Gov’t actions contrary to its commitments, say Western Powers
JUBA – Western Countries have condemned a series of threats by the government to use maximum force to thwart a civil uprising allegedly planned for 30th August by a group dubbed the People’s Coalition for Civil Action. The protests flopped.
A statement drafted by the embassies of the United Kingdom, the United States, Norway, the European Union, France, Germany, the Kingdom of the Netherlands, and Sweden says the threats risk undoing a plethora of accomplishments made by the government in implementing the peace agreement.
The diplomatic missions said they were grateful for the explicit reassurances made by the Government of South Sudan in a recent statement on July 25, 2021, noting that it “upholds freedom of speech and press to its core.”
But the embassies raised concerns over what it calls slamming the door on fundamental rights and muzzling the press.
“The recent actions taken by the government, including threats to use live ammunition against peaceful protesters, harassment of journalists and media organisations, arrests of civil society representatives and the intimidation of South Sudanese citizens, are not compatible with the government’s stated commitments,” the embassies’ statement read in part.
“We urge the government to uphold the commitments it has made to its people through R-ARCSS. This includes protecting the rights of the citizens of South Sudan to express their views peacefully, without fear of arrest,” the statement said.
“We will continue to support the government to implement R-ARCSS, and welcome the progress that has been made towards that end,” the statement added.
However, the envoys applauded the government on the inauguration of the Reconstituted Transitional National Legislative Assembly (R-TNLA) and the Council of States which was held on August 30.
The envoys said the R-TNLA was an essential forum for open debate and discussion where Members of the Parliament should be able to freely express their views on behalf of the people of South Sudan.
“The [R]TNLA will also have to play an important role in the constitution-making process. Given the importance of the constitution, this process must be inclusive and reflective of the many diverse voices within the country.”
The statement called for a credible and inclusive constitution-making process that reflects the will of all South Sudanese that would be critical to the peace process and a successful election.
The embassies hinted that freedom of expression is a ‘‘universal right enshrined in the Bill of Rights of the Transitional Constitution of South Sudan”.
They described the R-TNLA as an essential forum for open debate and discussion where lawmakers were supposed to feel free to express their views on behalf of the citizens.
“The TNLA will also have to play an important role in the constitution-making process. Given the importance of the constitution, it is vital that this process is inclusive and reflective of the many diverse voices within the country,” the diplomats said.