SPLM is committed to a lean efficient government

JUBA, 6 April 2011 – The Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) is committed to keep a lean but efficient government, the minister for Legal Affairs and Constitutional Development, Government of Southern Sudan (GOSS), H.E. John Luk Jok, said yesterday.


H.E. Jok admitted that the number of constitutional post-holders is currently high and is unsustainable in the long run. He explained that the socio-economic and political scenario in Southern Sudan has necessitated the need for a larger government to accommodate the various interest groups both at the GOSS and states levels. He said that the situation will get worse with the need to absorb Southerners who are working in the national government, including the members of the national assembly. He expressed hope that the situation will normalize soon.


He also said that the situation has been exacerbated by the fact that there is a small private sector in Southern Sudan leaving the government as the sole employer. He said that the government is stimulating the private sector by attracting foreign investors and other strategies to boost the sector and create job opportunities to ease the burden from the government. He also appealed to the people, especially the youth, to consider self-employment. He appealed to them not to be pre-occupied with white collar jobs in the government only.


He also appealed to the returnees from the Diasporas and the North to join the rest of the society and develop all sectors of the economy. Particularly, he emphasized the agricultural sector which, he said, has the potential of earning huge revenues for the country besides ensuring food security and keeping the cost of living low.


The minister made these remarks yesterday when he addressed journalists during the weekly media forum hosted by the GOSS Ministry of Information in Juba. He was accompanied at the forum by his host, H.E. Dr. Barnaba Marial Benjamin.
 


Transitional constitution will be ready by independence date

JUBA, 5 April 2011 – A transitional constitution will be ready by the time South Sudan declares independence formally in July 2011, the chairperson of the interim constitution review technical committee, H.E. John Luk Jok, has said.


H.E. Jok who is also the minister for Legal Affairs and Constitutional Development in the Government of Southern Sudan (GOSS) said that the committee is currently polishing “Draft Zero” of the transitional constitution and will submit a final draft to the President for further deliberation and onward submission to the Southern Sudan Legislative Assembly for enactment in a couple of weeks.


The chairperson clarified that the technical committee is not developing a new constitution as such but is only amending the current interim constitution, which was for an autonomous region within a united Sudan, to meet the requirements of an independent state of South Sudan. He also explained that the committee will also make provisions to fill gaps which may emerge following the amendments of the sections of the interim constitution referring to the national constitution.

 


H.E. Jok (left) addresses the media accompanied by Dr. Marial (right).
[Photo: Matata safi]


H.E. Jok explained that the technical committee will also propose a roadmap for the development of a permanent constitution for South Sudan. He said that the process will be more elaborate and will involve all sectors of the South Sudanese society. He allayed the fears of some sections of the society which are feeling left out that this stage of constitutional review is not bringing anything new but just customizing the current constitution to meet the needs of a sovereign state. He urged the public not to be alarmed because nothing new is being introduced into the constitution at this stage.


On representation at the committee, he said that this phase was a technical one which was only meant to adapt the current constitution for the new state. However, he reported that the President has listened to the concerns of political parties and other sections of the society and has expanded the committee accordingly to accommodate their interests.


H.E. Jok also refuted claims in some sections of the press that the SPLM has changed the procedures of the business of the committee. He explained that the committee seeks to make decisions through consensus and only votes where it is not possible. Nonetheless, he explained that even when the view of the majority carries the day, the view of the minority is also included in the report. He asserted that no principles of procedure have been changed as alleged.

 


A bird's eye view of the media forum.
[Photo: Matata Safi]


He also refuted claims that the SPLM party members of the committee came with a pre-determined mindset. He stated that the party did not submit any draft before the committee but only highlighted sections of the current constitution that need to be addressed given their implications for the operations of the independent South Sudan come July 2011.


He also reported that the committee is hard-pressed with time constraints and is now working around the clock to complete the process in time. He admitted that constitution-making is a delicate and complex process. He also asserted that there is no universal best-practice of constitution-making because constitutions are contextual documents which address needs of specific communities. He explained that it is the people of South Sudan who will finally determine what their permanent constitution will be (presidential, parliamentary, monarchical or hybrid system) and how it will be developed. He also said that it is not possible to get perfect unanimity on any constitutional issues. Divergent opinions need to be harmonized in a spirit of compromise for the sake of the country. He appealed to all leaders to join hands and give the country a constitution before its birthday.

 


Current government and parliament to serve its full tenure

JUBA, 5 April 2011 – H.E. John Luk Jok, the minister for Legal Affairs and Constitutional Development, Government of Southern Sudan (GOSS), in his capacity as the chairperson of the Technical Committee reviewing the Interim Constitution of Southern Sudan (ICSS) today announced that the current government and parliament will serve its full tenure of five years unless a constitutional assembly or referendum passes a permanent constitution before the end of the period.


H.E. Jok also announced that the members of the national assembly in Khartoum will be absorbed in the Southern Sudan Legislative Assembly (SSLA) where they will also serve the remainder of their tenure. He also reported that a Council of States will also be created in the SSLA.


The minister explained that the April 2010 elections were conducted with the understanding that Southern Sudanese may choose either unity or independence at the referendum. Consequently, he explained, that cutting short the five-year tenure of the incumbents is not justifiable legally or morally unless a new permanent constitutional dispensation comes before the expiry of the term.


H.E. Jok also said that other civil servants from Southern Sudan who are currently working in the national government will also be absorbed by the government of the new independent state of South Sudan.


The minister made these remarks this morning when he addressed members of the Fourth Estate at the weekly media forum hosted by the GOSS Ministry of Information. He was accompanied by his host, H.E. Dr. Barnaba Marial Benjamin, at the forum which was attended by journalists from both local and international media institutions.
 


Information minister assures media freedom

JUBA, 5 April 2011 – H.E. Dr. Barnaba Marial Benjamin, the minister for Information, Government of Southern Sudan (GOSS) today reiterated the commitment of the government to media freedom. He clarified, however, that the freedom must be exercised with responsibility.


