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The Carter Center Urges Meaningful Deliberation of Draft Transitional Constitution

CONTACTS: Khartoum: Barbara Smith +249 901 143 443,
Juba: Owen McDougall +249 907 978 505, Atlanta: Deborah Hakes, +1 404 420 5124


As Southern Sudan prepares for independence in the face of recent armed conflict with the North, it is critically important that the Government of Southern Sudan (GoSS) and the ruling Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) take steps to demonstrate a strong commitment to inclusive and participatory governance. In the short time remaining before independence on July 9, the GoSS should make efforts to review previous citizen input on the draft transitional constitution, and both before and after its entry into force take greater steps to inform citizens about the transition process. In addition, the Southern Sudan Legislative Assembly (SSLA) should incorporate views garnered from cluster groups hearings, written submissions and its own deliberations into its final debates on the transitional constitution scheduled for July 6 and 7. The SSLA has the right to consider amendments to the draft submitted on May 5 by the Council of Ministers, to ensure sufficient checks and balances on executive power and establish clear guidelines for genuine popular participation in the permanent constitution process expected to begin after independence.
The current draft of the transitional constitution contains a number of provisions that appear likely to concentrate power in the central government. Carter Center staff and observer interviews with government officials, political party members, and civil society representatives across the South indicate there is significant support for a decentralized system of government.
Recent steps taken by the SSLA to hold public hearings in Juba to discuss the draft transitional
constitution and solicit feedback from citizens and civil society in the South are an encouraging sign that the legislature welcomes popular input into the current amendment process. Although termed a "transitional" constitution, the proposed draft will replace the 2005 Interim Constitution of Southern Sudan and provide the legal framework in the South until a permanent constitution is completed. Additionally, the draft constitution does not include a timeframe for the development and adoption of a permanent constitution and the holding of elections to end the transitional period. The SSLA has a critical oversight role in the finalization of the transitional constitution. The GoSS executive branch and the SPLM should continue to respect this role, and avoid actions that would limit or undermine it.
In order to promote stability and build the foundation for genuinely democratic governance in Southern Sudan, The Carter Center urges the following actions:

  • The full body of the SSLA should carefully consider the views presented during public hearings organized by the SSLA's cluster groups in its deliberations over the draft transitional constitution as well as written input submitted from other groups.
  • The SSLA should ensure that principles of separation of powers are upheld in the draft transitional constitution as consistent for a genuine constitutional democracy.
  • The President should continue to respect the SSLA's role in deliberating on constitutional amendments to the draft.
  • The SSLA and other bodies of the GoSS should inform the wider public about the content of the draft transitional constitution both before and after its passage into law.
  • The SSLA should consider including a timeframe for the next elections and the permanent constitution process, postpone a decision regarding term limits for office-holders to the discussions over the permanent constitution, and consider a more representative process for creating the permanent constitution, including either the election of a constituency assembly to debate and decide on the text or a popular referendum.
  • The SPLM and GoSS should include diverse political representation in a transitional government to promote broad political consensus in the new nation. This will require that political appointees come from across the South and represent parties other than SPLM.
  • The President and Vice President should reinvigorate the PPLF to discuss key issues facing the South and offer a venue for opposition parties to engage in dialogue with the SPLM.

Southern Sudan is facing many challenges in the days before independence. The GoSS has limited time and resources to devote to amending the transitional constitution amid the security challenges along the North-South border, food and fuel shortages because of the blockade that was imposed by the Government of Sudan, and preparations for independence. Nevertheless the legislature and executive should ensure that the constitution of the new country does not sacrifice key democratic principles such as separation of powers and decentralization that were central grievances in the struggle with the North. The Carter Center encourages the SSLA and the president to enact a constitution that respects these key tenets of democracy, sets a positive example for the transitional period, and reaffirms a spirit of inclusiveness and political agreement. The president and ruling party deserve due credit for steering the South through
the peace process and a successful referendum, and can build on these successes by supporting a robust transitional constitution.
Background on the Carter Center Mission
The Carter Center has been working in Southern Sudan since January 2011 to monitor the transitional period at the invitation of President Kiir and the GoSS. The international observation mission is supported by a joint Memorandum of Understanding between The Carter Center and Ministry of Regional Cooperation on behalf of the GoSS. The mission assesses the transitional process in Southern Sudan based on the country's obligations for democratic practices and civic participation contained in national legislation, and regional and international agreements to which Sudan is a signatory, including the African Charter on Human and People's Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The Center intends to issue periodic statements on its findings. Currently, the Center has 10 long-term observers in Sudan monitoring and reporting on post-referendum events and the Popular Consultations in
Blue Nile, as well as core staff based in Juba and Khartoum.
The Carter Center was founded in 1982 by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and his wife, Rosalynn, in partnership with Emory University, to advance peace and health worldwide. A not for- profit, nongovernmental organization, the Center has helped to improve life for people in more than 70 countries by resolving conflicts; advancing democracy, human rights, and economic opportunity; preventing diseases; improving mental health care; and teaching farmers to increase crop production. For more than 20 years, the Center has worked to improve health and prevent and resolve conflict in Sudan. Please to learn more

Read the Carter Center's Sudan election reports

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