The leader of the South Sudan opposition Peoples Liberal Party (PLP) Peter Mayen Majongdit has asked President Salva Kiir to appoint women to his new cabinet, expected to be announced early next month.
Majongdit’s reaction comes in the wake of President Kiir appointing 28 men as Governors of all the newly created states, in contravention of a constitutional provision that provides for women to occupy 25 per cent of public offices.
“The selection [of state governors] does not guarantee the constitutional provisions of 25% allocated by both the [transitional] constitution [of South Sudan, 2011] and the ruling party SPLM constitution for female representation in all level of government,” said Majongdit in a press statement.
According to media reports, the outspoken opposition leader called on SPLM party secretary general Jemma Nunu Kumba and other SPLM women caucus members as well as female lawmakers to ‘voice for the rights of woman and ensure that the party constitution is respected by guaranteeing female representation in the new created states’.
“Women must speak for themselves. I know the country has female cadres and leaders that can manage some states,” Majongdit said and urged the SPLM, and the armed opposition SPLM-IO to respect the role women play in peace-building.
Last week, President Kiir appointed governors for the 28 new states he created in October after increasing them from 10, a viewed as a setback to the peace deal signed with the SPLM –IO in August based on the 10 states.
The national alliance of 18 opposition political parties condemned the appointment of state governors, which they described as a violation of the accord to end the conflict.
In a related development the SPLM – IO Secretary for Foreign Affairs has urged President Kiir to rescind his appointment of the Governors, saying it contravened the peace deal signed in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa in August.
“Our position has been very clear. We have an agreement signed on the 17thand 26th of August 2015, and the agreement clearly states that there will be only 10 states in South Sudan for the next three years. So creating 28 states is basically not in line with the agreement that we have signed. So we are basically stating clearly that President Salva should stick to the implementation of the agreement which says 10 states for the next three years,” Ezekiel Lol Gatkuoth said.
But Gatkuoth’s assertions have been watered down by South Sudan foreign minister Barnaba Marial Benjamin, who said president Kiir’s move was in line with the constitution.
South Sudan, a country of about 12 million people, got Independence from its northern neighbor in 2011, but just three years into the new government cracks emerged between President Kiir and his vice Riek Machar Teng, culminating in a civil war in December 2013.
Since then tens of thousands have been killed and over two million have been displaced, prompting the intervention of regional stakeholders under the eight-country Intergovernmental Authority for Development (IGAD).