Despite the deceptive and malicious or ignorant songs of ‘peace-and-freedom’ chanted by both the SPLM/A and NCP/NIF leaders daily, weekly, monthly and yearly, the full revelation of truth will come up at the CPA ‘end-road’. That is, the “Secession” of Southern Sudan through a referendum might not end up with peaceful “Independence”. Please remember this projectional hypothesis even if I might not live to see the light of the dignified South Sudan in near or far future!
Reading and reflecting critically on The Interim National Constitution of the Republic of the Sudan (2005) – including CPA text), The Interim Constitution of Southern Sudan (2005) and The Southern Sudan Referendum Act (2009), I can sense the shock that shall be encountered at 11:59 hour when conformation comes up that the referendum for self-determination of the people of Southern Sudan has nothing to do with “Independence”.
The ‘Square-One’ that the CPA partners have been avoiding to jump in, might become the easiest short-cut to resort to. But under whose leadership shall the “War-of-Independence” take place? Will it be Mr. Salva Kiir, Dr Riek Machar, Mr. Wani Igga, Mr. Pagan Amum or Mrs. Rebecca Nyandeng? A nightmare to Southerners; indeed!
A critical question poses itself here: What is the utility of “Secession” if it is only for “Unity” of the Sudan in different colors (be it “Confederation” as proposed by SPLM Deputy Chairman and Mr. Governor, Malik Agar with his 100% stand with unity, or “Federation” as proposed by Dr. Hassan Al-Turabi in 1998 before he parted ways with President Al-Bashir and his NCP)? Are Southerners fit to secede so that they remain united with the North by proxy? This is very funny but it portrays how comical the CPA show is.
No wonder! That is why you see the SPLM/A and NCP/NIF quarreling and re-negotiating the CPA from time to time, and creating sideline deals to pass time.
Notwithstanding, the question of who is going to head that commission and who will be the deputy, members and staff remains eye-brows’ affair to Southern separatist, especially after what have been encountered with Mr. Abel Alier and his deputy in the National Elections Commission (NEC) who compromised the rigging and other irregularities in the April 2010 general elections.
That the people of Southern Sudan have the right to self-determination, inter alia, through a referendum to determine their future status (Article 1.3). At the end of the six (6) year Interim Period there shall be an internationally monitored referendum, organized jointly by the GOS and the SPLM/A, for the people of Southern Sudan to: confirm the unity of the Sudan by voting to adopt the system of government established under the Peace Agreement; or to vote for secession (Article 2.5).
But prior to these CPA articles it is stated clearly in the beginning of the text: That the unity of the Sudan, based on the free will of its people democratic governance, accountability, equality, respect, and justice for all citizens of the Sudan is and shall be the priority of the parties and that it is possible to redress the grievances of the people of Southern Sudan and to meet their aspirations within such a framework (Article 1.1).
It is also clearly indicated at the end of the text that: The Parties shall refrain from any form of unilateral revocation or abrogation of the Peace Agreement (Article 2.6).
The loophole of using the term “Secession” instead of “Independence” of Southern Sudan originated from the CPA text. Not only this, but also the agreement strictly warns the signatory parties of any tendency of violation and dishonoring of its articles. This means, if the SPLM overwhelming majority legislators at the Southern Sudan Legislative Assembly (SSLA) get tempted to declare the independence of South Sudan unilaterally from inside the parliament in Juba, this shall be considered immediately as abrogation of the CPA.
Nonetheless, it has never been agreed that the CPA shall continue to be in force or obligation after the end of the interim period (9th July, 2011). May be by then the South could declare its “War-of-Independence” and convince the North to recognize it by force like the case of Eritrea with Ethiopia. But will the SPLM/A garner a military victory by might of the gun, comes that time? I doubt if there will not be external mercenaries to help the SPLM/A new separatists by then? Perhaps, it would be kind of President Obama’s Administration to use The LRA Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act, passed by the USA Congress on 12th May 2010, to assist Southern Sudan (under SPLM mess) to defend the circumstance of the “War-of-Independence”. But again, will Obama be ready to anger the Arab and Muslim World by defending Christians in Southern Sudan? May be the USA pressure and lobby groups would influence him to act.
What can we learn from Eritrea Referendum for Self-determination? The Eritrea method run as follows: capture your territory by military force first and then perform the referendum for self-determination later to baptize the de facto independence with democracy ritual for the sake of seeking regional and international diplomatic recognition. The smart thing with the Eritrean liberation leaders was their clarity on the status their people desired in determining their destiny with “Independence” not “Secession”.
Is there a similarity between this scenario and the SPLM/A case in Southern Sudan? No! The SPLM/A has been vague and ambivalent with what it wanted for Southern Sudan. The SPLM/A fought for the ‘war-of-marginalization’ in the whole Sudan that it intended to transform into ‘New Sudan’. Nevertheless, during the peace negotiations under pressure and fatigue, the SPLM/A adopted the issue of the “right of self-determination” for the people of Southern Sudan through a referendum.
Will the SPLM/A manage to liberate the South so that it can become an independent new state in Africa like Eritrea? Yes, but only if it improves its leadership efficacy and work jointly, sincerely and selflessly with communities of Southern Sudan without discrimination or selfish preference.
“Without a governing vision people will lapse, as they have in recent years, into a narrow selfishness” (Thomas E. Patternson, 1996).
Let Southerners swallow the bitterness of the past elections and unite to make the referendum a success. But they should never be fooled that the “Secession” should end in confirmation of “Federation” or adaptation of “Confederation”; it should confirm declaration of “Independence” of sovereign ‘Republic of South Sudan’.
Let Southerners forget that the SPLM/A may bring them “Independence” of South Sudan on a golden plate like the CPA, because this movement, is marred by leadership crisis and internal conflicts of visions and directions between its unionist and separatists.
Let Southerners not be hoodwinked that the SPLM/A shall ever be in control of Southern Sudan without support and cooperation from all Southern communities and their leaders. They need to recall that the SPLM/A did not capture the whole of Southern Sudan by force of gun, neither did the NCP/NIF crush the SPLM/A and other Southern rebel movements by military or any other force.
Let Southerners know it well that for the “Declaration of Independence” of the Republic of South Sudan to be successful like the Eritrean one, it shall need recognition of Khartoum (implicitly or explicitly) and the blessing of regional and international communities. Thus, intensive lobby for influence must be carried on to garner more international and regional support of South Sudan Independence, by thick or thin.
Dr. James Okuk is a concerned Southerner reachable at firstname.lastname@example.org