Why Would the Proponents of a New Sudan Promote Electoral Apartheid?
The Sudan Peoples’ Liberation Movement (SPLM) yet again delivered on its thousand and one vows to boycott sessions of the National Legislature last week. The reason this time was parliamentary debate over the Southern Sudan Referendum Bill, which specifies legislation for the 2011 referendum, meant to determine whether or not the South secedes from Sudan.
The Referendum Bill has undergone intensive debate between all political parties for the past eighteen months. It was subject to several evaluations, beginning with the National Constitutional Review Commission (NCRC); the Trilateral Talks brokered by the U.S. Special Envoy to Sudan, Gen. Scott Gration; and, finally, the Political Committee between the NCP and SPLM, co-chaired by Second Vice President Ali Osman Taha and Vice President of the Government of Southern Sudan, Dr. Riek Machar.
But eighteen months of efforts to marshal national consensus have been squandered by the SPLM in one fell swoop. As a result of disagreement over a single sub-article the SPLM has sentenced Sudan’s referendum bill to death by firing squad.
In this brief article we are not concerned with political correctness, or with what the mechanical minority should or should not do. We are not concerned with the criticism leveled at mechanical minorities when they foster brinkmanship, resort to delaying tactics, and boycott democratic processes. What we are concerned with is an examination of the debated sub-article regarding referendum voting process, which can be used to gauge the SPLM’s level of commitment to the New Sudan project, based on what it purports to represent and promise.
The SPLM boycotted the parliamentary session that was debating the Southern Sudan Referendum Bill because they objected to amendments in sub-article 27 (3), which prevents a certain category of southerners from registering or casting their votes anywhere outside of southern Sudan, even in centres set up for this purpose. Who is included in this category of southerners? According to the wording of the bill, “all southern Sudanese whose origins are traceable to one of the ethnic groups in Southern Sudan, but who are not permanently and uninterruptedly resident in southern Sudan before or since the 1st of January 1956.”
Rendered into simple English, this means that, if you are a southerner descendent from southern Sudanese who migrated to the North to escape atrocities of the war, or in the southern diaspora, you cannot exercise your right to register and vote in the referendum, where you live. You can only exercise this right in the South.
Rendered into even simpler language, if a Taposa southerner who fits into this unfortunate category were living in either Halfa in the far north of Sudan, or in Port Sudan to the extreme East, he would have to travel — at his own expense — to register in Eastern Equatoria State. Furthermore, since there must be a lapse of time between registration and voting, and since this individual likely has business to attend to where he lives, he would have to travel all the way back to Port Sudan or Halfa — also at his own expense — only to return to the South again once voting starts.
It is important to note that all this burdensome travel, which the SPLM wants to impose on hundreds of thousands of southerners, is not necessitated by the absence of voting centers in the North – whether in Halfa, in Port Sudan or in Nyala. On the contrary, the debated law provides for such centers to be used for the referendum as long as there are enough southerners to justify them in any given part of the country. The SPLM proposal means that our unfortunate Taposa friend, whose mother gave birth to him somewhere in the North while escaping the atrocities of war in the south, will have to travel prohibitively long distances to vote. It could happen that he lives a stone’s-throw away from a voting center in Port Sudan; however, the article states that he will not be able to register or vote in that center. Instead, he will have to travel south more than once — just to practice his legal right to vote.
Without a doubt, making the trip twice will be a hell of a problem for him, both financially and physically. And it requires that our southern friend hold a very strong faith in the exercise of his rights, one that matches the faith and perseverance of the Prophet Noah. This means that article 27 (3) as espoused by the SPLM takes by the left hand what it gave to the southerners by the right hand. In practice, the number of southerners voting according to article 27 (3) would come to naught if we allow the SPLM-promoted stipulations to be signed into law.
This begs an important question: for whom are the international and Northern Sudanese voting centers, provided for by the law, intended?
The answer is that they are intended for a privileged group of southerners who are much more distinguished than others. Such a group would include most of the political leaders and other favored southerners who will easily be able to prove they lived in the South after 1956, as the article in question requires.
That the referendum bill requires southerners to return south to vote reflects the view that either they are untrustworthy or they do not adequately represent the South. In order to have them prove their southern-ness, the SPLM leadership wants to require exhausting trips. This type of non-constitutional discrimination divides southerners into two categories: first class southerners and second class southerners. Members of the first category may enter and vote in centres in the North; members of the second category, who are equally eligible, may not — put more candidly, it is electoral apartheid. This was the system which the NCP refused to accept during the session this week. And it was exactly the system promoted by the SPLM, which quit the session when Parliament did not approve it.
