11 January 2013

Sudan: SPLM Debate Ends With Calls for Deliberation On National Issues

Juba — A three-day roundtable debate organised by South Sudan's ruling party (SPLM) came to an end on Wednesday with calls for inclusive deliberations on national issues in the country.

The event, held from between 7 and 9 January in the South Sudan capital, was in preparation for the party's upcoming extraordinary convention, earmarked for the first week of February.

In attendance were members from the executive organ of the party, the political bureau, state chairpersons of the party and its representatives at the national secretariat. Also invited for experience sharing with the SPLM members were senior representatives from the Labour Party in Norway.

The roundtable debate, among other explored, how the south-ruling party can transform its ideology into practical politics, ahead of a general election due in 2015.

The SPLM has in recent years, struggled to transform itself into a democratic political force and delink itself from the South Sudan army (SPLA); the military wing of the movement during the 21 years of war of liberation.

Almost all the top leaders of the party are still active or reserved generals in the army and maintain direct influence over the national army, making the army appear partisan in the eyes of other political parties.

Anne Itto, SPLM deputy secretary general, told the press that the party resolved, at the end of the three-day debate, to include the other political parties, civil society organizations and the ordinary citizens at large in order to arrive at a "consensus."

She said the party resolutions, among other, included the need to establish a better education system in South Sudan as well as work towards gender balance in building a peaceful and prosperous nation.

All these, Itto added, are due to discussed at next month's extraordinary party convention, during which SPLM will reportedly review its manifesto, constitution, rules and regulations as well as code of conduct, in view of the new reality as it operates in an independent state.

South Sudan gained its independence from Sudan 18 months ago after its population overwhelmingly chose separation in a self-determination referendum. The vote was a key part of the 2005 peace deal, which ended over two decades of the north-south civil war.

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