The minister was responding to a question by journalists at the weekly media forum on the alleged confiscation of the Juba Post newspapers last week. He explained that that he has consulted with the relevant security organs and has been informed that the said issue of the newspaper contained an article “agitating for war”. He explained that such an article would not be allowed to be published because the consequences on national security would be grave. He cited the case of Rwanda where irresponsible media fanned mayhem and asserted that the government cannot allow South Sudan to experience a similar situation.


Dr. Marial also emphasized that the government has not changed its policy on media freedom. He also reported that consultations are still ongoing between the ministry, security agents and the newspaper on the way forward on the issue.


The minister also appealed to the media to avoid divisive or sensational themes which do not serve the interests of the citizens and the country. He urged journalists to concentrate on developmental issues especially at this time when the country stands on the verge of statehood.


On his part, the minister for Legal Affairs and Constitutional Development, H.E. John Luk Jok, cautioned the media sternly against irresponsible journalism. He said that the media should enjoy the right of expression within the confines of the constitution and the penal code. He warned that any infringement on the law in the name of freedom of expression is actionable and will be punished accordingly. He also advised editors to review opinion articles and ensure that they meet the relevant legal requirements before being published.
 


GOSS prioritizes alternative education

JUBA, 5 April 2011 – The Government of Southern Sudan (GOSS) is prioritizing alternative education to give citizens who missed a chance to go to school due to the consequences of the war an opportunity to do so even in adulthood.


This was revealed this morning by the minister for Education, H.E. Dr. Michael Milli Hussein after a meeting of the Oversight Committee of the Multi-Donor Trust Fund (MDTF) at the World Bank office in Juba where he had presented a report on the Education Rehabilitation Programme (ERP) which is funded by the MDTF and implemented by the ministry.


Dr. Hussein said that he had presented the achievements of the ERP and the challenges it is facing. He identified management as one of the major challenges the programme faces. He announced that the ministry has employed a full time officer to manage the project. He also reported that the ministry has implemented an accounting system which enables it to manage the resources of the programme transparently.

 


Dr. Hussein addressing the media after the meeting.
[Photo: Emmanuel Gai Maker]


Critically, the minister said that the programme has enabled the ministry to train teachers, construct schools and, above all, provide alternative and adult education opportunities for people who missed the opportunity during the war. He appealed to the MDTF to extend the project period to enable the ministry to complete some of the projects which are still ongoing.


Dr. Christopher Kenyi, the Educational Specialist at the World Bank in Juba said that the oversight committee was impressed by the good progress the project has made in the recent past. He said that construction of 30 schools has been completed while construction of 18 schools is nearly completed under the programme. He also said that training of teachers is also progressing well. He said that, overall, the ERP is doing well.


Reported by Emmanuel Gai Maker


South Sudan celebrates International Mines Awareness Day

JUBA, 4 April 2011 – South Sudan today celebrated the International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action at the Dr. John Garang Mausoleum in Juba.


4 April was set aside by the United Nations in 2005 to be observed as the International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action. The day is used to rally the efforts by States, with the assistance of the United Nations and relevant organizations, to foster the establishment and development of national mine-action capacities in countries where mines and explosive remnants of war constitute a serious threat to the safety, health and lives of the civilian population, or an impediment to social and economic development at the national and local levels.

 


H.E. Ben Oduho being shown some of the demining equipment by UNMAO team.
[Photo Matata Safi]


“Mine clearance prevents an indiscriminate weapon from causing harm and havoc long after conflicts have ended, while also creating jobs, transforming danger zones into productive land and setting societies on course for lasting security”, said Mr. Ban Ki Moon, the UN Secretary General.


In Juba, the celebrations were organized by the South Sudan Demining Authority/Commission together with international and national non-governmental organizations such as UNDP, UNICEF, UNMIS and SIMAS, among others, working in this area.


H.E. Ben Oduho, the chairperson of the Southern Sudan War Disabled, Widows and Orphans Commission, who was the guest of honour at the function, lauded the gallant heroes and heroines of the Southern Sudan liberation. He emphasized that it is not possible to repay the loss and sacrifices that the people made during the struggle. He asserted, however, that the sacrifices had not been in vain because South Sudan will become a free independent country in less than four months. He emphasized that the people need to be aware of the dangers of mines so as to prevent any further loss of lives or maiming during this time of peace.

 


One of the mine-disabled teams which played during the celebrations pose for a photo before the match.
[Photo: Matata Safi]


Major General Nyang Chol Dhuor, the Acting Chairperson of the South Sudan Demining Authority/Commission, emphasized that every person is at risk of land mines. “Anti-personnel mines do not distinguish between a soldier and a child...they inflict devilish atrocities on innocent people who are not party to any of the warring sides”, he said.


Major General Nyang also explained that the problem with mines is a big challenge since some warring factions do not keep accurate records of the exact locations of their minefields making the clearance efforts difficult. Nonetheless, he said that the commission has an ambitious plan of making the would-be-born new nation mine-free. He also said that the new nation will sign appropriate treaties on the prohibition of use, stock piling, production and transfer of anti-personnel mines.


Madam Margaret Madhiang, the Undersecretary in the GOSS Ministry of Gender, Child and Social Welfare emphasized that mines are a global problem wrecking havoc in diverse parts of the world, not just Africa or South Sudan. She pledged continued support for the mine victims. She also appealed to the general public to do likewise.

 


The other mine-disabled team which played during the celebrations.
[Photo: Matata Safi]


The commission reported that it has cleared 18,000km of roads and 6million square kilometres of farm land of mines. As a consequence, several roads are now open for business and other purposes. Similarly, schools, villages and farms have sprouted in the demined areas. In spite of this achievement, the commission reported that a lot of work still remains undone and appealed to all the stakeholders to keep supporting the demining efforts.


The function was also addressed by representatives from UNICEF, G4S, UNMIS (UNMAO), as well as the victims of mines. It was also treated to an entertaining soccer match between two teams of disabled mine victims.
 


Job opportunities - GOSS Ministry of Higher Education

JUBA, 4 April 2011 - The Ministry of Higher Education, Research, Science and Technology in the Government of Southern Sudan has several vacant positions for which qualified persons are invited to apply. Click here for the vacant positions, job descriptions, requirements and application details.


