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Parliament urged to establish people-oriented Constitution

Juba, South Sudan, 27 May 2021 – As the three-day workshop on the South Sudan Permanent Constitution-making process concludes, the National Constitutional Amendment Committee has been urged to produce a people-oriented document with the input of all relevant stakeholders.

Government ‘seriously’ engaging holdout groups – Kiir
South Sudan President Salva Kiir (photo credit: file)

At the workshop sponsored by regional and international partners, President Salva Kiir said the Constitution must reflect the will of the people.

“Since this workshop is to develop a roadmap for the first permanent constitution of the Republic of independent South Sudan, it is absolutely critical that it reflects the aspirations of our people for freedom, equality, justice, and prosperity for all,” the President said.

In a statement extended to Nyamilepedia Wednesday, Oyet Nathaniel Pierino, SPLM-IO representative to permanent constitution-making process workshop said the South Sudan Interim Constitution was a copycat of other existing constitutions, calling for a repeal.

“Despite her independence in 2011, South Sudan enacted a sovereign constitution, which almost reproduced or was merely a reflection of the existing constitutions,” he said.

“This was entirely the work of a small selected committee of the government, dominated by the political and military elite who simply drafted a sovereign constitution out of the pre-existing ones,” Pierino stressed.

“We expect the governing legislation that shall come out of this workshop to ensure that the process of the permanent constitution-making is led and owned by the people,” he stated.

Abdalla Hamdok, the Prime Minister of Sudan and Chairman of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development pledged his support to the process while acknowledging its complexity.

“Transitions are messy, not linear. They never travel in a straight line. You achieve your successes today but[you] are driven back – two steps forward, one step backward,” Hamdock stressed.

“But I think we take pride in the fact that we are definitely moving in the right direction, building a modern state that South Sudanese will be proud of,” he teased.

The South Sudan permanent constitution-making process is supported by the UN. The global body is providing technical and logistical support to ensure the process is led and owned by South Sudanese.

“A constitution expresses the highest social aspirations of the nation and its most cherished values,” said the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General, Nicholas Haysom.

“It’s making should be treated, not as a burden, but a privilege. The constitution has come to be regarded as a social contract between its citizens and its rulers. It sets out the arrangement by which all can live together in peace and harmony.”

Members of civil society are eager to participate but want the process to be inclusive so that all voices are heard.

“Let us use this process to assert equality and craft a politically balanced republic,” said Women’s Coalition for Peace representative, Rita Martin. “Today, we raise our voice for inclusivity, rule of law, human rights, good governance, women’s rights, gender equity, and affirmative action for women and youth.”

For women, this process is a chance to advocate for political parties to live up to their promise in the Revitalized Peace Agreement that there will be 35% representation for women in all political, governance, and security institutions.

“We appeal to the parties to implement the peace agreement in full and to put the people of South Sudan first and their own interests aside,” said Mary Akech Bior from the Women’s Bloc of South Sudan. “Enough is enough. Yes, is for peace. No, is for war.”

The country’s leaders are promising their people that they will have the unfettered right to participate and speak without fear.

“I have many times promised that I will not return South Sudan to war again. I want to reiterate that commitment here in front of all of you,” said President Salva Kiir.

The stakes are high for political parties and the people of South Sudan as they embark on the process of making a new constitution that will provide the opportunity for the world’s newest nation to finally determine its own future.

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