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Sudan Tribune

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Official vows to quit S. Sudan constitutional review body

By Julius N. Uma January 16, 2011 (JUBA) – A member of the recently appointed South Sudan Constitutional Review Commission (CRC) has vowed he will not up his seat unless proposals advanced by the civil society groups are taken into consideration by President Salva Kiir. Presidential Decree No. 03/2012 for the Appointment of full0time and part-time members of the National Constitutional Review Commission (NCRC)Samuel Dong Luak, an advocate, was the only civil society member appointed, through a presidential decree issued on 9 January, as part of the 45-member commission. Luak, together with 34 others, will serve as part-time members of the CRC. The commission is headed by Akolda Ma’an Tier and William Othwon Awer as chairperson and deputy respectively. The duo and six other members have appointed permanent members of the constitutional body. The establishment of the body comes in line with Article 137 of South Sudan’s Transitional Constitution, which provides for the establishment of an independent National Constitutional Review Commission, within six months of independence. South Sudan seceded from North Sudan 9 July 2011 as part of a 2005 peace deal that ended decades of civil war. Forming the transitional constitution, which will last until the next scheduled elections in 2015, was a controversial process with many opposition groups pulling out of the process, accusing the ruling SPLM of ignoring their opinions on term limits and other issues. Senior members of the SPLM – the former rebels who have governed South Sudan since 2005 – also critisiced the transitional constitution for centralising power in Juba and in the presidency. Addressing a press conference in Juba, the South Sudan capital, civil society alliance members argued that their voices were excluded from the consultation process, prior to the president’s decree. President Kiir, they said, had acted contrary to constitution. According to Article 202(2) of South Sudan’s Transitional Constitution, “The President of the Republic shall, after consultations with the political parties, civil society and other stakeholders appoint the Chairperson, the Deputy Chairperson and Members of the Commission.” Biel Boutros Biel, the Secretary General of the alliance said the President’s act was “anti-public, unconstitutional and should not go unchallenged.” The alliance is now demanding that the President issues another decree appointing four more civil society members to the constitutional review body. These four, they say, shall be directly elected by the civil society fraternity, not handpicked by Kiir. They also demand that Luak, the only civil society representative on the Constitutional Review Committee (CRC), be included as a permanent member of the body, not on part time basis. Luak told journalist he was unprepared to join the CRC unless the demands of the alliance were met by President Kiir. “I will not take oath of office as mandated. As civil society members, we need to speak with one voice and in the interest of our people,” he said as other members applauded. Luak controversially resigned from the South Sudan Referendum Bureau (SSRB), the Juba-based mandated with conducting the vote which saw over 98% of Southern Sudanese chose independence in January 2011. The lawyer was a commissioner in-charge of training. However, Edmund Yakani, an outspoken civil society activist, has questioned Luak’s motive’s for not joining the CRC. In an interview with Sudan Tribune on Monday, he said it would be very unfortunate if Luak boycotts the constitutional review body due to “personal interests” other than in the interest of the civil society fraternity. “To me, any decision taken by the civil society is a welcome move provided it’s done in the interest of the majority, not from a personal point of view. If Samuel Dong Luak had vowed never to take oath of office, it’s a welcome move provided it is in the interest of the civil society and not his own interest,” Yakani said. A strong civil society, he said, is that which advocates for members who represent the majority, as opposed to those who advance personal agendas. The 45-member CRC, which is mostly comprised of SPLM members as well as other political parties, civil society and faith-based groups will mainly be tasked with two main functions;
  • To keep the law of South Sudan under systematic review by undertaking research with a view to develop, modernise, reform the country’s laws.
  • Carry out research in relation to reviewing of the Constitution, Acts, and other South Sudan laws so as to meet the aspirations of citizens in the nascent country.

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