This article is directed to the Southern Sudanese Separatist individuals and institutions. The PAM slogan quoted above was motivated by the challenges of addressing post-colonial Africa. African leaders and activists instead of finding solutions to developmental problems spent a lot of time blaming the Colonizers for under-developing Africa.
Though the blame was justifiable, it wasn't worth the time and energy spent. This is also true with the current debate on Attractive unity and Secession/Separation. Whether the unity of Sudan has been made or going to be made attractive is not the business of Southern Separatists. It is for the Southern Unionists and their friends to exert effort and time to win the hearts of Southern population in the name of attractiveness. On the other hand, the Southern Separatists should exert their efforts and time to establish a Separation Road Map. Learning the lessons of PAM as a Separatist yearning for independence of southern Sudan, this article is a contribution towards finding means and ways of achieving emancipation by voting for Separation in 2011 referendum. No flowers and roses expected on the road to separation. Separation will only be achieved through meticulous organization not agony or (mang-mang) as the SPLM/A used to say during the liberation days. This article is a rallying call for the southern Sudanese Separatists to unite. It is more importantly an attempt to present Separation organizational road map. It is not be any means exhaustive. The road map includes among others addressing various stake-holders and issues of concern as follows:
1. Southern Civil Society Groups: Southern civil society played greater roles during the liberation struggle specially women, faith and human rights advocacy groups. They were co-liberators and equal owners of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement especially in Nairobi, Nakuru, Machakos and Naivashsa. Self-determination with the two options of Unity and Secession was their advocacy red-line for peaceful settlement. The civil society courageously defied donors' threats of withholding funding if their advocacy included Right of Self-determination for the people of Southern Sudan. At that time many western donors considered the Right of Self-Determination as politics and out of civil society mandate. Some donors implemented their threats and with- held funds. Only those who went through those evil days of poverty and donor oppression could appreciate the sacrifices especially of southern Sudanese women in the liberated areas, exile, refugee and Internally Displaced camps. The hour of what may be the final stage of the CPA is dawning. Similar voices of the past may repeat themselves with some donor driven southern civil society groups calling for neutrality to appease the pay- masters. They may even request the civil society to stick to civic education of weighing advantages and disadvantages of the referendum options. Other donors may provide consultants to lecture on Confederation as the "Third way" and how it is appropriate for Southern Sudanese than separation. Such calls must be rejected outright. The time for evening lessons and patronization by outsiders are over. Southern civil society groups can't be neutral on issues of destiny. Accepting such calls of neutrality amounts to betrayal of the southern civil society ethics and past struggle for freedom. Who can forget the powerful advocacy call (book-let) of the NSCC/SCC entitled "LET MY PEOPLE CHOOSE". It will further be a betrayal to the fallen heroine and heroes of the civil society struggle. Every civil society group including youth and women should identify where it stands in the referendum options. The Separatist civil society should urgently form a Separation Alliance with a Secretariat. The Alliance shall be responsible for drawing mobilization Strategy including among other activities drafting brief leaf-lets as to why Separation is the Option and high-lighting the Disadvantages and Dangers of Unity. The Secretariat should be more focus on daily follow up of Referendum related activities specially the referendum demonstrations, civic education, workshops, referendum registration process, voter education, double-checking the referendum registry, logistics and turn-out on the referendum day. The organizational set-up agreed should be all over southern Sudan and Northern Sudan.
2. Political Parties: Political parties that have opted for separation should also form a Separatist Alliance with a Leadership forum and a Secretariat. The leadership forum will have an agreed Charter of common agenda to face the Unionist tactics and maneuvers. One of the current maneuvers is the issue of Confederation by freezing Islamic laws before the referendum. There is international support and facilitation for this proposal. For Separatists the issue of Confederation is putting the Cart before the Horse. Let us separate first then we talk of any other arrangements between the State of Northern Sudan or the Islamic Republic of Sudan and South Sudan Republic or whatever the name adopted in the Independence Proclamation. With all due respect to the current post referendum talks between the NCP and the SPLM, the arrangements agreed may not be binding on the governments of future two Sudans'. The Separatists political parties Secretariat should develop campaign strategies to counter Unionist propaganda and keep the political leadership collectively updated. The Leadership forum and the Secretariat should be replicated all over the ten States of Southern Sudan and IDPs centers of Northern Sudan. Women and Youth affiliated to political parties should coordinate their activities through the secretariat for effective impact.