Conference passes resolutions to revamp agriculture in South Sudan

JUBA, 1 April 2011 - The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry in the Government of Southern Sudan yesterday concluded a two-day conference of the ministries for Agriculture and Forestry in the ten states of Southern Sudan which was attended by the state ministers and directors.


H.E Dr. Ann Itto, the minister for Agriculture and Forestry in the Government of Southern Sudan (GOSS) called upon all Agriculture and Forestry ministries in Southern Sudan to make efforts in order to benefit from new financial policies intended to develop agricultural sector. She stated that Government of Southern Sudan has given the agricultural sector priority in the 2011 Budget and increased its allocation from SDG 4 million to 6 million to boost the Agriculture products in ten of Southern Sudan.

 


H.E. Dr. Anne Itto opening the conference.


On other hand, Mr. Jaden Emelio, the Undersecretary of Forestry in the GOSS ministry of Agriculture and Forestry said that the conference was conducted in order to review the recommendations and work plans of the Ministry and implement the recommendations of the first conference which was conducted on 28 March, 2010. The objective of the first conference was on agricultural products, crops market polices and vision on how the agricultural sector and forestry will be developed.


The conference also discussed the way forward on how Forestry revenues can be collected as well as the impact of burning the forest resources. The conference also discussed the National Agriculture schemes which were revived by the GOSS Ministry and how they can be supported by the Ministry.

 


The participants at the conference.


The conference came up with following resolutions:

 
Attitude

  • Improve development of Radio & TV Programme to the farming communities
  • Promote agriculture education in all basic and secondary schools and establish school gardens
  • Institute state agricultural shows before national shows for the states
  • Register all farmers’ associations, groups, societies and unions
  • Prioritize major state food crops in the various zones


Institutional Capacity Building

  • Provide a standardized Government structure to be discussed and agreed upon in the next meeting
  • Review states and MAF strategic plans and provide suggestions for merging the plans into one in the next meeting
  • A website to be created for communication and exchange of information within the states


Human Capacity

  • States to provide training needs, workplans at various fields of specialization
  • States to support the training of community based extension workers at payam and village levels
  • Standardize all remunerations at all grades and levels

 
Mechanization

  • Establish cost recovery tractor hire and maintenance services in all the states
  • Establish viable market centres for sale of agri products at state levels
  • Establish durable storage facilities at state level

 

Coordination of Agriculture Programme

  • Institute regular meetings with NGOs
  • Planning of Agric programmes are to be done jointly with NGOs


Funding

  • Capital transfer to the states to be requested early to allow bidding process
  • Spread the operational costs according to the activities
  • Remuneration should be standardized at all levels
  • Establish credit facilities for farmers


Programme Performance (M&E)

  • Establish a standardized reporting system,
  • plans should be results oriented and indicators should be attached to each activity
  • The states should monitor the implementation process of the projects


Reported by Gabriel Laurence (Translated by Clement Aturjong Kuot)


GOSS and State officials discuss how to make revenue collection equitable and efficient

JUBA, 1 April 2011 – Many goods sold in South Sudan, from food products to building materials, are imported from the neighbors. The costs of these goods are always higher in South Sudan than in Uganda, Kenya, and North Sudan. These inflated prices, often higher because illegal duties and taxes are collected during their transport, hurt the people of South Sudan, and the Government is intent on rectifying this situation.


As part of H.E. the Minister of Finance and Economic Planning’s commitment to reducing the cost of doing business in South Sudan, and of bringing goods into the country, the Minister has established an Intergovernmental Fiscal Relations Task Force. This Task Force comprises of representatives from GOSS and State governments. Their task is to produce a set of recommendations for the government to implement and improve the system of revenue collection. They met at the beginning of March and made good progress. They are currently meeting again to refine their recommendations.


The overall objective of the Intergovernmental Fiscal Relations Task Force is to help South Sudan to establish a revenue system that reduces its dependence on volatile oil revenue, but without hurting economic activity. “It is important that we grasp the opportunity of this transition period to define a non-oil revenue system that supports long-term government expenditure, whilst minimizing disruption to economic activity”, said H.E. David Deng Athorbei, the Minister of Finance and Economic Planning in his budget speech to the Legislative Assembly.


In particular the Task Force will be advising on how to harmonize tax collection between GOSS and the States, and how to move away from the current system of revenue collection at security checkpoints.
 

Reported by Abraham Akoi

 


Ministry of Education to set up independent Examinations Council by 2013

JUBA, 31 March 2011 – The Ministry of Education, Government of Southern Sudan will set up an independent Examinations Council with the responsibility to set, control and mark examinations as well as issue certificates by 2013.


This was revealed by the minister, H.E. Dr. Michael Milli Hussein yesterday after a meeting with a Zimbabwean security printing firm, Fidelity Printing & Refiners, in his office in Juba. He said that the firm specializes in printing exams and certificates and has wide experience with examinations management.

 


H.E. Dr. Hussein (left) in discussion with the Zimbabwean delegation.
[Photo: Emmanuel Gai Maker]


He said that the meeting was meant to bring together the parties to understand common areas of interest. He said that the ministry is keen to learn from the experience of the company. He announced that the ministry will send its staff in the examinations unit to be trained by the company on examinations printing and management to prepare them to handle the needs of an independent examinations council effectively.


The minister also said that the ministry would like to partner with credible companies to manage examinations and certification to ensure that the same are recognized worldwide.


On his part, Mr. George Makoni, the Business Development Executive of the company emphasized that his company is reputable and has practical experience in high-security printing. He expressed hope that they will work together with the ministry to produce examination materials and certificates.


Reported by Gisma Shaban Suleiman


Finance minister promises tighter budget controls

JUBA, 30 March 2011 – H.E. David Deng Athorbei, the minister for Finance and Economic Planning, Government of Southern Sudan (GOSS) has asserted that the ministry will execute tighter budget controls beginning this year to ensure better management of government resources.


