By Justin Ambago Ramba, MD
March 21, 2010 (SSNA) — Although there are obviously numerous ways to conduct a successful election campaign however there is a few that definitely turn the whole thing upside down. The worst two undoubtedly would be when a campaigner resorts to sarcasm and arrogance thus pissing the audience completely off. It was in Yei town that the incumbent president of south Sudan and SPLM’s candidate, H.E. Salva Kiir chose to go by the later when came out in the most unprecedented way to belittle the importance of the votes from Central Equatoria State.
Led by what could have been ignorance more than arrogance and overconfidence, President Kiir told his audience that he is aware of the fact that people were speculating to vote for Dr. Lam Akol, the leader of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement for Democratic Change (SPLM-DC). He however in a typical mode of desperation added that even if he would lose Central Equatoria state, he would still win the elections.
“Even if Dr. Lam Akol beats me in Central Equatoria state, I will still beat him in other states, don’t forget that,” he told the huge crowd. (Sudan Tribune 21/03/10).
So, where does the president’s campaign in Yei town leave us at this particular moment as far as elections are concerned? Is Kiir consciously declaring that Dr. Lam Akol is already ahead of him in Central Equatoria State (CES), thus forcing him to openly declare their votes as insignificant for his come back to office?
Any average minded contestant is expected to consider all votes as important, that is why we commonly hear the phrase that, “all votes count”. Yet Kiir’s judgment defies all logic.
There could be many arguments to present in relationship to the root cause of Kiir’s disapprovingly speech to the citizens of Yei town, yet it was here in Yei that Kiir sought sanctuary away from the long reaching deadly hands of late Dr. John Garang de Mabior in 2004 when they almost fell out with each other. Today Kiir feels less welcomed in Yei and he blames it all on issues like the dismissal of the independent candidates.
Well if Kiir thinks that the independent candidates’ crisis is the main reason why he is rapidly loosing his popularity, this is only partly true, because the real defect lies directly in him as a person. He is no where compared to his predecessor and lacks the basic charisma of a leader, and as such, he just cannot make it into people’s hearts.
In the first place it wouldn’t do well to the two government of south Sudan’s (GoSS), presidential candidates if we try to draw comparisons between them, with President Salvatore Kiir Mayardit on one hand and Dr. Lam Akol Ajawin on the other. Each one of them represents a complete opposite school of thought, as seen in their social, academic, professional and political backgrounds. However to make an unnecessary story short, one of these two men thinks for himself, while the other depends on what others think for him. This should be enough to rest this case forever.
As if drawing his deputy into the fight would improve his image, Kiir went on to say: “If I will be elected, Dr. Riek Machar will be my deputy in the next government and if I lose the elections we will lose it together,” he said. “If you don’t elect me and make me to fall, I will also fall on his [Machar] head,” he jokingly continued.
And Dr. Machar on his side also urged the citizens to vote for his chairman and president, Salva Kiir, saying the citizens had already seen his achievements for the last five years and he would therefore continue building on such achievements.
Having guaranteed his employment once Salva Kiir gets elected, Dr. Machar has every reason to keep Kiir’s company in all these trips, otherwise what else do we expect him to do? However what both men are failing to see is that, the south Sudanese people have since a long time back passed their verdict of ‘nil competence’, for their joint leadership.
Even Dr. Teny who was once seen by many to offer the alternative that could have salvaged the rapidly deteriorating situation is south Sudan until the last moments of the failed second SPLM convention, lost his luster. And since then people have also lost any hope of him making any positive contributions thereafter. And whatever deals exist between the two men, whether it is to have the Blair-Brown type of power transfer, it is only a dream, entertained by feeble minded wishful thinkers.
Asking the people to judge president Kiir by his achievements that are only visible to Dr. Riek Machar, is by itself an intelligent way of a negative campaigning as it would be extremely difficult for Mr. Vice president to recite any particular achievements given the records of the SPLA solders in this area during and immediately after the bush war.
This elections’ season, though it contains a lot of tensions, however it also offers opportunities to sort out certain things which were in fact being intentionally squeezed up into the general south Sudanese political set up. The erroneous assumption that every south Sudanese is automatically an SPLM supporter has now come to be a self explanatory issue. This has been even made clearer after the dismissal of the independent candidates from the SPLM party.
Again the other steps taken though out of mere desperation on the side of the SPLM, those unfortunate directives like banning the use of the SPLM flags by non SPLM party members including the disowned independent candidates, who previously thought that this flag was synonymous to the flag of south Sudan, are now made to clearly discern the divide line.