When marginalization is mentioned, it usually refers to social marginalization of the type practiced by a society without any official directives to do so. But for this social practice to become legally approved by the Parliament and signed into law, will usher in a more sinister type of marginalization that should be rejected in principle. The Legal Committee in the Parliament recognized this dangerous possibility and unanimously approved the report demanding the removal of any discriminatory articles. The legislation that took eighteen full months to prepare is now approved by the Parliament — and in better shape without its pro-apartheid articles.
Ghazi Salahuddin Atabani is Leader of the NCP Caucus in the Sudan Parliament.
Hi Darfur compatriots lord bless Darfur forever. My concern is this to the leaders of SLM: Did you organize the Darfur or Sudan Liberation Movement?
comrade Joseph Landit Jal
â€œWhy Would the Proponents of a New Sudan Promote Electoral Apartheid?â€
This question is one of many irony of Sudan’s politics. Mr. Ghazi without a doubt has a courage to cry over what a southern should or should not do. Where wereas the (jihadi, oops) equality hero, Mr. Ghazi when the recently passed and implemented Elections Registration Laws? Mr. Ghazi, it is too late for the “divide and rule” politics. When did a Taposa becomes your friend, is this friendship based on sincere values of citizenship or you are just using it as a means to attain NCP obvious agenda. Mr. Ghazi, did you forget when you and NCP refused to open Sudan election registration centres in Uganda, Kenya where there are hundreds of southern Sudanese? You must be infected by blindness which prevent you from seeing the acts you-NCP are doing within your own realms of power; however, your-NCP blindedness goes away if you-NCP are not going to gain anything from SPLM.
Why do you-NCP wants to open referendum centres in Halfa, Nyala and Port-Sudan for only 500.000 southern Sudanese whom your-NCP states estimated to be living in the North? Mr. Ghazi you-NCP are up to no good, obviously you-NCP wants to flood the mentioned centres with people you know to turn to votes in your-NCP favour. Poor country Sudan, being ruled by people who do not see beyond their immediate party interest.
Why should SPLM or Southern Sudanese have to make “unity of Sudan attractive”? Remember, you-NCP and many pro-Pan Arab parties in Sudan still doubt SPLM call for a new united Sudan! You-NCP and others who chaired the power in Khartoum every since 1956, have been and are still willing to kill all southern Sudanese in the name of “unity” and Islam allover South and as well even cold blooded like in the incidents of Daein-and-Babanosa railway station. Did you change your-NCP call for dividing Sudan into Dar el harb (war zone) and dar el salam (peace zone)?
Mr. Ghazi when did your heart really feel Sudan is your country and all Sudanese are its full citizens? Something must terribly wrong the time you started to cry out loud against SPLM moves on the referendum bill? I would like to know what is it?
One more thing, did you forget what you-NCP are doing in Darfur? Darfur in terms of religion, it is categorically unlike South but you-NCP did not even consider the brotherhood in Islam Darfurians shares with you as Muslims? Why you-pro justice and equality Ghazi did not speak up for Darfur blights under hands and arms of NCP? Why and why?
Are you really serious Mr. Ghazi to see that all Sudanese have equal rights? Please prove me wrong!
L. Apouc Gat-Rel,
Dear Ustaz Ghazi Salahuddin Atabani,
Many thanks for your article.
Your discussion raised few comments and questions in mind, which I hope you can provide some response for:
1. In principle, I believe that insisting on the Southerners living in the North of Sudan to have only to register in the South and Vote in the South does not sound correct but also seem to undermine many of their rights and does not take into full account the practical difficulties such arrangement might cause, unless this is based on some strong grounds and justifications from the side of the SPLM and I have no doubts that such grounds do exist and might have surfaced during the negotiations. I was expecting Dr. Ghazi to bring these reasons; similar to the way he brought his counter arguments in this discussion.
2. For me what is more significant is not the fact that the SPLM resorted to boycott the Parliament session for the thousands and one time, but the fact that this boycott was a result of the Government of North Sudan â€œGoNSâ€ dishonouring its agreements with the South and other parties for the million and one time. Apparently, from the news sources available to us, most of the issues under dispute were agreed upon between the SPLM and the NCP negotiators, but once the laws arrive to the Parliament, they arrive in different versions with no respect whatsoever to what was agreed upon and what was supposed to be honoured. Agreements need to be honoured regardless of what we personally think about them, as long as we say yes and give our consensus at the end of that day. We heard this same story not only with regards to the referendum laws, but also with regard to many other issues of dispute such as the national security laws and the trade union laws.
