The GoSS Mission in US and Question of Sudanese Citizenship

By Dr James Okuk

September 27, 2010 (SSNA) — Since some of you picked up a sentence (even a bracketed one) in the whole article on the belittling that occurred on H.E. Salva Kiir Mayardit’s protocol weight in the UN sideline meetings in New York on 24th September 2010, let me draw your attention to the articles of our interim constitutions and laws we have now that defines the rights and duties of citizenship.

It is provided in The Interim National Constitution of the Republic of the Sudan (2005) in article 7 (1) that "Citizenship shall be the basis for equal rights and duties for all Sudanese. (2) Every person born to a Sudanese mother or father shall have an inalienable right to enjoy Sudanese nationality and citizenship. (3) The law shall regulate citizenship and naturalization; no naturalized Sudanese shall be deprived of his/her acquired citizenship except in accordance with the law. (4) A Sudanese national may acquire the nationality of another country as shall be regulated by law. Also Article 5 (3) stipulates:

“Where national legislation is currently in operation or is to be enacted and its source is religion or custom, then a state, and subject to Article 26 (1) (a) herein in the case of Southern Sudan, the majority of whose residents do not practice such religion or customs may:- (a) either introduce legislation so as to allow practices or establish institutions, in that state consistent with their religion or customs, or (b) refer the law to the Council of States to be approved by a two-thirds majority of all the representatives or initiate national legislation which will provide for such necessary alternative institutions as may be appropriate.”

Citizenship and Rights in Laws of Southern Sudan: THE INTERIM CONSTITUTION OF SOUTHERN SUDAN (2005),

Article 48 provides this: “(1) Every person born to a Sudanese mother or father shall have an inalienable right to enjoy Sudanese nationality and citizenship. (2) Citizenship is the basis of equal rights and duties for all Sudanese in Southern Sudan, subject to Article 9 (3) of this Constitution. (3) Every citizen in Southern Sudan shall enjoy all the rights guaranteed by this Constitution and the Interim National Constitution. (4) The law shall establish a public registry of every birth, marriage or death in Southern Sudan.” Article 9 provides: “(3) For purposes of the referendum in sub-Article (1) above and without prejudice to Article 48 (2) herein, a Southern Sudanese is: (a) any person whose either parent or grandparent is or was a member of any of the indigenous communities existing in Southern Sudan before or on January 1, 1956; or whose ancestry can be traced through agnatic or male line to any one of the ethnic communities of Southern Sudan; or (b) any person who has been permanently residing or whose mother and/or father or any grandparent have been permanently residing in Southern Sudan as of January 1, 1956.”

Here the two interim constitutions with evidences provided in the articles sited above only say that the statutory law shall establish and regulate the Sudanese citizenship (Southern Sudan included). The same constitutions say that the old existing laws shall be binding until replaced by new enacted ones. So far there is no law of that kind that has been enacted. Thus, the old laws as stated below remain binding. There is no code on dual citizenship for a Sudanese (Southern Sudanese included) indicated in the laws. The only legal codes on the citizenship are found in article 22 of Law of Sudanese Nationality (1957), article 55 of the Law dated 1970, and article 47 of the Law dated 1972. Here The Sudanese Citizenship is based upon: 1) By BIRTH: Person born on or before January 1, 1957; Child born in the territory of Sudan, whose parents had established residency in Sudan; Person born after January 1, 1957. But it is stated too that birth in the territory of the Sudan does not automatically confer citizenship with the exception of a child born to unknown parents; 2) BY DESCENT: Person born on or before January 1, 1957; Person whose father and paternal grandfather had been permanently residing in the Sudan since 1924; Person Born after January 1, 1957; Child of a native-born Sudanese father, regardless of the child’s country of birth; Child of a naturalized Sudanese father regardless of the child’s country of birth if the father was naturalized before child’s birth; 3) By MARRIAGE (For Women only): Foreign woman who marries a citizen of the Sudan may obtain citizenship provided she is married according to Sudanese Law lives in marriage with her husband for at least two years and renounces her former citizenship, and 4) BY NATURALIZATION: Sudanese citizenship may be acquired upon fulfillment of the following conditions: Person is a legal adult, has resided in Sudan for 10 years, knows the Arabic language, is of good morality, has committed no crimes, desires to remain in the country, renounces previous citizenship, is in good health, and declares loyalty to the country.

