By James Okuk Solomon

'Democratic Transformation' is an important phrase introduced by the CPA into the post war parties and government politics in the Sudan. Indeed, it is a crucial clause on which the growth, the sustenance and the survival of the CPA, the EPA, the DPA or any other peace agreement in future will depend on. However, it is accompanied by so many conditions, the most fundamental of which is the promotion of human rights and civil liberties that have found their way into the interim constitution of the Republic of the Sudan.?

This phrase has become a catchword in the rhetoric of politicians today, especially the SPLM cadres. Of course, this is a commendable change but will it transcend speeches and public relation addresses, so that it can embrace and point at concrete practices by individuals, interest groups, multi-parties partners or coalitions, opposition parties, and government with all its horizontal and vertical levels?

For this phrase to signify meaningfulness, it should be understood and implemented without selectivity or exceptions. The term ?democratic? is an adjective derived from the noun ?democracy?, which is originally a Greek term coined from two words: ?demo? which refers to the people who are legalized as citizens, and ?cratia? which refers to the mode of rule. If we put it literally, it would read as 'people?s rule.' An American renowned democrat, Abraham Lincoln, expanded this literal meaning and defined 'democracy' as ?the rule of the people by the people and for the people.? What he has missed in this broader philosophical definition is the most important proposition ??with?. If a government fail to rule with the people, then the people will not see themselves as its owners or stakeholders. A government which is not owned by the people (even if it imposes itself on them by force) will never proceed very far in its life span. History of mankind is full of examples and evidences where kings and dictators fated into doom when they tried to rule the people without involving them in the decision and policy making forums for the public affairs. Therefore, any leader who ignores and jokes with the people in a democratic systems plays with a fire that can consummate him or her in the contemporary political arena.

The definition of democracy which we have clarified above contain ideals or ?what?, democrats or ?who?, and procedures or ?how?. Talking of or selecting any one of these elements in exclusion of others puts a big question mark on a genuine democratic transformation. From my humble insight, I see that there cannot be authentic democratic transformation in Sudan without the directory of these ideals and values: Dignity of every citizen, Common good of all the citizens, Respect for minority rights under the majority will, Freedom for all the people who are not guilty of any crime, Justice to all based on the rule of law and constitutionalism, Truth from all leaders and people, Reconciliation by all from the bitter past memories, Integral development of the people without marginalization, Participation of the citizen with inclusive involvement in government affairs, Economic subsidiarity to the hardworking poor citizens, Solidarity with the needy citizens, Integrity with the environment so that it is preserved for future generations, and Peace within and among all the Sudanese citizens and with their neighbours. Also these ideals can remain in papers or in public relation's rhetoric if there are no democrats to bring them down to the concrete ground; that is, if there are no people and leaders whose mental framework has been equipped to realize democratic transformation with concrete examples. But again these democrats would never yield and harvest any fruit if they fail to follow the appropriate procedures of democratic transformation ? free and fair campaigns for elections, consultations, consensus, unrigged ballots, consent of the people and etc. ? for ascending peacefully to legitimate government power and authority.

Now, when I try to put SPLM into this democratic transformation standard, many elements tend to be unfitting into its politics and practices, except on the rhetoric perspective. This anomaly is common in Southern Sudan where SPLM is the majority and has the upper hand in government (GOSS, States, Counties, Payams, and Bomas). I am not saying that other parties (like NCP, UMMA, DUP, SSDF, etc.) are immune of these mismatches in democratic transformation. The best and updated example can be seen in the subsequent unconstitutional reshuffling decrees, in which H.E, the president of GOSS and the SPLM Chairman, Mr. Salva Kiir seems to be good at this year in some States of Southern Sudan. He has been usurping the constitutional powers of Southern States governors. Instead of advising or authorizing them to issue reshuffles decrees for their States as stipulated in the Interim Constitution of Southern Sudan and in the constitutions of those States, he does it himself in Juba, instilling fear everywhere on those who survive only on those political positions. Though what he does in the name of fighting corruption and inefficiency in government is good, yet it is not right as far as democratic transformation and the rule of law is concerned for Southern Sudan.


