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A country can prosper if there are good laws

National Constitutional Amendment Committee (NCAC) Chairperson, Gichira Kibara (File Photo)

No country can prosper without good laws, says NCAC chair, and calls for national goodwill in the country’s constitutional amendments.

The National Constitutional Amendment Committee (NCAC) is established under Chapter 1 Article 13 of the Agreement for the Resolution of Conflict in South Sudan (ARCSS) and comprises of representatives from various parties to the agreement. The core mandate of the Committee is to draft amendments to the Constitution, security and governance laws and any other relevant legislation to conform to the agreement. The NCAC has completed drafting the changes to the Constitution and handed over the Transitional Constitutional Amendment Bill (2017) to the Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs on 13th April 2017.The

Committee is now embarking on the second phase of work dealing with security laws.

NCAC Chairperson Gichira Kibara was recently interviewed by Radio Miraya “excerpt”:-

Q: We understand that you held a meeting with key ministers on Wednesday. Who did you meet and what did you discuss?

A: After the constitutional amendments, the next amendments are to the laws that govern the security sector (including the SPLA Act of 2009, National Security Act, 2014, the Police Service Act of 2009, the Prisons Service Act of 2011 and the Wildlife Service Act of 2011) in order to make sure that they facilitate the transition. So we have had consultations with various experts and also with responsible Ministers. So far we have been able to meet the Minister for National Security, Mamur Obuto Mete and his Interior counterpart Michael Chiangjiek Geay. We have briefed them on various issues that need to be addressed and the approach that we will be taking when we begin reviewing the legislation.

Q: Are there specific concerns that you have raised with the Ministers you met?

A: The main the concern is that we have lost a lot of time because of the challenges we had initially during the process of implementation because as you know, the laws were supposed to be amended within 45 days of the signing of the agreement.

But obviously because of the challenges and the delayed formation of the Transitional Government of National Unity and other subsequent events, we are working against time in making the amendments but we are hoping we will be able to expedite the process.

Q: In March, you told us the proposed amendments were handed over the

Justice and Constitutional Affairs Minister, Hon. Paulino Wanawila.

Any new development so far?

A: We understand that he has been able to process the amendments and forward them to the cabinet but as far as we know it has not been discussed yet.

Q: Time has so far been lost because the agreement to resolve the conflict in South Sudan signed in 2015 stated that the constitutional amendment committee should have completed drafting the amendments within 45 days from the signing of the agreement. Do you think you managed to compensate time lost?

A: I think what we are basically trying to do is to do our best with the time we have because there are events that happened that cannot be  reversed such as the crises that happened in July last year. But what

I like about what we are doing right now is that everybody appears committed to implement the agreement, which is really the most important thing. Some timeline have already been overtaken by events.

The Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (JMEC) which is responsible for the monitoring and evaluation of the peace process, has constantly pushed the parties to try and keep up with the times and parties have agreed on new timelines but sometime some events are difficult to control.

Q: What else would you to tell the people of South Sudan about the constitutional amendments process?

A: We are doing all these because there was an agreement between the main parties (government and the opposition) and other affiliated stakeholders including the regional and international community.

There was an agreement of the need to have a permanent solution towards peace. The reason why the amendment are being made was to ensure first there was inclusive participation in the governance of the country both in the executive and legislature, that the institution are working appropriately for everybody, accountability within institution, fairness of the rule of law, and the move towards democracy.

But to achieve these goals, you appreciate the need for stable legal regime and framework that works for everybody, regime all can trust and believe in. That obviously starts with the constitution. It was therefore agreed, there should be changes that need to be made to the constitution to enhance power-sharing particularly between the president and the First Vice-presidents and within the council of Ministers. There was also the need to expand the National Assembly to ensure there was greater participation of the opposition.

But over and above, Government is run through laws. The constitution provides more or less the skeleton but the actual blood and muscles of the law are the law themselves. So it was agreed there were laws that need to be amended particularly the security sector so that they could provide more professional and democratic approach to security.

After that, there are also laws to do with political parties and laws of elections. Those will be our next priority. As for now, we are focusing on laws on security according to the agreement.

Your final comments?

I think I need to tell the people of South Sudan that they should be committed to the implementation of the peace agreement, enhance unity, have confidence that all of us are working towards sustainable peace and development, that issues to do with humanitarian, governance are addressed, more vibrant political participation is entrenched, more inclusive and democratic national elections are held. The constitution provides those 60 days before the end of the transitional period, there will be national elections. It also provides that they will be a permanent constitution that would be put in place before the end of the transitional period, that is 30 months from the time the agreement was signed, but taking into consideration the government was formed late.

People of South Sudan should contribute on those processes so that we start dealing with the issue of the amendments of laws, we expect to provide the opportunity and participate but of course because of the limited resources we cannot have an elaborate plan for them to participate fully.

Interview, Radio Miraya Excerpt

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