Sudan and South Sudan: Tough Year Ahead in Politics of Power Monopoly

By James Okuk, PhD

Men will cease to commit atrocities only when they cease to believe in absurdities” – Voltaire. “When nothing is sure, everything is possible” – Drabble.

November 27, 2013 (SSNA) — The coming year 2014 seems to be looking tougher more the year 2010 when people of Southern Sudan were faced with some critical paradoxical predicaments. The main question asked by then was: will South Sudan become an independent viable state recognizable worldwide? The search for a sincere answer to this question preoccupied both national and international arenas. There were many absurdities and uncertainties in the politics of power monopoly by the NCP and the SPLM.

The tough first lexical answer for this question started with the politicized and quarrelsome population census where the regional government in Juba and the national government in Khartoum couldn’t afford a timely conduct of consensus except through international pressure. Thank God, the census was carried out without tribal identity (i.e.; the question of what is the tribe of this registering citizen?), though.

But the household survey and population census was not sincerer in some parts of the country. Some dead citizens and other living ones who still lived as refugees in some countries got registered to add unbelievable numbers to some constituencies. Also some actual people (present at their physical locations at the time of census) couldn’t get their names recorded in the census registry due to politicization and other lazy reasons.

The second tough lexical answer was for the main partners of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement – the SPLM & the NCP – to go to the general elections while in opposition to each other on all seats except the last hour withdrawal of the national presidential candidature of the Republic of the Sudan. Because of this limited deal President Omer Al-Bashir remained in power in Khartoum and the First Vice President Salva Kiir Mayardit maintained his power base in Juba. Also the referendum for self-determination for the people of Southern Sudan took place peacefully on 9th January 2011 as agreed in the CPA text. Had President Al Bashir and GoSS President Kiir not remained in power, we wouldn’t have been sure of the referendum success. Thank God for the done deal!

The third lexical answer was to draft a transitional constitution for the new country to be declared on 9th July 2011, given the 98.89% nationally and internationally recognized votes of the people of South Sudan in favor of secession. Unfortunately, the constitution continued the system that was available in the Republic of the Sudan, thus, confirming the famous prediction by the Communist Chief, Ibrahim Nugud, that the end of the SPLM-NCP deal shall be nothing but shifting from “one-country-two-systems” to “two-countries-one-system.

The six-year transition (2005 – 2011) in the Republic of the Sudan was extended by another four-year transition (2011 – 2015) each in the two separated Republics. Consequently, the NCP ruling party in the Sudan and the SPLM ruling party in South Sudan got full control of power respectively for another ten years under the pretext of extension of transitional period.

But instead of cooperating over the reaped fruits of their discriminatory politics, the duo dominant ruling parties started the second phase of transition on a wrong footing of bitter quarrels over oil and borders, in addition to the contradictions they had when lion-sharing their first phase of transition. They employed politics of backbiting, crippling and wishing the other a downfall but on the expense of the common citizens.

Nonetheless, the world couldn’t afford to watch apathetically this irresponsible deviation. Serious pressure was applied on Khartoum and Juba to refrain from any violence resorts. After a full year the leaderships of the two countries came back to their senses. Cooperation and brotherhood/sisterhood was injected into the vocabulary of their bilateral relations. The light came back into their neighborliness.

But despite the fixture of the external neighborly mess, darkness seems to take a central stage in the leadership of the internal politics of the two traditional ruling parties of the separated two Sudans, particularly towards the end of 2013. Of course, this pessimism is not out of blue but a corollary of overdoing and overstaying the transition period. It is said that a transition in governance that goes beyond two years cease the real meaning and touch of a transitional essence.

It is a fact too that the SPLM and the NCP have become too heavy at the top as many heads try to grow out of their same huge bodies. These competing heads point to different directions, and hence, paralyze the movement of the huge body. A balance got lost.

The imbalance seems to emanate from absurd and uncertain answers to these pertinent questions on the NCP and SPLM politics of internal leadership: who should continue to be the head of the ruling party within the ten-year transition and beyond, who should wait until the elderly age catches up with him, and who should call it quits if he could not bear the long-wait for genuine democracy to bear fruits within the party’s structures?

