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Sudan Tribune

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Civil society activists in regional anti-corruption symposium

By Julius N. Uma

August 9, 2010 (NAIROBI) — A two-day conference aimed at finding out civil society perspective of anti-corruption mechanisms in East Africa is in the making, courtesy of the Education Center for Women in Development (ECWD) working in partnership with the Commonwealth Foundation.

Dr. Pauline Riak, Southern Sudan Anti-Corruption Commission (ST)
Dr. Pauline Riak, Southern Sudan Anti-Corruption Commission (ST)
The event, to be held from August 12-13 in Nairobi, Kenya will bring together leaders drawn from Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) in the host nation, neighboring Uganda and Tanzania.

According to the organizers, the conference will provide participants with a learning platform in preventive, proactive, multi-dimensional and institutional support strategies for improving accountability and other good governance practices in the East African countries.

“The conference will look at the role of CSOs in promoting anti-corruption mechanisms for building integrity and accountability systems in the respective countries,” a statement from Ambassador Tabitha Seii, the ECWD Chairperson partly reads.

This regional anti-corruption meeting comes barely a month after Yemen hosted a similar conference of the Arab Anti-Corruption and Integrity Network (ACINET). ACINET, a regional organization dedicated to supporting anti-corruption initiatives currently incorporates 13 Arab nations, including Sudan.

Dr. Pauline Riak, Southern Sudan Anti-Corruption Commission (SSACC) Chairperson, who attended the Yemen conference, acknowledged the fundamental roles civil society entities play in promoting public awareness and spurring action instrumental in eradicating corruption.

To successfully fight corruption, she said, respective governments must empower the anti-corruption institutions with the necessary support required for fulfilling their mandate of zero tolerance for corruption.

During his historic inauguration address, Southern Sudan President, Salva Kiir Mayardit pledged full commitment towards fighting corruption, saying his new administration will not tolerate those implicated in graft-related cases.

Last year, Southern Sudan passed its Anti-Corruption Act 2009, an achievement that enabled SSACC to develop a five-year anti-corruption strategic plan.

Critics have, however, accused the anti-corruption body of failing to truly champion the cause for which it was established. To many, SSSAC investigations tend to target less powerful individuals and institutions at the expense of the influential ones involved in corruptions practices.

“This Anti-Corruption Commission is a mere barking dog that hardly bites. Take for instance the case of officials implicated in last year’s financial saga within the Education Ministry. Did the Commission do anything? No actions were taken,” John Majok Kur, a Sudanese studying in Nairobi, Kenya told Sudan Tribune.