RTGoNU Head of Delegation Albino Aboug Mathem, chief mediator Lazarus Sumbeiywo, deputy mediator Mohamed Ali Guyo, Germany Head of International Relations Tobias Muller and Head of real Sudan People’s Liberation Movement Pagan Amum at the signing of the Tunaini initiative in Nairobi. (PHOTO | LUCY WANJIRU | NMG)


South Sudan’s opposition and civil society groups, currently negotiating a political deal with their government in Nairobi, say they want the talks to lead to a new constitution so that the country can start from a clean slate.

The new demand, atop the original desire to rope them into the government of national unity, came as the talks progressed into the second month this week.

Pagan Amum, a former minister in South Sudan and leader of the South Sudan Opposition Movement Alliance (Ssoma), on Thursday joined other opposition groups to make a four-point demand for the talks. He said the talks in Nairobi should lead to a “constitutional conference” beginning from Nairobi and another session in Juba.

“The expected outcome of the conference will be: the adoption of a new social contract; a constitutional text; interim governance arrangements with a rescue programme; and implementation modalities,” said a joint statement signed by other opposition groups and PCCA (People’s Coalition for Civil Action), which represents civic movements.

“We strongly appeal to the region, the continent, and the international community to support the people of South Sudan in their search for peace and transition to stability and democracy.”

The desire for peace and security has been a joint call by most of these groups originally opposed to the government. But they have never agreed on the how.

The government of President Salva Kiir has argued for general elections as a starter and has rallied for preparations, which stakeholders now say are impossible because of a lack of funds and agencies needed to ready the country for polling.

Kiir’s coalition partners, such as Riek Machar of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-in Opposition (SPLM-IO), have called for a delay until the country’s transitional goals are met. Even the Revitalised Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (R-JMEC), a body created to oversee the implementation of the 2018 peace deal, has warned the country isn’t ready for elections.

The country faces a dilemma: Delaying elections means the transitional government of national unity, formed out of the 2018 peace agreement, will run to the end of its extended term in February 2025.

 But holding an election in a country largely seen as unprepared could easily lead to new groups taking up arms.

“Our country is not prepared for elections and we believe that part of the outcome of the Tumaini Process will be to delay elections so that we can hold them under a new constitution,” the group said.

Amum told a press briefing that negotiating parties are on the same page that the “country is in danger of collapsing from multiple crises.” He was referring to the humanitarian toll from flooding and violent clashes, an economic downturn that has seen the country struggle to pay salaries and slow implementation of transitional arrangements.

Source: https://www.theeastafrican.co.ke/tea/news/east-africa/south-sudan-opposition-groups-push-for-new-constitution--4658690