3. Independent Candidates: The recent concluded April elections have produced positive phenomena of independent candidates at various levels including gubernatorial seats. It was a bold move. Whatever were the motivations their courage enhanced the democratic process in Southern Sudan. Now with elections over, the Separatist in this group should either form an Alliance or joint the civil society or political parties of their choice. Votes garnered by independent candidates were in thousands against all odds to surprise of the NCP, the SPLM and skeptic observers. Southern Sudan needs these votes for the referendum and Separation. The population that voted for the independents will certainly seek their guidance. As a former independent candidate my self, I'm aware of deep nationalistic commitments among them. Many Independent candidates as democrats truly believe that the struggle for democracy is struggle for separation and independence. This group should be in the front line of separation campaign.
4. South-South Dialogue Conference: The Separatist Alliance (civil, political, independents, professionals, women, youth and community leaders) should urgently convene South-South Dialogue Conference. The southern Sudanese unionists' parties and individuals will be invited to present their fears and reservations regarding Separation. The aim of South-South Dialogue Conference is to discuss Separation challenges and obstacles. The agenda shall also include concerns, reservations and fears regarding Separation among southerners. The conference will further discuss harmony during the referendum campaign, reconciliation, forgiveness and peaceful co-existence among southern Sudanese. The Conference will provide the appropriate forum and the best opportunity for honest and patriotic dialogue among all stake-holders in the South. Frankly speaking there are serious challenges and obstacles facing the Separation campaign. It is our duty as Separatists to address them with diligence and courage. It is only the truth that can bring independence. Late hero Dr. John Garang called a spade a spade as to why the South and the marginalized resorted to arms. He talked of oppression, discrimination and second class citizenship. Facts many northern politicians didn't want to hear. Dr. John said publicly what was not talked about in Sudan. It is that honesty and frankness that brought us as far as the CPA. Emulating the openness and frankness of late Dr. John Garang, the Separatists should face the present realities of southern Sudan. They should confront obstacles to separation and make separation attractive for overwhelming majority of southern Sudanese. The obstacles are many and if not removed the pro-Unity camp may capitalize upon it and win the day. The Separatists should not be naïve and take Separation for granted or a done deal. Demonstrations and demonstrators are indicators for both camps but are not necessarily votes in the referendum's ballot box. We don't want anybody to ask surprisingly after the vote count"Where is my Vote? Let the opinion polls do their business but the only result that matters is the Referendum Commission's Verdict in accordance with Articles 41 and 44 of southern Sudan Referendum Act 2009. These sections makes clear that the referendum shall be considered legal if at least (60%) of the registered voters cast their votes and the results shall be in favor of the option that secures a simple majority (50+1) of the total number of votes cast.
During the armed liberation struggle the faith groups specially Sudan Council of Churches and the New Sudan Council of Churches championed the South-South Dialogue and reconciliation among Southern Sudanese. All are aware of its results and subsequent harmonious implementation of the CPA among Southern Sudanese. It was commendable task. I hope they are not disappointed by marginalization they might have faced after 2005. Whatever the disappointment, I humbly appeal to the SCC/NSCC and other good Samaritans to come forward to facilitate convening of South-South Dialogue Referendum Conference. The challenges to separation option and post-referendum issues are dire and grave. This article attempts to highlight some of these challenges and obstacles.
5. Challenges and obstacles to Separation Option:
5.1 Poor Performance: Poor performance of GOSS for the period of 2005-April 2010. It is common knowledge and widely admitted by H.E. President Salva Kiir Mayardit in many of his speeches. H.E. President Salva Kiir made clear many times that the performance of GOSS during that period leaves a lot to be desired. It is a courageous and bold admission. Reasons for lack of delivery to the satisfaction of southern Sudanese populace may vary. Some reasons for failure may be beyond GOSS's making and some are certainly of its fault. But the failure should not be attributed to the SPLM Party. GOSS's failure (2005- April 2010) was a collective responsibility of all political parties that participated. Even the civil society including the Press contributed directly or indirectly for the poor performance of GOSS. No doubt the expectations of the Southern Sudanese were also high. The main areas of public concerns labeled as GOSS's poor performance included tribalism in power and wealth sharing, Nepotism, Corruption, lack of accountability and service delivery. The question now is: How do we persuade the southern Sudanese referendum voter that the situation will be better in the independent south?! This question will be an item on the agenda of South-South Dialogue. The conference may come up with proposals and recommendations on future governance for Southern Sudan State. The southern Sudanese voter will be partially influenced by GoSS's past and present record. Many of them may cast their votes by judging the past record only arguing that they do not trust the future. It is a challenge that the Separatists should come forward with convincing justifications as to why we failed as a Government and provide alternative solutions and guarantees for the future.
