Thursday, August 20, 2009

Referendum and Election Law Negotiations Continue Between NCP and SPLM

Both sides are digging in, with some outside observations from the UNMIS head of elections observation. Actually, quite unhelpful comments from the UNMIS rep. Check out the article here.

For what it is worth, and in case this is the first election observation/participation for some, the parties will always haggle over the process. It is, in my opinion, a critical process in the essence of elections and plebiscites. It engenders a sense of transparency, legitimacy and fosters broad participation.

If there are outside "official" groups who have a thought to share on their opinion of the election, the parties' political and process needs, then it might be best to hold their fire or share their thoughts more discreetly. Public comments. like those of the UNMIS representative only throw weight (unfairly, many would argue) toward one argument.

Meanwhile, the USG is a bit more forward leaning on the process, according to this article. Gration is appears to be getting on side with the Don't-Drop-Sanctions-On-Khartoum-stance, and the SPLM seems to be qualifying their recent comments on unilateral declaration of independence. Story here.

And finally, Gration is claiming victory (progress?) on a non-agreement on the outstanding CPA issues. Except it does not cover the census, the referendum or other critical points that are currently under hot debate. BBC is reporting the story here. One more inane pointer: When it comes to mediating between the parties, "process" (like this) is no replacement for substance. Signing agreements that don't mean anything only give the obstinate a victory when they should be getting further pressure.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

News Report: SPLM Says Unilateral Declaration of Independence is Possible

The big story this week is the SPLM's signal that they wont take UDI off the table if the NCP makes unreasonable demands on the upcoming referendum. A link to the story is here.

A shot across the bow, certainly, but there are a few mitigating circumstances behind this strong signal from the SPLM worth considering:

1.) The referendum is sacrosanct in the minds of the Southerners, not just the SPLM. All feel that the NCP will attempt to place conditions on the process so ridiculous that the entire effort will be thrown into disarray, delayed and/or undermined by a lack of confidence. The conditions they're bringing to the table in the discussions of this process reflect that reality.

2.) The US was supposed to act as the defacto principal guarantor of the CPA, but that has changed. The USG position is floundering somewhere between "nuanced diplomacy" with the NCP and quibbling over humanitarian access in Darfur. The Obama Administration has neither an idea of what it wants to see accomplished in Sudan, nor does it appear to be on a track towards trying to find those objectives.

The SPLM has been frustrated with the Obama Administration with its floundering and sees it has to help them refocus on the project at hand, namely the CPA. Throwing down the UDI card is the best/only way to help Washington refocus on its role of being the principal guarantor of the CPA. Let's see how they respond.

3.) The final point is that succession by referendum in the South is virtually a given. This will be a serious black eye to Khartoum and the NCP. Forcing the SPLM and the south to break it off by a UDI is a face saving tack they can take. Unfortunately, getting tough by the SPLM on this issue only walks into their trap.

Bottom line: this marker laid down by the SPLM isnt coming out of left field; it's the consequence of existing realities. They're simply getting tougher in order to realign allies and keep the NCP on the defensive.

Monday, August 10, 2009

GOSS Shuffles Ministry Undersecretaries

The GOSS has just announced the a reshuffle of Ministry Undersecretaries as of today.

The changes include:

Dr. Cirino Hiteng -- Ministry of Presidential Affairs:
Rebecca Joshua Kwaci – Pubic Service
Majok Mading – National Expert to the FVP Office
Gorge Justin Achor – Ministry of Regional Cooperation
Deng Biong Majak – Legal Affairs
Daniel Wani – Housing
Dr. Makuei Malual – Agriculture
Lt gen Frasier tong – Wildlife and Tourism
Chuor Deng Mareng – Commerce and Industry
William Acer Maciek – Energy and Mining
Mark Zenabayeo- Employees Justice
Raymond Pitia Morebe -- Roads and Transportation
Waragak Gatluak -- Animal Resources
Martin Mou Mou -- Education Science and Technology
Willaim Ater Maciek – Energy and Mining
Rebecca Joshua Kwacha -- Public Service

Monday, August 3, 2009

Abyei Follow Up: Local Tribes Hold Peace Conference

Ngok Dinka and Messeria tribes held a peace conference this week to cement the recent Abyei ruling.

An auspicious event, to be certain, but certainly one of many to come.

Read the story here.