A top UN official, Nicholas Haysom, on Wednesday said South Sudan had made history with the appointment of two women to senior leadership positions within its Transitional National Legislature.
Haysom, UN Special Representative and head of the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), said this while briefing Security Council virtually at UN headquarters, New York.
He urged parties to build on these gains in efforts to overcome significant political and security headwinds.
The top official said Aug. 30 saw the inauguration of the reconstituted parliament, with members sworn in on Aug. 2 – including the first female Speaker of the Transitional National Legislative Assembly and female Deputy Speaker of the Council of States.
“This development paves the way for a much-delayed charge on the legislative programme envisaged by the Peace Agreement,” he said, stressing that it must now be complemented by the reconstitution of state legislatures.
He said the extensive legislative agenda included passage of priority bills already prepared by the National Constitution Amendment Committee on the reform of security, financial, judicial, constitutional and electoral institutions.
With Sept. 12 marking the three-year anniversary of the revitalised peace agreement in South Sudan, “certainly, the reconstitution of the national parliament presents an opportunity to infuse urgency in the implementation of the peace process,” he stressed.
A ministerial task force has presented a bill on the constitution-making process to the Minister of Justice and regional development body IGAD, he added.
The constitution making process – an important peace process benchmark – marks a critical step forward in its own right, the Mission chief said, signifying a social contract between all South Sudanese on the arrangements by which they can live together in peace and harmony.
In parallel, electoral preparations should be conducted, he said.
“While there is no consensus on the timelines, the two extensions to the transitional period would see elections being held in early 2023, requiring the completion of a voters’ register by late 2022.
“Without adequate technical and political preparations, this event could be a catastrophe instead of a national turning point.’’
He pointed to the consultative process for the Commission for Truth, Reconciliation and Healing as another important development.
To be sure, the lack of progress in the transitional security arrangements is now the major challenge.
He encouraged parties to agree on the unified command-and-control structures of the national security institutions without delay, citing fractures within the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-in-Opposition (SPLA-IO), as an “unfortunate result” of the slow pace.
Haysom warned that desertions of forces led by Generals Gatwech, Olony and Thomas Dhul – and the conflicts between these groups and forces loyal to Riek Machar – will undermine the peace process.
“The delays also have widened the imbalance between the main parties to the revitalised peace agreement.
“It is imperative that the parties put aside adversarial politics to work as a unity Government.” (NAN)