President Kiir’s SPLM government is not democratically elected

By Elhag Paul

January 26, 2014 (SSNA) — I was browsing through the Sudan Tribune website and my eyes caught an article, ‘South Sudan vows strong ties with neighbouring countries’ (Sudan Tribune 22nd January 2014). Reading it I was livid and after few minutes I realised where my anger stemmed from.  It was the lies of SPLM/A and this time it came from honourable Peter Bashir Gbandi, the deputy minister of foreign affairs of republic of South Sudan.

"Our people and the leadership therefore expect the international community to live by the universally accepted principles and obligations to standby the democratically elected government. The international community needs to show fairness and come out to accept and condemn attempt to overthrow the legitimate government".  This is Gbandi roaring to mobilise the international community.

This language of deceit is disturbing and sickening. It is something that stirs the inside soul of people who truly care about South Sudan. The mendacity of this SPLM government perpetuated by its officials like the one above by Gbandi does not bode well for the future of the country.

It is about time that the world is appropriately informed that the government of president Kiir which is SPLM led is not “democratically elected” as vigorously trumpeted. It is an SPLM/A manufactured regime at the time when South Sudanese were gripped with euphoria of independence.

First of all, there has never been any election held in the republic of South Sudan since its birth on 9th July 2011. The SPLM with its leader president Kiir just forced themselves on the people of South Sudan fraudulently claiming to be democratically elected. The only election that the SPLM contested in its entire life was that of April 2010 in which it massively rigged itself into power. Crucially, this election was organised under the Government of National Unity of the then Sudan where president Kiir was the vice president of president Bashir as provided for under the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA). 

It must be emphasised that this election was held well before the break of the Sudan. The mandate given to president Kiir by that election was to oversee the referendum which was held from 9th to 15th January 2011 resulting in the people of South Sudan choosing to secede. Therefore, Kiir’s mandate as an elected president of South Sudan in the Sudan came to an end with break of the Sudan. When South Sudan seceded on 9th July 2011, technically and legally SPLM/A under Kiir just assumed power without any mandate from the people of South Sudan.

Worse still, Kiir assembled the parliament whimsically by personally appointing 66 members who were rejected by the people in the April 2010 election in addition to those members of national parliament in Khartoum and the legislative assembly in Juba. Politely, how could this dictatorial behaviour be democratic and how could it be claimed as choice of the people? Could these rejected and appointed MPs be considered as choice of the people? Are they not to all intent and purpose choice of the dictatorial president only against the will of the people? Is this type of practice compatible with the claims of honourable Peter Gbandi?

South Sudan is at a critical junction and the truth needs to be spelt out. The country can not afford to be reconstructed on a foundation based on a tissue of a lie. The country imploded in December 2013 because all along everybody including the international community wanted to believe in the untruth told by the SPLM/A. Now the cost in terms of human resource, social relationship and other materials is colossal. What a waste! And this is down to the country being left in the hands of the “idiots rotten to the core.”

SPLM/A cunningly fooled the world to believe that it is a democratically elected government. It is not, if anything it is a self installed government responsible for everything going on wrong in the country. It imposed itself on the people and it is not a choice or will of the people as asserted by SPLM officials.

IGAD as a regional organisation got duped and believed that president Kiir’s government is democratically elected. It should have known better. Unfortunately IGAD paraded its ignorance when in response to the crisis in country it swung behind president Kiir. “IGAD leaders at the summit in Nairobi have meanwhile condemned any attempts to seize power by force in South Sudan. ‘We in IGAD will not accept the constitutional overthrow of a democratically elected government in South Sudan,’

In declaring its stance, president Kenyatta of Kenya representing IGAD in confidence gave credence to a regime that was neither democratically elected nor does it practice democracy. This was sad because this unexpected support buoyed president Kiir in his ethnic cleansing taking place in the country at the time. Here IGAD and especially president Museveni of Uganda were and are completely wrong in believing the authorities of South Sudan. To jump to the aid of someone committing grave crimes against his own people than to side with the victims is something that morally demeans the standing not of IGAD only but Africa wholly.

The same “universally accepted principles and obligations” that they base their defence of president Kiir on are in fact the same principles that require and prioritise international intervention on the side of the victims of tyranny. To understand this point better, just peruse the discourse around Western intervention in Iraq, former Yugoslavia, Libya and the ongoing tussle around intervention in Syria. The principle is simple. Where there is tyranny and stifling of democracy intervention morally must be to throw out the abusive regime and not to prop it as in the convoluted case of IGAD and South Sudan. 

