Preparatory Assistance- Parliamentary & Political Parties Development in Northern Sudan

Fast Facts:
• Project Document
Location: National
Duration: 2006 - 2007 (Operationally Closed)
Focus area: Democratic Governance
Donors: The Netherlands
UK’s Department for International Development
Partners: Peace Research Institute – University of Khartoum,
Policy Assessment Consultancy and Training Center (PACT),
National Center for Peace and Development,
International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA),
Parliamentary Centre Canada (PCC)
Delivery for 2007: US $ 301,986.83
Contact person in UNDP: Samia Elnager, Programme Officer
The signing of the historic Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) opened an unprecedented window of opportunity to turn almost 22 years of devastating war and widespread destruction into a new era of peace and development. In signing the CPA, the Government of Sudan (GoSS) and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) agreed to a political solution based on a decentralized system of government that ensures justice, peace and democracy.

The CPA embraces democracy as a system of governance in which the national legislative bodies are of particular importance in ensuring an open, representative, responsive system of governance. The 2005 Interim Constitution sets out the powers and structures of this political system and calls for a new bi-cameral institution called the National Legislature (NL). The NL is composed of both the National Assembly (NA) and the Council of States (CoS), which is a new institution. These legislative institutions play a crucial role in linking civil society and the state, thus helping to ensure that democratic institutions are solidly grounded in an evolving democratic culture.

Though the country has historically experienced the formation of parliamentary institutions and political parties, the ongoing democratic transformation faces a number of challenges, including the implementation of the CPA; expanding the agreement to the community level and to all parts of the country; addressing the root causes of conflict and its political, economic and social dimensions; the shift to a multi-party system; and building institutions and processes that are capable of sustaining democratic governance; and engaging the Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) in governance and peace-building processes.

In 2006, in an effort to foster democratic governance in Sudan, UNDP launched the Preparatory Assistance project – “Parliamentary and Political Parties Development”, with the support of the Government of the Netherlands and the UK’s Department for International Development.

In line with the CPA objectives and the Joint Assessment Mission (JAM) targets, the project’s main objective is to promote the democratic process by strengthening the role of parliaments and political parties at the national and state levels, supporting the electoral process and engaging civil society in building democratic governance through civic education.

The specific objectives of the project are as follows:
• Transform parliamentary capacities, at the federal and state levels, to play a fundamental role in legislation and oversight.
• Empower political parties.
• Help the electoral process to become a peace-building tool, ensuring fairness, competition and inclusiveness.
• Strengthen links of parliaments and political parties with civil society organizations (especially advocacy groups) to promote their engagement in political processes.
• Strengthen links of parliaments and political parties with universities and research centres to promote the flow of information and the enhancement of knowledge networks in support of policy planning, policy evaluation and monitoring.
• Increase awareness of federalism and its various models.
• Increase knowledge of Sudan’s common agenda for peace, rule of law and human rights.

Snapshots of the project's major achievements
To achieve the objectives of the project, a preliminary assistance project was designed to undertake the need assessments and consultation with the different stakeholders. The preliminary process aims to ensure the national ownership of the project.

• In collaboration with the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA), mapped the political landscape and formulated a capacity building programme for political parties, mainly within the framework of the implementation of the CPA.
• The Peace Research Institute, University of Khartoum initiated a process of consultation, dialogue and training for political parties on elections. The project supported the research process with the aim of drafting an electoral law in preparation for the upcoming elections in 2009. The success is indicated in the discussion generated among civil society groups, the political parties and media on the draft law.
• Preliminary needs assessment on the role of the National Legislature (NL) was undertaken by Peace and Assessment Consultancy and Training (PACT) in June 2006. The needs assessment was carried out on the role of the NL. An action plan was formulated for assistance based on the gap between the existing capacities and those required.
•In September 2006, held a two-day workshop on the structure of the political parties in Khartoum. The workshop resulted in suggestions being made on the modification of the legal framework and for the need to hold further discussions with political parties on capacity building
• Encouraged debate with political party leaders, media, civil society and academics by holding three rounds of discussions on the Political Parties Act that was adopted by the National Assembly (NA) in January 2007.
•Held a seminar on bi-cameral models in federal systems with the participation of 75 parliamentarians from the NA and the Council of States. The aim of the seminar was to make parliamentarians aware, through discussions, of the powers of the respective chambers and the means to improve the relationships of the two chambers.
• Organized the first consultative meeting between the NA, the Council of States, and state legislatures to discuss legislative developments and needs at the state level. Participants included 2 representatives from each of the 15 states from Northern Sudan. The aim of the meeting was to strengthen the relationships between the respective national and state legislative institutions and provide a forum for the exchange of ideas and lessons learnt in legislative development.
• Sent three leading Members of Parliament to participate in a two-day international seminar on the Role of Parliament in Peace-Building. The seminar was held from 18-20 September 2006, in Ethiopia’s Parliament in Addis Ababa, with the participation of parliamentarians from Ethiopia, Sudan and Liberia. Participants were briefed on the role of parliament in peace-building and were able to observe a well-functioning parliament with a number of responsibilities in addition to the legislative role .
• In January 2007, organized a seminar on the Darfur conflict,, with the participation of over 40 MPs, in addition to representatives of the media, civil society, and academia. The workshop gave the opportunity to MPs to become more familiar with the Darfur conflict and to discuss with experts and concerned parties the role of parliament in bringing peace to the region.
• In April 2007, organized a second seminar on the role of the CPA in achieving peaceful coexistence between religions. The objective of the workshop was to discuss challenges in assembling political and social support for reconciliation and peace.
• In May 2007, organized a strategic planning exercise for 100 MPs from the Economic Affairs Committee; Peace and National Reconciliation Committee; Legislation and Justice Committee; and the Information, Data and Communication Committee. The strategic planning exercise helped formulate a mission and set the strategic objectives necessary to give the target committees direction, coherence, and a more forward-thinking orientation within the CPA framework. As well as establishing a common purpose, the exercise stimulated dialogue among committee members about how best to achieve their mandate.
•Trained 10 SPLM cadres in computer literacy, and provided English language training to 41 SPLM cadres. The training was designed to empower the cadres and result in better information exchange and more efficient running of the organization.
• The institutional capacity building process for the Legislative Assembly included: training of 18 NA Secretariat core staff, who received two months training on computer literacy and English language. The aim of the training was to empower parliamentary support staff to enable Parliament to execute its legislative and monitoring role; providing the NA and CoS with 6 computers, 2 printers, 2 copiers, 2 scanners, and 2 fax machines, and supplied the SPLM-Northern sector with 2 computers, 1 laptop and a printer. This is recommended by Parliamentary needs assessment, to improve the functioning of Parliament.

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