3. Again for the registration and the voting of the Southerners, who live in the North of Sudan, to take place in the North, the main concern would be how transparent, open and fraud-free these processes could be guaranteed without any manipulation, and to what extent is the SPLM going take part in the management and monitoring of the referendum in the North, and especially the verification of who is eligible to vote, seem to be some of the important questions here. I am not sure if this matter was tackled in the negotiations by the NCP and what was the response of the SPLM on that. For me this represent a big issue of doubt, since I, and most of the observers, were able to see how the North Sudan government consider the SPLM and how it reduced the SPLM leadership and partners, in the supposed government of national unity, following the recent demonstrations that led to the arrest of two of the highest senior officials of the SPLM and with one Minister of Interior not been able to be an authority to permit a peaceful demonstration just because he is a Southerner. That reflects how the North treats the South and is also a reflection of how things could be controlled in the future if the referendum and the easily corruptible processes of registration and voting are to take place in the North.
4. I do not also understand why you lay it on thick and say â€œIn practice, the number of southerners voting according to article 27 (3) would come to naught if we allow the SPLM-promoted stipulations to be signed into lawâ€? I do not believe that the majority of the Southerners who live in the North of Sudan will not be able to vote for referendum. Many of the Southerners in the North are associated with specific political groupings and as such I expect these groups to mobilize them for the referendum in support of their respective agenda with regards to unity and secession of Sudan.
5. My last question and point could have indirect relevance to the issue under discussion. I would like to know if during the negotiations between the NCP and the SPLM the fate of the Southerners who live in the North of the Sudan was discussed, in case the referendum resulted in secession. What would be the nationalities status in the case of two states?
I wish Mr. Ghazi post-scripted his article by noting that the bill in question was returned to the Parliament following the protest by the SPLM/A.
I agree with Ahmed Hassan that the substantive arguments in favour of including all Southerners, including those resident in the North, on the electoral roll for the Referendum, are persuasive. The outcome of the Referendum will be more credible and legitimate if everyone who has Southern Sudanese identity is able to vote in his or her place of residence.
Procedurally, the story is different. Whatever the merits of the argument, the NCP and SPLM agreed on a formula, which was then changed when the Bill was submitted to Parliament. The time for disputation on the content of the Bill had passed, and if it is unconstitutional, that is a matter for the Constitutional Court, not the NCP. The NCP can pass laws as it wishes on its simple numerical majority, but on a matter such as this, it is essential to have the support of the SPLM as well. The Bill has now gone back to Parliament.
What this episode illustrates, from start to finish, is the profound distrust of the NCP in particular and the Northern political establishment in general, by the Southerners. The distrust is so deep that it can defy logic. There is a history of agreements dishonoured. The last-moment change in the Referendum Bill only confirms that distrust.
As an avid follower of Sudanese politics over the years, I never thought I would see the day when Ghazi Salahuddin Atabani would be championing the rights of Southern Sudanese in as far as self determination or a referendum is concerned. This is the same Ghazi who reportedly told SPLM delegates at the IGADD sponsored peace talks in 1994, that if Southerners want self-determination on the agenda, they would have to get it through the barrel of the gun.
Politics, as a friend remarked upon reading this article, can be a game of amnesia.
The inclusive proposal that would allow Southerners in the north to participate in the referendum is a good idea. However, the main issue is whether the process can be carried out in a fair and just manner that is not subject to manipulation. Given the history of foot-dragging on enacting articles of the CPA, Southerners will of course reject the procedure because of concerns about manipulation.
I donâ€™t know if the NCP Islamists have mellowed in strategy over the years, but certainly Ghazi is not the right prophet to preach inclusiveness given his past views on self-determination. If anything, the fact that he was chosen to explain the inclusiveness of the bill broadens the suspicion and mistrust.
As my friend observed, when the fox in the hen house starts telling the hens that he is now on their side, then hell must be a stoneâ€™s throw away.
In response to Mr. Ghazi Salahuddin Atabani’s campaign.
I believe there is a huge difference between the southerners who have moved to the north due to war atrocities in south Sudan since 1983 or even before that and the category referred to in the mentioned (amended) article as those who can trace their origin to the south but resided in the north before or since 1956. I am not intending to go into interpretative argument; but to reveal how the Sudan north elites at the level and profile of Mr. Ghazi can deliberately distort and manipulate facts to serve certain interest, assuming that people would take them for guaranteed. Mr. Ghazi attacked SPLM, arguing â€œif you are a southerner descendent from southern Sudanese who migrated to the North to escape atrocities of the war, or in the southern diaspora, you cannot exercise your right to register and vote in the referendum, where you live. You can only exercise this right in the South.â€ I would like him to clarify the accuracy of this statement in describing the category mentioned in the amended article, which stirred the whole controversy.
There is no mention of the before or since 1956 category, but a blanket definition used to deceptively give the impression that the SPLM is excluding all southerners living today in the north including Pagan and Deng Allor. In a suggestive manner Mr. Ghazi wanted us to believe that SPLM in its quest to assure the cession of the South and turn the trick has overlooked the basic rights of the southerners.
