Tendency for One-Party State with Lifetime President in South Sudan

By Dr. James Okuk

March 8, 2011 (SSNA) — In an article titled “Breach of South-South Trust Is Dangerous Bleach” (http://www.southsudannation.com/breach%20of%20ss%20trust%20jokuk78.htm), I posed thus: “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.”

Indeed and with the public statement released by the eight signed members of Alliance of South Sudan Political Parties (see http://www.southsudannation.com/withdrawofsspolitpartiespr%2078.htm), it is seemingly becoming a proved evident that the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) is not ready to go for multi-party constitution and limited term of presidential office in South Sudan.

When political philosophers warned of the tyranny of the majority within the imprudent practice of democracy, it was not out of blues. A mechanical majority could be used to justify an evil act in the name of democratic voting. History is rich of best examples here. This is exactly the case appearing now about the Technical Committee tasked to review the Interim Constitution of Southern Sudan (2005). The SPLM members in the Committee are reported to have rejected consensus and imposed tyranny of majoritarian rule as the main term of procedures.

With this tendency, it is coming out clearly that the SPLM is not yet satisfied with comradeship accommodation and is trying very hard by any means to dominate things in order to achieve more political selfishness. The SPLM seems to be promoting a one-party state ruled by a lifetime President once the independence of South Sudan is declared formally. The SPLM is even seemingly blindfolded that the current Southern Sudan Legislative Assembly (SSLA) is not a national parliament to legitimize national issues. In fact by 9th July 2011, the SSLA should automatically get dissolved as the mandated time of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) expires. Even the GoSS presidential post that H.E. Salva Kiir is holding now as well as other constitutional ministerial posts should become obsolete legally so that a way is paved for establishment of federative national institutions and legalities.

Unsound arguments put across by some good number of SPLM members and supporters are really flabbergasting. For example, they say that there are no real other political parties in Southern Sudan apart from SPLM. But if they are right and truthful in their conceptions why the SPLM recognized these “ghost-parties” in the first place? Was it a rubber stamping tactic to deceive the democratic countries that have supported the struggle of South Sudanese? But how will multi-party system look sensible if there are no alternative political parties to reckon with in South Sudan? For me, this argument is mistakenly similar to one that has been used by international NGOs operating in Southern Sudan that there are no qualified Southern Sudanese to hold the jobs assumed by foreigners; when there are actually plenty of marginalized qualified Southerners everywhere on the globe.

Also why is the SPLM afraid of holding genuine elections as soon as South Sudan becomes an independent state so that it could really be seen whether there are other legitimate political parties in South Sudan or not? The 2010 general elections were for the Sudan (with all its levels of government including the GoSS and states). I remember that the eligible Southerners went to ballot boxes to elect different candidates to the post of the President of the whole Sudan including the South, the President of the Government of South Sudan, the SSLA MPs and others. These people have not yet been given opportunity to elect their own Sovereign President. Hence any politician claiming mandated by Southern voters to rule for five years is just a big political liar.

But given the paradigm shift that occurred after the declaration of the results of the referendum of Southern Sudan self-determination in overwhelming favour of secession, it would be a good idea to conduct the first elections for the Republic of South Sudan without any delay and then allow the people to give a verdict about the fate of both the SPLM and Non-SPLM political parties and shortening the interim period?

It is said that interim governments are never stable; hence any strive for elongating the interim terms of constitutional offices should be discouraged categorically. Two years is just enough and fine to call a government an interim. I don’t think South Sudan is or shall be short of money needed for holding elections in April 2013 as many SPLM leaders and members would want the people to believe. If you came across the figures of the Southern Sudan public monies that have been embezzled or used to accommodate foreigners (including some rebels of Darfur) in Juba even to the extent of paying their air tickets, perhaps, you will believe the unbelievable that South Sudan is a rich region.

I am afraid any push for one-party state ruled by a lifetime president may render the independence of South Sudan declared jointly with serious rebellion against SPLM regime like what happened to the Sudan in 1956. God forbids!!! The bushes and forests of South Sudan seem to have proven to be one of the best for guerrilla insurgence. That is why many rebels including the SPLM/A as well as the Ugandan Lord Resistance Army (LRA) managed to give headache of instability to the ruling regimes they didn’t like. Nothing is really more dangerous and riskiest than politics of exclusion and perpetual selfishness. The current SPLM government in the South was the real creator of Athor, Yauyau, Gai, Olony and perhaps more is status quo continues.

If I were the GoSS President Salva Kiir and the SPLM Company, I would have made a checklist of all the wrong doings of the Arabized Central Government in Khartoum and neighboring countries, which has led to rebellions that couldn’t get crashed except with peaceful dialogue and non-dismissal of the concerns raised. I would have also made my decisions in a manner that avoided repeating the check-listed mistakes of the past governments and political parties. Surely, the SPLM seems to be going back to the dark ages despite the overwhelming vote of Southerners for the pursuit of freedom from the bitter past.

I hope the South Sudan Political Parties Leaders’ Forum shall convene a meet soon to see to it that the new nation starts on a right path of genuine democracy and with interim as well as permanent constitution drafted correctly for the good of nation rather than that of the selfish interest of the SPLM or any other single political party. South-South Dialogue based on consensus is really the solvent ingredient needed urgently to create national institutions legitimately.

Let this Forum take over since the set up Committee members failed to work as a team. I am optimistic that in presence of Salva Kiir, Dr. Riek Machar, Dr. Lam Akol, Bona Malwal, Peter A. Sule and other South Sudan political leaders, a consensus can be reached on an interim constitution needed urgently to take care legally the birth of the new nation before convening a national permanent constitutional conference.

Viva and long live Independent South Sudan based on good governance and prudent leadership within multi-partism prospective.

Dr. James Okuk is a PhD holder in Political Philosophy with good command of knowledge in other epistemic areas. He can be reached at [email protected].

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