By Peter Lokarlo Marsu – Australia
December 5, 2010 (SSNA) — The North is persistently committed to advancing its deliberate acts of folly by suggesting that the Referendum date be shifted further from its original date of 9th January 2011. In what anyone would almost certainly label as an exposition of the highest notch of idiocy by the National Congress Party alongside its foreign backers through the office of the South Sudan Referendum Commission. In a written message reported to have sent by the Chairman of the Commission to Sudan’s presidency – a nebulous trio constituted by the President of the country and consisting of the President himself, the first Vice president and the Second Vice president, the Commission’s Chief had requested the Presidency to extend the Referendum scheduled date to an unspecified new date.
As a matter of fact, this naïve NCP move to con the SPLM is not considered a bombshell at all by South Sudanese, as it has all along been the gambit favoured by the mainstream northern political strategists including the current overbearing regime of the NCP throughout its poignant dossier of duplicity in the Sudan.
The Commission Chairman’s concealed attempt to play an unethical role in the Referendum in a bid to thwart South Sudanese’ desire for an independent country of their own is certainly doomed to failure. While appearing absorbed, balanced and impartial, Mr. Mohammad Ibrahim Khalil as a northerner and the Commission’s Chairman is incontestably exerting supreme effort of an underhand dealing so as to witness an emerging Arab and Islamic state in the Sudan at the conclusion of the South Sudan Referendum exercise in early January 2011. The NCP insisted on a northern official to occupy the position for one plain reason – to delay and shatter the Referendum vote. Hence all the unwarranted delays so far have been part of and parcel of a carefully rehearsed strategy. President al-Bashir himself and the entire NCP functionaries have already pledged to ensure a unitary state in the country, regardless of what South Sudan thinks. Taking advantage of perhaps SPLM’s Achilles’ heel, the calculating NCP proceeded on to extend the registration time by eight (8) more days.
While the extension is seen by the SPLM as favourable days of grace, Khartoum may conceivably have fraudulently maximised the five additional days up to it advantage, with a further golden opportunity to use the remaining three days for committing more fiddling (registering more non-Southerners and use the numbers to trim down the 60 percent turnout, conscious of the fact that unity vote is out of the question in the face of an overwhelming Southern secession vote). It is quite plain that South Sudanese have all along been reluctant to register for next year’s independence vote in the north of the country for appreciable reason – vote tampering by the tenacious NCP and the Arab League, adding more days for registration would not make any substantial difference in terms of numbers registering, as the same unenthusiastic Southerners are expected to queue up at the northern registration centres. Juba should desist from committing repeated blunders, lest South Sudan’s long cherished hope of an independent state will begin to wilt from today onward. Further more chances are that the NCP and the North will definitely employ dexterity to again convince our amateurish politicians in the South to have the ballot papers for the Referendum printed in Khartoum. If it does happen, then, South Sudanese should not foster the dream of having to run a country of their own, as it would utterly be impossible to secure an independent state through the ballot.
The last general elections held in April 2010 were marred by widespread fraud, beginning with massive printing of ballot papers without serial numbers, clearly intended for vote rigging. It is worth calling to memory that, having printed its own ballot papers inside the country without supervision from the other Parties contesting the elections, the NCP confidently distributed them and consequently went on to have a comfortable triumph in the nationwide contest. It was just like being both a player and a referee at the same moment. That act of duplicity enabled the NCP to win the elections and pack the National Parliament with its own supporters.
The anticipated ploy of the North would work out in this approach: The NCP would create needless or unwarranted delays, this would be expected to run for more than a week of foot-dragging, then the SSRC would suggest that, because of time factor and to conform to the rigid scheduled date of the vote, the ballot papers must only be printed in Khartoum to ensure speed and conformity to the inflexible date, and if the SPLM objected to the advise, then the NCP would turn around and say, well, the only way to conduct the vote with ballot papers printed outside the country, would be to skip over the 9th of January, of course this time with unnamed date. Here, much to the chagrin of the entire South Sudan, while sending Cairo beaming with a broad smile, the north will have succeeded in altering the “SACROSANCT” date, the date that South Sudanese across the globe have looked to and vividly memorised. Would the SPLM escape culpability? I think otherwise, the SPLM Political bureau which is the highest governing body of the ruling Party in South Sudan would be unsuccessful to escape blame from all South Sudanese who look up to the Party for emancipation and ultimate deliverance from ages of Northern exploitation, marginalisation and extreme repression including widespread abuses and wholesale killings in South Sudan.
