By Dr. James Okuk
January 29, 2011 (SSNA) — I am smelling a rat that it would be tricky for the Goss President, Gen. Salva Kiir Mayardit, to manage the draft Constitution that shall be produced and presented to him by the formed "Technical Committee to Review the Interim Constitution of Southern Sudan" at the same time with the draft Constitution that shall be produced and presented to him by the would-be formed "National Constitutional Review Commission" agreed in the All Southern Sudan Parties Conference, October 2010? Will President Kiir present the two draft constitutions (produced by those two bodies doing the same work) to the Southern Sudan Legislative Assembly (SSLA) for adoption or what will happen?
I am afraid, the formation of the "Technical Committee" and also the formation of the "National Commission” shall be nothing but a double work for the same draft Constitution, except perhaps, for it being an unfair political game in tendency for a one-party control of the public affairs of the Republic of South Sudan. The mandate of the two bodies will surely clash with the fittest to survive; either the “Committee” or the “Commission.” But why is the SPLM afraid of joint constitution drafting and promulgation work with other Southerners who have the intention to rule the Republic of South Sudan (ROSS) as well in future? Perhaps it is the nostalgic mood of the liberation pride, with its independence consequence, which is driving this marginalizing move.
In the conclusion of my comment to Mr. Gordon Buay and Dr. Peter Adwok Nyaba’s offend and defense of the GoSS presidential decree on the constitution drafting committee , I wrote this: "To be pragmatic, the best way to go about this issue is for every political party or a coalition/alliance of political parties of South Sudan to form their own "Constitutional Review Committees" as well to start drafting the Constitution of the Republic of South Sudan like what the SPLM is trying to do so that those drafts could be presented competatively to the Review Commission that shall be formed soon as part of the agreed post-referendum road-map that has been revealed by H.E. GoSS Vice President Dr. Riek Machar recently. Complaining fold-handedly without coming up with a solution does not help much. If there is no trust of working together, let every political party/parties try to work for South Sudan on their own until the significance of developing and maintaining that unified trust becomes sensibly pressing for all."
However, a savvy South Sudan political analyst and strategist wrote to me that the problem with my suggestion will be that anything that shall be done outside the SPLM/GoSS established constitutional review committee will only end up as alternative opposition party programmes. I may agree with him a bit, though.
The main solutions I have suggested to this controversy are:
1) Reduce Pres. Kiir’s Decree to a party thing so that it does not send to the grave the “National Constitutional Review Commission" agreed in the final communiqué of "All Southern Sudanese Political Parties Conference", October 13 – 17, 2010 in Juba. In other words, let’s the concerned Southern Sudan political parties or individuals help H.E. Kiir and the crony in aborting the fetus of that awaited important Commission. Let them find alternative rescue prescription to make this Commission prevail over the formed one-party "Technical Committee" forged in the name of the GoSS as a political game to hoodwink the people and the international community in a very cheap manner.
NB1: at least this suggestion is working because H.E. Gabriel Changson Chang, the GoSS Minister of Culture and Heritage, has been reported to have declined to be included as a member. Even if this "Technical Committee” insisted to come up with "a draft constitution of South Sudan" and send it to H.E. Kiir who will then send it to the SSLA for adoption before the expiry of the CPA interim period, their work will still be considered as a one-party thing in the name of a multi-party new state in Africa and on the World Map. This will be a reasonable ground to throw away their one-party constitution for the ROSS in future; believe me and I will be alive by then.
2) Call Pres. Kiir’s Decree “BREACH OF TRUST" developed from the South-South dialogues, and then sensitize him and his company that this attitude is very dangerous for the stable political future of the ROSS, a behavior the international community will never tolerate or let get away without negative consequences.
NB2: the African Union (AU) and the United Nations (UN) High Level Panel for the Sudan, Mr. Thabo Mbeki and his colleagues as well as Obama’s Administration should be urged to help sensitize Pres. Kiir to reverse his one-man show action. This SPLM top boss should and must be told categorically to form urgently the agreed "National Constitutional Review Commission" to start doing the work, and then incorporate the right members of the formed "Technical Committee" into this Commission. Pres. Obama can also give Pres. Kiir lecture on how the founding fathers of the U.S.A. came up with the fundamentals of an inclusive Constitution which have stabilized America democratically up to the day.
NB3: There is no any best way at the moment except to press on Pres. Gen. Salva Kiir to form the agreed "National Constitutional Review Commission" immediately after the final announcement of the Southern Sudan referendum results by the SSRC on February 7, 2011 if there are no objections or on February 14, 2011 if there are objections. There is no doubt that this Commission will restore the breached South-South trust, especially when it is given utmost mandate to do the work, authoritatively, competently, urgently and inclusively. It must and it should be given this mandate.
It is too early to take rejection demonstrations to streets of South Sudan to correct the wrong start for a new born nation. If the SPLM is afraid of South Sudanese joint work, let alternative programmes be formed even if they become confined to party programmes as they don’t get the chance to become a government programmes. Who knows, may be the future of the ruling party (SPLM) will get shortened soon by the people, paving way for the opposition parties to take over the government power and implement the right policies and programmes they have designed on the corridors.
Dr. James Okuk can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org