In these laws DUAL CITIZENSHIP is NOT RECOGNIZED but LOSS OF CITIZENSHIP is permitted by voluntary renunciation of the Sudanese citizenship or on the following grounds for involuntary loss of Sudanese citizenship: a) Person obtains new citizenship; b) Naturalized citizenship obtained through fraud or falsity; c) Naturalized citizen lives abroad more than 5 years, without registering.

Even in the draft Laws of the New Sudan(2003), some of whose provisions are being applied now in Southern Sudan illegitimately as they have not been enacted accordingly with due process from the law manufacturing August house (the SSLA), the issue of citizenship (especially the dual citizenship status) has never been address in the New Sudan Nationality Act (2003). Not only this, but also that law has never got ratified nor enacted formally before the CPA came into being so that it can legitimately be used until an alternative one is billed and enacted as agreed in Naivasha, Kenya.

Now if we take the case of the chief of the Government of Southern Sudan (GoSS) Mission in US, Mr. Ezekiel Lol Gatkuoth, who used to call himself South Sudan Ambassador prematurely, I think some of us are right legally to call him an Ethiopian national representing Southern Sudan in that first world. Even if we argue that he has the right to hold that esteemed position of representation regardless of his nationality status because he has proven to be a good servant to the cause of Southern Sudanese, critical questions may arise: Does anybody who serve Southern Sudan even if he/she is not a Southern Sudanese qualifies by law to be accorded a Sudanese citizenship (Southern Sudan included) and attached privileges and honuor? What about the mercenaries who have been helping Southern Sudan against the oppression of Khartoum and the North? Shall we make them representatives of Southern Sudan abroad? What about the Non-Sudanese NGOs staffs or church personnel who have been rendering good services to Southern Sudan? Should they be accorded with Sudanese citizenship rights and privileges like any Sudanese (Southerners included)?

The above sited laws says “No” though some compromises have been done illegally, including the appointment of Ezekiel Lol to represent Southern Sudan in US despite the availability of qualified Southern Sudanese to hold the post.

According to some reliable sources from the very homeland of Mr. Ezekiel Lol in Western Ethiopia, his grandfather Jany Jor was a Sudanese but migrated to Nuerland in Ethiopian side of Gambella Region due to sectional fighting in Yom his original village (currently part of Longichuk County of Upper Nile State) at the border with Ethiopia. Mr. Ezekiel father became an Ethiopian thereafter, baptizing Ezekiel to follow suit until the SPLA/M war broke out to use that part of Ethiopia as a haven and giving the population there chance to get privileges accorded to Southern Sudan refugees (including lost boys/girls) overseas. It is even said that Gambela used to be part of Southern Sudan but was exchanged from Khartoum with Kassala in Eastern part of Northern Sudan before Eritrea broke away from Ethiopia. The main ethnicities of the Gambela Region according to Ethiopian national population census (2007) are: the Nuer (46.65%), the Anuak (21.17%), Amhara (8.42%), Kafficho (5%), Oromo (4.83%), Kambaata (1.44%), Mezhenger (4%), Shakacho (2.27%), Tigrean (1.32%) and other ethnic groups predominantly from southern Ethiopia 4.9%.

Now if Mr. Ezekiel Lol Gatkuoth or any of his supporters thinks that what I said about his status of nationality is incorrect, let them refute it with facts. For example, let them produce the number of his Sudanese nationality and the passport he is using now in US. If he has acquired a naturalization status to be a Sudanese, let him also produce the evidence with statement of the date and the legal documents. Otherwise, he remains an Ethiopian even if he receives and flatters H.E. Salva Kiir and the GoSS delegations well in US.

Dr James Okuk is reachable at [email protected]

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