December 11, 2013 (BOR) – The mayor of Bor town in South Sudan’s Jonglei state has advised youth to put aside their tribal differences and collectively contribute to the constitutional review process.
- Bor town mayor Nhial Majak Nhial speaks at a workshop in Jonglei town, July 28, 2013 (ST)
Nhial Majak Nhial made these remarks Tuesday while officially opening a two-day grass root consultative workshop on constitution building process, held in the state capital, Bor.
“As you deliberate here, let us work protect South Sudan from a country that has tribal marks and this can only be realised if you [youth] contribute to the constitutional process as one”, said the mayor.
About 100 participants, comprising of lawmakers, government officials, youth, women groups and civil society activists were part of the two-day symposium.
The constitution, Nhial said, should not only make the people of South Sudan cautious of their rights as citizens, but also protect them.
“A constitution that does not protect its citizens ceases to be called one,” he said, adding [therefore] “Your contribution to this process will provide a robust meaning to the people of Jonglei state”.
David William, a member of the National Constitutional Review Commission (NCRC) described the constitution as a “social contract between people and the government”.
“The main mandate of the NCRC is to review the transitional constitution, collect views from citizens and carry out nationwide civic education campaign”, William said.
Angelo Diing, the board chairman of SSYPA said for the country’s constitution to be relevant, it should be a people-centered document that encompasses views of the population.
“The constitution should belong to all people, regardless of their political affiliations, tribes, cultures and other aspect,” he said.
Meanwhile, land, women rights and national resource allocation were the key issues that dominated discussions from youth attending the consultative workshop.
- Jonglei youth attending the constitutional consultative workshop in Bor town, December 10, 2013 (ST)
For instance, while female participants advocated that their right to own properties be included in the country’s constitution, their male counterparts opposed it.
Adieny Chuol, said the issue of women right required a “bottom-top” approach, expressing fears that this could conflict with the different cultural settings.
“It is important for us as youth to know their rights, but some of these issues need careful consideration”, the 29-year old told Sudan Tribune in an interview.
Women right issues, much we debate now, need to be looked at from the grass roots to avoid complications that may arise, he added.
There were also strong arguments as to why a woman, widowed with children, cannot be allowed to own properties, yet she has to care of these children.
The Swedish-based International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (International IDEA) supported the workshop organised by South Sudan Youth Participation Agency (SSYPA) in partnership with the NCRC.