The Southern opposition parties who are still no match to the ruling SPLM which itself is staggering in as far as political sleekness is concerned, have yet to make their presence felt despite their huge memberships that include most of the savviest politicians ever produced by this war ravaged, extremely poor but Oil producing region of Africa.
In simple terms, the future of the opposition parties in South Sudan is no different from the general future of South Sudan itself. The transformation into a recognizable democracy remains a rather far dream as long as the separating line between the SPLM as the dominant political party and the SPLA (SPLM’S former military wing) continues to overlap and remains largely ill defined.
You can spend the whole of your life-time listening to the SPLM politicians that the SPLA , the security, the police and the other institutions have become non partisan, whoever the moment you hit the streets in any corner of the South, you will be confronted with a different reality. And all that which took place during the polls, said it all.
Of a very special interest is the sequence of the tragedies that revealed itself on the run to the general elections when many senior members of the ruling SPLM, had to contest as independent candidates in defiance of the party’s decision eventually posing the toughest rivalry against the party’s official candidates.
These independent candidates who later became known as the ‘popular candidates’ are believed for obvious reasons to have won most of seats for the different positions all over the ten southern states. However to the shock and disappointment of many, the SPLM candidates were awarded the victories, largely believed to have been fraudulently garnered using illegal arsenals of the state power.
The bitterness of this elections’ fiasco will for sure continue to be remembered as the first deadly blow to the credibility of any justice yet to be claimed by the new administration at all government levels in South Sudan. Upper Nile state, Unity, Jonglei, Northern Bahar Ghazal, and Central Equatoria states contrary to widely believed performances are now forced to accept results which they have every reason to doubt.
Given the huge support enjoyed by these former SPLM members, they are now considered as the ‘special ones’ in their respective states. Lt. General Alfred Lado GORE (CES), Lt. General George Athor DENG(Jonglei), Mrs. Angelina TENY (Unity), Colonel Bangasi Joseph BAKOSORO (WES), AND Lt. General Dau Aturjong NYUOL (NBG) will continue undoubtedly to challenge and contest every movements from their former party colleagues, meant to discredit them (independents). And by all means their popularity is set to multiply far beyond their states.
It is now an established fact and equally shared by the international observers, that the events that accompanied the elections especially so in the last extra two days, were believed to have seen the most unprecedented abuse of power by the security authorities who remain at large accused of influencing the final results in the favour of the SPLM candidates.
And despite the fact that the whole polling process has been a long series of mockery of democracy, however in south Sudan few prominent events will definitely be remembered for a very long time to come, as they represent one of the dark pages in the history of the region. These are the shocking and unexpected losses incurred by the two ‘very popular’ independent candidates, Gen. Alfred Lado Gore of Central Equatoria State and Mrs. Angelina Teny of Unity State, both of which are widely believed to have trashed their SPLM rivals, who are both incumbent governors in their respective states. These two events will be considered the most intolerable incidences of fraud and rigging of the highest level ever recorded in the political history of South Sudan.
On the other hand the victory scored by Col. Bangasi Joseph Bakosoro, who won the gubernatorial post in Western Equatoria State, will go down in history and in a separate entry as one huge event of its own calibre. It is and will continue to be seen as a rare occurrence in the African style elections, especially so after what took place in the other 9 states. It is an event that shall continue to be hugely and distinctively inspirational for our people.
In other wards this unique victory of the independent in candidate WES over his SPLM rival, who enjoyed the privilege of being an incumbent governor as well as the huge party backing, remains to be the only break-through of justice, an event already attributed as a success story of a responsible and respectable son of south Sudan.
Mr. Lawrence Sulubia, chairman of the State High Elections Committee in Western Equatoria state has won both local and international respect of taking a strict neutral position on the elections as he stuck by the rules. He has already won for himself the special treat of being referred to by many as “ The hero of democratic principles”, who refused to bow down to the direct threats on his life allegedly by the state authorities nor did he surrender to material gains in order to rig or inflate the elections results in their favour.
Mr. Sulubia who no doubt is an intellectual of the first degree with an unwavering integrity, wisdom, honesty and patriotism, is amongst the best sons ever produced by south Sudan. This is a very special and well cultivated gentleman. I have known him since the old school days, first in Buluk intermediate school in Juba and then Rumbek secondary school. I had also had the privilege to work side by side with him in the South Sudan Students Association (SOSSA), in 1980 in Egypt. He will continue to command my deepest respect, admiration and appreciation. I pray that God continues to nourish him with endless Wisdom and may his name always be mentioned in association with justices and fairness. Amen.
Having said all the above, I strongly maintain that we would all do well to refrain from any violence at all levels as I kept saying on many previous occasions. And should anyone want to challenge the elections results, they should do so through the legal means. The declaration made by the “Alliance of the southern opposition parties”, who have chosen to contest the declared results in the court of law is a step in the right direction.
This if anything, it portrays the leaders of this “Alliance”, regardless of our positions on their policies, as civilized, and law abiding citizens as opposed to anyone else who would want to use violence in order to make a point. This great stand from the southern opposition alliance is bound to send clear message to the sceptics who think that south Sudanese cannot be law abiding people and cannot be able to govern themselves. This must make a difference between them and those currently inciting violence in Doleib Hill, Khorfulus, the Jonglei state and some parts of the Unity state.
Now we are faced by a situation where much damage has already been inflicted on our collective trust. The true colours of impending dictatorship have clearly surfaced during the electioneering and there is no way that people can be brought to believe that SPLM can be any democratic. However since south Sudan is not yet a nation, we will find it rather conflicting to declare full blown confrontation with those who stole the voices of the people.
All south Sudanese are thence called to move forward and prepare for the referendum. This is not a call for surrender to the injustice incurred during the elections, but rather a pragmatic move as dictated by the events at hand.
Those robbed of their political victories can still continue to contest their cases in a parallel plat-form; however our national responsibilities as sons and daughters of south Sudan must come above everything.
I understand how bitter it is to accept to work together with someone who undoubtedly stole your voice to express your views and your basic right to freely choose who to serve and represent you and, yet sacrifices have to be done and it can only come from those with strong wills to do so. However Injustice will remain to be the bitterest pill to swallow, and those who administer it today must be ready to swallow it tomorrow.
We all retain our rights and freedoms NOT to accept and recognise the results of the conducted elections if we have every reason to do so provided it doesn’t compromise our people’s rights to self determination as stipulated in the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA). Remember that if we miss this window to break away from the malicious policies of Khartoum, we may never get it again. Chance knocks once!
Dr. Justin Ambago Ramba, M.B, B.Ch, D.R.H, MD. Secretary General of the United South Sudan Party (USSP). He can be reached at [email protected] or [email protected]