National dialogue conference ends without discussing media issues

By Bullen Bala Alexander

The National Dialogue initiative was launched earlier in December 2016 by President Salva Kiir Mayardit as a way to have every citizen’s views and voices on what went wrong and get solution to catch a lasting peace answer to South Sudan conflict.

The National Dialogue was first conducted separately in three regions of greater Equatoria, Bahr el Ghazal and Upper Nile regions.

The mean issues discussed by the over 500 delegates from three regions to the National Dialogue Conference include the issues Governance, Security, the Economy, Social Cohesion, Implementation and Follow-Up Mechanism for the outcome of the conference.

It was a pity to see that from the first day to the closing day, the National Dialogue, Conference failed to bring in the media issues even mere recognition of media contribution in disseminating the information to the public.

Throughout the deliberation on the South Sudan National Dialogue National Conference, the 518 delegates, representing 80 counties of South Sudan, eminent persons, political parties, faith-based institutions, civil society, business communities, professional associations and organizations, representatives of organized forces, women and youth organizations adopted some resolutions as follows,

The top resolutions endorsed by the National Conference were the adaption of federal system in return to 32 plus states to meet the legitimate aspirations of the country’s people with full political, administrative, and financial powers to the states and restricts federal interference in state affairs.

The conference endorses a presidential system of government with appropriate limitations on the presidential powers which approves two consecutive five-years term limits for the president, starting with the next presidential elections.

The conference also recommended the relocation of Capital City from Juba to Ramciel City as proposed by Late Dr. John Garang De Mabor.

It recommends credible independence of the legislature and the judiciary from executive interference that is a firm strict adherence to the principles of constitutionalism, including the separation of powers among the three arms of government: the executive, legislature, and the judiciary.

The conference disallows concurrent service in the parliament and the executive and recommends that any member of parliament appointed to an executive position must resign from parliament and be replaced by the constituency through by-elections within 60 days.

It restricts appointment of judges by president to only those judges recommended by the Judicial Service Commission and reaffirms the transfer of power only through legitimate, timely, free and fair democratic elections.

Calls for the establishment of an independent election commission to organize and conduct the next elections.

The conference declares that land is owned by the communities and shall be managed by various levels of government in accordance with the law and demands that the government urgently resolves land disputes between ethnic communities through recognition of boundaries as they stood on January 1, 1956.

Resolves that state and communal boundaries must be managed and demarcated by the national government as they stood on the 1st January 1956;

Endorses the results of the Abyei Referendum and calls on the government to ensure speedy and final settlement of the status of Abyei.

On the Economy

The Conference urgeed the Government to exert more efforts in stabilizing peace and in restoring macroeconomic stability within the overall framework for sustainable peace, economic growth, and poverty eradication.

And calls for the diversification of the economy by making agriculture the engine of growth and using oil revenues to fuel this engine through investment in roads, telecommunication and electricity.

It demands that the government and oil companies immediately address environmental, social and health problems created by oil production and called for an urgent enactment of an environmental law that mandates environmental and social impact assessment before any development projects are executed.

It resolves to urge the Government to respect and ensure the independence of the National Revenue Authority (NRA) and calls on the Government to modernize gold exploration, mining and processing;

The conference expresses serious concern about pervasive corruption in South Sudan and calls on the government to consider corruption as a national emergency and calls for strengthening legal, institutional, and regulatory frameworks to ensure accountability and combat corruption and impunity and demands institutions such as the Judiciary, Legislature, Anti-corruption Commission to be strengthened to investigate allegations of corruption and persecute.

Resolves to demand the establishment of special courts to deal with corruption and money laundering cases;

On security issues, the delegates called for an immediate end to all forms of hostilities in the country and urges all armed groups to end violence and seek peaceful means to address their grievances.

They also called for the Transformation of the Security Sector in South Sudan through creation of a Professional National Army and other organized forces, through recruitment of South Sudanese from all regions and ethnic communities.

Urges government to strengthen military justice system to punish those charged with corruption in the army and organize forces and strongly urges the government to improve salaries of all the organized forces, address their social welfare needs; and provide them with counseling and psychosocial support.

The conference articulates serious concern about the impact of small arms and light weapons in the hands of civilians and strongly recommends comprehensive and simultaneous civilian disarmament across the country that involves the chiefs, youth leaders, politicians and the United Nations in the process and use modern technology for effective disarmament.

Strongly condemns cattle raiding and related killings and recommends that the government formulates and implements policies against this practice, applauds the government to strengthen military economic corporation to produce food for the army.

It intensely disapproves of violent means for seeking power and mobilization of ethnic communities for the same purpose charms to the Government to improve and strengthen diplomatic ties with all the neighboring countries, strengthen institutions for immigration control; sensitize communities living along the borders to support its effort to control illegal flow of arms; severely punish those involved in arms trafficking; and ratify the International Treaty on small arms and light weapons control.

Requests on the Government to urgently take control of South Sudan air space to strengthen our sovereignty and security;

On Social Cohesion the Conference urgently call on the government to expedite the enactment of legislation on the establishment of truth, healing and reconciliation commission.

Appeals to the government to urgently undertake repatriation prior to the end of the Transitional Period, provide compensation to those whose homes and properties were destroyed during the war, allocate lands for the returnees and settle land disputes before repatriation.

It calls on the cattle herders to follow the traditional consultation mechanism on movement of Cattle in Farming Communities and implement the Presidential Order to remove the cattle from Equatoria.

Strongly urges the government to establish education centers for homeless children, orphans and strongly urges the government to care for the wounded heroes and allocate land for war widows; 

And recommends the promotion of Annual Cultural shows for all nationalities to promote national diversity; and to encourage inter-communal dialogues to promote peaceful co-existence among the communities;

The conference resolves to establish a High-level Monitoring and Evaluation Committee that shall report to the president and the parliament on the status of the implementation and follow-up of the National Dialogue Resolutions.

All in all from the day one to the closing day, all the speeches delivered by the delegates, diplomats, partners and all the agencies called for the implementation of the outcomes of national dialogue resolutions saying it was the voices of South Sudanese. 

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