I am inclined to accept that line of explanation, which argues the amendment meant to open the door widely for anyone to claim having descended from the south, followed by complex procedural hurdles including verification requirements. That would in turn open the door for fraud, while rendering the whole project operationally unworkable.
This being said, as Sudanese we know who the southern Sudanese are and who are not consequently such ambiguous wording of the amendment could be described as redundant in the best case . I would assume that majority of the southern IDPs now living in shanty towns and poverty belts of Khartoum belong to those displaced by the declared holy war in the south by the same people, who now pretend to defend their rights. As mentioned elsewhere these groups have their political affiliation either to SPLM or other southern parties in which case I see no reason why the SPLM, should deny their participation, whether in the upcoming election in 2010 or the referendum in 2011.
In conclusion, both the North and South elites should have moral obligation to tell us, the Sudanese people, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth in this critical and frustrating time of our day.
This article brings up a few salient points that have been on my mind lately.
1. The SPLM’s unfortunate decision to boycott Parliament (they did so for 45 days until rejoining this month) undermines the processes put in place to implement the CPA. It jeopardizes the ability of both parties to fulfill their commitments to the CPA, though naturally the ruling party (NCP) is the only one blamed, as it is viewed as more responsible for ensuring implementation. I am reluctant to say that boycotting calls into question the SPLM’s support of the agreement altogether, but protesting tactics cannot replace direct dialogue.
2. It seems strongly counter-intuitive for referendum voting to only be allowed to take place in the South. As part of a diaspora myself, I know that my location at any given time does not necessarily determine my loyalties or, ultimately, my identity. Many Southerners living outside the South probably still have a stake in its future, and should not be penalized for fear of fraud; instead, an effort should be made to prevent any unfair play and still allow them to vote.
3. Who is included in the bloc of eligible voters from which 60% are required to participate in order for the referendum vote to be legitimate? Does anybody know if all Southerners in Sudan are considered in that calculation, or only those in the South?
Ahmad Hassan has made a good first point. It has become a fairly common practice to finger point and make claims of under hand tactics. It is agreeable that the SPLM has grounds to resist the intended amendment to article 27(3), but the onus is on the SPLM to justify their grounds resistance.
Just small comment on your first point.
I believe that the SPLM was pushed to boycott due to the continuous refusal of the NCP to negotiate the issues of dispute of the CPA.
The NCP did not agree to discuss these matters and did not agree to extend the parliament sessions up until the SPLM put pressure on it through boycotting and through organizing peaceful demonstrations.
Again, let us remember that the CPA was signed in 2005, and for all these years, ever since then, the NCP was playing its games and creating obstacles for the implementation of the CPA, it is not fair then to claim that the SPLM’ 45 days of boycott are to be blamed for the delay of the implementation of the CPA.
Dr Dr Ghazi Salahuddin,
I think it is important to agree on clear measures and principles by which you can allow or disallow southern Sudanese the right to vote in the 2011 self-determination referendum or not. I do agree with youe points that the process must be easy for all southerners to express their democratic rights whether they were in the north or diaspora but the political wrangling between the NCP and SPLM, in many other cases sidelines those core principles and measures and every party looks at its interest an whether the certain measure serve that or not. And the second problem is lack of trust between the two parties to the CPA, as the SPLM doesnâ€™t trust any democratic exercise carried in the north where the NCP has full control over all the government apparatus and thinks they might manipulate the outcome of that exercise.
I donâ€™t think this is the biggest issue itself, but the most important issue is why are we in this situation now, with the NCP and SPLM on the two different side of the argument, while the SPLM leaders have stopped supporting unity openly. Even the so-called “Garang sons” or the New Sudan advocates are totally neutralised, and not even one of them is talking about making unity attractive. This applies even to SPLM leader Salva Kiir.
The main question which we have to ask ourself is, why the majority of south Sudanese in the north or the south donâ€™t want to live in one country with the northern Sudanese. The only way to sustain the unity of the country is by persuading the southerners that they have stake in the united Sudan and that serve their interest.
The dilemma of the NCP leadership is that they negotiated the CPA, with a clause of self-determination for south Sudanese (Machakos Protocol), and it is the main party in the Government of National Unity, and it is clear that the consensus of making unity attractive will fail. That was not the case for the al Mirghani-Garang accords in 1988, and that triggered the NIF 1989 military coup. The NIF coup was justified by stopping the November Accords by claiming that the country is in serious danger. Today, I want the NCP/NIF leaders to revisit that and make an open and honest statement to the Sudanese people.
I think that how history will judge this process and the NCP will carry most of the blame for dividing Sudan.
