Tag Archives: SPLM

Dr Peter Adwok Nyaba: South Sudan: The state we aspire to (2013)

The SPLM leadership is paralysed by internal schisms that compound the absence of a shared vision.  The leaders operate individually and without coordination, leading to contradictory public stances. [177]

Reading Dr Nyaba’s latest work – after his The Poltiics of Liberation in South Sudan: An Insider’s View (1997) – is like being slapped quite softly with a long, angry editorial from a man who (as per his reputation) has always been an internal critic.  It is refreshing, surprising – even the Sudd Institute’s briefing papers don’t have this element of anger and disappointment – and timely, despite Dr Nyaba pointing out at the book launch that the text has dated – it was supposed to be released in 2011, but the print run was accidentally sent to Khartoum and impounded.

I am going to do a quick sketch of Dr Nyaba’s main points regarding the SPLM/A in the interim CPA period, which is the meat of the short book, and his criticisms of the future of Southern government and leadership.

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Dr Peter Adwok Nyaba’s new book: notes from the launch

At the launch of Dr Nyaba’s new book, ‘South Sudan: the state we aspire to’, today at the New Sudan Palace hotel in Juba, the panel quite strangely didn’t opt to take questions from the relatively large audience. Instead, we were presented with three speakers: Dr Cirino Ofufo Hiteng, the previous Minister for Culture, Youth and Sports; Professor George Bureng Nyombe, eminent scholar of Bari history; and the Hon. Canon Clement Janda, SPLM member, ECS priest and previous SPLM Envoy for Darfur.

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I’ll admit that panels speaking about a book that the audience hasn’t read, in Juba, tend to be paeans rather than solid recommendations, notes or criticisms on the author’s arguments, and I wasn’t expecting to be overawed – although I was keen to get my hands on a copy. I was enjoyably wrong.

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Current events in South Sudan: photos from Aweil

governmentreshuffling

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Scrap that – things afoot in Juba

Juba politics is inscrutable at the best of times; the cabal around Kiir, the definite occasional torture and daily harassment of journalists and nosy people, and the general militarisation of the town over the last two years is notable and really forestalls any real understanding of inner politics when you’re not at the forefront of an embassy – or even then.

That’s not to say it’s impossible or unsafe to live here.  I’ve arrived back in Juba after five days in Aweil (more later) and there are no signs of an impending coup as far as I can see, and frankly the airport is a good first place to look for that kind of thing.  Everyone is drinking their beers at 4pm like usual.

But the key thing is, my last post is redundant; now that Kiir has stripped Machar’s powers back to the constitutional limits for a vice-president, he has also cancelled the ‘reconciliation’ conference.  So that’s one fewer trips to Juba for me, when I leave for Aweil in five weeks.

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The Sudan Council of Churches, Riek Machar and ‘a journey of national healing’: thoughts on peace and reconciliation in South Sudan

Peace, national healing and reconciliation have been discussed as fundamentally necessary agenda items for South Sudan since independence nearly two years ago. These ideas are steeped in South African post-apartheid and Rwanda post-genocide legacies, and there is no shortage of people and organisations wanting a piece of this psychological restitution game – or proposing ways (or more often, the problems) of doing it.

The key issue for a while has seemed to be a lack of political will for such a huge and complex project. If anything, government understandings of the war have been going the other way: there is a well established, government propagated single historical narrative. ‘We’ fought together, died together, bound by the same united ideological desire for an independent ‘South’; internal divisions were the product of machinations from the evil North; the war, peace and finally independence were all won by ‘bullet and ballot,’ and nobody voted against independence in 2011.

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Filed under Africa, Current affairs, History, Independence, Politics, South Sudan

Garang white-washing

Garang's statue - ready to be unveiled

Garang's statue - ready to be unveiled

I’m currently working my way through an essay based on the ‘academic’ publishing of Southern Sudanese ‘intellectuals’ – including, obviously, John Garang.

Reading through his published speeches, pamphlets, letters and essays, I’ve been thinking again about how his political ideas, most specifically his idea of a national, democratic ‘New Sudan’, has been deleted: his quotes edited, speeches deleted, and political aims rewritten.

I’ve no strong feelings about this: Garang was a difficult man and easily criticised, and his political vision(s) contained a good few inconsistencies, were often hazy about their practical application, and were not necessarily reflective of popular opinions.

The one very useful statement Garang made has been quoted everywhere:

No matter that, earlier in this speech, Garang was talking about the primary need for a ‘New Sudan’, and hopes for unity.  His statement about ‘second class citizens’ is a widely used phrase, and the more Garang is selectively quoted, the more he’s rehabilitated as the godfather of South Sudan and the leader of the fight for independence.

