Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Appointment of Mayor for Juba Town is Welcome, Should Apply to 25 States

The month of January 2008 witnessed a number of useful political debates in the Sudan – at least according to http://ohiyok-newsanalysesonline.blogspot.com and http://ohiyok-oduho.blogspot.com/2008/01/my-articles-2003-2007_07.html respectively. The first one is the decision by the Government of South Sudan (GoSS) to appoint a Mayor for the town of Juba, the capital of South Sudan. The second one is the proposal for confederation in the Sudan made by Lt-Gen. Malik Agar, the Deputy Secretary-General of the Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A), Northern Sector, and Governor of Southern Blue Nile State (SBNS). The latter was already discussed and could be found in any of the above Blogs or simply follow this internet link: Separation as an Option in South Sudan Versus the Dangers Presented by Kenya and Need for Confederation. This, thus, leaves us with the former, appointment of Mayor for the town of Juba, to discuss.

What's Mayor?

Mayor is quite a common term, especially in countries formerly colonised by the British Empire and that includes the United States of America. It is doubtful that everyone in the Sudan, though a former colony of the British Empire, knows what the term Mayor means. For this good reason, a definition of the term is important to help Sudanese readers of this website to follow this analysis.

The term Mayor is an English noun that denotes head of a Municipality (Collins Paperback Dictionary & Thesaurus (386:2000)). Translated in our African or South Sudanese context, Mayor could be defined as 'an elevated position of a Paramount Chief to whom all senior chiefs in the territory report.' The senior chiefs are elevated to the positions of Counselors. The Paramount Chief, who chairs the elevated Counselors, becomes Mayor of the Mayoral Territory.

Mayoral Territory

Mayoral territory in the context of this discussion refers to an entity called City or Municipality with a local self-government. In countries like Kenya and Uganda, the government decides, from time to time and after thorough evaluation, to elevate provincial capitals to Municipalities (cities) that are governed by Mayors independent of the Commissioner. In this elevated province, the chairman of Provincial Town Council becomes Mayor (Governor of the Municipality) and his/her Counselors or Provincial Town Council MPs elevated to the status of City or Municipality Counselors (MPs of the local self-government). It should be noted that in former British colonies, there are District, Provincial and Municipality Town Councils.

The position of Mayor links the grassroots to the executive supposedly through the commissioner to the ministry of local government. The whole process is a full swing local government whose parliament is the council and the executive is the mayorship with a cabinet of counselors in charge of various local responsibilities and one deputizing the Mayor. The Municipality also has a local police force called in Kenya as 'Askaris.' The City Askaris in Kenya have the power to arrest anyone violating the regulations or laws of the Municipality.

A number of South Sudanese did comment on the appointment of a Mayor in Juba town. One of them said: "Southern Sudan does not need mayors at the moment", (Khartoum Monitor, January 13th, 2008, p4). This analytic piece is not discussing those who are for or against the appointment of a Mayor for the town of Juba but looks at how could this work in South Sudan. However, it is worth mentioning that the Sudan has a very well-established local government system. This system is represented by the ministry of local government renamed the Federal Rule Chambers (Ministry).

Why not 25 Mayors instead of one?

As mentioned above that the Sudan has an established system of local government, it is tempting to say that the Sudan is ripped for 25 Municipalities and Mayors. Like in Kenya, the Federal government of the Sudan had issued executive orders or decrees to create 26 states (now minus one state). Since these 25 states have the three arms of the government, including the local government led by the commissioners who represent their affairs in the State Council of Ministers, the states, as sovereign as they are, deserve one Mayor each. The capitals of the 25 states in the Sudan are more than Municipalities. In the UK and Kenya for example, except London and Nairobi, any other Municipality does not have a sovereign government. But it should be realised that only 25 commissioners in the Sudan head the States' capitals and represent the Municipalities in the States' Council of Ministers.

Financial constraints in appointing Mayors

One South Sudanese did already express his disagreement with the appointment of a Mayor for the town of Juba. He said: "instead of paying additional salaries to a Mayor, the South needs the cash targeted for its development", (Khartoum Monitor, January 13th, 2008, p4). He is absolutely right in the sense that the South needs development at the moment and not Mayors. It should be noted, however, that Municipalities are not only beneficial but are good sources of income that would help in the development of South Sudan. There are resources at the local levels but most of it gets siphoned by the central government and the local people are left helpless. Thus the creation of Municipalities led by Mayors in the Sudan should be encouraged as they would offer the local people the opportunity to participate in their own development.

