’re hiding your tricks, the more they become apparent and make southerners feel resentful of you. This makes unity unattractive.

 The likes of Sudanese Presidential Adviser, Mustafa Othman and Sudan ambassador to the UN, Abdul-Mahmoud Abdul-Halim, give us an impression they are intelligent beings. The unity of Sudan makes them look like effigies of real intelligence.

 Now president Salva Kiir talks of ‘making unity attractive’ as a language of the past and Egyptians understanding the unity hasn’t been made attractive. Egypt is preparing for division of Sudan. Mr. president is right!

 We would advise NCP to behave like civilized human beings not like medieval kingships, only then can Sudan remain united. Well, it’s too late for that, isn’t it?

 

 

Foundation sends wake-up call to African leaders

A Least Surprising Decision

1 November 2009

editorial

Abuja — The award panel of the Mohammed Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership decided that it has no nominee this year worthy of the prize. This means there will be no winner for 2009 from among the shortlisted candidates. The panellists did not deem any of the nominees worthy enough for the princely $5 million prize.

According to an announcement by the Mo Ibrahim Foundation, "this year the Prize Committee has considered some credible candidates. However, after in-depth review, the Prize Committee could not select a winner." Thought no doubt a sad commentary on the quality of leadership on the continent, the outcome did not come as a surprise.

The Mo Ibrahim Prize, we must remind ourselves, is an African initiative established in 2006 to: stimulate debate on good governance across sub-Saharan Africa and the world; provide objective criteria by which citizens can hold their governments to account; recognise achievement in African leadership and provide a practical way in which African leaders can build positive legacies on the continent when they have left office; and support aspiring leaders for the African continent.

These are modest qualities, not beyond a committed leader of any African country to possess. Yet they seem to constitute the Kilimanjaro for our leaders to attain.

While former Mozambique President Joachim Chisano won the maiden prize in 2007 and former Botswana President Festus Mogae clinched it in 2008, none of the three former presidents who were shortlisted for it this year: Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria, Thabo Mbeki of South Africa and John Kuffour of Ghana was found by the committee to meet the criteria. In fact some might argue that making it up to the shortlist was a truly monumental achievement for one or two of them.

Awards should not be given just because they have been instituted. The continent has been ill-served by incompetent, greedy and self-serving leaders who are neither responsive to the needs of their people nor care for the problems that confront them.

Some of the continent's leaders not only fragrantly subvert the constitution of their country in order to elongate their tenure in office, creating wars and instability in the process, they also bring poverty upon their people by massively stealing the resources of their nation and stash them away in foreign banks. And such crass leadership is not limited to the political realm.

It is significant that in Nigeria that the annual Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) prize for literature could not be awarded because none of the candidates shortlisted was considered to merit the $50,000 prize money.

We commend the courage and sense of integrity of the distinguished panellists of both the Mo Ibrahim Prize and the NLNG Literature Prize in living up to their consciences. Their stance will not only enhance the dignity and preserve the integrity of their respective awards; it is a wake-up call, in the case of the Ibrahim Prize, on sitting African presidents to strive for good governance. The world is watching. If it has to take years or a decade before a former African leader who really deserves an award emerges to claim it, it would be a worthwhile wait.

We also advise officials responsible for the National Honours Award in Nigeria to borrow a leaf from the decision of the panellists of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation and the NLNG. If there is a year that there are no Nigerians who have done something remarkable to uplift the fatherland, and there have been some, none should be given. The current practice whereby year in year out many citizens who have done nothing worthy of national recognition are given high national titles merely for holding position that they might not merit, has done nothing but bastardize the process.

Citizens should be encouraged to strive hard in their chosen career to uplift the continent and its people. Persons chosen for recognition must actually merit it.

What has become of Darfur justice compaign?

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Editorial, NSV--Right about now the people of Darfur must have concluded with greater degree of certitude how the African Union has betrayed their suffering after joining hands in categorically defying ICC by opting to protect Omar Bashir from arrest connected to the killing campaign, which began in 2003. Not even a simple rebuke from the AU?

Disturbing as this recent political posturing is, it has become evident the AU has chosen its battle between being a champion of the people’s causes and the interest of their ruling club. Little are our leaders heeding Obama's call that "Africa does not need strongmen but strong institutions."

 We know many leaders in Africa began having a field day with the indictment of the Sudanese president right before the warrant was issued in March of 2009. Many were coiling at the suggestion of indictment.

Even after the arrest warrant was issued, these leaders asked for deferment. Now they are saying their ‘request’ was not answered hence the decision to cut their cooperation with the international court.

 The ICC has indicted the Sudanese president on two counts of war crimes – one for intentionally directing attacks on civilians and for  pillaging - as well as five counts of crimes against humanity, including murder, rape and torture, all related to the conflict in the Darfur region.

For his part, Bashir has denied allegations, saying his government has every right to defend itself from rebels and that the number killed in Darfur is not 300,000.

Bashir mistakenly thought he was being  politically clever when he ordered Janjaweed to slaughter Darfurians and that he would get away with it. He did not. He was indicted in March and the AU conspiracy to not arrest him now doesn’t assuage his guilt.

For all the citizens of Africa and the people in Darfur, The Sirte Summit statement of support for Bashir remains a quandary for which answers lie with the leaders who were in attendance.

Because our citizenry is catching on to the idea that leadership is not a synonym for a person in charge; rather, it is the ability to make decisions in touch situations.

If the Au leadership is really buying into all the explanation from Bashir, it would be better for the same leadership to pay homage to the people in Darfur and entire Africa and explain their position instead of hiding behind the pretext of preserving peace and repelling Western interference in African affairs as the sole reason for justifying their killing of justice in Africa.

If appeasing fellow president is the best trump card there is, then it would be equally courageous for all those leaders along with Bashir to come to Darfur, all refugee camps in Chad and explain why Bashir does not deserve the arrest.

And by extension the same AU leadership owes the continent an explanation of Rwanda genocide, demise of the Congo, and the post election violence in Kenya. What would they do to the perpetrators if the West or the international community were to get out of the business of international justice campaign?

Within the purview of equal justice and human dignity and despite this defiance by AU, president Bashir’s indictment remains a poetic justice nonetheless.

And barring further disappointments,  Botswana and Ghana, the two  countries objecting AU decision, that have made it clear they will arrest Bashir –are the  moral exemplars in the cause of justice in Africa . The rest have failed us.

 

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