As an outsider (one who is not Sudanese), I must confess a lack of standing to voice an opinion on who should be allowed to vote (and how) in the upcoming Referendum. But it seems reasonable to me that the SPLM and its supporters would be suspicious of the introduction of amendments in sub-article 27 (3) of the Southern Sudan Referendum Bill. The mechanics of Dr. Ghaziâ€™s proposal has the potential for abuse that might lead to an unfair advantage favoring those in the North who oppose separation.
Dr. Ghaziâ€™s invocation of the image of â€œApartheidâ€ seems to be an attempt to cast as villains those who oppose the amendments in sub-article 27 (3) and triggered responses that infer villainy on the part of Dr. Ghazi and the NCP. But time is short, and the work to be done is daunting, to say the least; and there can be little benefit in casting accusations back and forth across a chasm of distrust.
There is no need to recite the history that has brought us to where we are today. The readers and contributors to this Blog are much more familiar with the history of Sudan than am I. But given this history, and in spite of this history, it is imperative that the NCP and the SPLM find a path through this political thicket to a solution that will best ensure all Sudanese people the quality of life that they deserve.
It is not for me to speak for or against a unified Sudan, but as a member of the global community I have the right to say that all people are entitled to the best lives that they can achieve; and they should not be denied such a life because of the inability of their leaders to find solutions and resolve problems.
It is a denial of a basic human right to prevent an individual from self identifying and associating with others. And it follows from this that it could be said that it is a denial of a human right to prevent an individual who legitimately identifies as a Southern Sudanese from voting in the Referendum because he has always lived in the North. On the other hand, it is also a denial of a basic human right to disenfranchise someone â€“ whether totally through the withholding of the ballot, or partially through the dilution of the strength of a vote. Both sides of the debate over the amendments in sub-article 27 (3) will infringe on human rights if they continue to stand on â€œabsoluteâ€ positions. Sudanese living in the North, who legitimately identify as Southerners will be denied their rights by an unyielding position on the part of the SPLM. Southerners living in the South will have their community negated by an uncompromising position of the NCP that allows Northerners (with no other purpose than to dilute the strength of voters in the South) to vote as Southerners. The outcome of the denial of rights under any of these scenarios will be the weakening of both North and South if there is Separation, or a weakening of the Unified Sudan, if there is not.
In any event, the two separate Sudans, or the Unified Sudan will need to be strong in this increasingly dangerous world, because the threats to the people of Sudan from within pale in comparison to the threats that lay beyond its borders. The available resources and the potential resources within the borders of Sudan have not gone unnoticed. The North is very hungry, and it feeds first on the weak. Just as it is within the nature of the wolf to try to take the elk as its prey; so too, is it in the nature of stronger nations to try to feed off of the weak. Within this global community, survival depends very much on strength. And for this reason, it is important that whatever sovereign community or communities come out of the Referendum not be so weak from an exhausting and bruising struggle that the interests of the people of Sudan can not be protected.
I had the occasion to be among a small group of African Americans that met with Dr. Ghazi in Khartoum in February of 2003, and I believe him to be a very intelligent man who cares about Sudan and its people. I also have friends who have long been members of the SPLM and they are no less intelligent, nor less caring about Sudan and its people than Dr. Ghazi. There is a way forward through the Referendum that will result in a strong government, or strong governments, for the people of Sudan and the NCP and the SPLM must find that path.
There are many people outside of Sudan who want Sudan to fail. And failing would not be in terms of one Sudan or two. Regardless of whether there is one Sudan or two, failure would occur if the resulting governments are, or government is, unable to protect and serve the people of Sudan as they deserve and need to be protected and served.
I will end as I began by saying that I am an outsider and am not competent to speak to the desires of the people of Sudan in the matter of the Referendum, but as a brother to all humanity and consequently as a brother to all Sudanese, I believe that this is not the time to cry â€œvillainy,â€ harbour old distrusts and display old wounds. This is the time to see that whatever comes out of this process is the best that it can be for the people of Sudan.
(But as a brother to all humanity and consequently as a brother to all Sudanese, I believe that this is not the time to cry â€œvillainy,â€ harbour old distrusts and display old wounds. This is the time to see that whatever comes out of this process is the best that it can be for the people of Sudan)
I would like to start with the last sentence in your posting and I hope that as Sudanese we understand it and adopt it in how we dealing with serious problems facing our country, but villainy and distrusts are the main ingredients of the current political life in Sudan and the cause of all the problems we are facing now.
But I disagree with you point that there is no need to recite the history, our problem as Sudanese is we have very short memory that why we keep repeating the same mistakes and that led to the situation we are in now, it is not just political or ideological differences, our whole country is under very serious threat and every Sudanese will be affected by that , for the last 20 years the NCP is in power without recognizing any other power even their main partner in supposed to be government of national unity.
As I mentioned in my first posting the Referendum Bill itself is not the problem it is far bigger than that I think that is just a side effect and not the illness.
