By Dr. James Okuk
March 1, 2010 (SSNA) — Of course the simplified general answer to the above question is: the best leader for South Sudan after April 2010 should be the one elected by the people and for the people with the majority votes from the counted polls without rigging, unfairness, irregularities and other known common frauds. It is known that the only candidates who are trying their best to present themselves and their public leadership agendas for the GoSS Presidency if elected, are Mr. Salva Kiir Mayardit from Warrab State and Dr. Lam Akol Ajawin from Upper Nile State. Both of them have been involved in the SPLM guerrilla struggle in the South and have rebelled against Dr. John Garang; Dr. Lam in 1991 and Mr. Salva in 2004. However both of them are committed comrades for the full implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) signed on 9th January in Nairobi in 2005.
Mr. Kiir has been trying his level best to practice his constitutional right to freedom of speech and association in order to convince the voters that he is the best leader to continue ruling the South. On the other side, Dr. Lam has not been sleeping to practice his constitutional democratic right to diffuse the mounted propaganda against his candidacy for jettisoning Kiir from GoSS leadership. Both of them have strong points to put forward in defence of their candidacies. Nonetheless, it is hard for Kiir to convince the people as to why he failed to do the best that has been expected out of him in his five-years of rule as the GoSS President in Juba, and also as the 1st Vice President of the Sudan in Khartoum. Kiir’s leadership has already been tested and tasted bitterly in the South. Southerners may reject him even if he appeals to them differently because it is wise not to repeat disappointments in public leadership.
On the other hand, it may be easy for the people to listen and cast a benefit of doubt on Dr. Lam’s candidacy because he has no history of leading the GoSS to judge him by hard facts. He might have not done well as a guerrilla fighter in the bush during the SPLA struggle with the governments of the Sudan from 1983 – 2005, and there could be justifiable reason for this. But Dr. Lam’s leadership has never been tried in the top civilian post of the GoSS and there is still a window of opportunity to give him a chance to prove himself worthy or not for the sake of historical judgement for South Sudan best leadership. Thus, goes the slogans that were raised by Dr. Lam’s supporter in Malakal that April is the time for their government as Kiir is expected to step down after his fall in elections. This looks funny and disrespectful but democracy has its funny game for respect too.
On Wednesday, February 24, 2010 in Juba, Mr. Salva Kiir, the incumbent President of the Government of Southern Sudan (GoSS) and candidate of the ruling Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) for the post, officially launched his electoral campaign for April 2010 in an attempt to garner votes for legitimizing his rule for another five years if the South does not separate from the North in 2011. (Of course if South Sudan becomes an independent country by then, there is going to be different arrangement within a new constitution and elections, far from the involvement and influence of Khartoum). Public and private workplaces were closed down in the capital as the people were forced to go and rally behind Kiir in his campaign procession from Juba Stadium to Dr. John Garang’s Mausoleum where he delivered his speech and narrated his programme for Southern Sudan if elected in April 2010.
However, Mr. candidate Kiir did not convince the audience with his “Oyees” as nothing new appeared from his speech and programme, except appealing to Southerners to elect him so that he could renew the bad status quo. Many people went away disappointed except, of course, Kiir’s beneficiaries of bad governance as he promised that Dr. Riek Machar will still be the GoSS Vice President and Mr. Wani Igga the Speaker of the South Sudan Legislative Assembly, in addition to other old staff and deadwood SPLA-Civilian politicians who shall be re-appointed or/and rotated in the GoSS ministries to continue falling the South with their corruption spree, shameless tribalism, instigative insecurity and incredible incompetence. Worst still, he appealed to the Southerners to elect a Jellaba in the person of Comrade Yasser Saeed Arman who has been nominated by the SPLM Political Bureau to represent Southerners in the Sudan Presidential race after Kiir declined from contesting as he sees no value in it from a foreseen loss.
And of course, all those of Mr. Kiir, Dr. Machar, Mr. Igga and the regretted others, have been tried for five years but couldn’t fulfil even the less expectations of Southerners, especially in the basic infrastructural development, services and production for food and social security in the South. Nothing was missing for them to have not achieved much with the US$10 billion that was custodied under their management and approvals. As far as legislation for relevant laws are concerned, Mr. Wani Igga failed terribly as the leader of Juba Parliament and as a result the South remained without relevant and strong laws, especially the anti-corruption legal powers for punishing the public-monies’ thieves.