He said that all spending agencies will now be required to file reports every three months to the ministry and the Southern Sudan Legislative Assembly (SSLA) on their expenditure. He explained that this strategy will ensure that the budgetary provisions are used in the best interest of the people of Southern Sudan. He also said that this year’s budget prioritizes infrastructure (roads) development, education, health, and food security.


The minister also said that 98 percent of Southern Sudan’s revenues still come from oil with only 2 percent coming from taxes. He explained that these resources have been shared with the national government during the interim period. He announced that beginning 9 July 2011, these resources will now be administered entirely by GOSS.

 


H.E. Athorbei addressing the media forum.
[Photo: Matata Safi]


He also reported that GOSS has benefitted from several donors who have sponsored various socio-economic and environment projects in the region. He expressed hope that this kind gesture will continue after independence.


H.E. Athorbei made these remarks yesterday when he addressed the weekly media forum hosted by the GOSS Ministry of Information. His host, H.E. Dr. Barnaba Marial Benjamin, the minister for Information had to step out midway to attend to other pressing matters leaving the Undersecretary, Mr. George Garang Deng to facilitate the program. The forum was also attended by senior officers from both ministries. As is the custom, several journalists from local and international media houses attended the forum.


Reported by Barnaba Mabor Mayom


Teams discuss the future of UN in South Sudan

JUBA, 30 March 2011 – A team of Government of Southern Sudan (GOSS) ministers led by the minister of Regional Cooperation, H.E Deng Alor Koul, yesterday met a team from the UN led by David Grassly to continue the talk about the negotiations on the future of the UN in the South Sudan after the declaration of independence in July 2011.


In a statement to the press after the meeting, H.E Deng Alor Koul said that the consultations are meant to enable the Government of Southern Sudan to understand the new mandate and benefits of the UN to South Sudan.


He said that the Government of Southern Sudan will definitely need time in this month to look closely into a possible shift of the role of the UN perhaps to focus more on the civilian side on their next mission which will strongly fit with administration, capacity of the police and military.


Similarly, in a statement to the press the head of the UN delegation David Grassly also said that the discussion on the UN Mission to continue providing social services in South Sudan after the independent is vital. He clarified that the UN mission will only do what the Government of South Sudan would like it to do; not necessarily the military services.


Reported by Miriam Maneno

 


Chinese firm to build schools in South Sudan

JUBA, 30 March 2011 - A Chinese construction company will construct schools in South Sudan. This was discussed yesterday morning during a meeting between the firm’s delegation and the minister for Education, Government of Southern Sudan (GOSS), H.E. Dr. Michael Milli Hussein at the ministry’s headquarters in Juba.


Briefing the press after the meeting, the Undersecretary in the GOSS Ministry of Education, Mr. George Justin Achor said that the firm has wide experience in school construction and has undertaken projects in Kenya, Gambia and Angola.

 


H.E. Dr. Hussein and senior ministry officers meet the Chinese delegation.
[Photo: Emmanuel Gai Maker]


He said that the minister welcomed the firm to South Sudan. He also said that the ministry will formulate a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the firm. “We have seen their work and we are looking forward to working with them”, Mr. Achor said.


Mr Achor also said that the Chinese government will extend technical support to the education sector in South Sudan.


Reported by Gisma Shaban Suleiman


Sudan School Certificate examination kicks off

JUBA, 29 March 2011 – The Sudan School Certificate examinations kicked off yesterday in various centres in Southern Sudan.


The minister for Education, Government of Southern Sudan (GOSS), H.E. Dr. Michael Milli Hussein toured several examination centres in Juba in the company of the Deputy Governor of Central Equatoria, H.E. Manasse Lomule and the Undersecretary, GOSS Ministry of Education, Mr George Justin Achor.


At the Juba Day Secondary School centre, the minister congratulated the students in advance and wished them success in the examinations. He reminded the students that they are the luckiest generation of Southern Sudanese who will enjoy the full portion of peace dividends. He urged them to be confident and apply what their teachers have taught them over the years. He expressed confidence that most of the students will pass and join institutions of higher learning.

 


H.E. Dr. Hussein chats with a student at the Juba Day Secondary School.
[Photo: Emmanuel Gai Maker]


H.E. Lomule also urged the students not to fear the examinations but to remain confident. He reminded them that the future of South Sudan rests on their shoulders and that they should understand that their success or failure will have great ramifications for the entire country.


The minister and his entourage also visited the Juba Commercial Secondary School and the Comboni School where they conveyed the same message. Dr. Hussein particularly urged the girls to work hard and compete with their counterparts in the North and elsewhere. He urged them not to give up but remain focused for the sake of the country.


Reported by Emmanuel Gai Maker and Jacob Dini Orato


Polio campaign targeting 3m children commences

JUBA, 29 March 2011 – The second national polio immunization campaign targeting some 3 million children commenced yesterday.


Launching the campaign, H.E. Dr. Barnaba Marial Benjamin, the minister for Information, Government of Southern Sudan (GOSS) who represented the GOSS Vice President, H.E. Dr. Riek Machar Teny, at the function commended the relevant GOSS institutions and the sector stakeholders for maintaining the efforts to kick out polio out of South Sudan.


Dr. Marial appealed to the general public to cooperate with the authorities to keep off polio which he said has no cure but is preventable. He also said that South Sudan will seek international partnerships in the fight against polio when it becomes independent in July. He said that concerted efforts from the neighbouring countries will shore up those of South Sudan in this initiative and eradicate cross-border risks.


On his part, the GOSS minister for Health, H.E. Dr. Luka Monoja reported that this is the second campaign in 2011 and explained that two more campaigns will be held later in the year. He also clarified that the ministry will continue to execute its routine strategies to eradicate polio in the country.


Dr. Monoja appealed to all parents to bring their children for immunization. He also lauded the efforts that NGOs and UN bodies have exerted in the fight against polio. He also called on Southern Sudanese to change their food habits which, he said, seem to disadvantage mothers and children. He said that mother and child health is also important and needs to be given the due attention.