5.2 SPLA Human rights Record: After the CPA, the relationship between the SPLA and the civilian population in some areas of the south seems to have deteriorated. Since 2005, parts of southern Sudan witnessed incidents of SPLA indiscipline and gross human rights violations. Here are some few examples:
5.2.1 Disarmament Process: Disarmament is a noble goal but should be coordinated with the State and traditional authorities to be effective and avoid violating the rights of innocent citizens. All are aware that during the disarmament process in areas of Jongolie State especially among the Nuer and Murlie communities the death toll was estimated by international community in thousands. Dear lives including SPLA soldiers were lost. Properties were looted or destroyed. The same in Upper Nile in Nasir and Fashoda Counties. As we are heading to Referendum the process should either be suspended or implemented under close supervision of SPLA Leadership with respect to human rights.
5.2.2 After April 2010 elections the SPLA record of atrocities and human rights violations have taken dangerous turns in areas of Khorfoulous and Atar County and Fashoda County. Many civilians were killed, tortured and displaced. Propertied looted or destroyed and some women were raped. In Fashoda County alone (13) villages were burned down by the SPLA and (8) persons killed in July 2010. These incidents of indiscipline and gross violations of human rights are unwarranted wherever they occur in Southern Sudan. Such acts of indiscipline and human rights violations by some SPLA units are counter productive and will certainly have negative impact on the Referendum campaign. It certainly alienates the Dinka Khorfoulous and Shilluk communities from focusing on the referendum as they struggle for survival. We must avoid indiscipline within these SPLA units at all cost.
I know many people in Government are sensitive and completely nervous to hear about human rights record and alleged violations. GOSS is not exceptional especially when it concerns the SPLA. But let us face it. The SPLA is the future army of Southern Sudan and its record must be under scrutiny and a concern to any patriotic southern Sudanese. It fought gallantly the war of liberation in the name of the people and became the pride of all. Moreover, as Separatists we are voting for Separation to maintain the SPLA and turned to the National army of Independent southern Sudan. It must be clear that voting for unity means dismantling the SPLA and its replacement by the Joint Integrated Unit (JIU) in accordance with the Security Arrangements Protocol under the CPA. Addressing the SPLA human rights record should therefore be viewed positively as part of making Separation Attractive. Let us remember that human rights was part and parcel of our liberation struggle and lost of southern Sudanese lives after 2005 tarnishes the premises of the struggle for freedom. Impunity should have no place now and in the independent southern Sudan.
However, these illustrations should not be construed as a generalized verdict on the SPLA human rights record. These are the incidents I'm aware of. The violations mentioned here may perhaps be the exception than the rule. It is to be stressed here that the best contribution to the Separatists camp is to robustly instill SPLA'S discipline and civilian protection as core values of its military doctrine.
5.3 Accountability and the Rule of Law: As with violations mentioned above the current legal system of accountability seems to have failed to bring criminals and human rights violators to book. Persons resisting disarmament are to be prosecuted in accordance to law as well as the SPLA officers and soldiers responsible for atrocities against the civilian population. No persons should be above the law. The referendum campaign will be free and public. The Southern Unionist will campaign publicly for their option of Attractive Unity. It should be categorically stated that all camps must be tolerant. Advocates of unity must not be harassed because of their views during and after the referendum. It is unfortunate that some articles against are being circulated in some media against southern unionist calling them betrayers. Such articles must be discouraged and condemned. The Separatists camp should be part of name calling. No southern Sudanese should arrogate to himself or herself the right of providing certificates of Southern Nationalism to others. Any southern Sudanese is entitled to express his or her opinion freely. Intimidation should not be tolerated. Accountability, rule of law and tolerance must prevail during and after the referendum. All should be aware that Independent southern Sudan will be based on accountability and the rule of law. There will be no place for intolerance and impunity. South-South Dialogue Referendum Conference is expected to reaffirm this premise.