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James Okuk is a PhD young Sudanese Student in the field of political philosophy in the University of Nairobi. He can be reached on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
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  • Guest - Kimo Ajing Aba (Jo

    Dear Mr. Okuk, your article was very nice and articulate at the top but when you reached the bottom, you curved it in such a way to target the SPLM/A. Since the coup de eta of Omer Al Bashir in June 1989 the whole country, leave alone the South Sudan, has never seen any democratic transformation in its totality. The glimpse of what we are witnessing nowadays, in the whole Sudan, is because of the SPLM/A and it should deserve a big credit from us. Now in the South you can see a clear separation of Executive, Legislative, and Judiciary from one another, something that you do not see even in Khartoum or the Northern part of the Sudan. Again, it is because of the SPLM/A.
    With exception to the Poplar uprisings; such as Oct. 1964 and Intifada of 1985, no political party has done what the SPLM/A did by aiming at bringing back democracy to Sudan through the CPA and general election by the end of the 4 years and then self-determination for the South after six years.
    In face of corruption which was gaining ground in the South, Salva Kiir took drastic measures against those allegedly believed to have committed them. He came out strongly to make reshuffles to curb out this bad phenomenon. The reshuffles were within his powers as President of the GOSS and not as Chairperson of the SPLM. You can not just rule out their constitutionality before even the Supreme or High Court in Southern Sudan could say its word.
    If you feel that Mr. Salva Kiir, or his government has violated the constitutional rights of some state governors or even citizens, per what has been stipulated in the constitution, the Court venue is open for who ever wants to protest. Also states assembly are there for correction and monitoring of the GOSS performances and activities.
    As you might know, SPLM had been fighting for twenty one year as a military organization with little adherence to the governance techniques and technicalities, and with two years in power, we should not expect democracy wonders from it.

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  • Guest - James Okuk

    You are right brother Kimo. The endings of this article can make feel uneasy the reader who is a blind supporter of SPLM and of Mr. Salva Kiir. However, any one who reads it should know that I did not write it for funs and flatters, but for correction and reform of what is not going on right. I curved it to target SPLM and bracket other parties because I believe it is SPLM who has introduced Democratic Transformation into the country, and it is SPLM who will put it into its logical relaization. Since this is a noble vision, I see it a duty to keep my party on this right track. Though H.E. Mr. Salva took the courage to deal with corruption by reshuffling, still he was accused of Bahr el Ghazal Dinka tribal corruption himself in the new appointments; a circular mistake. Let me assure you that fear has taken control to rule the hearts and minds of those who hold top government positions in Southern Sudan. This has made them to be dormant and say nothing negative about Mr. Salva. The high court is not exceptional of this fear and so we will be gazing at the sky forever to see them file a complaint against the unconstitutional attitude of the current GOSS president. Otherwise, I like your comment and respect your opinion.

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  • Guest - Kimo Ajing Aba (Jo

    Dear Bro. James Okuk,
    If the GOSS or Mr. Salva Kiir himself is making unconstitutional changes or reshufflements, we can not gaze into the sky meanwhile that is happening. Likewise, those holding top positions in the GOSS can not be hunt down by fear or whatever to fail to confront Mr. Salva or his government; otherwise they are not the right people for the right job. Such jobs necessitate challenges and determination to confront what ever is wrong regardless of fear or the ultimate outcome.
    Mr. Salva has got a board of advisors and I do not really know whether the top officials you mentioned are part of his team.
    Finally, SPLM as a party, in itself has, room for complains and accountability and I personally of the opinion that we should exploit such venues first before moving into the next step. This is a simple right of any member who is loyal to his party.
    Next, if Mr. Salva himself has decided to wedge a war against the corruption and we got satisfied with his actions, why can he not eradicate tribalism, which to my understanding, is less serious than corruption?.

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  • Guest - James Okuk

    Dear Brother Kimo,
    The Funy thing about the GoSS presidential advisors is that, they see themselves as the people who have been dumped there because they are unwanted. No body is sure whether they do their duty, even behind doors, because how comes they allow Mr. Salva to go astray constitutionally from time to time? There are so many wrong people at the right places in GoSS and in SPLM offices who care much of how to maintain their positions and privileges rather than serve the poor citizens who have just emerged out of war, refuge and displacement. Tendency of our leaders for Luxury in the midst of poverty is taking us far back to the savage days. I wish SPLM does as you think but ........., Alas! Let me assure you that in Sudan here SPLM has no genuine avenues openned for complaints and concerns from the loyal members. If you say anything negative about it then you are immediatedly accused as a collaborator who has been bought by the enemies, especially the National Congress Party (NCP). You will only be regarded as a acomrade when you flatter and praise it and its leaders, even when they are not implementing the vision and doing politics right. It is very difficult and nearly impossible to get the Secretary-General, leave alone the Chairman, especially once they have categorized you as Dr. Lam's group or any another top party leadership group who they don't agree with. This is the internal operation of our party here in Sudan, Kimo. It is painful but we shall not give up because I believe the right and good leaders will emerge to rescue this visionary party one time.

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