By Dr James Okuk
November 2, 2010 (SSNA) — This is a critical question whose answer should be ready by now before it is too late to act within the law. It is said that the law could be manipulated for evil purposes when there are loopholes in it. But it is also said that the best law is the one generated out of bitter experiences. It is here that this article tries to draw its alert, especially in the context of the resignation of the spokesman of the Southern Sudan Referendum Commission (SSRC). What does the law provide in case a member or leadership of the SSRC resigns and leaves the post of his responsibilities vacant? What guarantees should be put in place to avoid the delay of the referendum conduct next time if vacancy in the Commission repeats itself?
Article 11 of the Southern Sudan Referendum Act (2009) says: (1) A post in the Commission shall be vacant for any of the following reasons: a) decision delivered under the provisions of Section 12 [ i.e(1) Membership shall be abrogated by a decision from the President of the Republic with the approval of the First Vice-President for any of the following reasons: a) repeated absence for five consecutive meetings without permission or acceptable excuse, which the Commission shall report to the Presidency, b) conviction for a crime related to honesty or moral turpitude based on a notification made by the Commission. (2) The President of the Republic, with the approval of the First Vice-President, may issue an order to remove any of the members due to incompetence relating to the Commission’s powers, competences and procedures upon recommendation by the Commission.], b) acceptance of resignation by the President of the Republic, c) developing a crippling mental or physical disability as per a report from the General Medical Commission, d) death. (2) In case the member’s post falls vacant for any of the reasons mentioned in Sub-Section (11.1.) above, a successor shall be appointed within 30 days, following the same procedures and conditions provided for in Sub-Section (10.2.) of this Act [i.e. 10 (1) The Commission is composed of the Chairperson, his/her Deputy and seven members to be appointed by the President of the Republic, with the approval of the First Vice-President, in accordance with the provisions of Sub-Section 58 (2) (c) of the Constitution and with the approval of the members of the National Legislature with simple majority, providing a broader representation so to include women and other Civil Society Organizations.]
As it is reported in the Sudan Tribune and other media outlets that the spokesperson of the Southern Sudan Referendum Commission (SSRC) resigned because of serious disagreements within the Commission (see http://sudantribune.com/spip.php?article36799), I am afraid it will be the Chairperson to resign next when he finds out that there is not going to be a heavenly “miracle” to meet the “sacrosanct” 9th January 2011 fixed date of the referendum as he expects. And of course, when mass resignations within the SSRC occur before that time, and as we are only left with few weeks in the countdown to referendum, there is not going to be any doubt that the commission leadership will collapse automatically before it is resurrected, perhaps.
By then more time will be require to come up with new leadership in Khartoum and with a the known feed-dragging from the Sudanese national Parliament and Presidency in stepping in to replace the collapsed leadership as provided in the Referendum Act. The Deputy Chairperson, Hon. Judge Chan Reek Madut, will just remain helpless in Juba until a new boss and other needed members are appointed and ratified to lead the Commission with the "Referendum Count-up" from the agreed 9th January date.
I think the NCP and those who are opposing the referendum are succeeding to play the game of the delay tactics now, but I am very sure they may not score any goal on stopping the inevitable desire for the independence of South Sudan. Even if they delay the independence, I doubt whether they will manage to take it away from the hearts and minds of Southerners at any time and from one generation to the next. Even if H.E. Salva Kiir tries to sell out Dr Riek Machar in Khartoum-based newspapers so that he could get eliminated if it is time to eliminate separatists in the Sudanese political scene, I don’t have any doubt that the desire of the independence of South Sudan is so expensive for such a cheap sale. Let the NCP and anti-independence Sudanese try to joke with South Sudan referendum, but sooner than later, they will find themselves in troubles with the reality and truth of the matter.
But of course Southerners would have a little difficulty to put forward other plans for independence because a good number of them are already finding it uncomfortable to leave behind their accumulated property and wealth in Northern Sudan, and also risk power sweetness in Juba, Khartoum and capitals of Southern states from the stolen democracy of last April 2010 elections, if the independence becomes a reality in the quickest time possible. Southerners may know the devil called Jellaba or Mundukuarat (in Juba Arabic), but I don’t think they know well the devil called Southerners opportunist unionists (I don’t know how to call this unknown devil it in Juba Arabic).
In this case, there may not be catastrophe on South Sudan from the Afro-Arabs who controls Sudan power and wealth from Khartoum. But, perhaps the catastrophe shall come from some Southerners themselves, especially with the freedom granted by H.E. Salva Kiir’s administration to allow the unionists distribute sugar and lentil sacks to the hungry Southerners as a bribe for unity. Nonetheless despite all these bas news on the successful conduct of the referendum, still the hope for South Sudan independence shall never fade away because its dignity is endorsed in many Southerners hearts.
I recommend that the current Southern Sudan Referendum Act 2009) should be amended so that it does not put the Commission members to work under duress, and so that the filling in of the vacancies do not take more time with slow bureaucracy from Parliament to the Presidency. It should be spelt out clearly in the amended clauses that the replacement should be done within two weeks and by simple appointments from the CPA partners (the SPLM and NCP), and that the deputies to the posts left vacant should continue with the work until their new bosses arrive to take charge of the duty.
Viva South Sudan and the Desire for its Independence despites the created difficulties!
Dr James Okuk is reachable at email@example.com