The Ministry of Justice and Constitution Affairs has graced the resumption of the National Constitution Amendment Committee in Juba today (NCAC).
Speaking during the opening this morning, the minister of Justice, Ruben Madol Arol welcomed the resumption of the activities of the committee to fast-track the constitutional-making process critical to the anticipated 2023 election.
“The ministry welcomes the development that the committee will now resume its work at this critical moment in the implementation of the agreement considering the importance of the remaining legislatures,” he said.
“The representative of IGAD, R-JMEC, and Amb. [Ismail] Wais, we in fact are very much aware of the much work you are doing and with the commitment we have shown in the past, we still will work hard to review the remaining bills,” Madol added.
Madol appreciated members of the NCAC for incorporating the peace accord into South Sudanese laws.
“Let me take this opportunity to thank the committee for the legal efforts they have made in incorporating the agreement into the constitution, drafting the security laws and the political party’s bill. Now I can inform you that the ministry has forwarded all these bills, drafted as reviewed by the NCAC to the reconstituted national legislative assembly,” he said.
Minister Madol said the National Security Bill is not yet forwarded to the national assembly. He however did not reveal the reason for not forwarding the national security bill to the parliament for debate but said he hopes the bill will find its way into the parliament soon.
The minister urged the committee to prioritize the anti-corruption laws.
“I am impressed by the initial steps the committee had taken under laws in chapter 4 particularly for us in the ministry of justice in that context the anti-corruption laws deserved priority and as indicated by other speakers the electoral laws need high priority in the programs you are resuming today,” he said.
The minister noted the challenges facing the members of the committee including no payment of their arrears and salaries for the work and blamed the economic situation of the country.
Madol pledged to work closely with the presidency to support the members of the committee by paying their salaries to speed up the implementation of peace.
“I have to note the challenges the committee members are facing particularly in the areas of none payment of their arrears and payment of their individual stipends for the work ahead. I will work very hard in the council of ministers, at the level of the presidency to pay close attention to this particular situation,” he vowed.
IGAD Special Envoy to South Sudan, Ambassador Smail Wais said due to a lack of funds to sustain the activities of the national constitutional amendment committee in May 2021 due to COVID -19 which led to donors pulling out.
“The time my office took over the responsibility of supporting NCAC from R-JMEC was not the best of time as it coincided with the speak of the covid-19 pandemic which amongst others caused several donors to scale down financial support,” he said.
“As a result, in the first few months, IGAD had to scrumple for funding to ensure the work of NCAC continues uninterrupted. In May 2021 after the parties to the agreement decided to extend the tuner of the committee, the was literally no funding available for the work of NCAC. Therefore I had to take the painful but inevitable decision of suspending the work of the committee until funding was secured,” he added.
Dr Wais said the United Nations Development Program has now availed funding for the activities of the NCAC to resume after one year of suspension.