Even if the government of South Sudan were to be a democratically elected government, the fact that it had become undemocratic and totalitarian engaged in ethnic cleansing of its own people, it must be removed by all means available to save lives and enable an establishment of a just humane government. This is what the literature says as well as the practice in relation to intervention. For instance, the cases referred to above demonstrates this fact.

IGAD whether by design or ignorance failed to adopt the right moral principle in its intervention in South Sudan. But all is not lost, especially now that both president Kiir and Riek Machar are making an effort to resolve matters. For a start IGAD should review its stance and adopt the right moral position. It should not listen to agents of the government of South Sudan without properly checking their stories out. For instance, IGAD should not listen to honourable Peter Gbandi’s bravado asking for their lie to be believed.  Forceful speak like, “The international community needs to show fairness and come out to accept and condemn attempt to overthrow the legitimate government” should be brushed aside with demands for concrete evidence.

Honourable Gbandi needs to be told firmly that the government of South Sudan is not a democratically elected government and there has not been an attempted coup in the country to condemn. Gbandi and coterie have told so many lies to the extent that they now believe in their own lies. It is up to them to face the reality and accept their abuse of government structures to promote ethnic (Jieng) hegemony.

Secondly, IGAD now has a chance to right the wrong it has done to the people of South Sudan (when it militarily and diplomatically sided with president Kiir, an ethnic cleanser and an abuser of human rights) while pretending that it is a neutral player. IGAD should not think that South Sudanese are blind and can not see through the facade. Through its biasness, IGAD knowingly or unknowingly set back the march of Africa as a continent to a bright democratic future.

If IGAD is to salvage its reputation in the South Sudanese community and the wider African space, it needs to be seen to be fair in its coming mediation role in Addis Ababa.

As for South Sudanese there are two suggestions. The decimal behaviour of IGAD should spur reflection on South Sudanese membership of this body and its application to join the East African Community. Perhaps it is time for South Sudan to step on the brakes to allow proper debate. President Kiir obviously would be happy to continue with the status quo but the future government should thoroughly review South Sudanese membership of these organisations. South Sudan perhaps would be better off adopting policies and stance like Switzerland and Norway in Europe than being a member of institutions deficient of democratic values and commitment to moral justice.

SPLM/A as a party and the ruling party has abused the government and people of South Sudan for three decades. Its governance has never provided any direction or hope for a brighter future. The latest episode of ethnic cleansing is too much to stomach. Neither Kiir nor Riek is competent to run the country. After all they have both been misruling South Sudan since 2005 until July 2013. Together they oversaw unprecedented looting of state resources. Together they oversaw the repression of opinion writers and journalists. Together they oversaw the oppression of South Sudanese people. Their only point of disagreement is on who should manage the “rotten to the core” SPLM/A. Even in their disagreement, the SPLM/A set the country ablaze with tenth of thousands of innocent civilians losing their lives in ethnic cleansing.

What the people of South Sudan need in the coming national dialogue is a transitional government of national unity. Please see, ‘South Sudan Academics Letter to Donald Booth: Resolution to Current Crisis’ Should the national dialogue fail to agree on a transitional government of national unity, then a referendum should be done to determine what the people want in the interim. With all the mess that have happened in South Sudan from 2005 to date, president Kiir and the SPLM have forfeited their right to govern and they should not be allowed to further mismanage the country. President Kiir must go.

In conclusion, SPLM has been allowed to shape the reality of South Sudan based on lies to its liking because the people have not challenged it. The mendacity such as the one invoked by honourable Gbandi here unfortunately has convinced certain quarters in the international community like Uganda to the extent that it received military and diplomatic support to pursue ethnic cleansing. Now they are working hard to amplify this lie to consolidate themselves after the cessation of hostilities agreement to remain in power. 

No! That is unacceptable. South Sudan needs a complete political overhaul. The coming national dialogue should not accept the mendacity of SPLM/A that it is a democratically elected government and therefore it has a mandate to rule until 2015. No, they do not have that mandate. They manufactured that mandate for themselves and because of what they have done to the country they have forfeited their right to rule. What is needed now is a transitional government to shape the future of the country as articulated by Professor Laura Nyantung Beny and Dr Mairi Blacking.

{Truth hurts but it is also liberating]

The author lives in the Republic of South Sudan. He can be reached at [email protected].

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