Prof. Khalil Moves From Re-opening Ballot Bids to Postponing the Referendum

‘Professor Khalil’s last move represents the Northern Arab Islamists’ desperation to hinder South Sudan’s walk to Freedom and Independence!

By Justin Ambago Ramba, MD

December 5, 2010 (SSNA) — The News on Wednesday December 1st, that the tender to print ballot papers for the south Sudan’s referendum which closed in mid-November 2010 has now been reopened till December 5th with the unpopular possibility of  delaying the January 9th vote, is in fact the most unwelcoming development in as far as the south Sudanese grassroots are concerned.

By the look of it, the chairperson of the South Sudan Referendum Commission [SSRC], who is behind all this nasty stuff, is proving to be one problematic old bloke who continuously over assumes to know it all. No doubt that even his own hand-picked assistants [his fellow northerners] have deserted him. But why on earth does this bloke chose to take all these risks if at all he has no personal interests in the expected out-come?

The answer to the above question can be seen in the statement made by George Makuer, the Deputy spokesman for the SSRC when he said and I quote:

"The commission just requested the bidding be reopened for some time to enable Sudanese printing companies to apply if they think they can compete," George Makuer, acting spokesman for the commission, said. [Reuters].

At this point any sensible individual will ask the logical question which is quite simple,” where were these so-called Sudanese Printing Companies [in fact for “Jallaba” only – as I don’t know of any South Sudanese fat-cat who owns one] when the bid was opened? And what prevented them [the so-called Jallaba Printing Companies] from applying in the initial stage? And what has now changed that warrants it necessary for them to bid and possibly have a chance to make it now? Or is it just another chapter in the NCP’s endless brinkmanship?

From here on wards, there are many parts to the way the story may eventually unfold. However what cannot be ignored is the fact that Prof. Khalil is trying to work out ways in order to guarantee contracts for his fellow northerners who have Printing Houses in Khartoum. This is a widely known practice in the Sudanese society and it is either done to promote a family business, a syndicate or in return for fat kickbacks. Here is a “Jallaba” mentality at work – they will never miss a chance to make money, even if that involves fates of other people.

The business part of these new revelations cannot obviously be the sole motive given the fact that it was immediately followed by a suggestion to request a postponement for the January 9th date. This is initially explained by what was attributed in the media to one senior official in the SSRC who told the Reuters news agency that;

“it had taken five weeks to print the registration materials and The UN has said it needs up to three weeks to distribute voting materials in the south, which has little infrastructure.”

Whoever came up with the above reasoning is obviously on a mission to find an excuse to postpone the January 9 referendum date, despite the fact that it has been made abundantly clear that such a move will never be accepted by the south Sudanese. Again all is traceable to Prof. Khalil: 

“ – Mohamed Ibrahim Khalil, chairman of Southern Sudan Referendum Commission (SSRC), told members of the commission’s board that he intends to write to president Al-Bashir and President Salva Kiir of the semi-autonomous region to ask for postponing the referendum until the end of January, according to his deputy Chan Reek Madut.” Sudan Tribune 3/12/10. It is no longer just requesting  the bidding to be reopened for some time, my brother George Makuer – this Jallaba man is rather more interested in postponing the whole referendum and a possible step towards the ‘Polisario fate’. Never looks any good, does it? ‘

The Professor, whose sarcasm is second only to his kinsman Dr. Hassan al Turabi, should not hide behind the excuse of time. The CPA had given this very event [the referendum] a whole period of six years and the reason why we are in this current man-made mess is something that he [Prof. Khalil] and his fellow northern Islamists of the NIF/NCP are to account for.

The NCP which obviously signed the CPA without the least intension to implement the deal is now using Prof. Khalil to fight the South by proxy. It can be said in their face that every inch so far achieved in implementing this deal has been a result of the unfailing pressure from the International community, a fact known to all.  But for the Professor, ALL must wait for some sort of a miracle if the polls are to take place on time – which he initially believed in. But now instead of praying for that miracle or joining hands with others who seriously want to have the referendum on time, our Professor is only seen trying to find ways and means to delay and prolong an already misspent time.

Coming to the issue of allowing the Sudanese [Jallaba] Printing Houses to bid for the ballot papers – this by itself is another extremely inflammable topic. At this particular stage the whole world   knows that the South will overwhelmingly opt for secession, regardless of   the North’s declared position to use every available means to keep the Sudan united. This should undoubtedly disqualify any Northern firms from claiming neutrality and are thus unfit to be awarded the bid for such sensitive materials as the South Sudan’s Independence referendum ballot papers. Why?!! Read below.

Given the one undisputable fact that there exists NO any trust between the North and the South, the Southern Sudanese officials’ request to have the voting and registration materials printed in a neutral location outside Sudan so as to avoid any possibility of manipulation MUST be adhered to. This alone in itself is the most vital point if the real return to war is to be avoided. Obviously South Sudan as an entity would not benefit from this particular re-opening of the ballots bids in any economic way since none of its citizens own any Printing Company. However it is to be made very clear that anybody who dares temper with the January 9th date won’t get away with it.

And there is no way that the North can describe the South’s position as extreme. It wasn’t too long that the Sudan Government’s Printing Press in Khartoum was at the centre of a scandal during the April 2010 general elections, which sparked a boycott by many opposition parties. Through the NCP’s manipulations, this government printing House was awarded the tender to print the ballot papers and the registration materials despite the fact that it wasn’t the cheapest bid – which according to the opposition parties opened the door to fraud by the ruling party. Consequently those elections remain   even by local standards to be a sham.

Now if the northern opposition parties can testify to the lack of credibility of these so-called Sudanese printing companies – what does the world expect of the southerners who suffered decades of intense marginalisation and recurrent deceits and are naturally made to live with suspicious minds in as far as the Arab north is concerned?

Professor Mohamed Ibrahim Khalil who personally confessed that he doesn’t recognize the South’s right to self-determination can never deny that his appointment to lead the SSRC is but the ruling NCP’s strategy to control the referendum process, and possibly derail it. He would of course want to make it look otherwise, but that is just too late for all his actions have betrayed him. Whatever he did was totally in conformity with the long known ill–intentions shared by all the Islamist elites of northern Sudan.

Using all available means to frustrate the South from going free is an open northern policy. Sadly enough that is how the Professor conducts himself AND nobody can dispute that. Now that this one fact is known to the South, whichever way the NCP wants to play the game – they can only be met with equal wittiness.

The UN and the entire International Community must be very cautious not to appear as yet another source of worry for the people of south Sudan. Let     those mandated to oversee peace in the Sudan understand that a workable unity or secession can only be achieved by a free choice of the people of south Sudan, without any outside coercion.

At this point I can only appeal to the South Sudan’s leadership and all those who continue to wish well for south Sudan, that the ballot papers for the South Sudan Referendum should only be printed by a neutral body in a neutral location outside the Sudan and the January 9th date MUST never be tempered with. The people of south Sudan are fed up of the too many agreements being dishonoured.

It cannot be over stressed any further that the international community has promised to hold a free, transparent and timely referendum on south Sudan, and thus should keep its promise. South Sudan is no doubt doing its best to tolerate the endless trails of those calculated hurdles put on the way of peace by the North in an attempt to undermine the hard won Self Determination Process. However now is the time for the people of south Sudan to stand their ground for a continued support from all the peace loving people in the world to guarantee the full and timely implementation of the remaining parts of the North-South peace deal [CPA].

The author: Justin Ambago Ramba. Secretary General – United South Sudan Party [USSP]. He can be reached at: [email protected].

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