Other benefits

The creation of Municipalities and appointment of Mayors first and foremost means further devolution of power from the centre to the periphery. The more power is devolved by any central government to the people the more such government moves towards a democratic transformation. The power to choose own local leadership and the actual participation in the management of local affairs is by itself a useful transformation of any country into a democracy.

The positions of Mayors throughout the country would obviously need lots of Sudanese pounds to be instituted. But this would only be for a short term. In the short term the Municipalities would not have enough cash to manage their affairs but once they are established they would thrive like the cities of London, New York and Nairobi. They will make enough money from local revenues, especially ticketing of parking lots and other Municipal land-related charges throughout the state(s). The Municipality of Metropolitan London makes enough money from revenues that could run it almost independently on annual basis. Instead of raising more than £100 million during the congestion-charging scheme’s first year, congestion charging contributes £50 million of net transport benefits to London’s economy per year, mainly through quicker and more reliable journeys for road and bus users, (http://www.citymayors.com/report/congestion_charge.html).


The decision to appoint a Mayor for the town of Juba is indeed a welcome one but should not be left at the level of Juba alone. It should be applied to all the cities in South Sudan. This is really important, especially in the wake of corruption that reaping apart the South Sudanese society at both GoSS and States' levels.

It is important to look at the creation of Municipalities and appointment of their Mayors as an investment rather than a burden to the people of South Sudan. It should also be viewed as a democratic transformation and not hegemonic extension. South Sudanese, known for democratic inherence within them, will succeed more in Municipalities than in GoSS and State governments. Thus, let lack of money be the reason for not establishing Municipalities and appointing Mayors in the Sudan or South Sudan for that matter.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Annan's Suggestion on Coalition in Kenya May End the Political Crisis

The crisis in Kenya, which was caused by what the opposition there calls 'presidential election rigging', seems to be difficult to resolve. Because Kofi Annan, the former UN Secretary–General (SG), who was appointed by the African Union (AU) as its Special Envoy – charged with the task of mediating and reaching an agreement to end the crisis between the warring parties in Kenya – hinted that a deal for a coalition government between the warring parties was in the offing.

Annan stated on February 12th, 2008, that he had struck a deal between the government of Kenya and the Opposition. The deal, he said, is for both the opposition and the government to form a coalition care-taker government, which is supposed to prepare for election after two years. A coalition government is an open option when a country is in a crisis and right now we are faced with a serious political crisis. The two sides come together and commit to sort out issues such as constitutional reforms and then organise an election, Annan told Kenyan MPs during an informal sitting at Old Parliament Chambers, (http://politics.nationmedia.com/inner.asp?pcat=NEWS&cat=TOP&sid=1472).

The statement that Annan didn't influence any deal between the opposition and the Kenyan government was made by the Kenyan Minister of Justice, Martha Karua. She said that there is no such deal between her government and the opposition. She referred to Anan's statement as 'weakening the government side in the negotiation.' Kenya's Justice Minister, Martha Karua, leading the PNU negotiating team, accused Annan on Tuesday (February 12th, 2008) of weakening the government's negotiating position and causing it embarrassments in the ongoing mediation effort, which has moved to secret location, (http://www.africanews.com/site/list_messages/15762).

My team is alarmed at some serious inaccurate statement made by Your Excellency at the briefing of parliamentarians today. Namely you stated that 'the dialogue team had agreed to have a transitional government for two years after which we shall hold Presidential elections’ which position has not been discussed or agreed upon,” Karua told Annan, (http://politics.nationmedia.com/inner.asp?pcat=NEWS&cat=TOP&sid=1472).

What would such a contradiction really entail? In simple terms it would mean that the government would want to speak from a position of strength. In serious terms, it means that the crisis and that, which accompanies it, call it killing of innocent Kenyans, would continue unabated. If it continues, the government and the people of Kenya irrespective of their party affiliations will continue to suffer.