The function was also addressed by the Undersecretary in the Ministry of Health, Dr. Olivia Lomoro; USAID Mission Director; Rotary District Governor; and the UN Resident Coordinator. It was attended by senior GOSS officers, the general public and journalists from various media institutions.


Reported by Barnaba Mabor


UNICEF Deputy Director calls for concerted efforts to tackle children issues

JUBA, 28 March 2011 – UNICEF’s Deputy Executive Director, Hilde F. Johnson yesterday ended a four-day trip to Southern Sudan where she had been to assess and acquaint herself with the situation and progress made for women and children.
 

Ms. Johnson arrived in Sudan, March 18 and visited Darfur and Abyei before coming down to Southern Sudan, March 23. Her visit comes two months after a historic referendum in which Southerners overwhelmingly voted for separation from the north and are due to form their own country, July 9. The referendum was part of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement to end the two decade long war between the North and the South.


“I am encouraged with the progress made for children who are the future of Southern Sudan”, Ms. Johnson said. “The transitional period for Southern Sudan provides a unique opportunity to put children at the centre of policy and decision making and to build on the gains made”, she added.


Ms. Johnson met with the President and other senior officials of the Government of Southern Sudan and also visited children’s programmes in Unity State. During the meeting with the President, she discussed the need for prioritization of children’s issues such as birth registration and immunization, and urged for an increased investment in social services.


Southern Sudan is recovering from decades of war that has devastated the infrastructure, leaving thousands of children without access to schools, basic health care, and clean water. In Southern Sudan, one out of every 7 children dies before his or her fifth birthday. Only about 10% of children are fully vaccinated, and less than 50% of all children receive 5 years of primary education.


“We need to confront the current glaring realities of deprivation. Now is the time to act to deliver on our commitments for the children of Southern Sudan. The key for their future lies with us. ”, Ms Johnson further said.

 

Although significant progress has been made over the years in the provision of basic social services — including an integrated management of childhood illness, increase in school enrolment, and the development of legislation that protects the rights of children — more still needs to be done.

 

“To enable the progress being made for children to accelerate, the UN and its partners, the international community and the South Sudan government must invest in the necessary systems, structures and human resources”, Ms. Johnson said.

 

Ms. Johnson also expressed concern over the impact on children’s programmes of localized conflicts in parts of Southern Sudan. “Sustainable peace is the only viable path for improved quality of life, increased prosperity, growth and development for the people of Southern Sudan”, Ms. Johnson said.


Public lecture on building national unity through diversity

JUBA, 28 March 2011 - Dr. Jok Madut, the Undersecretary of the Ministry of Culture and Heritage, Government of Southern Sudan on Saturday delivered a public lecture on “Building National Unity in Diversity of Cultures and Heritage” at the Nyakuron Cultural Centre.

 

Dr. Jok admitted that in a country with such a rich cultural diversity as South Sudan, achieving nationalism is a challenge but he expressed confidence that it can be accomplished. He explained that there is a lot in common between all the cultural entities in Southern Sudan. He urged that this diversity should not be disdained but should be the pride of the nation. He said that the diversities are cultural (religious, linguistic, tribal), social, racial and special (region, rural/urban).

 

He underscored the role of seamless cultural interaction in facilitating the realization of democratic politics promising equality and endorsing pluralism as a value. He said that diversity becomes more complex in societies where there is inequality. He explained that nationalism is easier to achieve in societies where citizens are empowered to compete successfully with one another regardless of their cultural backgrounds. He explained that the concepts of affirmative action and protective discrimination have been applied in some societies to accommodate and build diversity. He also appealed to the media to provide an equal platform for all the ethnic groups to celebrate or display their cultures. He also explained that more cultural centres, museums and public theatres will be established to provide platforms for the display and exchange of cultures.

 


Dr Jok delivering the lecture.

 

Dr Jok also emphasized that another way of ensuring nationalism is equitable sharing of power and wealth. He urged policy and decision makers to create frameworks which accommodate the diverse interests of the communities to facilitate nationhood. He asserted that diversity can be managed through government structures which accommodate both the majority and minority entities.

 

He also underscored the importance of togetherness which he said will enhance the efforts geared at sustainable and peaceful nation building. He acknowledged the crucial role played by the media in disseminating information to the public and its ultimate function of integrating cultures.

 

The function was chaired by various academicians and civil society leaders such as Dr. David May, Dr. Alex De Waal and the Ethiopian Consul General in Juba Mr. Abdal Gadir. It was attended by journalists from different media houses and the general public.

 

Reported by Barnaba Mabor Majur


UNICEF to establish presence in all southern states

JUBA, 28 March 2011 – The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) will establish presence in all the states of Southern Sudan, the Deputy Executive Director, Ms Hilde Johnson has said. Addressing the media at the Da Vinci Hotel in Juba on Saturday, Ms Johnson said that establishing a presence of the organization in all the states will not only reduce the need and costs of travel but also enable it to engage the communities actively in fulfilling its mandate.


She explained that even though a lot has been achieved in buttressing children’s welfare in the country, UNICEF still considers Southern Sudan as one of the worst places for a child to be born. This she said was of great concern to UNICEF. She said that some of the indicators of this sorry situation include high child and maternal mortality rates as well as low access to water, immunisation and education. She explained that UNICEF is working with the government and other partners in improving these indicators.

 


Ms Johnson stressing a point during the press conference.
[Photo: Matata Safi]


She lauded the immunisation programme which conducted four successful campaigns last year. She also reported that guinea worm effects have reduced to 90%. She urged the government to continue prioritizing women and children issues. “We need to see peace prevail”, she added saying that children suffered most from war.


Ms Johnson also explained that UNICEF supports all schools with learning materials and that it operates a huge distribution network. She added that an agreement with DfID for setting up model government primary schools in four states has just been signed. She explained that the model schools will have proper facilities including play fields and latrines. With regard to rural and urban disparities, she admitted that these exist and explained that efforts to flash them out are ongoing.


She also reported that she visited Abyei and Bentiu recently and witnessed a high number of returnees from the North, especially in Bentiu. She expressed great concern for the increased number of street children along the borders and also for unaccompanied children trying to return from the North as they may get lost. She also explained that UNICEF and the Khartoum government are concerned about the street children in Khartoum, most of whom she said are from the South. She added that their return needs to be organised so that they can be brought back to their homes.

