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Sudan Tribune

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Why 2011 referendum is the only hope for South Sudanese?

By Watts Roba Gibia Nyirigwa*

May 30, 2006 — The effort of building South Sudan and its government institutions is a huge task, and a real challenge to GOSS to demonstrate its capacity and efficiency. And that won’t be possible unless the entire south Sudan as it stood in 1956 and its rich oil producing areas is firmly under the control of GOSS or otherwise its viability would be at risk. Currently, the people’s expectation is legging behind GOSS efforts due to the lack of fund to the southern states. But yet I believe that through South Sudanese commitment and struggle to realize their dreams, it won’t be a mission impossible, but it just requires patience and dedication. As it was said by Professor Taban Loliyong “politicians and civil servants has to learn how to run government systems, and SPLM-led government of south Sudan has to learn how to run government efficiently”. This is a clear hint that SPLM-led government of south Sudan has to reshape the overall policy of GOSS, and the civil servants has to be well oriented to implement and execute the government policy according to the SPLM ideology rather than the old NCP/NIF policy. And this is actually, a crucial task if SPLM really wanted to realize its vision of New Sudan, it has to embark on its policies and transform people’s mind and behavior according to its philosophy far from ethnical empowerment. And as much as I agree with the speech of President of GOSS at rally in Juba on May 16, 2006 that “the only hope for south Sudanese is the referendum in 2011 to determine their destiny”, yet I could not agree with him any more that the referendum is the only hope. As in my view south Sudanese have got lot of hopes and expectations to realize, the most imperative is the stability in everyone’s life, provision of basic requirement housing, sanitation, healthcare and education. Other immediate requirement is that, Southerners want to live in harmony, peace, dignity and with equal opportunity where eligibility and potentiality is the only criteria. We know that south had been legging behind for the past half century in every field, and has no viable public and private institutions in place. Thus, the only hope which south Sudanese have according to my view is “the CPA and its implementation to the letter”. Because CPA came into existence as a result of struggle and sacrifice of deprived and marginalized people of south Sudan. And their hope is to see that CPA is fully implemented to avert fear and fulfill their hopes. As many south Sudanese still have reservation and concern about the CPA and manner of its implementation, and won’t rest till when the CPA is fully implemented. The provision and execution and implementation of CPA is the actual problematic task and the key factor to the stability, and that depends entirely on the fulfillment of its terms and accomplishment of essential and various key projects under the CPA umbrella. Hence, it is contrary that referendum is optional and it is the last option which south Sudanese have to resort to, even though that it might be one of their primary dreams and hopes to maintain their African and cultural identity, as well as the only option to escape Khartoum’s brutal and neo-imperialistic regime. The 2011 is not far, but just at corner and tomorrow will be at the door, and when you wake up, that is the time where you have to decide and have your say without fear and intimidation. But prior to that turning hour and before you say your word, what are the prerequisites for that day? I believe it requires enormous efforts, vigilance and participation of all south Sudanese sons and daughters to rearrange and renovate their house and fortify its foundation against fatal waves. You can’t face deadly waves and welcome enthusiastically turning point hour demarcation unless you clean your house and have the capacity to stand as one body.

