By Bol Thon Nyabeb, South Sudan
August 14, 2013 (SSNA) — South Sudan’s destiny seems to be not clear whether, it is a democratic or autocratic system reigning now in the nation. Dr. Riek Machar, the SPLM’s deputy Chairperson was on Wednesday, August 7, 2013, as a democratic leader comments on the current constitutionals standoff in the country.
Dr. Machar had strongly condemned the Northern Bhar El Gazhal State(NBGS) Governor’s statements that he(Gov. Malong) told to his State Legislative Assembly’s members. Machar blamed and accused Gov. Malong of obstructed the rights of NBGS’s people. And three days later, that was on Saturday, August 10, 2013 Mr. Paul Malong, the NBGS’s Governor refuted the claims as untrue. Now, the author is not in position, to fan any one of these two leaders, but will merely quotes and has his views democratically and intellectually as uttered by the owner(s).
With consideration of perspective justice, the historical facts as well as the value of democratic or autocratic spirit they should have deserve. Therefore, let’s read and see who made it right or was it Gov. Malong or Dr. Machar who has a marketable point.
I quote "As state Governor I never ever or to ban activities of political parties , instead, I just advised on my capacity as state governor the citizens of Northern Bahr El gazal to stay away from interfering with ongoing political processes in Juba particular formation of new government or Cabinet. I urged the citizens not to indulge in political rallies until the formation of new government is completed. Malong further said, when I advised the people of NBGS to stay away from interfering with ongoing political processes and urged them also not to indulge(make a rallies) in political rallies, he said he didn’t mean to targeted any particular party" end quote.
To me, these statements imply that, Malong in fact asked citizens of NBGS not to talk politics in the State. However, what is a different between political activists and the NBGS State citizens? There is no different constitutionally, between the ordinary citizens and political activists. The only slight dissimilar might be theoretical, not practical. That is to say, if you told (banned) citizens not to talk politics in any political event occurred, you are too stopping the peaceful activities of the political parties.
Because, the freedom of speech, expression, assembly and association is recommended in ten States ‘constitutions as well as National Transitional Constitution of the Republic; without exception. Where is a pole at this point? Gov. Paul said he wanted nobody in NBGS to discussed politics regarding the National government and its newly formed Cabinet. This was the political event that we’re talking about; therefore in such situation everybody has his/her Constitutional rights to talk, whether he/she organized himself/herself politically or not, just an ordinary citizen." I didn’t target particular party" This statement alone, could in its actual sense implies that, Gov. Malong; really asked all political parties to stay away and not to indulge from political rallies. Or else, the target was not to one political party, but all political parties, including the state citizens.
Quote "Again, Gov. Malong said, I also advised the Legislators, Executive members and the state people to avoid political rallies or statement that may instigate situation"….end quotes. Up to this fact, there is no way to deny that; an official banning of the political parties’ rallies had been issued, but instead, unreasoned vindication could just tell the public that (inu), the government was only feared the situation, which might come as a result of political instigations. This is the only thing we anticipated to hear. Because, if we can just imagine; about where do we find political parties leaders who do organize rallies in NBGS, we would undisputedly get them among the State’s Legislators and Executive members whom Gov. Malong advised to avoid political rallies.
For these details, there is no room on all sides for Gov. Malong to reason out, the reality that he was even re-affirms in his rebuttal statement to Dr. Machar as restated above. And I think those of us who have managed to had read the rebuttal of Mr. Malong published in The Citizen Newspaper, on Saturday, August 10, 2013-Vol.8 Issue 538, could understood that Gov. Awan was just defending nothing, but just for the sake.
Accordingly, when I return and re-read Dr. Machar advises on states issues (Jonglei, Lakes, NBGS and EES) which were also published on the subsequent page, page 16 of the same edition; I certainly, found that there was no different between what Gov. Malong and Dr. Machar had been saying.
Because, Dr. Machar was cautionary telling Gov. Malong not to interrupts the constitutional rights of the political parties (activities) and ordinary citizens’ statements in NBGS. That, the citizens (including politicians) in NBGS, Aweil should be leaving free to speak out their feelings as required by law. While, Gov. Malong was saying he never ever ban (stop) the state citizens and political parties (activities) rallies, rather he said he was instead telling them to stay away from politics and avoid convening political rallies. Look, the only different might be English styles of structuring/communicating the same idea in different sentences or terms. Otherwise, there is no point of departure here, between Gov. Malong and Dr. Machar! Because, in English when we tell somebody, to stay away from, advise him/her not to do/avoid something or not to interfere/indulge into certain thing it is the same that, we are banning and stopping that person from doing that thing; Right?
Hence, I think Dr. Riek’s comment was not categorically, deliberately fabricated, or based on hearsay. Rationally, it based on a genuine ground that he Malong re-stated for the second time in his rebuttal letter. This fact, is known to everybody who (whoever) listened to the news from, Radios(FMs) and followed up all Media outlets on that day, so Dr. Machar did not take it out of blue. Therefore, what we need to install in our minds collectively now would be a morale fight against totalitarian statements that threaten the situations, the lives of the people, nationally. Such statements once uttered mustn’t pass unchallenged, whatever threat it may accompany.