 


Some of the guests and journalists who attended the press conference.
[Photo: Matata Safi]


Ms. Johnson also explained that UNICEF avoids institutional care of street children and instead works to find care for them outside the institutional setup. She said UNICEF works with NGOs and departments of social welfare in state ministries to support children. She also said that UNICEF encourages schools to be friendly to children to attract them to attend school. She also reported that UNICEF has created drop centres together with the government.


Ms Johnson was accompanied by Dr. Yasmin Haque, the Head of UNICEF in Southern Sudan.


Reported by Rosemary Njeri Chacha


Ministry of Agriculture signs MOU with Chinese firm

JUBA, 28 March 2011 – The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, Government of Southern Sudan last week signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with a Chinese construction firm, Beijing International, to concretize cooperation in developing the agricultural sector in Southern Sudan.


The MoU was signed by the Undersecretary of the ministry, Mr. Beda Machar, and the company’s representative, Mr. Chen Weiquang. The ceremony, held at the ministry’s headquarters in Juba, was witnessed by the minister, H.E. Dr. Anne Itto Leonardo and the Chinese Consul General, Mr. Z. Juan.


The MoU provides a framework of partnership between the ministry and the company in facilitating improved productivity in both the public and private arms of the agricultural sector through the introduction of new technologies and techniques of agriculture. It also ensures that the people’s interests and needs are not sacrificed by the efforts to introduce new scientific means of achieving competition while neglecting environmental preservation and other national interests.


According to the partners, China will send experts in different fields of agriculture, such as engineering, to South Sudan. The experts will also train the Southern Sudanese cadres and provide agriculture inputs. The Chinese Consul General Mr. Juan affirmed the company’s commitment to provide technical support to facilitate the improvement of the agricultural sector. He also explained that the implementation of this agreement is scheduled to begin in June 2011. He also promised that many more development programs from China for South Sudan will follow in due course.


Meanwhile, the undersecretary Mr. Machar described the agreement as an advanced step towards strengthening the relationship between the two nations. He said the MoU is an indicator of promotion of agricultural activities in the region.


Reported by Lawrence Michael


Regional Cooperation minister meets delegations

JUBA, 27 March 2011 – H.E. Deng Alor Koul, the minister for Regional Cooperation, Government of Southern Sudan (GOSS) last Friday met delegations from Norway and China in his office in Juba and discussed bilateral issues between the countries.


The delegation from Norway was led by Mr. Espen Barth Eide, the State Secretary (Deputy minister) in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Norway. They discussed issues relating to current political upheavals in Libya and the implementation of peace in Sudan. They also discussed the Abyei issues and border demarcation. The government of Norway has historical bilateral relations with Southern Sudan. It also has new mission concerns focusing on the military, UN mandate and Security Council.


The delegation from China was headed by H.E Jiang Junhua who is the Deputy Director of Bureau of International Department of Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Republic of China. They discussed development relations between Southern Sudan and China. They also discussed long-term partnership with Northern Sudan and the SPLM in development of industries such as production of oil fields and involvement in the infrastructure and power sectors. They also informed the minister that the Chinese Foreign Affairs ministry will send a high-level of diplomat to Southern Sudan before 9th July 2011. They also discussed the UN Security Council support for the people of Sudan for their commitment to peace in the entire African region.


Meanwhile, a delegation from the ministry led by the Undersecretary, Dr. Salwa Gabriel Berberi, which was in Khartoum to work on the modalities of transforming the ministry to “Foreign Affairs”, has returned to Juba. In a statement to the press at the Juba International Airport, Dr. Salwa Berberi said that the two parties have agreed to meet twice a month to thrash out pending issues. She also asserted that South Sudan is keen on maintaining good relations with the North.


Reported by Nyandeng Manykwer
Desk Officer for Information and Media
Ministry of Regional Cooperation, GOSS- Juba


Additional reporting by Miriam Maneno


Chinese firm to construct schools in South Sudan

JUBA, 27 March 2011 – A renowned Chinese construction firm, Pan China Group, has expressed interest in constructing new and renovating existing schools in Southern Sudan.


During a meeting with the minister for Education, Government of Southern Sudan (GOSS), H.E. Dr. Michael Milli Hussein, the firm’s Vice Chairman, Mr. Chen Weiqia said that the company is interested in participating in the improvement of the educational sector in the new country in recognition of the fact that the sector is critical for national development.

 


H.E. Hussein with the delegation.
[Photo: Emmanuel Gai Maker]


Mr. Weiqia also reported that his firm works in both urban and rural settings. He also reported that the firm is currently working on various projects in Angola. He also said that his country may advance South Sudan some loans to support these projects.


On his part, H.E. Hussein appreciated the interest of the firm to uplift the educational infrastructure in the country. He also said that the need for educational amenities in the new country is acute and is prioritized by the government. He welcomed the kind gesture and expressed confidence that the parties will engage more on the issue after the declaration of independence in July 2011.


Reported by Lindri Godfrey and Gisma Shaban Suleiman


Sudan School Certificate exams begin on Monday

JUBA, 25 March 2011 – This year’s Sudan School Certificate examination will kick off on Monday 28 March 2011, the minister for Education, Government of Southern Sudan (GOSS), H.E. Dr. Michael Milli Hussein, announced yesterday during a press conference in his office.


Dr. Hussein also reported that all examination papers and other materials have reached all the 98 centres in Southern Sudan. He also outlined the breakdown of the centres per state as follows: Upper Nile – 27; Unity – 6; Jonglei – 4; Western Bahr el Ghazal – 14; Northern Bahr el Ghazal – 4; Warrap – 5; Lakes – 4; Central Equatoria – 19; Western Equatoria – 14; and Eastern Equatoria – 1.

 


Dr. Hussein (third from right) announcing the commencement of the exams.


