7 July 2011

South Sudan: Country Gets Constitution

Juba — THE parliament of Southern Sudan has passed the new Constitution of the Republic of Southern Sudan.

Information minister Dr. Barnabas Mariel Benjamin said the MPs, sitting into the wee hours of the night, had passed the supreme law of the land, beating the July 7, 2011 deadline for the new constitution to be in place.

"President Salva Kiir will inaugurate the constitution on July 9, the day of independence. The constitution will guide him during his remaining four years in office," Mariel said.

He said the new constitution will also serve as the interim constitution of the new Republic of Southern Sudan for about four years, until a permanent constitution is unveiled at a national conference of eminent people and ordinary citizens.

According to the new constitution; the new country will be called the Republic of Southern Sudan. The country shall have its own coat of arms, a national flag, a national motto, Central Bank, its own currency and national anthem. The constitution also highlights the right to citizenship in Southern Sudan.

It also says the Republic of Southern Sudan will have its own national army, called the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) and its own president, who will be the commander-in-chief of all security forces, including the SPLA, police, prisons and other government agencies.

Mariel was speaking at a media briefing at Southern Sudan Hotel in the heart of the capital, Juba, ahead of the July 9, 2011 independence.

According to Mariel, the new constitution has put to rest the contentious issue of the right to the citizenship of the Republic of Southern Sudan by allowing for dual citizenship.

He said any citizen of the Republic of Sudan residing in any part of the world, can automatically become a citizen of the new Republic of Southern Sudan by residing in Southern Sudan and possessing its identity card before July 9, 2011.

"But after July 9, 2011, any northern Sudanese resident in Southern Sudan and has stayed in Southern Sudan for a period of not less than 14 years, will apply to be considered a citizen," he explained.

Mariel added that the new constitution allows for dual citizenship, where a Southern Sudanese can became a citizen of the Republic of Southern Sudan as well as a citizen of any other foreign country.

The new constitution, Mariel said, also allows foreigners who have married Southern Sudanese citizens to apply and become citizens.

He said the constitution also provides for the settlement of the border issues between the north ern and southern Sudan by calling for a referendum in the contentious oil-rich Abyei region.

It also calls for dialogue and negotiation between Sudan and the new Republic of Southern Sudan to fix border issues amicably.

Mariel said the new interim constitution is a product of the work of all Sudanese from all walks of life, that started from July 9, 2005, when the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) was signed.

"The CPA framers hoped that this will try to put to an end to the over 56 years of war between the north and south of Sudan," he said.

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