South Sudan: Defence of Constitutionalism May Just Secure the Power of the Powerful

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A proper political contract, known to and accepted widely among people of South Sudan, as well as enforced by all members of the government, was one of the central hurdles to take in the transitional period. Instead, the decay of South Sudan's frail political order before its proper formation, has substantially contributed to the current crisis.

In the current situation, there is a danger that the new constitutionalism will only serve to bolster the position of the current elected office holder and to keep him in government.

The new normative framework would then first and foremost provide a normative justification for a position which most of the regional partners hold because of their own economic, political and security interests: That Salva Kiir should stay.

If put to use this way, Africa's move towards constitutionalism will serve as yet another strategy to secure the power of the powerful. It would declare illegal any attempt to change government by force, however good the cause.

Such a situation can only be avoided if the rhetoric of constitutionalism is indeed accompanied by a stronger commitment to facilitate the negotiation of a real social and political contract for South Sudan. The Lomé Declaration has been clear about this necessity.

The new negotiations in Addis Ababa will be a demonstration of which principle South Sudan's regional partners really adhere to.

Andreas Hirblinger is a PhD candidate at Cambridge University.

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