5.4 Reconciliation, tolerance and Co-existence: A reconciled southern leadership and public before the referendum will be a great achievement. April elections have produced in certain areas and among individuals acrimonious relationship. This is partly due to the absence of democratic culture of tolerance and fair competition. Many candidates expected to come unopposed and others expected blind support without a programme for reasons known to them. The perception that contestants are enemies was promoted by political brokers to milk the candidates financially. Unfortunately, some leaders have taken electoral lost or win as personal with scores to settle. The truth is that all who contested deserved to do so for public interest. All were subjected to public scrutiny for the first time. The down trodden or so called "common citizen- Muwatin Sakit" was able to question the mighty and high. The votes were caste. Many won fairly and others rigged their way to the winning sheet. It is common knowledge that electoral malpractices varied from hi-tech rigging in the north to brute force in the south. Now is the time to put electoral disharmony behind us for the sake of the noble cause the "Referendum" and brighter future of South Sudan sovereign state. The southern population in certain areas of tribal conflicts needs reconciliation and healing. GOSS and the traditional authorities should lead this exercise as part of its Referendum Task Force. There are State governments where some tribal communities though members of SPLM do not feature in the executive at all. This should be addressed for harmonious relations in the state.
On the other hand, there is the challenge of reconciliation among southern Sudanese leadership. Few whisper about it but none have the courage to say it publicly. I know it is a sensitive topic and some will take me personal as usual but I'm duty bound as a southern separatist concerned with unity of southern Sudanese being institutions or individuals to raise it. It is my humble view that the post-election southern political scene is clouded with hate and suspicion. This situation is not healthy in facing the national challenge of destiny like the referendum. Political Reconciliation is the solution to this unhealthy environment. After all, southern Sudan belongs to all of us and tolerance has been our strength in past and present. There is a need therefore of reconciliation between the two former GOSS Presidential candidates H.E.Lt.Gen. Salva Kiir Mayardit and Dr. Lam Akol. The same with General George Athur and GOSS. The reconciliation should further include southern political parties' leaders, dignitaries and gubernatorial independent candidates who felt disappointed or not happy with the way they were treated by SPLA unwarranted intervention in some areas during April elections. After all these leaders and their followers need to be on board regarding the national destiny of self-determination. Reconciliation here is not aimed at all at political accommodation in GOSS or State governments. Reconciliation meant here is to forgive, put the past behind and collectively aimed at the future. It is not necessary that the political views of reconciled parties are identical but what is important is knowledge of the other party's position and its logic. Put differently reconciliation here could mean agreeing to disagree while recognizing positively the national contribution of each and every one in the struggle for peaceful referendum. Democratic pluralism means tolerance as said earlier and this democratic culture should start now. What is needed is guaranteeing positive democratic environment for political activities and acknowledging the various roles as such.
The current political situation in the southern political scene clearly warrants reconciliatory intervention for peaceful co-existence among southern political leadership and grass-roots. In many African cultures the burden of reconciliation initiative is with the winner of the chieftaincy contest. This is normally done directly or through mutually trusted friends. Hence, I do hereby humbly in the name of common destiny place this request of reconciliation to the attention of H.E.Lt.Gen. Slava Mayadit as the President of GOSS. He should make the move. If H.E.Lt.Gen. Slava Mayadit had already started the process of political reconciliation then speedy conclusion is desired and made public for the interest of the South. This appeal is personal without any mandate from any person or institution. It is purely a southern national call.
I would kindly like to take this opportunity to applaud both H.E.Lt.Gen.Salva Kiir Mayardit and H.E. Right Honorable Speaker Wani Igga. Thanks to H.E. Lt.Gen. Salva Kiir Mayardit for accommodating some leaders of southern parties and an independent gubernatorial candidate in GOSS. Word of thanks to H.E. Right Honorable Speaker Wani Igga and the August Assembly for recognizing SPLM-DC as the official opposition party in Southern Sudan Legislative Assembly. These are commendable acts that must be appreciated as they contribute greatly to harmony, reconciliation and entrenching democratic values in southern Sudan. These are another proof of southern Sudanese political maturity and viability of southern Sudan Independence.
5.5 Post-Referendum Governance: Separation is a means to an end. What is that end? I believe that the end of separation vote is to transform Southern Sudan into an independent, peaceful, democratic, united and prosperous nation. The question is: How will we make this new born nation prosperous? This is the intellectual challenge awaiting the Separatists to answer before the vote. One of the ready answers is learning lessons and avoiding repeating the mistakes of other African states that got independence before us. It wouldn't be an easy exercise but not an impossible task. There are so many questions to answer in charting the Separation road map. It is true that the current constitution of Southern Sudan is both excellent and democratic. But Separation needs to accommodate new constitutional challenges. What parts of Southern Sudan Constitutions are to be amended and why? : For example:
5.5.1 The fate of Southern Members of Sudan National Assembly, Council of States and Southern civil service in the North: These honorable members are going to loose their seats once Separation is declared. Will the South accommodate them as another Council of States or House of Lords or declare new elections after an interim period?! Let us remind ourselves that their number may be not less than 165 MPs by January 2011. There are sizeable numbers of Southern Sudanese civil servants in the North that will loose their positions. What are our preparations to accommodate them in the new State? These are issues of bread that affects their Referendum vote option. As separatist we should take full responsibility to address them.