Why must a country like Kenya, admired by many developed and underdeveloped countries, including its own neighbours, continue to fight with itself? For whose interest is the fighting? Is it in the interest of its people or selfish individuals who want the presidency in Kenya regardless of whether or not blood spills?

The statement of the Kenyan Minister of Justice seems to have been made in a rush – before confirming from Annan what he really meant by what he said or it is simply adamancy – that which recognises strength as the only way to resolving the political crisis in Kenya. Annan said he was thinking loud, meaning that what he said could be a suggestion Kenyans need to look into and evaluate whether or not it would help them end the deadly political crisis.

However, one sincerely hopes that the Minister does not feel offended by this analysis. Because H.E. the Minister needs to know that her party is running the affairs of Kenya – a government which by itself is strength. In other words, whoever runs a government, will always be in a stronger position. Nonetheless, any ideas suggesting that the government will only be strong after crushing the opposition, and hence discuss with it from that position of strength, is far from the basis of peace-making.

Peace-making requires a heart that recognises own mistakes and accepts to conciliate, but never one that fuels conflict. It is the government that should have interest to make peace and not the opposition. The government is responsible for everybody in Kenya, including the opposition. The government cannot blame the opposition for the crisis taking place in Kenya; because it appeared that the government did not apply equal justice as it tried to address the serious accusation of vote rigging made by the opposition and supported by many, including the Chairman of the Electoral Commission of Kenya. Following three days of rioting and hundreds of deaths, Kenya's Elections Chief has admitted that he doesn't really know who won the election. "I do not know whether or not (Mwai) Kibaki won the election," Electoral Commission of Kenya Chairman, Samuel Kivuitu, told The Standard newspaper, (http://www.theage.com.au/news/world/kenya-poll-chief-admits-pressure/2008/01/02/1198949900272.html).

A just government should have formed a committee comprising of both the opposition and government officials to investigate the allegation of vote rigging. Should vote rigging be established, fresh presidential election should have been called for. This did not happen. Why, if someone is to ask very seriously? Is it because President Mwai Kibaki feels he may not win the election again? If the latter question is in the affirmative, then President Kibaki is unpopular and should honourably step down and allow the winner and his party to rule the country. That is the essence of democracy but not clinging on to power even through undemocratic means and the killing of innocent civilians in the name of democracy. Perhaps all these political intrigues put together are what have made the opposition feel cheated because it could not see the difference between a just government, willing to investigate the allegations of vote rigging and the ruling party, which is using government machinery to suppress the people's right to fair exercise of democracy.

The opposition in Kenya is calling for fresh Presidential election as a matter of principle. This is a clear message which the government is to address. Should government accept election rerun and the opposition loses for the second time, the opposition would have no right whatsoever to continue fanning the political crisis in Kenya. If they persist on refueling the current crisis, the government then must use its power of the law to arrest their leaders and charge them with treason against the Kenyan people.

The Kenyan government needs to be advised that it is fully responsible for the current situation in the country. Failing to resolve the current crisis as a government would in fact make it worse: it would amount to a crime against humanity. Unless both warring parties in Kenya have agreed to form a coalition government to prepare for fresh election in two years' time as hinted by Annan, the crisis in Kenya may not be nearing any end.

The Transition from one party rule to multi-party democracy in Kenya did not take the dimension of the current situation. President Daniel Toroitich arap-Moi did recognise then that any vote rigging would plunge Kenya into civil war and as such deployed troops to safeguard the interest of the Kenyan people. Thus, Kibaki did not find any resistance when taking over the reigns of power in Kenya. Why should Kibaki accept to work with greedy leaders, those who do not have the interest of Kenyans at heart except their personal interests? Does Kibaki want the world to believe that he is not democratic but Moi, who was regarded by the opposition, including Kibaki himself during the transformation of Kenya into a democracy as a dictator, has now emerged a better democrat in Kenya?

It should be noted that there is no amount of force that the government would employ to take away the rage of the opposition and their supporters. But dialogue, the path of which the warring parties in Kenya agreed to follow, under the mediation efforts of Annan, must continue no matter how long it takes. This would also require open hearts, the hearts that recognise the magnitude of the crisis and sincerely accept to conciliate.