The minister also reported that there has been an 8-percent increment of candidates from last year’s 14,604 to this year’s 15,890. He also reported that these candidates will be sitting academic, technical and commercial papers. He appealed to all the candidates to take the examinations seriously.


He also reported that the ministry has arranged with the state authorities to provide adequate security for the students and the examination centres. He also reported that the Southern students who had registered for the exams in Northern Sudan will sit the exams in Southern Sudan or in the North; according to what they will find convenient.


Reported by Lindri Godfrey and Gisma Shaban Suleiman


Hilde Johnson gives public lecture on waging peace in Juba

JUBA, 25 March 2011 – Mrs Hilde F. Johnson the author of Waging Peace in Sudan yesterday delivered a public lecture on the subject during the official launch of the book in Juba. Mrs Johnson said that the book was intended to have been launched before the referendum but it had not been possible.

 


Mrs Johnson.


In the lecture, Mrs Johnson emphasized that the real essence of the CPA was not only to silence the guns but to create a just Sudan where all the marginalized people had a fair say in the country’s affairs and in the resources allocation. She also said that the CPA envisaged a democratic transformation of the country, which she said was the vision of the late Dr. John Garang.


Mrs Johnson recalled the long negotiation process which led to the signing of the CPA and outlined some of the major milestones in its trail. She also mentioned the names of the people involved as well as the challenges that had to be surmounted for the CPA to be realized.


She said that the major hurdles in the negotiation had been how to share the national wealth and the application of Sharia law. She reported that at one point Ali Osman Taha and Dr. Garang exchanged religious books with the former giving the latter a Quran and the latter giving the former a Bible as a sign of compromise. She also lauded the role played by President Omar al-Bashir in convincing his military commanders to give peace a chance.

 


Some of the dignitaries who attended the launch.


Mrs Johnson said that the new South Sudan will face many challenges some of which she identified as fostering sustainable development and corruption. She said the nation will have to overcome these to enable it to meet the needs and aspirations of the people.


The lecture was chaired by H.E. Dr. Cirino Hiteng, the minister in the Office of the President. It was also attended by H.E. Dr. Barnaba Marial Benjamin, the GOSS minister for Information; H.E. Deng Alor, the GOSS minister for Regional Cooperation; Gen (Rtd) Joseph Lagu; Prof Taban lo Liyong; Madam Rebecca Joshua Okwaci and Dr. Col Ding. Several journalists from local and international media houses also attended the function.


Mrs Johnson, who is also the Deputy Executive Director of UNICEF, announced that the revenues from the sale of the book will be used to support education in Southern Sudan.

 

Click here for the full speech which Mrs Johnson delivered.


Reported by Barnaba Mabor Mayom

 


Ministry of Education briefs donors

JUBA, 25 March 2011 – The Ministry of Education, Government of Southern Sudan (GOSS), yesterday held a consultative meeting with a committee of donors.


According to the Undersecretary in the ministry, Mr. George Justin Achor, the ministry briefed the donors on how their funds had been used. He reported that the funds had been used to train teachers and build the capacity of the ministry’s officers.

 


Mr. Achor chairing the meeting.


Mr. Achor also reported that they also discussed how the available funds from the donors will be used in the future. He also reported that they discussed modalities of partnership and how to move forward from now hence.


The meeting was held at the ministry’s headquarters in Juba and was chaired by Mr. Achor.


Reported by Lindri Godfrey and Gisma Shaban Suleiman


Prof. Aggrey Abate of Juba University visits Canada

OTTAWA, 23 March 2011 - The Vice Chancellor of the University of Juba Prof. Aggrey Abate is visiting Canada from March 18th, to April 1st, 2011 to shore up support for universities in the new nation of South Sudan.


His visit to Canada comes as a result of a visit to Juba by David M. Malone, the President of International Development Research Centre of Canada (IDRC) a government of Canada funded organization. The Principal Liaison Officer of the Government of Southern Sudan Mission to Canada Mr. Joseph Malok met with Mr. Malone last year and challenged him to visit Southern Sudan to see for himself the needs of the educational institutions in the country.

 


The two discussed ways and means of enhancing research between universities in Canada and those in South Sudan; the president of IDRC accepted the challenge and visited Juba, and as a result he invited Prof. Abate to visit Canada to share his experiences and challenges.


Prof. Abate will address his counterparts in the University of Ottawa, Alberta, Manitoba, Montreal, Toronto, Guelph, Waterloo, Saskatchewan and Simon Fraser respectively.


He is also scheduled to meet with officials in the department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade as well as officials at Canada’s International Development Agency CIDA.

 


The Government of Southern Sudan Mission to Canada would like to seize this opportunity to thank the President of IDRC for according Prof. Abate the opportunity to address staff members and students of various Canadian universities.


By Morris Batali
Deputy Head of Mission
Canada


Finance ministry embraces bottom-up approach in strategic planning

JUBA, 24 March 2011 - The Government of Southern Sudan (GOSS) has today organized a one-day consultation meeting chaired by H.E. Minister of Finance, Central Equatoria State in Juba, in which delegations from Central Equatoria, Eastern Equatoria, Western Equatori, and Jonglei States will attend.


The consultation meeting brings together the State Ministers of Finance, Secretaries-General, Directors-General, County Executive Directors and civil society groups to discuss the South Sudan Development Plan. Mr. Aggrey Tisa Sabuni, Undersecretary of Economic Planning indicated that “States and Counties are being requested to present their consolidated priorities and objectives for the coming three years (2011-2013). The SSDP, Bottom Up approach, provides an excellent opportunity for GOSS to listen to the local challenges and priorities for the year 2011-2013”.


The SSDP will lay out how the GOSS will manage the resources of the country for the first three years of independence and articulate the expenditure priorities of government. Mr. Tisa Sabuni added that “This is of enormous importance to everyone in South Sudan, which is why we will be travelling throughout the country to listen to your ideas.” The next consultation meeting will take place in Bentiu on March 25, 2011 bringing together Unity and Upper Nile States. Western Bahr el Ghazal, Northern Bahr el Ghazal, Warrap and Lakes States held a successful consultation meeting in Wau on March 10, 2011.


