10 July 2012

South Sudan Rejects Introduction of Emergency Laws

Juba — South Sudan's governing party has rejected opposition calls for the introduction of emergency laws to fight crime in Western Bahr el Ghazal State.

The suggestion was made in a speech to the Western Bahr el Ghazal government by five opposition political leaders, who praised the state's leadership for giving them the opportunity to voice their views.

The five leaders who co-wrote the speech were: Thomas Emilio Baku, Sudan African National Union (SANU); Christopher Paul, South Sudan Democratic Forum (SSDF); Henry Luciano Buk, African National Congress (ANC); Christopher James, United Democratic Salvation Front-Mainstream; and Martin Akile Falakur, United Sudan African Party (USAP).

The five argued that introducing emergency laws to combat law breakers would create the peace and stability ordinary people need in order to "concentrate on farming and other income generating activities without fear of being subjected to security threats".

The opposition leaders said that political parties and other groups outside the ruling Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) should "participate in decision making".

They asked that they be allowed to mobilise their supporters to join - and provide moral and material support to the South Sudanese army (SPLA).

In the speech to the Western Bahr el Ghazal government the opposition leaders praised the administration of Governor Rizik Hassan Zachariah for allowing them to present their views and for the progress made in the state since independence last year.

Many ordinary citizens in Western Bahr el Ghazal express discontent with the performance of the government in providing security and services. However, the opposition leaders were reticent to attempt to exploit this in their speech, asking for patience so that peace and stability could be consolidated.

Political pluralism

The SPLM has governed South Sudan since a 2005 peace deal ended decades of war with various Khartoum governments. The former rebels won elections in 2010 by a huge margin affirming their position as the dominant force in South Sudanese politics.

Of the 170 MPs elected in 2010, only 10 were not on a SPLM ticket. Even some of those were SPLM members who stood as independence having been overlooked for nomination by the party.

Despite the SPLM's monopoly on power, the opposition said it was a "a pleasure to remember the achievements of your regime after the 2010 elections. The security of the state was the paramount priority in your government, taking town to the rural areas has been experienced in the counties and Payam headquarters and beyond."

Economy

After South Sudan seceded a year ago as part of the 2005 peace deal, with 98% voting for secession in referendum last year, the two nations were unable to agree a fee for the transit of South Sudanese oil through Sudan for export.

This resulted in the shut down of production at the start of 2012, as Khartoum had begun confiscating southern crude. Juba says this amounts to $800m.

South Sudan has since launched austerity measures to cope with the loss of 98% of its income.

The opposition groups acknowledged that this decision and the consequential "drastic cuts" were forced upon the SPLM government by Khartoum's actions.

Sudan had also negatively effected South Sudan's economy by unilaterally closing the borders for trade, they said. Khartoum the border was closed to stop Juba's support of armed groups in Sudanese territory, an allegation denied by South Sudan.

The dream, held by Khartoum's National Congress Party, of keeping Sudan a united country had failed "as proved by these celebrations" of South Sudan's independence.

Acuil Malith Bangol, a senior member of the SPLM in Western Bahr el Ghazal, in response the suggestions of new emergency laws said that any new legislation must be passed by the state's parliament.

"As SPLM, we promote political pluralism, direct participation of the people in how they would want to be governed not individuals. We will not accept such proposal seeking imposition of any law against the will of the people because we get the mandate to run the country from them", he explained.

He made the remarks while speaking on behalf of the national secretariat at the independence celebrations in Wau, which saw cheering crowds dancing and singing songs from the civil war.

Independence Day

Celebrations in Wau began at midnight on Sunday July 8, 2012 as crowds took to the streets, which were heavily guarded by security forces.

Authorities allowed people to drive around the town honking horns to mark the first anniversary of South Sudan's independence.

"We have fought for our right to be counted among the community of the free nations and we have earned it. It was not a freedom given to us on the golden plate. It was freedom we have paid for it dearly. Lives have been lost. Most of our of people never expected that they would one day be free to drive around like this in Wau", Maridama James Benjamin, Commissioner of Wau town told Sudan Tribune on Sunday.

Benjamin explained that people were not allowed to move freely in Wau, which was a garrison town of the Khartoum government for much of conflict, during the war.

"It was difficult moving like this in 1990s. Whether a government officials or citizens. By five oclock in the evening people are already in their houses but now people are free to move anytime whether in the day or night. Nobody is subjected to anything because this is the freedom for which we fought", he said.

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