5.5.2 Post-referendum Interim Period: When and How Long: We should address from now whether there will an interim period after the declaration of the New Southern Independent State! Under what institutions will it be? Is there going to be General Elections in the South or the South will continue maintaining the current institutions and appointments?
5.5.3 Guiding principles and National Interest: What will be the Guiding principles and National Interest of the new State or what are the Red-lines or "Thawabit" of the people of southern Sudan? What is the Common and Strategic national interest of the South? Are we going to maintain the democratic pluralism or declaring one party system dictatorship in the name of external threats from North? What will be the military doctrine /orientation of the SPLA? Will the SPLA accept a Commander In Chief elected by the population of Southern Sudan as President of GOSS who is not one of SPLA historical leaders or was not an SPLA soldier or officer during the armed liberation struggle?
5.5.4 Economic Strategy: What will be the economic Strategy and Planning including sustainable development? What are the Agricultural priorities, oil policy and alternatives and Physical infrastructures?
In short how will the Southern Paradise look after the Separation vote? Let us avoid surprises in constitutional and developmental matters. We should not walk into independence blind-folded with hidden agendas. There are colleagues in the South whose conviction is holding one party system (SSU style) for the independent south and not comfortable with pluralism. However, I'm personally convinced through experience that the new State of Southern Sudan will certainly collapse once constitutional matters are overlooked and one party system dictatorship is introduced. Southern State will only survive by adhering to multiparty democracy, respect for human rights and rule of law. We have to avoid reproducing another failed African State in Southern Sudan. There are repeated warnings from international sympathizers to this regard. These issues and more are appropriately addressed in the South-South Dialogue referendum Conference.
5.6 Conclusion: I would like to conclude this brief article by calling for the unity of Southern Separatists inside Sudan and in Diaspora. The challenges are great to achieve the vote for the Promised Land. The new state of Southern Sudan should accommodate all of us including the southern Sudanese unionists. It is like the Biblical saying that "the House of my Father have many rooms" and the South is truly so. However, many southern unionists, communities and religious groups have justifiable doubts and fears. Some express the failures of the last five years as a record that do not justify any risk of voting for Separation. They cynically call it jumping into the dark. It is our collective responsibility as Separatists to allay these doubts and fears by actions not words. Human rights violations that have taken place in some parts of the South since 2005 such as recently in Dinka land of khaorflous, AtarI and Shilluk Land of Fashoda County must be taken seriously by GOSS and SPLA leadership. The civilians were the pillars of resistance and survival during the liberation. We may need these civilians again to confront the enemy especially if we are forced to make a Unilateral Declaration of Independence (UDI). Some are parents or widows or orphans of SPLA heroes. Disarmament is a noble goal but should not lead to atrocities, killing of innocent civilians and human rights violations. The Unionists are mockingly telling us "now look even the "enemy" never treated our civilian population like this during the war". Is this how the new sovereign southern State will be?! It is a logical pause though exaggerated but painful. The separatists should not be put at the defensive by GOSS and SPLA actions.
To all Southern Sudanese Separatists and unionists it is time to put behind you the bitterness of the past being elections, marginalization or personal disappointments. Let all work for the Referendum to take place on the 9th January 2011 in peaceful political environment and subsequently respect its outcome.
To the Separatists on the other hand, the road to 2011 is full of challenges and obstacles. Winning vote for separation will only be achieved by adopting a separation road map that includes unity of purpose, meticulous organization and robust networking. This article is a wake-up call for all to double their energies and address the challenges facing them. The struggle must continue for the Independence of Southern Sudan in January 2011 despite all odds. As Separatists wherever you are, rise up to the challenge and ask yourself this question: What can I do for the South and in memory of more than two million martyrs? For me voting Separation is the Answer. United in action as southern separatists we can make it. It is Mission Possible.
God bless Independent Southern Sudan.
The writer is : Legal Consultant, Advocate and Commissioner for Oaths,
Former M.P Sudan National Assembly & Independent Candidate for Upper Nile State Governorship, April2010
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