After getting inputs from the states, GOSS and the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning will circulate the SSDP in April for further consideration as the SSDP must set clear, realistic, and achievable priorities given the resource constraints GOSS faces. The SSDP aims at making the Republic of South Sudan a place of hope by creating opportunities, improving public services, raising government efficiency, and enforcing law and order as well as accountability.
 


Chinese reiterate interest to support education

JUBA, 23 March 2011 – The Chinese government has once more reiterated its interest in supporting the education sector of the independent South Sudan.


The reiteration was made today in a meeting between a delegation from China led Mr. Jiang Jianhu with the Undersecretary in the Ministry of Education, Mr. George Justin Achor.


The Chinese delegation also expressed satisfaction with the pace of development in Southern Sudan. They said that it was gratifying to see the development of roads and other infrastructure in the region given that it emerged from civil war just six years ago.

 


The Chinese delegation meets with the Undersecretary.
[Photo: Emmanuel Gai Maker]


Mr. Achor, on the other hand, appreciated the interest of the Chinese government in supporting education in South Sudan. He said that the country prioritizes education to empower its citizens to participate effectively in developing it. He said that the government is keen to receive technical and other support for the educational sector from the People’s Republic of China.


The delegation came to Juba through Khartoum and promised to come back to pursue this matter further once the independence of the South has been declared in July.


Reported by Lindri Godfrey and Emmanuel Gai Maker


18,000km of roads in South Sudan cleared of landmines

JUBA, 22 March 2011 – 18,000km of roads in Southern Sudan have been cleared of landmines and thus opening vital routes for trade, security and humanitarian activities, the chairperson of the Southern Sudan De-mining Authority (SSDA), H.E. Brig. Jurkuc Barach Jurkuc, has reported.


Addressing the weekly media forum hosted by the Ministry of Information, Government of Southern Sudan (GOSS), Brig. Jurkuc also reported that nearly 800,000 hazardous items including 25,000 landmines have been removed from the Southern Sudan’s fertile agricultural farms, roads and footpaths, water collection points, schools and villages.


The SSDA chairperson explained that de-mining is aimed at clearing the territory to enable the citizens to conduct their daily socio-economic activities safely. He said that the existence of large quantities of unexploded landmines can be blamed for food insecurity in the region which continues to import essential commodities from its neighbours.


Brig.Jurkuc also reported that about 1.25million citizens – among them children and women – have been educated on the dangers associated with mines and how to keep themselves safe from all forms of mines.


He explained that given that Southern Sudan was a war zone for over twenty years, there is still a lot of work to be done. He said that new risks are being detected daily especially in Jonglei, Unity and Upper Nile states. He estimated that it will take at least six years to clear these areas of the risks.


He also appealed for support for mine-related accident victims whom he estimated to be about 2,700. He explained that the number may increase due to new accidents especially among the returnees and internally displaced persons (IDPs). He said that the returnees and IPDs need to be educated on the risks of mines before they can be resettled in their original homes.


Brig. Jurkuc also appealed to the concerned authorities to ensure that stockpiled and discarded ammunition are stored securely. Similarly, he appealed to the authorities to destroy all unserviceable and dangerous items.


The SSDA chairperson also announced that the authority is currently developing a de-mining strategic plan to run between 2012 and 2017. He also reported that the SSDA is working with the UN agencies, government and civil society to transition the de-mining role from the UN to the government especially in light of the fact that Southern Sudan will become a sovereign state in July this year.


He also reported that the authority will advocate for the independent South Sudan to become a party state to the Mine Ban Treaty as well as the Convention on Cluster Munitions. “Signing these international treaties will ensure that South Sudan builds on the many years of the work done by the sector and that the scourge of mines is reduced if not eliminated”, he said.


Brig. Jurkuc said that lack of adequate human resource is one of the most serious challenges the SSDA is facing. He said that though the authority has embarked on training its staff both locally and abroad, the gap is still wide. He appealed to all the stakeholders to join hands and make South Sudan a mine-free territory.


The forum was coordinated by the Undersecretary in the Ministry of Information, Mr. George Garang since the minister H.E. Dr. Barnaba Marial Benjamin had to attend to other urgent matters. It was attended by journalists drawn from local and international private and public media institutions.


Reported By Barnaba Mabor Mayom


Update on the Presidency meeting in Khartoum

JUBA, 21 March 2011 - The Presidency held a meeting on Thursday in the premises of the Cabinet Affairs office in Khartoum under the chairmanship of President Omar al-Bashir. The meeting was also attended by the First Vice President of the Republic and President of the Government of Southern Sudan, Gen. Salva Kiir Mayardit. It was held in the presence of the AU High-level Implementation Panel on Sudan chairperson Mr. Thabo Mbeki.


The meeting discussed three essential questions which include the current security situation in Abyei area, matters related to the documents released by the SPLM Secretary General to the press concerning the alleged plans of Khartoum government to destabilize the GOSS, and the matters of the political resolutions of the Abyei issues.


According to Mr. Thabo Mbeki the two leaders in the meeting agreed to take an immediate action to implement the Kagugli Agreement which addressed the issues of security in Abyei Area, that is, to ensure peace and stability in the area and to avail secured movements of the nomads in the area. Mr. Mbeki said this will be done through the deployment of the JIU forces in the area.

 


President Bashir (centre) chairing the meeting of the Presidency in Khartoum.


Mr. Mbeki also said that the two leaders agreed that the SPLA/SAF must investigate the documents released by the SPLM Secretary General and render a report on the issue back to the Presidency on Sunday so that necessary action is taken against whoever is involved in any action intended to destabilize the GOSS.


Mr. Mbeki also said that the second matter discussed was the concentration of SAF in the north of Abyei area. The meeting resolved that a monitoring mechanism headed by UNMIS with membership of the SPLA and SAF should investigate the issue and make sure that deployment agreement is respected with no violation and no invasion should take place in Abyei by any of the two forces.


Concerning the political resolution on Abyei, Mr. Mbeki ended by saying that the two leaders agreed to resolve it by the end of this month.


By Thomas Kenneth