NIMD performed several scoping missions in South-Sudan in 2012.
NIMD performed several scoping missions in South-Sudan in 2012 and invited political party representative to the NIMD sponsored conference on Political Party Financing in Dar es Salaam, in July 2012. The participants to the ARP conference in Tanzania have together expressed a number of support requests that are currently being worked out into multiparty activities and will be used to take the engagement process further.
Although there are many international donors present in South Sudan, relatively few of them work directly with political parties, and none of them is engaged in processes of building up a sustainable multiparty political dialogue. NIMD engagement with South-Sudan is broad and multilayered. It does not only target the political parties as institutions but also looks within, in search of key players, whether occupying formal or informal positions in the different factions and ethnic groups within the parties, whether in executive roles in the party, in parliament, or even outside the institutions. Given the foreseen changes in the political landscape, NIMD started building relationships as well with the upcoming emerging political actors. So far, NIMD has been able to develop good relationships with the Chief-Whips of ruling and main opposition party, as well as with the Ministry of Parliamentary affairs.
Following the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (PCA) and the January 2011 popular vote for secession, South-Sudan became an independent country on the 9th of July 2011. As the worlds newest country, South-Sudan faces broad and numerous challenges. Ethnic divisions are strong, expectations on service delivery are high, there is a great lack of security and governance capacity and democracy is still in infancy. The recurrence of the dispute with Sudan on the North-South border shifts priority from political development to securing peace and stability and securing oil revenues which is around 90 percent of South Sudan’s GDP. A credible and well functioning government system has to come further into being in a context where infrastructure and other necessary conditions are very limited. Altogether this leads to an enormous pressure on the country’s leadership, which is easily and regularly criticised for its performance, leading to a fierce political and oppositional debate – but with a lack of sincere and inclusive political dialogue.
With its independence, South-Sudan adopted a Transitional Constitution which is due to be replaced within four years, after which general elections will be held.
The political landscape is largely dominated by the SPLM, the former liberation movement, which also holds more than 90% of the seats in parliament. The remaining seats are mainly occupied by SPLM-DC, a long term split-off of SPLM, and smaller accommodated parties. In total there are about twenty-five political parties in South Sudan, though the legitimacy of parties exists still through the former registration process in the North. In June 2012, a new political party law was adopted in which parties have to register anew in South-Sudan. Given the criteria for compliance to be accepted, it is to be expected that some parties could merge in the years to come. Next to that other new parties might emerge from civil society, split-offs from SPLM and other parties. Moreover, it is to be expected that new parties might emerge through former military opposition that is now still accommodated in the SPLA, but have to demobilise because of the further professionalization of the SPLA army. It is therefore likely that significant changes in the political landscape will take place before the upcoming elections in 2015.
The SPLM has been in power as of the South-Sudan’s autonomy in 2005 and strengthened its position by winning the vast majority of the parliamentary and presidential votes in the 2010 elections. Opposition parties complained about the lack of inclusiveness in the PCA process and the current country governance. The Transitional Constitution foresees the creation of a Council of Political Parties, bringing together all the newly registered political parties. SPLM-head man and Vice-president Riek Machar iterated the party’s devotion to multiparty democracy. At the same time, opposition leaders called for continued dialogue over unity in diversity and democratic governance.
•Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs