Timely elections offer the only way out

By: Justin Ambago Ramba

July 14, 2013 (SSNA) — Although the people of South Sudan are consciously endeavoring to prevent the emergence of yet another Mugabe or Museveni in Africa’s newest country, it is already a common knowledge that the power greedy president is has already declared his desire to continue in office beyond the current term.

As President Kiir is willing to risk everything good that he has done for the country or the sake of power, the odds are this General is already possessed by the African leaders’ sick mindset of making it out of office only to go to the grave. In other words he wants to die in power.But whether this former rebel commander sticks to the constitution and the rules of the game in order to achieve his wild dreams or not, this author has since been warning the public against possible attempts by the president and his supporters to delay holding the new country’s first ever elections on time – July 9th 2015. The reason is that, the incumbent president being afraid of losing SPLM backing in the illusive party convention, he hopes a delay may changes things for him on the ground.

On the other hand, there are other lobby groups who also see in a delay – an opportunity to bargain with the incumbent for some personal and quasi regional dividends. An example is the suggestion made by the SPLM Member of the South Sudan National Legislative Assembly [SSNLA] from Jonglei State, Dr. Lual. A. Deng.

With my utmost respect for Hon. Deng, who holds a PhD in Economics from the University of Wisconsin Madison, however his call for the amendment of the Transitional Constitution of South Sudan 2011 [TCSS2011] to allow a full transitional period of five (5) years starting this year, 2013, is yet to convince anybody. Nevertheless he argues that this move would be a part of a conditional agreement with Greater Bahr el Ghazal – SPLM caucus, for President Salva Kiir Mayardit to complete a transitional period that ends on July 9, 2018, without him seeking further terms of office.

In this extension period Hon. Deng hopes that president Salva Kiir shall carry out a wide range of reforms, both within and outside the ruling party. Please follow this link to read the whole article as it appears on the Sudd Institute website: http://suddinstitute.org/publications/show/regional-conferences-in-south-sudan-are-imperative/.

In his spin, the prominent SSNLA MP went on to enumerate what benefits he thinks such an extension would bring to the country.  From allowing the political parties to develop themselves and be ready to compete with the SPLM in 2018, to the enactment of the permanent constitution, the conduction of the population census, the determination of electoral constituencies, restoration of stability to Greater Upper Nile region on the one hand, and unifying its leadership on the other.

However I personally don’t buy the Hon. MPs project as I cannot see any tangible reason as to why all these things, that the he has mentioned, couldn’t possibly be achieved within the remaining constitutionally established transitional period, i.e. from now till 9th January 2015,  and I believe you will agree with me.

Let’s face it! Can anyone out there give us a reason why the SPLM party has failed to set its house in order all this time, besides the corruption and greediness for power that have lately become this ruling party’s trade mark? What was the leadership doing, so that they would appear like people who have been caught up by time?

As for the other political parties, although they don’t have the SPLM’s nearly fatal internal power struggle, however Salva Kiir‘s insecurity within the SPLM party has led him to bring down a blanket ban on freedom of speech, political gathering or political rallies.

Many opposition political parties have been rendered non-operational inside the country as most of their active members are shut outside the “New Berlin Wall”, which has successfully barred out those who are critical of Kiir’s appalling leadership or his pathetic SPLM party, from operating within the South Sudan soil.

Many people in South Sudan and in the diaspora will see no any sense in Hon Lual A. Deng’s suggestion for the extension of the transitional period, being convinced that even if Salva Kiir were to be given another whole decade starting from 2015, and not from now, none of the reforms enumerated by him    nor those mentioned in General Salva Kiir’s apologetic speech on the second anniversary of the country’s secession from Sudan, will ever come to fruition.

Every minute Kiir remains in office, is pushing the new country towards a totalitarian regime, and there is no way that any opposition party can thrive under the current hostile atmosphere when even “dry cough” can earn a critic long nights in the sun baked containers manned by the president’s clannish security agents, or a “night visit” from them that will mark an end to their very existence.If the ‘extensionists’ cannot see the dangerous precedent they are about to set, they better be cautioned by their peer groups to realize how dangerous that move is, that they are about to make.

Unsurprisingly President Kiir has of late come under intense criticism from all corners of the earth, first for his poor personal performance and secondly for his governments poor records on human rights.

His false promises therein contained in the Independence Day speech, are words to soothe the ears of the listeners. They are empty noises, and the people have heard them over and over again. The delays in signing the press bills and the other bills that govern the rest of the basic rights are but intentional acts, and the circumstances surrounding them are designed calculatedly to gag critics.Mind you, how much he claims to be fighting corruption, we all know that he is kidding, for no leader,  how strong or intelligent they are,  can ever fight this monster called corruption, in the absence of  a free  press and the freedom of speech.  It is just impossible Mr. President Sir!

The few days that lie ahead, are gravid with many surprises.   Maybe it’s time that those rightly opposed to President Kiir’s totalitarianism consider coupling their opposition with actions if they are to ever set the country on the right tract. Without free speech, democracy and transparency, one morning, we and they, may all wake up to a totally new dawn, thus pushing into the a corner any hopes for multiparty democracy –  God forbid!But since then, he [Kiir] has become irrelevant even to the moment we are currently in, as well as the future to come.  He must go and go now, to set a good example for those who will come after him.

And instead of holding on to some unrealistic ambitions, he would be better off preparing for a decent retirement after a very long career he started right from the bottom of the leader and made it up to where he is now.Many patriotic South Sudanese are ready to work day and night across political parties to guarantee a peaceful and transparent elections, but before this and that all patriotic citizens have moral duties towards other fellow South Sudanese, and towards the country that we exercise self-discipline so as to guarantee peacefully transfer of power among the daughters and sons of the land without due coercion.

As things stand now in the country, it is only a matter of weeks before we all start lamenting over a window of opportunity to rectify things, but we chose to squander.To bring president Kiir to his right senses, the country’s MPs [the National Legislative Assembly, the State Legislative Assemblies and the Council of States] are hereby called upon to shoulder their national and a moral responsibilities, instead of acting as mere rubberstamps. They must see to it that the National Elections Commission and all the other relevant authorities responsible for the Census are provided the necessary resources to start
preparing the country for election, come 9th January 2015.Again it cannot be overstressed here that,   the United Nation Mission in South Sudan [UNIMISS], and the other organisations that represent the international community in Juba, are in fact endowed with the responsibility to see to it that this new country is kept moving and in the right direction.

We understand that president Kiir was testing the waters when he fired the elected governor of the Lakes State and replaced him with another, while ignoring the TCSS-2011, which calls for the holding of a by-election 60 days, following such a move.

Now he has again relieved the elected governor of the Unity State from office, and this time around the pressure on him to keep to the constitution by making sure that by-elections are held, has doubled, the countrywide. Can he surely do it before he faces a popular uprising and a possible impeachment for repeatedly violating the highest law of the country, is what the days ahead will tell.Without going into details at this point, the coalition of South Sudan opposition parties are in contacts to jointly present strong and credible candidates to see that SPLM is defeated in the forthcoming 2015 first ever elections and victory is certain for the masses have fully come to understand and appreciate the obvious that bush mentality cannot build a modern state.

Our people are ready to express this new way of thinking throw a popular vote for change, which will eventually  see an entire nation,  converging at a point where their long held dreams  of a multi-party democracy, stability, peaceful transfer of power, good governance, and rule of law, transparency and freedom of speech and true nation building are realized.

Dr. Justin Ambago Ramba can be reached at: [email protected]

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