Minister Blocks Southern States Constitutions

Speaking to Khartoum Monitor yesterday, Mr. Lueth stated that the rejection
by the Justice Minister, Ahmed Almardhi, of the southern states' constitutions
has already led to a deadlock as he "refused to accept the amendments suggested
on each constitution by the ministry".

Date: 5th February 2007

The Minister of Legal Affairs in the government of southern Sudan, Mr. Michael Makuei Lueth has said the Federal Ministry of Justice had refused to endorse the constitutions of the ten southern states and issue certificates of compatibility with the Interim National Constitution.

Minister Lueth explained that the Justice Ministry has shelved the constitutions for more than four months without taking any action on them. Lueth further stated that Justice Minister Almardhi said he would endorse the constitutions and issue compatibility certificates after removal of references to state boundaries, state capitals and the right to self determination from each of the ten constitutions. "We refused all the three conditions set by the Ministry of Justice and have now reached a deadlock," Lueth reaffirmed.

Lueth said the ten southern states cannot be run without assigned government seats and clearly demarcated boundaries. "Each state should know where its boundaries end as well as its government headquarters," Lueth explained. He said the Justice Ministry is inconsistent in the way it had issued certificates of compatibility to the fourteen northern states. He cited as example Khartoum and Gezira states in whose constitutions references to government seats and boundaries were inserted. "Why not do the same for the ten southern states," Lueth queried.

On the issue of rejection by the Federal Justice Minister Almardhi of incorporation of the right to self determination in the states' constitutions, Lueth said that "does not pose incompatibility or inconsistence with the national interim constitution because it takes no power from anybody".

Asked as to what steps he would take next, Minister Lueth stated that he would "inform the Government of southern Sudan about the impasse to take whatever action appropriate". Minister Lueth and his technical team flew to Juba this morning after barely spending forty eight hours in Khartoum.

Signed on January 9, 2005, the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) that ended two decades of civil war in southern Sudan has been faced with difficulties of implementation. The main partner to the agreement, the National Congress Party (NCP) has already blocked the implementation of the peace Protocol on Abyei when it categorically refused to endorse experts' report on demarcation of the Abyei borders. A commission to demarcate the borders between southern and northern Sudan awaits to be decreed by President Al Bashir but it is unlikely to occur soon.

It is feared that the rigid position of the Federal Ministry of Justice and the controversy it created would stir a row in all the ten southern states and might lead to political crisis between the two partners.

Posted in: Governance
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