Finally, Gov. Malong said, "Majority of South Sudanese people have never agreed with Dr. Riek Machar’s Vision that he announced in 1991. Is this not in truth an absurd or outrageous? Who doesn’t know, Dr. Machar’s Vision date back to 1991 here in South Sudan? We have had only two objectives, separation, and unity. Can anybody question why Mr. Joseph Lagu formed SSLM/A in 1960s?
To the best of my knowledge, the 1991’s Split caused by national determinations against already set opposite vision. Dr. Riek had been preaching separation (self-determination) as his main objective calumniated to 1991 Declaration. To examined, in 2011 the people of South Sudan went to a plebiscite in which they were voted for one of the stated visions i.e. unity and separation.
As a result, we became to know that, the majority of South Sudanese voted for Separation (South Sudan Independent) as was announced on Wednesday, August 28, 1991 that, there would be one day an Independent Republic of South Sudan. The 1991 Declaration and our people have had decided to prevail Independent, which we did achieve in 2011. Now, Democracy, Human Rights, and Rule of Law are in making. To conclude at this point, whose vision did majority of South Sudanese vote (agree) for in 2011; Dr. Riek’s, yours or mine? Just compare 1.1% with 98.9%. We should convince ourselves this time, for the perspectives in history are even beyond our culture and telling the truth instead is not any longer at anybody expense. We will never succeeded in de-campaigning Dr. Machar, because there is no other excuse or vindication at all; that is why once 1991 objectives (visions) are alleged, South Sudanese people could have just laugh instead. Distorting the historic 1991(SS-Independence) Declaration (& its designers) on one hand and enjoying its fruitful result (resources) in the other hand is something strange and a culture, which must not be imitate in this twenty first century.
Concisely, we did fight together with Dr. Riek for freedom of expression, speech, and assembly. To convene a rally as well, as it is also the case in our current Transitional Constitution is similarly legal. Democracy either was among other things. The point is, Paul Malong, was not only the Northern Bhar El Ghazal State’s prominent member of SPLM during the struggle. There were many politicians and democratic Leaders, so Malong has no right at all corners to violates, bans, and infringe the rights of the people of NBGS as he wishes. He should be criticizes, for we triggered a rifle in 1955 and lost 2.5 million lives in process simply to encourage all kind freedoms. The idea moving around, that, Malong should not be criticizes and touch because he was the only NBGS’s SPLM’s member who kept the fire burning as Aweil’s representative cannot be buy, so it is a fake. Dr. Riek as a politician who had one time sat in the Presidency and may lead it anytime in the future must have a right to comment on issues pertaining to NBGS, WES etc. Other national Politicians, Dr. Ann Itto for instance, must has also her an unwavering rights to comment on any issue concerning NBGS,WES,WBGS or Upper Nile States though, she is not hails from these States, because we, South Sudanese have not divided ourselves according to states. For that reason(s), I cannot understand Gov. Malong’s statement, why Dr. Machar could not comment on NBGS’s issues. Has the government of Republic of South Sudan divided the people according to states?
"Despite his recent past mistakes, he has been forgiven for the sake of national unity… Awan said. It is therefore, advisable that Dr. Machar avoids making public criticism and statements, otherwise". Wow! Dr. Machar to avoid making public statements and criticisms, otherwise; he may join SPLM’s SG, Hon. Pagan Amum in detention! Is it so? Democracy is at risk and being threatened, right?. Reasonably, what are the recent mistakes did by Dr. Riek? Who had forgiven him then? One is wondering about the recent past mistakes Dr. Machar did as narrated by Gov. Malong. Should it be 1991 Declaration, the Self-Determination call, or what? Perhaps, it could be his (Machar) recent declaration to stand for SPLM’s Chairman. However, should this be a mistake? Legitimately, instead of pointing autocratic fingers at Dr. Machar; we should blame the SPLM’s constitution that says any member of the party who would want to be Party’s SG, Chair, and any other high post will have a right to say so. Provide that this should happen before or during the Party National Convention, and not after convention. Because, without this provision Dr. Riek would not has had declared his intention to stands. Nevertheless, what is a reason behind this set-up that once Lado, Kenyi ,Korok, Gatkouth etc, want to lead ;there has always to be a problem? We need to remove such concept if we are to live in harmony and just for the sake of our Unity in one Country. SPLM is an organized political party in power, but why its convention didn’t take place on time? I can call upon the party’s Chairman, Gen. Salva Kiir to form an investigation committee, to find out as to what reason caused the delay of the party national convention and who is behind this underground move.
Lastly, Gov. Malong concluded by saying, "Dr. Machar should give another comrade a chance to serve the nation in his previous position, the Vice President". Did Dr. Machar refuse his removal from the Vice President? On Friday, August 26, 2013, Dr. Riek made a press conference in his house, where he announced his acceptance to the Presidential Decree No. 49/2013, described it as constitutional. He further asked the President to appoint the new Vice President should the President wishes it that way. All South Sudanese people heard this. What is a rationale of such statement?
The author is a concerned South Sudanese and can be reached at [email protected]