The Kenyan government and people have assisted many countries in the East and Central African regions to settle their conflicts, including the very popular Sudan's Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA). The CPA especially had earned the Kenyan people and government a good reputation, a reputation that could have lined Kenya up for a possible winning of a Nobel Peace Prize had it not been for the current crisis, which has tarnished Kenya's good image regionally and internationally.

The Kenyan government and people need to give Annan all the assistance he needs to help them end the current political stalemate. Hatred developed from tribalism should really be put aside by the Kenyan people, especially the Kikuyu and the Luo tribes. Otherwise tribes that believe in their sizes and feel that they must suppress the rest of the country make true the Swiss people popular believe that a smaller tribe would rule with justice as compared to a bigger tribe or ethnic group. Take for instance the Swiss identity – made up of French, Italian, German and Rumantch speakers: the Swiss identity is diversity. We don't like each other so much, but have stayed together for centuries, (Conradin Perner (Kwacakworo), Seminar on Good Governance in South Sudan, Aberdare Country Club, Kenya, November 1st-3rd, 2000).

Monday, February 4, 2008

Separation as an Option in South Sudan Versus the Dangers Presented by Kenya and Need for Confederation

Kenya, a neighbour to South Sudan, has been going through very serious ethnic clashes and bloodletting that resulted from the disputed December/January election results. This crisis has affected the supplies of foodstuff and other essential items that usually passed through the Kenyan Port of Mombassa to countries like Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, the DR Congo and entities like South Sudan.

South Sudan, the subject of this news analysis, has now turned north for help, something its leaders truly believed was not necessary at least initially. Its leaders are the Sudan People's Liberation Movement and Army (SPLM/A) and their allies from other political parties in the South who are currently running the Government of South Sudan (GoSS).

This news analysis looks at separation as an option in South Sudan – landlocked as it were – and the dangers presented by Kenya as a country with a useful port, Mombassa, accessed by GoSS and the people of the South. It supports confederation of the Sudan as an alternative option to maintaining the unity of the Sudan as envisaged by Lt-Gen. Malik Agar, the Governor of Southern Blue Nile State (SBNS).

Lt-Gen. Agar was attacked by various political groups in the South, including his own SPLM/A colleagues. They accused him of trying to undermine the right of South Sudanese people to self-determination. This proposal is meant to undermine the right to self-determination for the people of South Sudan and its implementation in an internationally-supervised referendum in the year 2011, (http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article25655).

Lt-Gen. Agar understand the CPA and cannot work to abrogate it, but it appears that he is reading into the signs of time and trends through which separatists in the Sudan are going and identifies a serious danger: a possible fragmentation of the Sudan.

Sudan is facing a lot of pressures from separatists who have no hidden agenda on their intentions to breakaway from Sudan. This includes the majority within the SPLM/A and Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) in Darfur. The head of one of the three rebel groups in Darfur has mentioned the possibility of his group seeking independence for the western Sudanese region after it failed to sign up to the recent peace deal, (http://sudanwatch.blogspot.com/2006/06/darfurs-jem-rebel-leader-says-were.html).

As mentioned above, the separatists in the Sudan both from South and North have never hidden their intention to break away from each other. A good number of Sudan People's Liberation Movement and Army (SPLM/A) from the South voice their intention to break away and as such have influenced the GoSS to operate independently from the federal government in Khartoum. They call the South or SPLM/A-controlled areas of Southern Blue Nile, Nuba Mountains and Abyei as "The New Sudan." This group of separatist South Sudanese argues that they have tried unity and it did not work, because the northerners are intransigent. Now, it says, it is time to try separation.

Meanwhile, separatists from the North like Al Tayib Mustafa, the Editor-in-Chief of the Al Intibahah daily newspaper, and others like Sherif Al Hindi, a factional leader of the breakaway Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), say South Sudanese must take their bad habits of alcohol drinking and others back to the South once and for all. Sherif Al-Hindi, the leader of the DUP here in Khartoum was quoted in one of the dailies as saying that "those who want to drink alcohol should go and do that in Juba, (http://ohiyok-oduho.blogspot.com). Some northerners who do not want to be identified say there is a plot against the minority Arabs in the Sudan and express genuine fears that they may become homeless like Palestinians if they don't breakaway the North from the South. Other extreme Muslims say the faith, Islam, is endangered and would prefer the South to go instead.