Although it was Salva Kiir’s face that was everywhere during Independence Day – including on a huge poster that entirely covered the side of the new airport building – Garang’s face is on apparently all the new notes in the first run of South Sudanese currency; probably because he’s a dead martyr rather than a living president.

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History in a historic moment

SPLA soldiers waiting for independence, 8 July 2011, Juba

SPLA soldiers waiting for independence, 8 July 2011, Juba

I’m in Juba, and busy being sweaty, sunburnt, excited and organising work.  So many references to history here, I feel right introducing myself as a history student.

the Gazette's front page story focuses on the "historiography" of independence

the Gazette's front page story focuses on the "historiography" of independence

 

the South Sudan Ministry of Energy and Mining's banners

The racial historical language of independence according to GoSS Ministry of Energy and Mining

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“Southern-allied”

The reported ultimatum from the northern government to forces in Blue Nile and South Kordofan is really frightening, and potentially changes the implied reasoning behind the invasion of Abyei last weekend.  If Abyei was going to be a convenient point for the “two sides” to kick each other, as Eddie Thomas said, then the situation in Abyei – although awful – might not escalate into a border war, but the continuing SAF deployment along the border (and the border as GoS interprets it) and this demand to commanders to me kind of implies a wider military agenda.

Most concerningly, though, is the SAF’s language in making this demand that the Southern-allied forces in Blue Nile and South Kordofan “withdraw south.”  As Malik Agar said, these forces are predominantly not “Southerners”, but come from and operate in the transition zone from North to South.

This attempt to disarm and expel “Southern-allied” forces from their national territory is pretty indicative of a continued political rather than territorial understanding of South as SPLA and North as NCP-held.  The SPLA did and continue to have a strong military and political presence across the border provinces, in south Darfur, the Nuba mountains and Blue Nile.  Substantial amounts of the fighting in the civil wars involved armed groups and soldiers drawn from these transition areas, as the SPLA under Garang attempted to set itself up as the party and army of oppressed and exploited people across Sudan.

However, the SAF’s zero-sum idea of attempting to expel military groups associated with the Southern government, or at very least tied to SPLM-North, is confusing the political with the territorial.  Just because an army is associated with the SPLM/A does not mean it is Southern, or can go to the Southern territory.  The terminology used by SAF kind of implies that purging the North of groups associated with the South is in order to create a neat North-South opposition – something that’s never been true and won’t be.  The Northern – and for that matter Southern – governments need to accept the inevitability of armed and political opposition within their territorial borders: authority won’t be achieved by trying to expel the opposition.  But more fundamentally, the language and idea behind this ultimatum underlines the continuing association of “South” and “North” with two opposite politicaland ideological “sides” rather than two territorial nations.

Admittedly, I’m not feeling very coherent today and I’m sure there’s a better way of phrasing this – but I needed to break my silence on here…

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Interim to Transitional to Interim: the new draft Transitional Constitution of South Sudan 2011

The freshly drafted transitional constitution has been released!  A PDF is available here.

After a few years of legal work and writing a paper partly on the history of citizenship law in north and south Sudan, I am disproportionately excited by new legislation from the South, and so have decided to break down the key changes (social and political, rather than structural) in this new draft as an exercise in putting this constitution in historical context.  There have been significantly more transitional, provisional and interim constitutions in Sudan – north and south – than ratified constitutions, and I’m keeping a collection.

This draft is a transitional version including its own provisions for interim structures of government.  Various parties in South Sudan say the constitution has been entirely rewritten and is dictatorial; although I’d agree that this is a pretty blatant attempt at consolidating SPLM power, the only major change is the assertion that the presidency shall be for four years following 9 July, without new elections.  This is matched by a general obfuscation over the organisation of a wider constitutional review.  The other political statement – much less subversive – is that Abyei is claimed under the Abyei Arbitration Tribunal Award as ‘the territory of the nine Ngok Dinka chiefdoms transferred from Bahr el Ghazal Province to Kordofan Province in 1905.’

On a different note, Arabic has now been completely dropped from the national languages section, and I’m hoping for debates in the future over whether it counts as ‘indigenous:’ in my mind it definitely does.  English is now the only official working language of the government, although I’m not sure how far this will actually work in practice (6.1).

