Saturday, April 30, 2011

Sudan: Tempers Flare As SPLM Opposition Discuss Draft Constitution

Sudan Tribune (Paris)

28 April 2011

Juba — A meeting, convened on Thursday by the southern leadership to address the outcries expressed by opposition parties on the country's draft constitution, ended without consensus after its president, Salva Kiir reportedly dared discontented opposition members to leave.
"You opposition parties are known for boycotting such meeting. The other time, you walked out of the technical committee and it still went ahead with its work. Again you are bringing the same issue. Whoever is not comfortable is free to leave this meeting," an emotionally-charged Kiir reportedly told the meeting.
The opposition, sources told Sudan Tribune, were mainly opposed to the draft constitution's demands that a presidential election in South Sudan be held after four years from the time the country's independence is declared in July.
Previously, members of the opposition threatened to boycott the meeting on Thursday, which was called by Kiir, less than a week after the draft of the country's constitution was handed over to him by the technical committee that reviewed it.

A 'main street' in Juba, Southern Sudan, displaying a lack of development.
Onyoti Nyikwech, leader of the opposition, said the boycott was justified given that most of the parties were "deliberately" left out of the review process after their walk out in protest over the south ruling party's alleged violation of rules of procedure.
Nyikwech, also a member of the Sudan People's Liberation Movement - Democratic Change, a breakaway faction of the ruling Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) described the draft constitution as a "one party document compiled to cater for the interests of SPLM members."
The technical committee, which was comprised of members of the SPLM, representatives from other political parties, civil society groups and the religious fraternity was initiated to transform the current interim law, into an independent state constitution, address gaps within the legal framework and provide a road map that will guide the new nation.
Reacting at the release of the draft constitution, John Luk Jok, the committee chairperson remarked, "We shall embark on a broad-based constitutional review process after the July independence declaration. This process will involve the active participation of all stakeholders including other political parties."
His remarks come almost a month after the review process suffered a serious setback, following a boycott from nine members of the 11 political parties on the technical committee. Those who withdrew accused the SPLM member violating the procedures that had been established for the review. The SPLM has 41 members on the committee.

However, the chairperson of the committee rubbished these claims as "baseless and lacking ground". He accused the members who boycotted the committee of interfering in the constitutional review process.
"Rules of procedures were not changed at all during the process of reviewing the interim constitution. As members, we were all required to vote and come to consensus. What members of these political parties were alleging was not true," he added.
South Sudan is due to become independent after the population overwhelming chose separation in the region's self-determination referendum held in January. The vote was a key part of the Sudan's 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), which ended over two decades of a bloody civil war between north and south.

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