I have respect for Dr Ghazi because he wants to intellectually engage with other opinions, but that is not the case with the majority of the NCP leaders. I think what is happening in Sudan now need a genuine participation of all Sudanese.
If the NCP is really serious about getting the country out of the current mess they must engage in an honest and open debate without any limits, red lines and pre- conditions and I am sure Sudanese will find a way out, but insisting on imposing their terms in any outcome will lead the country to a big crisis.
I want to pick up on something Oscar and Hafiz mentioned, which perhaps I should have left in my previous comment. This issue isn’t about personal character, of course, but some have commented on it already. Dr. Ghazi Salahuddin is a senior member of the NCP, yes, and their caucus leader in Parliament, but he is also an individual who is capable of self- and party criticism, and does not always go with the majority of the NCP’s views. He is an extremely well-respected intellectual in Sudan and elsewhere, for good reason, and I believe he even left the government at some point over disagreements. I believe he takes principled positions, and this is one of them. I don’t mean to change the subject of this thread to Dr. Ghazi as a personality, as some people are sharing very meaningful ideas, but I do want to add this comment. Thanks to each of you for the discussion.
I totally agree with your statement that the NCP “must engage in an honest and open debate without any limits, red lines and pre-conditions” and I too believe that if this is done Sudan will find a way out of its dilemma. And yes, I also believe that the insistence upon imposing terms that will guarantee a particular outcome will lead the country into big crisis.
Trust is in short supply at the negotiation tables and fear of the unknown fuels the desire to insure against catastrophe. But these problems need not prevent the ability to progress peacefully towards the best outcomes.
When it is difficult to find the ability to trust your counterpart, then it becomes that much more to be able to trust yourself. It becomes extremely important to be able to trust yourself to listen carefully and hear clearly what your counterpart is saying. It becomes important to understand the options that unfold in front of you. It is important to trust yourself to make the best decisions. If you trust yourself and are comfortable with your abilities to see clearly and act properly, then you are in a better position to open yourself up to consider what your counterpart is saying.
With this in mind, perhaps, it might be most appropriate to use the concept of â€œself trustâ€ in order to define who is a â€œSouthernerâ€ for purposes of the upcoming Referendum. Given that there is a â€œCommunityâ€ of Southern Sudanese within the larger â€œCommunityâ€ of Sudanese, it should be the case that the Community of Southern Sudanese is capable of Self Definition.
And given that the upcoming Referendum is an attempt to measure the â€œWillâ€ of the Community of Southern Sudanese, it should be the case that the Community of Southern Sudanese is capable of identifying the constituency by which this â€œWillâ€ can be measured.
Self Determination pre-supposes Self Identification and Self Definition. And while it is the right of every â€œIndividualâ€ Southern Sudanese to register his voice in the matter of the Referendum, it is the right of Southern Sudanese individuals â€œIn Communityâ€ to have that community respected. Respect for the Community of Southern Sudanese means that the community will not be distorted, corrupted or misrepresented by another entity. While Southern Sudan is currently a part of Sudan, Sudan is not Southern Sudan. This means that the self definition of the Community of Southern Sudanese may only be done by members of the Community of Southern Sudanese and not by Sudan.
No one doubts that many Southern Sudanese live in Northern Sudan. The problem arises when an attempt is made to identify members of the Community of Southern Sudanese who live in Northern Sudan. Perhaps it would be useful to agree that any member of the Community of Southern Sudanese living in Northern Sudan may be identified and verified as such through a process where Southern Sudanese, living in Southern Sudan, identify that individual and confirm that he is indeed a member of the Community of Southern Sudanese.
This could be done regardless of how long that individual had lived away from Southern Sudan â€“ or had never lived in Southern Sudan.
The mechanics of this process would have to be agreed upon, however. The question of how many Southern Sudanese living in Southern Sudan would need to attest on behalf of the individual living in Northern Sudan would need to be decided. The method and timing of such an attestation would have to be agreed upon. There would also need to be devised a method of evidencing that an individual had received such certification. And there are probably other issues that would need to be resolved. But this is one possible way of seeking to resolve the issue of who would be allowed to vote in the Referendum. This process could possibly even be used for those members of the Community of Southern Sudan living outside of Sudan; although it might require a different set of indices.
If an individual living in Northern Sudan is unable to produce some family members, friends or acquaintances living in Southern Sudan who can attest to his being a member of the Community of Southern Sudan, then perhaps it would be reasonable for the NCP to accept the fact that that individual has no standing to vote in the Referendum.
This is merely a suggestion of one possible method to use in the process of bringing into being a fair and meaningful Referendum. And there are probably many other methods that could be employed in place of this suggestion that would be just as useful, or even more useful. But if those of us who wish to see a peaceful, fair and meaningful Referendum offer our suggestions as to how such a Referendum might take place, perhaps we might aid in the effort to find a peaceful path through this thicket.