Given a critical look at the reasons given above by each of the separatists group, one would clearly understand that they are in a very serious situation of mistrust. This mistrust originates from a serious resistance to accept the status-quo. It requires dialogue to address the reasons for resisting the status-quo because it was a choice made within which the CPA is based – it doesn't require continuous conflict, which may wrongly be aimed at victory that cannot be achieved.

South Sudanese do have a good reason to mistrust the North Sudanese. The North Sudanese who previously led this country, including some in the current government but hiding underneath their official desks, did more harm to the people of the South than good. One needs not to discuss what the South suffered from as a result of bad governance in the central government in Khartoum. However, the SPLM/A did present those very sufferings in form of grievances as reasons for ending the conflict on the negotiation table.

The former Inqaz government (now the National Congress Party (NCP)), under the leadership of H.E. President Omar Hasan Ahmad Al Bashir, for the first time in the history of the Sudan, did agree that indeed there were problems in the Sudan that need its own sons and daughters to resolve them once and for all. This was Inqaz's priority programme: finding a lasting solution to all the problems in the country. The Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) was signed in order to demonstrate that seriousness of finding a lasting peace in the Sudan to the Sudanese people.

The separatists in the South may only be a little unfair to those it signed the CPA with; because they failed to consider the living reality of the CPA; in that without the NCP there would be no peace and certainly CPA in the Sudan. Instead of giving the NCP the benefit of the doubt as any good-willed person would in a situation like that of the Sudan, the majority in the SPLM/A did call for separation ahead of the agreed upon plebiscite after the Interim Period (IP).

The question one would seriously like to ask is: do the separatists in the South know that the South would be in an economically-awkward position if it decides to breakaway from the North? The IP is nearing end and surely concerned politicians would always envisage the future correctly and make wise decisions.

Another important question is: does the South have wise politicians? Well given the trend in which the GoSS is going through, it is easy to say; may be that there are wise politicians in the South but not in decision-making elite team. Wisdom, in the simplest traditional understanding, is known to fight corruption and encourages the distribution of God-given natural or other resources equally. Wisdom is usually accompanied by other virtues like moderation, courage and justice. The four cardinal virtues — justice, wisdom (prudence), courage (fortitude), and moderation (self-control, temperance) — come not just from Plato or Greek philosophy. You will find them in Scripture. They are knowable by human nature, which God designed, not Plato. Plato first formulated them, but he did for virtue only what Newton did for motion: he discovered and tabulated its own inherent foundational laws, (http://www.catholiceducation.org/articles/religion/re0017.html).

Even though GoSS has been fighting corruption unabated, it appears that corruption itself is entrenched in GoSS and unless fought, it cannot go – it is a disease that spreads easily and it attacks vulnerable members of the public: the greedy and the poverty-stricken ones. South Sudan's anti-corruption commission will launch a wide-ranging probe into the semi-autonomous government's contracts after allegations arose that millions of Sudanese dinars had disappeared, (http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/L24918293.htm). It should also be noted that even the idea to separate the South from the North may be influenced by greed rather than patriotism, in that those who are fighting for it have seen how easy it has become to access money and enjoy leadership benefits and perhaps say; why quit the habit?

Very many of these separatists do not know economy works, as trying to visualize and articulate the economic variables that make any country prosper is not an easy exercise to venture into. The few within the SPLM/A who understand how economy works scientifically do not care because if they do, many openings through which they survive may be closed. Another question avails itself: how does the leadership in the South aspire to improve the economy of the South?

To answer the question above in the affirmative would be an understatement. That is because from taking over the South, SPLM/A discouraged GoSS, State governments and the people, including the traders from cooperating with the Northern Sudan people and government. This could be seen true in the GoSS' decision to use the Port of Mombassa in Kenya to get into the South its imports, especially heavy machinery and vehicles civil and military. Today, 80% of the goods in Juba come from Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania and very soon, may be the DR Congo. This is possible because once there is an identified market that demands there will always be supplies coming from all corners of the world.