On one hand, the NCP in Khartoum couldn’t wait longer as it went a head to break the overdue silence. It is now opting to split and splinter before the 2015 elections arrives on the real scene. History will record it that a group naming itself reformists has tried to call for a change within the NCP deformed system but found themselves singing for a change while pushed outside the party organs. They had no last option left but to form a new party and name a new head that might compete with the old head they tried to oppose while under it. But will this new group succeed? Nothing is sure and absurdity reigns! President Al Bashir seems to remain as President Al Bashir, perhaps, until the time the grave says enough is enough and you need to get in unwillingly.

On the other hand, the SPLM in Juba is also not affording a progress in its leadership as many contradicting heads within it are trying to command the same huge body at the same time and in the same place. A contradiction to the principle of non-contradiction! Though all its top leaders have been the top managers of the government with all its branches they seem to end up pointing dirty fingers to each other, especially at the Chairman of the party for having failed (by virtue of fallacy of generalization) in foot-tracking the original vision and governance plans of the SPLM.

If the SPLM Chairman failed the new country what can absolve the Vice Chairmen, the Secretary-General and other top leaders of the party from the same blame for failure, when all of them were ruling South Sudan together before they ended up departing ways in 2013 and criticizing each other seriously in public?

The SPLM dissidents from within became a damaging and paralyzing opposition to their own SPLM leadership. As a result the Political Bureau members could not tolerate to sit together and convene a meeting peacefully. Also the National Liberation Council couldn’t find it easy to rescue the situation. Thus, the option remaining is issuing of decrees and party orders of suspensions, dismissals and dissolutions.

The reaction has been calling on the Chairman of the SPLM to resign and quit the historic party before it is too late for it to collapse miserably on his own hand if mass exodus takes place. It is no longer the attitude of “if it does not touch me why should I care?” Everybody within the SPLM seems to be touched and you could see black signs of reactions written clearly on the grey wall. But for how long is this strange political culture going to continue before the SPLM split and splinter officially? Again, absurdity and uncertainty seems to have the reign, hence fear of resultant atrocities!

Strangely enough, some of the rivaling top leaders of the SPLM and their supporters who do not want President Salva Kiir to continue as the head of the party are shivering when they read the signs of his possible political alliances with others. The main questions they ask are: now that Dr. Lam Akol, the Chairman of the SPLM-DC, is actively back in the political scene of the country is he going to be the strongest ally of Mr Salva Kiir, the Chairman of the SPLM,  in the coming presidential elections? Why should Dr. Lam not wait a bit to form alliance with Dr. Riek Machar and others later when the SPLM breaks up into irreconcilable camps and sub-parties?

For the SPLM dissidents who took it as a point to oppose their Chairman the fact that they see Dr. Lam Akol moving in a convoy of state protocol cars and armed guards in Juba, is already an undeniable sign that Salva Kiir has become the “Big Brother” of Dr. Lam Akol and it is going to be difficult to break that bond as it was done in 2008 – 2013.

But are these SPLM dissidents aware that a first thing needs to be done first. As we speak now, did any of them declare that he has become a head of a political party so that any talks of alliance with him could make legitimate sense? If any of them want to become the head of the SPLM party when is that going to happen? If any of them want to become a head of another political party when is he going to come out openly to the public so that the last nail is hit on the unnecessary coffin of politicized speculations? But if any of them want to contest the elections as an independent candidate how will he be a head of himself without any political body to head before venturing into an alliance talks?

Politics is politics and short-cuts in it don’t extend very far. The year 2014 is going to be a very tough year in the Sudan and South Sudan because it will define the direction of the future of the one broken country in the world map. It is going to be a year of the brink of the NCP and the SPLM split/splinter so that South Sudan could have a better future instead of a bitter reality every time. The year 2014 is going to be a year of tough and strategic political alliances for the 2015 elections.

Notwithstanding and despite its toughness, it is also going to be a year of developing consensus on the issues that are pertinent for the nation-building irrespective of partisan politics. Further, it is going to be the real year of the articulate youth of South Sudan.

Therefore, a politician who wants to survive in the year 2014 should start devising methods of getting tougher and astute on a real basis of civil democratization, consensus-building on genuine plans for nation-building and youth agenda. As the going is getting tough the tougher should be the ones who get going.


Dr. James Okuk lives in Juba and is reachable at [email protected]

Previous Post
Film Art and Civilian Bombings in Sudan: More than just incongruous
Next Post
Darfur Destroyed: A week in the life of a dying land

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Fill out this field
Fill out this field
Please enter a valid email address.