Finally, I would like to add briefly a clarification to my previous post in this thread and say that when I stated: â€œthe North is very hungryâ€ I was making reference to countries in the northern hemisphere (often referred to as â€œthe Westâ€) and not to Northern Sudan.
This is really an interesting and healthy exchange. Iâ€™ve to admit that Iâ€™m first time contributor to this blog and million thanks Dr. De Waal for posting my angry questions (above) to Mr. Ghazi. I do share Mr. Hafizâ€™s point that there is need to dissect our past and current Sudan historyâ€”in hope we should not repeat the obvious mistakes. Southern Sudanese should not be taken as Sudanâ€™s citizens of convenience, who can be used and misused to sustain ideals of Sudanâ€™s national interest regardless of what had happened in the past, happening now and might/will potentially, happen in the near future. It is important that IDP fate is in question.
Repatriation of IDP supposedly to start from Khartoum to South. I am not intending to discuss the whole repatriation program, but only few trips that were made to Bhar el Ghazal. It has been public knowledge that vehicles transporting the IDP were attacked by pro-NCP militia/Jesh Sudani on its way to South. One wonders, what really is going-on in the NCP minds. On one hand, they (NCP and even democratic elected Sadiqâ€™s government) never make life easy for IDP around Khartoum. On the other hand, NCP is not ready to let these Southern Sudanese who are actually living in camps-similar to â€œold South Africa apartheidâ€ style to go to rebuild their lives in South.
With all respect to intellectual power Dr. Ghazi and many individual in the NCP have, I hope it is used not divide up Sudanese people. And allow me to re-state the old question: where will a non-Muslim southern person stands in an Islamic state of Sudan (a second or may be a fifth class citizen)? I do not want to think, Sudanâ€™s major (religious based) political parties are planning to create Lebanon-like system of power sharing although all indictors did not escape the shadow of the making of Sudan Islamic state.
I am encouraged by the discussion generated in these comments, regardless of the viewpoints expressed.
This is in response to Ahmad Hassan. Thanks for your comments and queries. Here are my answers, arranged in the order of the questions.
A1. During the Trilateral Talks, sponsored by the US Special Envoy, I asked a very senior member of the SPLM delegations the same question you are asking now: what makes you risk your reputation by trying to limit the constitutional rights of southerners? His answer was that they feared that the votes might be rigged if the voting were conducted in the North. My answer was that, first, that was not a very good reason to justify what I saw as a moral lapse; second, that voting could be, likewise, rigged in the South; and third, that the best guarantee against rigging is sufficient monitoring. The latest amendment in the law before it was passed this week was a vindication of my point. However, the laws still discriminate against a section of voters â€“ albeit, much less than those discriminated against by the previous version.
A2. From a logical point of view, it is useless to try responding to this question of blame regarding parliamentary procedures because it deals with some unverifiable claims. From our point of view there is a whole swathe of agreements and commitments on which the SPLM have consistently failed to deliver. As an example, I refer you to the National Powers in the CPA and the Interim Constitution, issues including immigration, custom duties, tax revenue, encampment of forces and so many others, which the SPLM has brushed aside without any respect to the agreement. I would argue that the SPLM have been more adept at crying wolf! But that does not mean that they are right. Better than listening to our or their claims, consider the report of the Assessment and Evaluation Commission. This is a commission composed of the two parties in addition to international guarantors of the CPA. Their reports provide a more objective view of what has and what has not been honored.
A3. The part of your question that interests me is whether there will be enough guarantees for the SPLM to monitor the voting in the North in order to prevent rigging. The answer is yes. First, the Commission which will conduct the referendum, the Southern Sudan Referendum Commission, will be composed of nine members, four of which will be nominated by each party, in addition to a national chairperson agreed to by the parties. Second, either party, NCP or SPLM, may field as many observers as they wish, meaning that they could have observers in each voting centre anywhere in the country. Other political forces will have the same privilege. Third, the CPA states that the referendum will be internationally monitored, which means that we will have observers from the UN, the US, the European Union, the African Union, etc.
A4. What you describe as a natural right to be exercised by the Southerners was curtailed by the referendum law in its previous version. According to this version all those born in the North, who did not live in the South, even those who were born after 1956, would be required to go to the South for registration and voting. The amendment introduced after I wrote my article exonerated those born after 1956 from such rigor. Still, the law discriminates against those born in the North, and those whose parents were born in the North, before 1956. In my opinion, here is a winnable case for anyone who willing to file a constitutional suit.