Mr. Kiir and Dr. Machar failed to find the right keys for clearing up the governance mess in the South, especially the tribal conflicts that usually occurred in their very faces like the case of Malakal Stadium during the 2009 CPA anniversary celebrations. Even Kiir did not feel ashamed to sign out and confiscate others’ land though the CPA has put it clearly that land borders and ownerships should be tenured as demarcated in 1956 when the Sudan got its independence from Anglo-Egyptian colonialists. It could be remembered that Dr. Machar wasted a lot of public monies when he hosted and assisted the ungrateful Lord Resistance Army (LRA) bandits in Juba in pretext of peace negotiations, which never yield any fruits but regrets. How much development projects in the South could have been achieved with such kind of wasted public monies? Alas!!!
Later on Saturday, February 27, 2010 in Malakal Town, Dr. Lam Akol Ajawin, the Chairman of Sudan People’s Liberation Movement – Democratic Change (SPLM-DC) and the only candidate of the Alliance of South Sudan Political Parties, officially launched his electorate campaign with confident to garner majority votes in April polls so that he could become the first elected democratic leader of Southern Sudan in the CPA Era to replace the un-elected Kiir and the company.
Despite the tearing of Dr. Lam’s campaign posters by some elements of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) in the Joint and Un-integrated Units (JIUs) and by the Minister of Education of Upper Nile State and his Director-General (who were seen helping those undisciplined SPLA elements in that dirty job), and despite the burning of SPLM-DC office in Renk Town together with other threats, harassments, arrests and terrorist activities by some Kiir’s supporters against Dr. Lam’s supporters, the wave of genuine democratic change couldn’t be stopped to engulf the whole town as thousands of people staged a triumphant reception of the savvy democratic hero, right from the plane door at Malakal Airport to the SPLM-DC State Headquarters in Hai Thorat Jellaba where Dr. Lam and his team delivered a remarkable speech for elections campaign and stating why it is necessary to challenge Kiir’s rule and jettison him democratically from the highest public office in Juba. Kiir’s government denied Dr. Lam access to Malakal Stadium but they fail to deny his message of change from entering into people’s hearts.
It is good that after the best news of launching his campaign trail in Malakal, Dr. Lam and his team are set to participate in the forthcoming inter-parties dialogue which is scheduled to take place in Juba on the 3rd March 2010 under guidance of Mr. Thabo Mbeki, the former President of South Africa and the Envoy of African Union on CPA implementation. There, as Dr. Lam Akol and Mr. Salva Kiir shall sit equally on the same line, the different political parties will discuss the code of conduct for the elections as many of them have been complaining of harassment, intimidations and arbitrary detentions by the ruling SPLM in the South. Mr. Kiir will be given a chance to defend himself and shake hands with Dr. Lam as they compete for the same post in a supposedly fair and free environment.
What happened in Malakal is a great sign of times that the people of Southern Sudan are tired from the bad leadership of Salva Kiir and his cliques and would want to vote in Dr. Lam Akol as the best possible President of the GoSS to change Southern Sudan for better and prepare it efficiently for the practice of the right of self-determination in January 2011. Even some SPLA in Malakal town were seen wearing SPLM-DC’s campaign T-shirt for democratic change with Dr. Lam picture on them as they became happy to hear that the in-coming democratic leader and his team are going to pay SPLA salaries and other privileges in time.
Dr. Lam spoke eloquently and his message fell into the right hears and hearts of the people who have been so desperate for seeing good leadership from a courageous and dedicated son of South Sudan who does not compromise with the consummating vices of corruption, insecurity, tribalism and incompetence. Dr. Lam and his team managed to restore hopes as the people went back to sleep and wake up in the following morning knowing that their salvation is nearer when April, 11 – 13, 2010 shall give them opportunity to express their disappointment from Kiir’s bad rule with his shameless cliques. Surely, the votes of those people shall go to Dr. Lam and his team instead of Kiir and the company!!!
No to the bad talks of postponement of elections because this shall affect the schedule of referendum for self-determination in January 2011 as the CPA and Interim constitution have stated it clearly that the referendum shall be managed by an elected government. If SPLM leaders really intend to change their hearts and join the champions of self-determination for the South, let them not fear elections in April 2010 and let them categorically reject any attempt (nationally, regionally or internationally) to postpone it. Also it is high time to fill the abandoned post and responsibilities of the 1st Vice President of the republic of the Sudan as Kiir left vacant his duties in Gordon Palace in Khartoum for no justifiable reasons. Dr. Lam knows how to convince Mr. Omer Al-Bashir for the interest of the South.
Dr. James Okuk is a University of Nairobi PhD graduate of Political Philosophy reachable at: [email protected]