This change to presidential terms and elections is clearly a serious issue and one of a number of concerning moves by the SPLM and GoSS to consolidate a real authoritarian hold on power.  However, in broader political terms, this draft of the constitution is a boring continuation of the fobbing-off of questions of citizenship and women’s rights.  It looks good, initially.  This version does lay out the explicit provision for dual citizenship (45.5), in line with GoSS’s stance on movement between north and south, in contradiction to Garang’s 2003 New Sudan Nationality Act and northern statements.  Although the constitution, as with the interim version in 2005, is impressively liberal on women’s rights to property, inheritance, marital choice, citizenship and government representation, Southern laws drafted since 2003 have frequently contradicted this.  Similarly, although this constitution’s definition of the South Sudan community has no reference to ethnicity as a feature, this is undermined by the New Sudan Nationality Act and the Referendum Act – which many have said should form the basis for a new Nationality Law after independence – emphasising ethnicity as a key marker in citizenship provisions, and restricting access to citizenship for women and most particularly the children of single women.

It basically seems traditional to have as nebulous and liberal a constitution as possible, particularly when most parties are trying to avoid the resolution of questions like Abyei and citizenship rights; however, in light of the two-tier, ethno-centric proofs of citizenship established in the two pieces of Southern legislation on nationality so far, this constitution is potentially a bit of a red herring for optimism over dual citizenship and gender equality.

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Interim to Transitional to Interim: the new draft Transitional Constitution of South Sudan 2011

The freshly drafted transitional constitution has been released!  A PDF is available here.

http://www.sudantribune.com/Draft-constitution-of-the-Republic,38679

After a few years of legal work and writing a paper partly on the history of citizenship law in north and south Sudan, I am disproportionately excited by new legislation from the South, and so have decided to break down the key changes (social and political, rather than structural) in this new draft as an exercise in putting this constitution in historical context.  There have been significantly more transitional, provisional and interim constitutions in Sudan – north and south – than ratified constitutions, and I’m keeping a collection.

This draft is a transitional version including its own provisions for interim structures of government.

Despite various parties in South Sudan saying the constitution has been entirely rewritten,

http://af.reuters.com/article/worldNews/idAFTRE73P38320110426?pageNumber=1&virtualBrandChannel=0

the only major change is the assertion that the presidency shall be for four years following 9 July, without new elections.  This is a neatly tactical decision by the SPLM, matched by a general obfuscation over the organisation of a wider constitutional review.  The other political statement – much less subversive – is that Abyei is claimed under the Abyei Arbitration Tribunal Award as ‘the territory of the nine Ngok Dinka chiefdoms transferred from Bahr el Ghazal Province to Kordofan Province in 1905.’

On a different note, Arabic has now been completely dropped from the national languages section, and I’m hoping for debates in the future over whether it counts as ‘indigenous:’ in my mind it definitely does.  English is now the only official working language of the government, although I’m not sure how far this will actually work in practice (6.1).

However, in many social and more broadly political respects, this draft of the constitution is a continued fobbing-off of questions of citizenship and women’s rights: this version does lay out the explicit provision for dual citizenship (45.5), in line with GoSS’s stance on movement between north and south, although in contradiction to Garang’s 2003 New Sudan Nationality Act and northern statements.  Although the constitution, as with the interim version in 2005, is impressively liberal on women’s rights to property, inheritance, marital choice, citizenship and government representation, Southern laws drafted since 2003 have frequently contradicted this.  Similarly, although this constitution’s definition of the South Sudan community has no reference to ethnicity as a feature, this is undermined by the New Sudan Nationality Act and the Referendum Act – which many have said should form the basis for a new Nationality Law after independence – emphasising ethnicity as a key marker in citizenship provisions, and restricting access to citizenship for women and most particularly the children of single women.

It basically seems traditional to have as nebulous and liberal a constitution as possible, particularly when most parties are trying to avoid the resolution of questions like Abyei and citizenship rights; however, in light of the two-tier, ethno-centric proofs of citizenship established in the two pieces of Southern legislation on nationality so far, this constitution is potentially a bit of a red herring for optimism over dual citizenship and gender equality.

The PDF version of the constitution can be found here:

http://www.sudantribune.com/Constitutional-review-S-Sudan,38688

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Alternative narratives of corruption and political pressure in the South Sudan referendum: a rebalancing

I’m quite frustrated with this piece by Jort Hemmer at the SSRC blog today.  The article is, to me, an oversimplification, when I think it could be trying to say something more balanced and really pertinent.

Hemmer contrasts the general success of the referendum with an ‘alternative narrative’ of rigging, intimidation and, in his quote from Mareike Schomerus, an “environment of fear” surrounding the mobilisation of the “yes” vote.

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