A5. The fate of Southerners in the North is very important question. What you describe falls under what we agreed to call ‘substantive’ issues. The law that has been passed recently is a ‘procedural’ law, meaning that it caters for procedural issues – setting up the commission, defining eligibility, specifying needed percentages for turnout and for recognizing the decision to separate. The procedural law enumerates the substantive issues which the two parties should discuss and sort out. Citizenship is one of those substantive issues.
This has been an extremely informative exchange for me and I hope no will mind if I add a few additional comments and ask a few questions relative to the five issues listed by Ahmad Hassan and the responses by Dr. Ghazi.
Regarding issue #1: Required travel to the South (both to register and then to vote) does seem like a hardship that could be seen as a denial of rights. But the fear of vote rigging in the North is not unreasonable given the level of distrust that many Southerners have for the North. But it should not be assumed that voting irregularities could take place in the South as well as in the North. Also, it should always be kept in mind that â€œcomplete trustâ€ is not necessary for cooperation; and cooperation between the NCP and the SPLM is what is needed to insure that the best interests of the people of Sudan (both in the North and in the South) are served. Methods for reducing the need for travel to the greatest extent (while reducing the potential for voting irregularities to the greatest extent) should be one of the goals of cooperation between the NCP and the SPLM. And whether the new law does this may continue to be a matter for discussion.
As a matter of mechanics, monitoring does seem to be a potential tool for removing some of the roadblocks created by distrust. The issue of monitoring is addressed in Dr. Ghaziâ€™s Answer #3, and I would be curious to know if anyone feels that the anticipated monitoring will not be sufficient.
Regarding issue #2: I would suggest that the issues raised in Ahmad Hassanâ€™s Question #2 and Dr. Ghaziâ€™s response thereto need not be the focus of discussions at this point in time. Dr. Ghazi has made reference to the Mid Term Evaluation Report of the AEC submitted in July of 2008. I would point out that while that report uses the word â€œfailureâ€ in two instances, nowhere does it contain the words: â€œrefusal,â€ â€œguiltâ€ or â€œfault.â€ The failures identified in the Report relate to: a failure in the implementation of the Abyei Protocol (on page 7 of the Report) and a failure to move forward on a â€œprogramme of reconciliation and healing to be initiated by the GoNUâ€ (on page 17 of the Report). Any perceived refusals, fault and guilt in the past should be subordinated to a focus on the failures and ways in which those failures can be corrected. That document, which identified the shortcomings that it found at that time, is available for review online at: http://aec-sudan.org/docs/aec/2008_MTE-en.pdf and individuals may review this independently and form their own opinions.
Regarding issue #3: As I have referenced the election monitoring in a paragraph above, I will make no further mention of it here.
Regarding issue #4: The new amendment passed earlier this week does seem to place difficulties upon those Sudanese born in the North prior to 1956, but I would not venture to guess whether this hardship would rise to the level of a human rights violation that would be the foundation of a winnable case in a constitutional suit. I do believe, however, that there are individuals in the United States who have an interest in reducing the numbers of those Sudanese voters who are likely to vote against separation. An independent, oil rich land locked Southern Sudan would need â€œfriendsâ€ to step forward and provide infrastructure development and other aid. These â€œfriendsâ€ would, in turn, seek to extract significant concessions from Southern Sudan with regards to their natural resources. Such a Southern Sudan is also seen by some as a prime candidate for significant participation in the U.S. military experiment known as â€œAfricom.â€ It is not my place to speak for or against either position to be decided by the Referendum, but I believe that caution should be taken by either side from accepting assistance from parties outside of Sudan without first closely examining the possible motives of those parties. I only speak with regard to my concerns about some views within the U.S., because I do not have enough information about the views in other Western nations.
I would like very much to know if the new law reasonably satisfies the concerns of both the NCP and the SPLM to the extent that the process can move forward without revisiting the issue of who from the North will be allowed to vote and how.
Regarding issue #5: The substantive issue of the political fate of Southern Sudanese living in the North if there is Separation may require a lot of patience and consideration. Will the vote to separate the South from the North create a class of residents in North Sudan who are seen as having voted to decline citizenship in what becomes a separate North Sudan? Will the argument be made that those who voted for separation should be required to separate themselves from the North? If the government of a separate North Sudan initiates a policy that treats Sudanese who voted as Southerners differently from those who did not, will world public opinion draw parallels between this and the 1972 expulsion of Indians from Uganda? Idi Aminâ€™s initial expulsion order in August of 1972 was directed at only those Indians who were not Ugandan citizens and held British passports. These types of â€œidentityâ€ issues can be extraordinarily complex and draw negative reactions from the global community on human rights grounds. I am not suggesting that the North would expel Southerners, but a â€œre-classificationâ€ with regard to citizenship and the commensurate rights could trigger negative responses as well. â€“ Should these issues be considered while the mechanics of conducting the Referendum are being considered?