Constitution-making is not a Race against Time
Author: Joseph Geng Akech
Type: Weekly Reviews
The debate on constitution-making in South Sudan is gaining momentum with three proposals in the limelight. The first is the Sudd Institute’s proposal which calls for certain precursors to be addressed for there to be a smooth political transition through democratic elections. The second is an appeal to delink constitution-making from the hysteria introduced by time constraints linked to the peace agreement timelines. The third proposal is by the Ebony Centre for Strategic Studies, which recommends constitution-making through an elite-led Constitutional Convention. The Ebony’s authors contend that a new constitution could be promulgated by December 2022. This Weekly Review discusses these propositions and contends that:
- The constitution-making process should be delinked from elections and other legal and institutional reforms outlined in the peace agreement.
- This is because South Sudan does not have the requisite wherewithal and necessary enablers to embark on a constitution-making process unless it addresses the Sudd Institute’s ‘fundamentals.'
- The legitimacy of the resulting constitution will only be realized if the process is inclusive of all South Sudanese, constituencies, and groups.
- Prioritizing certain aspects of peacebuilding and security would pave the way for elections to be held under the new elections Act with consensus that an elected government shall steer the ‘permanent’ constitution-making process.
- This would allow the government to utilize the remaining window under the Transitional Period to (a) prioritize people-to-people reconciliation and national healing, (b) register political parties, (c) review necessary legislation, including electoral laws, (d) return and resettle displaced persons, and invest in socioeconomic programs, including immediate humanitarian assistance to the affected population and (f) conduct national census to delineate the constituencies in preparation for national elections.
Joseph Geng Akech is a passionate South Sudanese human rights lawyer. He holds Diploma in community development, (KISWCD, Kenya), Bachelor of Laws (BU, Uganda), LLM in human rights and democratisation in Africa, with distinction (Pretoria, South Africa) and PhD (doctoral) researcher on constitution building in fragile states. His research interests are in constitutional law, human rights, transitional justice and peace building. Joseph’s doctoral research is entitled ‘foreign influence and the legitimacy of constitution building in South Sudan’ which interrogates international involvement and the legitimacy of resulting permanent constitution in the world’s newest nation. Joseph has published numerous articles and chapters in books on constitutionalism and peacebuilding. He can be reached on email@example.com.