The Party has all along been too submissive and soft on a number of occasions, when dealing with the north. I reckon that may be taking a residence in the bad books of individuals and groups for being a pragmatist and assertive in my arguments when it comes to defending the interests of South Sudan, however, if that is the price to pay, then I have no escape path, except to unwaveringly continue to remain in those bad books without regrets. Look! How on earth would the SPLM and the government of South Sudan have failed to condemn the two recent aerial attacks launched by the Sudan armed Forces in South Sudan?
I am not preaching the gospel of tit-for-tat, or suggesting any punitive military measures against the NCP and its undisciplined army deployed on the border areas, but one would sensibly suppose that the Government of South Sudan would have hastily convened a press conference in Juba, and tell the whole world about the gross violation of the Peace Agreement and seriously warn the NCP against any repetition of such acts of unjustified excessive savagery, but it didn’t happen as expected. Oddly enough, the only pronouncement made by the authorities in Juba was that “we will never respond to any attacks from the SAF, because they are attempting to derail the Referendum”, until when would the SPLM and the authorities in South Sudan learn to invoke the right to self-defence. Bringing down those hovering attacking machines would still be permissible under any circumstances including human natural law of justice. Next time the NCP would drop bombs in Juba itself and it is anyone’s guess as to the reaction from the SPLM, but the current trend of thinking indicates that South Sudanese must get prepared for further humiliations until the 9th of January 2011, (if at all the vote happens) Transacting Registration Cards.
There have lately been a wave sporadic instances of purchases of registration cards from South Sudanese voters by northerners who still clinch to the faint hope of unity. There could only be a single explanation for such rampant illegal transactions. Admittedly, the NCP, being determined to swing the Referendum result in favour of unity in the country, has been making a thoroughgoing and concerted move to embark on a massive fraud in order to deal a final blow to the South Sudanese dream once and for all.
Salah Gosh, the presidential advisor on security matters did recently reveal the existence of NCP’s Plan “B” without elaborating further. Would that slapdash or lackadaisical utterance be interpreted to suggest an impending northern strategy of depriving South Sudanese from voting at the 2011 Referendum, through widespread fraud of perhaps buying a quite substantial number of registration cards in Sudan and overseas, in order to keep away South Sudanese voters the polling centres and consequently deprive the latter from attaining their goal of an independent state of South Sudan, where they would no longer be stratified into second or third class citizens in their country of birth? Does the South possess a commensurate counter-strategy to thwart the northern malicious plan “B”? All forms of dishonest practices are certainly abhorred by the international community.
If the NCP, taking advantage of the grinding poverty in South Sudan decided to acquire or commandeer the registration Cards in the hands of South Sudanese voters through cash swap, with a clear aim of reducing the 60 percent turnout mark, then South Sudan government should simply dismiss the vote as being tampered with, and immediately seek other alternative measures. The South could declare an independent state through the South Sudan Parliament or conduct its own Referendum without the north. Both options would require that the SPLA army get ready to shoulder their national duty. Of course the NCP would hardly start a war without firm guarantees from Egypt and the troublesome country in the Middle East. Khartoum is aware that any skirmishes along the border areas with the SPLA contingents could quickly spiral into a full-blown war that the north without foreign support would never sustain. SPLA soldiers might perhaps need to stock more gas masks to withstand coward gas attacks and also deploy credible anti-aircraft defence system to deter the paper tiger.
I would conclude by stressing that the Northern persistent attempt to purloin the South Sudan Referendum vote is real. This genuine menace should never be ignored or taken lightly by South Sudanese in general. It would be safe for the stakeholders in South Sudan to have the Referendum ballot papers printed outside the Sudan in order to lower the risk of any attempt at large-scale vote rigging through production of hundreds of thousands of extra ballots intended for fraud. Up to this moment no one has a clue as to the number of the registered voters in Egypt. The South Sudan Referendum Bureau should be able to monitor every calculated and prejudiced move of its senior partner, the SSRC. It is pointless to continue to exist, if it is unable to be assertive, but only standing nonchalantly and watching the domineering Commission with folded arms. When the registration materials were printed in South Africa, one would have thought that the same firm would proceed on to print the ballot papers. Was the Bureau unaware of about the stages leading to the polling? There certainly appears to be a plain and utter malfunction of the South Sudan Referendum Bureau. How will South Sudan run the Referendum on the 9th January without the ballot papers being available?
The Author is an Academic Researcher; he can be reached at: [email protected]