This perhaps was a choice given to GoSS by the CPA, but is it necessary to apply it, and how practical is it economically? Using the ports of Dar El Salaam and Mombassa need hard currency – may be payable exorbitantly compared to Port Sudan, which either takes something symbolic for, or absolutely nothing, in terms of levies from government goods and other stuff like heavy machinery, including vehicles destined for South Sudan. The hard currency paid in any of the above ports, if calculated annually, could be a lot of money intentionally lost due to misunderstanding of the CPA itself. The CPA allows economic interaction with the neighbouring countries but it doesn't distort a wise mapping out of a sound economic planning. The usage of such foreign ports in economic terms has two major economic consequences on the South.

The first one is that these ports need hard currency to serve the people and GoSS; and this hard currency must come out of the reserves in the Bank of South Sudan (BoSS). Using hard currency to access Dar El Salaam or Mombassa ports drains hard currency and such drainage of hard currency makes continued international transactions very limited if not impossible, especially in the absence of industrial development, which is the case in the South.

The second one is that instead of saving the money spent in the use of the two parts, Port Sudan could be used and the money saved to help in the development of the South, especially in putting in place light and heavy industry machineries. Even though it requires quite a lot of hard currency to develop light and heavy industries, once they are operational, the products they would supply throughout the South would reduce lots of hard currency that would otherwise be spent on importing items produced by the light and heavy industries elsewhere in the countries neighbouring South Sudan and across the world.

The other important aspect of using Port Sudan is that the CPA partners are in control of the Government of National Unity (GoNU). This means that GoNU, GoSS, State governments and the Sudanese people will have no interruption in importing their items as it is the case in the South currently. It should be noted that the political crisis in Kenya has affected many neighbouring countries like Uganda, Rwanda and the Congo. The South, which is being steered towards separation from the rest of the Sudan by its current leadership, has turned north.

In January GoSS had made an official request to the Northern Sudanese leadership to help rescue the South from serious shortages of many essential commodities being faced by the GoSS and people of the South as a result of the election crisis in Kenya. Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Southern Sudan and DR Congo economies have also been adversely affected by the chaos, which is likely to affect their turnover this year, (http://allafrica.com/stories/200801210741.html).

It seems that the separation of the South from the North would plunge the people of South Sudan into being helpless dependents. Giving it a hypothetical approach that the South is an independent state that seriously favours no relations with Northern Sudan, and taking the current situation in Kenya into consideration, seeing how blocked are the Kenyan and Ugandan roads that lead to important ports of Dar El Salaam and Mombassa, what would the situation of the people in the South be? Miserable, one should imagine. This is a fact which can now be seen very clearly by those advocating for the separation of the South. Therefore, those advocating for the separation of the South need to know that work has to be done in order to tackle some problems, including reconsidering the confederation as an alternative before it is too late.

The South Sudanese who are interested in separating the South from the rest of the Sudan should now see some sense in what was earlier stated by the Governor of Blue Nile State, H.E. Lt-Gen. Malik Agar. Agar, the Deputy Chairman of SPLM, Northern Sector and Governor of SBNS, proposed that confederation is the only solution to unify the Sudan which is standing in a crossroad and is facing dangers against its unity, (http://www.k2-media.org/jubapost/go/record.php?cat=17&recordID=359).

Instead of fighting for personal interests and egos, SPLM/A leadership holds the card that would either unite or disunite the Sudan. This should not be misunderstood by cheap politicians as strength and thus a reason to separate. It should be considered as strength that is likely to offer the people of this country what they truly deserve: unity based on new basis. This new basis should not be searched from afar – it is confederation which is the new basis, which wise leaders like Lt-Gen. Agar have seen as the only viable alternative for the unity of the Sudanese people.

Even if separation is what is popular amongst those from the South in the SPLM/A, it really doesn't mean that once the South separates it would be difficult to confederate with the rest of the Sudan, should confederation be accepted by the political forces in the Sudan.

South Sudan can separate but such separation needs to be preceded by serious renegotiations that should prepare the people of this country to confederal arrangements, because such would truly ensure the unity of this country based on confederation as a new basis for coexistence between all the peoples, races, religions and cultures in the Sudan.