The first to encounter problems with the usage the SPLM/A flag was none but Col. Joseph Bakosoro, a former SPLM official who is now disowned by his party when he decided to run as an independent candidate for the gubernatorial post in Western Equatoria State (WES). However citizens in WES have now learned the truth that the real flag for south Sudan, which can be freely carried by every south Sudanese regardless of their political views, is yet to be produced once we attain our officially recognized independence. Up to this point it has reduced the SPLM/A flag to a mere party flag and no more.
To prove their faith in the people’s power that comes through the democratic process, the citizens of WES are determined to change the current governor and replace her with someone of their choice and the issue of flying a party flag right now is not bothering anybody as long as they are all happy to wave the tree leaves whenever they welcome and cheer their popular candidates who are more closer to their hearts, than those being managed by remote controls from Juba or elsewhere.
While Kiir always over occupies himself trying to acquaint the crowd with the differences between the flags of SPLM and SPLM-DC that are being used during the campaigns, he fails to understand that the southerners very well know that the real flag of independence has yet to be flown. Any party can go on flying its flags, and our people don’t regret not being able to fly the New Sudan flag at this time since the vision itself has become obsolete.
Now that the SPLM chairman has taken his fight to the people and believes that he can even do without their votes, the immediate speculation left is that, since Kiir didn’t go to Yei in order to solicit votes given his arrogant and loaded speech, then the obvious is that he is already on the offensive.
On the other hand should the reports in the media be true that H.E the president of GoSS claimed to have learnt of certain talks among the citizens of Central Equatoria state that they would punish him by not voting for him because he did not approve of their independent candidates, (Sudan Tribune 21/03/10), then we take it that the south Sudanese electorates are becoming exceptionally conscious of what it means to vote people into office or not. Politicians need to be given prompt feedbacks of their plunders and refraining from casting votes that may promote the current incompetence, corruption, impunity would be the noblest action ever taken to beautify our history books. Let our Yes be Yes and our No be No.
Even if it is true that Kiir can come to office despite votes in other parts of the south, still the huge presence of competition for the gubernatorial posts in as many as seven of the total ten states will still send a signal to him that, due to his reckless misjudgements, his political career is sooner than later about to enter a dark tunnel, as democracy takes root in south Sudan, whether he wins a second term in office or not.
The installing of independent candidates as governors in the states, remains the only sure way to force who ever occupies the top seat of GoSS in Juba to willingly succumb to the popular demand that calls for back dated auditing of the public finances, and bringing to justices all cases of corruption currently standing at the astronomical figure of approx. 8 billion US dollars, committed in the last five years.
At this stage of our people’s struggle for the establishment of good governance and transparency, simple terms that near existed under Salva – Machar joint mismanagement, requests of all the independent candidates a must, to fully acknowledge that the party that have just disowned them is by all standards, beyond any foreseeable chance to undergo any reform. To its best, it is now no more than an institution that only caters for its inner circles. And where it has so far come, is the furthest it can ever reach to embrace any inclusiveness and democratic principles which are extremely vital to south Sudan’s dignified existence among nations, something which currently remains very difficult even to imagine.
However to be fair enough to H.E Salvatore Kiir Mayardit, we can all simply go by the advice put forward by his vice, Dr. Machar and assess him by his achievements if any ever exists. And of all the ten states of south Sudan, where do we see the 8 billion dollars worth achievements that can be attributed to the current day leadership?
After walking away from, Bentiu, the capital of the Unity state without ever saying a word, the SPLM chairman is more than likely acting under severe stress posed by the competitions put forwards by others contesting against his ill organized party. Whatever disrupted his campaign in the Oil producing State will remain as a sign of political immaturity in a party that has only its shadows left now to praise. They can for sure take us to the Stone Age if that is what we want.
Last but least is the dilemma surrounding the elections itself, as president Kiir is in collusion with his friends in what they call the “Juba Group” or the “National Alliance Parties” , have jointly present a memorandum to the Sudanese presidency calling for the postponement of the general elections to a further date in November 2010.
And according to Farouq Abu Eissa, the groups spokesperson, they are giving the presidency a one week period to answer their demands before the group could finally hold a meeting to decide whether to participate in the coming elections or not.(the London based Al Sharq Al Awsat Arabic Daily 19/03/10).
However anyone who has been following Kiir’s recently declared position as he expressed it at the last IGAD’s 14th extraordinary summit to evaluate CPA in Nairobi, Kenya on 9th/03/10 will understand how implicit the SPLM’s role correlates to the current developments.
Dr. Justin Ambago Ramba, M.B, B.Ch, D.R.H, MD. Secretary General of the United South Sudan Party (USSP). The party that stands for the independence of South Sudan. Can be reached at either [email protected] or [email protected]