Formation of a Broad-based Transitional Government would not Augur Well for the Institutionalization of Democracy in the New Country
By PaanLuel Wël (Washington DC, USA)
February 6, 2011 (SSNA) — In the period leading up to the negotiation, signing and promulgation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, it was imperative for all Southerners to front a united face in order to underscore their determination not to be taken for a ride by the National Congress Party of President el Beshir. The same judgment applied and did occur during the rocky implementation of the CPA and also in the years, months and days running up to the referendum process. That the plebiscite was successfully conducted on time and a peaceful divorce from the North is awaiting South Sudanese in July is a long lasting legacy of that rare unity among Southern Sudanese.
Had one group or political party bulged and stabbed the people’s aspiration at the back, the whole process would have gone up in smoke just as did the Addis Ababa Accord whose revocation owed much to the acrimonious relationship between various contending ideologies.
Having stood our ground as one assemblage united for a common cause and secured the accomplishment of our vision, it is now crucial for all parties to see the realization of our future, our destiny in the nursing, harnessing and bolstering of democratic institutions embody in the principles of multi-partyism. An all-inclusive government in an immature democracy would be practically the same as to an official embracement of a de facto one party dictatorship.
Obviously, the opportunist opposition leaders, whose parties are nothing more than briefcases, would welcome and applaud this decisive development since it would present them with employment opportunities to provide for themselves and their families. And with little added vintage point of being in a government which is not known as a paragon of incorruptibility, wealth would undeniably flow like river Nile into their offshore bank accounts; much in the same established tradition of their 7-year-old counterparts in the GoSS. With this moneyed-geared contract in place, it would be safe to say that short term benefit in form of social and political stability, as Hon. Pagan Amum stated, might be attained. But how long this marriages of convenience would last among the ruling elites is debatable and the consequences of its eventual disintegration would be dire.
For one, the reasons advanced by Hon. Pagan Amum, the SPLM Secretary-General and the GoSS minister for Peace and CPA implementation, do not add up nor stand the scrutiny of reasonable argument. Hon. Amum argue that having a broad-based transitional government in the post independence period would serve two main purpose. One, it would “ensure inclusive governance and [political] stability.” And two, it would promote an emergency of a new “multiparty democratic nation in the world” in the form of the new nation to be.
Yet, a “new emerging multi-party democratic nation in the world” does not require a broad based government as a prerequisite for democracy. What it urgently need is a watchful eyes of a strong and vibrant opposition party/parties. These opposition parties, acting as key pillars of democratic society, would supervise the government: acting as alternative ruling party by advancing better alternative policies and, as oversight body, serve to ensure that government policies and actions are in the best interest of the citizens that they serve.
Though there would be short term benefit, the proposed formation of an all-inclusive transitional government in the post independence period would, however, abort the growth and maturation of democracy in the young country. This is because, in the long run, it would set a bad precedence in which elites would turn the government of the people into a compromised club of political parties some of which exist only on paper as bargaining chip for cabinet portfolios. A broad-based government would kill opposition parties and thus undermine the cultivation and flourishing of democratic institutions.
In addition, a mindset of a coalition government would implant itself among the citizenship as well as among the ruling class. In the event of any disputed election in the future, the consensus would be to have a coalition government to accommodate and appease all contending parties. This would perpetuate itself forever as contesting of election results, rather than winning elections, would become the norms and the path toward positions in government or cabinet membership. Such sort of an environment would not be conducive one for democracy because a real democratic country require the present and the active participation of a vibrant opposition party/parties. Instead, future South Sudan would be compelled to adopt the current system of government as arranged in Kenya, Zimbabwe and soon-to-be in Ivory Coast.
In fact, the proposed all-inclusive interim government would preclude the blossoming of any budding opposition parties that would be vital for the working and the maintainability of a democratic government. The indispensability of the considerable contributions of the opposition parties in a democratic society and to the running of the government of the day can’t be overstated nor live without.
Moreover, an inclusive transitional government in South Sudan, while promoting stability in the short-term, would sow the seed of instability in the long run. The old adage of “power corrupt” expresses it better than anything else I can conjure up. Once these leaders, whether from opposition parties or current ministers in the government, test the addictive trappings of power, it would be too hard for any of them to contemplate the life of a backbencher. It would naturally follow that these leaders, in their greedy quest for more power and wealth that come with ministerial jobs, would sell out their principles and values at the altar of power so as to remain in the government. This would destabilize any meaningful formation and growth of real opposition party in the country without which the country would degenerate into either elitism rule or authoritarianism.
Therefore; for the sake of democratic transformation; for the grooming of future strong opposition parties; and for the sake of long term stability, this proposed formation of a broad-based interim government that would not augur well for the institutionalization of democracy in the new country should be shunned by all concerned parties and citizens of South Sudan. Cultivation of a strong and vibrant opposition parties should take precedent and surpass any short-term windfalls that may come with an all-inclusive interim government in the post independence period.
A broad-based government would tantamount to a silent killing of any opposition to government’s abuses of public offices, corruptions and poor governance since it would be unthinkable that the government, compose as it would be of all parties, would be willing and able to supervised itself as much as an opposition party would be count on to dispense its constitutional duties.
Mr PaanLuel Wël can be reached at [email protected] or through his blog: http://paanluel2011.blogspot.com/