IOM and the Registration for the South Sudan Referendum in the Diaspora

By Peter Lokarlo Marsu, Australia

November 13, 2010 (SSNA) — In three day’s time, another supposedly landmark step in the 2005 CPA implementation will start, and that would be the registration for the 2011 South Sudan Referendum vote. This is both a decisive and defining moment that will evidently determine whether or not the present generation of Southern Sudanese would marshal its collective will to confront and break the manacles of Northern and Arab imperialism in order to emancipate the downtrodden people of South Sudan from misery and slavery-like status or go down in history as a ham-fisted, insensate and thoughtless generation.

The Northern rulers and politicians alike have unanimously and categorically stated that they would do everything in their power to ensure a unitary state in Sudan. From the shores of the Atlantic Ocean to the Persian Gulf, all Arab leaders have vowed to maintain in Sudan what they call the unity of the Arab country, meaning North and South Sudan.

The Arab League and the NCP who have remained opposed to South Sudan secession have manifestly succeeded in soliciting and getting on board the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) to preside over all stages of the Referendum outside Sudan, without the SPLM or the government of South Sudan ever raising an eye brow at this visible trap and attempt to steal the freedom of the people of South Sudan. Juba has fallen short of keeping a quizzical ogle on the calculating NCP and the dexterous (skilful) Northern strategists who are being backed all along by Egypt and the entire Arab World to wreck the grand generational dream of the people of South Sudan. At this ticklish moment, I have no intention to hold parties in South Sudan responsible for what they have done in terms of securing the best deal from the negotiating table or for falling short to deliver the right cargo to the people of the autonomous region. I think it is appropriate at this juncture to chase the hyena first and then warn the children against wandering into the bushes. I have argued in previous articles about lack of neutrality of IOM.

This organisation was in the first place surreptitiously hand-picked by the Arab League to handle the South Sudan Referendum in a fashion consistent with the real ambition and aspiration of the Arabs. At the recent extraordinary Arab league gathering, as well as the second Arab-African held in Libya, the Egyptian delegation was reported to have stated that the outcome of the looming South Sudan Referendum must be honoured by all parties. How could an Egyptian politician make such a self-assured statement to the world, if he was not sure of the sordid role the Arab League had contemplated on and assigned to the IOM regarding the manipulation of the Referendum by the latter? In what appeared to be a visible display of arrogance, contradiction and political insensitivity, Egypt asked the authorities in the government of Sudan to back down from secession bid and support a confederal arrangement in the Sudan. How on earth would Cairo introduce an issue which is certainly absent from Sudan’s political agenda and not found anywhere in the country’s Comprehensive Peace Agreement?

Egypt is not qualified to host a Referendum centre for registration and voting on its territory on account of the country’s partiality and propensity to stage-manage the plebiscite vote in favour of the Arab League and Sudan’s ruling NCP. However, there are a couple of sensible counter strategies that should be pursued if the effects of the collateral damage already inflicted on the Referendum process through naivety and inward-looking, on the part of SPLM negotiating team are to be mitigated:

1). All Diasporas should KEEP AWAY from registering themselves for the 2010 vote; this action could assist in denying the NCP the wherewithal to manipulate the final result of the vote, as there would be no substantial number of southern voters, and any fraudulent splurge by the IOM would easily come to light. It is safe to abstain from registration and there would be no harm done South Sudan’s cause than to register and be implicated in a regrettable and bleak scenario.

2). If Southerners decide to register, then it would be in the interest of the former to work alongside other observers to monitor the IOM at every conceivable stage of the exercise. I’m solidly convinced that the IOM is not going to deliver a fair outcome, particularly in Egypt where the dominant Egyptian officials who work for the international organisation might be instructed by the authorities to follow Cairo’s official AL political stance. It is one thing to possess an impressive dossier in securing credible elections result by the IOM in different regions of the world and quite another to supervise the Sudan’s complex and knotty Referendum which is central to the Arab world. In East Timor, the only party that might have wanted to sabotage the outcome of the Referendum of the territory was definitely Indonesia, or Ethiopia in the case of Eritrea, but no any Referendum in the whole globe has generated massive interest like the one in South Sudan. The fact that IOM was selected by the Arab World could mean that the international organisation could work for the interest of the Arab League.

3). SPLM and GoSS should sculpt an early warning robust plan to deal with initial signs of irregularities which are absolutely bound to occur as we embark on the contentious Referendum exercise. The IOM would probably register hundreds of thousand of non-Southern Sudanese whose votes would be commandeered for Sudan’s unity. It would constitute a full-blown weakness on the part of the authorities in Juba to adopt the sickening “wait and see” attitude and conduct, while the NCP strive to swing the Referendum outcome in its favour.

4). The talks with the NCP should be put to a temporary halt to enable both parties prepare for the Referendum. Khartoum is playing a tactical fixture designed to intensely engaged SPLM in negotiations while on the far end of the spectrum, perfecting its evil design of a united Arab and Islamic Sudan through fraudulent practices.

Finally, this is a desperate, eleventh-hour frantic appeal to all Southern Sudanese eligible voters in the Diaspora especially in Egypt to immediately shun the Arab-devised conspiracy against the independence of South Sudan, by keeping away from the registration that begins 16 November 2010. South Sudanese must go to any length to secure the “yes vote” for South Sudan independence, even if it means war. Our gorgeous national Anthem and the elevated aspiration about independent South Sudan would come to zilch if we allow the NCP to impose unity in Sudan.

The Author is an Academic Researcher; he can be reached at: [email protected]

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