Monday, May 24, 2010

Making unity attractive

The new elected government in Sudan has taken over, the parliament sworn in and the states getting their acts together. The whole thing one sees these days is the talk of the next phase in the country of making sure the South vote for unity.

The question is: what can the government in Khartoum do in the next six months before the referendum to make unity attractive? In my opinion, it is a little too late . . .

Now let me tell you the laughable things they are trying to do to make unity attractive: there had never been a Southern Sudanese presenter on the main Sudan TV channel for decades until the talk of making unity attractive. Sudan TV these days got a beautiful Southern Sudanese girl to present the weather report, her hair uncovered, wearing trousers and had her crucifix dangling from her neck! Will THAT make unity attractive?

I laughed the other day a commentator was asked what the government should do to make unity attractive. This is what he said: give the people from the south land titles in Northern states and provide for their students a bigger quota and a special consideration for admissions in the universities! Now that is something.

But I say, too late, fellas . . .

Friday, May 14, 2010

The General Athor Mutiny: what next?

What is happening in Jonglei State is what people had feared all along that will happen. A general who ran for Governorship of Jonglei as an idependent candidate and lost is crying foul, and had "almost" mutinied, if not already. The renegade general had returned to his village with many soldiers and threatened to attack Bor. How serious is his threat?

It is well known that there are many disgruntled SPLA soldiers out there. The transformation of the SPLA from a guerrila army to a conventional one has not gone smoothly. Many generals who expected high positions in the new army were kept out in the bush while afew enjoy the air-conditioned offices in Bilpam in Juba. The foot soldiers were abandoned, many going without their salaries for months.

General Athor wants to get his share, by running for governor. Unfortunately for him, the SPLM Political Burea picked the incumbent for their ticket. He ran as independent and lost. He had already fought two small skirmishes with the SPLA. The demands he made were also unreasobale: the cancellation of the elections and setting up an interime government. However, his claims that the SPLM had lost its vision of democracy and inclusivity in government may get some followers.

This development is serious to the fragile peace in Southern Sudan. It feeds into the skeptics scenario that Southern Sudan will slip into a state of lawlessness and inter / intra - tribal fighting that has the potential of engulfing the entire region.

The SPLM must move fast to contain the situation. Dealing with it militarily will only escalate the situation. It is time Kirr show his wisdom and resolve the issue. If other Generals and top military officers join Athor, it could amount to a big rebellion against the GOSS and SPLA. It is a situation we definitely did not want in Southern Sudan at the moment.

Let peace prevail . . .

Friday, May 07, 2010

And the next step: referendum

Now that the elections are over and the winners declared, there is nothing much to look forward to other than the referendum slated for January 2011. It does not matter whether your candidate won in the elctions or you do not accept the results: that is up to the courts if you want to contest.

What our people should be focusing on these coming months should be the referendum. President Bashir had already planned for a massive campaign to conviince Southern Sudanese to vote for unity. What we need to see is how he planned to accomplish that in seven months that he failed to do in five years.

There are many grudges in Southern Sudan. The CPA is being implemented in bits and at a pace only conveneint to the NCP. Feet dragging is the norm. Despite Bashir's pledge to hold the referendum on time, his statements contradict the issues on the ground.

When the NCP raised the slogan of "Making Unity Attractive", they thought it will be easy to "buy" off the Southerners like they did in 1947. Hard luck. The SPLM should start their own campaign for a separate country.

Southerners are going to vote for a separate nation. Period.