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South Sudan’s ruling party to hold an extraordinary convention next month

January 4, 2013 (JUBA) – South Sudan’s ruling party, the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM), will hold its long-awaited extraordinary convention next month in order to review the party’s documents, almost 18 months since the country became independent.

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Dr. Anne Itto, head of the Sudan Peoples Liberation Movement (AP)

The Deputy Secretary General of the SPLM, Anne Itto, announced on the state-owned South Sudan Television (TV) on Thursday that it was time for the extraordinary convention to take place, after the party had completed collecting the views of grassroots constituencies on the documents over the last six months.

The convention aims to review the party’s manifesto, constitution, basic rules and regulations as well as the code of conduct, Itto explained in a statement broadcasted on state media.

The situation, she further explained, was necessitated by the fact that the party now operates in a separate independent country and has to review documents, which were drafted when the two Sudans were still one country.

The party holds its national convention every five years with the last convention held in May 2008 during which the current chairman, Salva Kiir Mayardi, was confirmed to stand for the 2010 presidential election for, southern Sudan, which was then an autonomous region of Sudan.

Kiir won a landslide victory in the south but did stand for the Sudanese presidency, preferring to focus on securing his base ahead of the self-determination referendum in January 2011 where 98% of its people overwhelmingly voted for secession from Sudan.

South Sudan’s independence gained its independence in July 2011, with the SPLM becoming the ruling party and the SPLA - the armed wing of the the movement during the two-decade civil war - becoming the national army.

The second most-powerful woman at the SPLM’s secretariat said she briefed the party chairman, Pagan Amum, on the preparations to review the documents in line with the new reality, which she said is scheduled to take place in the first week of February.

The new drafts, she added, will soon be presented to the highest political organ of the party, the Political Bureau and then to the National Liberation Council which will finally be presented to the extraordinary convention for deliberations and endorsement.

She further said that President had assured that 2013 will be a year of unity and economic prosperity. The last year has seen widespread austerity measures and economic decline in South Sudan as the country lost 98% of its revenue due to disputes with neighbouring Sudan.

The world’s youngest nation has also suffer from border security issues with Sudan and internal problems caused by rebellions and cattle raiders despite disarmament campaigns over the past 12 months.

Itto further revealed that the leadership of the party will also hold a meeting next week from 7-9 January to acquaint itself with the views collected from the grassroots populations as well as review the relations between the party and the Communist Party of China.

The ruling party is also expected to hold its national convention in May this year to confirm its leadership that will compete in the 2015 general elections.