There is no doubt that comprehensive peace agreement has granted South Sudanese their legitimate right to exercise in 2011 referendum, which had never been granted before in the previous agreements. And that was evidential, when Garang said in Rumbek on May 15, 2005 that, “When time comes to vote at referendum, it is your golden choice to determine your fate. Would you like to vote to be second class citizen in your own country? It is absolutely your choice”. This is a great statement which has its profound and unique sentiment, and I believe it will continue to ring up in many south Sudanese minds till the last minute of that historic day. Thus, the South Sudan independence has become imminent, simply because South Sudanese like other nations decline to live under bondage of slavery, oppression, humiliation, deprivation, atrocities and torment they witnessed for the past fifty years under the Khartoum government, as even after signing the comprehensive peace agreement, Khartoum has never changed its old policy and there was no sign that she is intending to do so. And that was evidential in Abyei rule and south-north border commission, and this demonstrates clearly that Khartoum not ready for any concession or compromise on these sensitive and crucial issues. Thus, the current tendency among the South Sudanese is that, it is preferable to secede and live with dignity rather than under oppression and servitude! Thus, it won’t be a surprise when south votes for secession, as they were obligated and have no choice but to go even if there are no necessary elements for the nation of South Sudan. South Sudan is rich in its natural resources, but never used for the advance of south, but instead being plundered. South Sudan also has potential human resources, and to utilize these resources for its welfare, it requires stability and unity of its sons and daughters and to make education as top priority, as education is the key for development. In the case of South Sudan, great efforts have to be exerted in educating all South Sudanese through adult and illiteracy education. As I believe education is the only tool for the development of south Sudan whether being social, economic or cultural. Even the ethnic or tribal conflicts can’t be bridged or overcome unless through education and media, and transformation of the people’s sympathetic and affiliation to the country first and not tribal empowerment. Yet you can’t expect good democratic governance and transparency and accountability in a society with high percentage of absolute illiteracy and poverty, where everyone is much anxious about personal interest and self-satisfaction. And that is where corruption and nepotism became the most predominant feature of such a society.

While south Sudanese are advocating for independence of south, there should be absolute vigilance and insight on south Sudanese predicament in various localities. But as we advocate, there are some people in various localities of south Sudan has not yet felt peace and were still wondering, where is the peace dividend! These includes people of northern Upper Nile (Melut, Paloic and Renk), as the development of Melut Basin (oil rich area generating over ten million dollars per day) has brought no social benefits to local people, but rather has driven the area backwards due to Khartoum and oil companies discriminative policy, and there was no basic services in the area but instead absolute poverty! The only clinic at Paloic which was previously freely accessible to the local people has been enlarged and equipped, but exclusively for the Khartoum army use! Also according to the European Coalition on Oil in Sudan report, and as stated by MP Lela Ajout Along there is discrimination against Southerners, as the educated Southerners are not employed, Petrodar recruits mostly in north and were brought by buses, and Southerners are not given any training and are not allowed to stay in same job long enough to acquire skills, they are frequently re-assigned and rotated from job to job! Most disturbingly, was the permanent settlement of northerners (Fallata community) into the areas of north Paloic, and the opened office for resettlement in Renk with no link to local authorities, and according to Bishop Daniel Adwok, Fellata have reportedly been issued with nationality certificates and are moving with their cattle, but armed. And this is a serious breach to the peace agreement and premeditated strategy to jeopardize and influence the 2011 referendum. On the other hand, the security in the Renk, Melut and Paloic areas remain firmly in the hands of Khartoum troops, and are taking their orders directly from White Nile State and Khartoum and not from Upper Nile or Malakal! And according to the report, the SAF still camping in the Sudan Interior Church compound which they occupied since 1997, restriction of movement and the security forces act as if there is no peace according to MP Along! Thus, most of displaced people in northern Upper Nile have little or no knowledge about the peace agreement. The Commissioner of Maban is concerned that the security forces and oil companies may be conspiring to create tension and conflicts between tribes and sections over the borders. Thus, for south Sudanese around the perimeter to feel that there is a peace, it is crucial that Khartoum has to hasten redeployment of its forces including security personnel from south Sudan towns and villages along the south-north borders. As there is reports that northern Murahiliin are still moving with weapons in the area, and that the Popular Defence Forces (PDF) have also entered the area! All this has increased tension in Renk due to the reports that Khartoum security forces had arrived in the area with intent to destabilize the town! The SPLM-led government of south Sudan has to be tough on Abyei rule and south-north border issues, and if there is no progress, SPLM has to seek IGAD and international community arbitration to put an end to this dispute or otherwise these issues will remain as a time bomb ready to go at any time, which its consequences no body would envision.

* Watts Roba Gibia Nyirigwa is a Sudan Tribune columnist, he can be reached at [email protected]