New Office Serves as Resource for South Sudanese Political Parties to Research and Discuss Legislation

On July 9, 2012, the Republic of South Sudan celebrated its first anniversary of independence. While the country’s first year was fraught with border violence and economic insecurity, the government continued to support efforts to create a more transparent, open political system. This democratic transition was evident with the recent opening of the new office for the Political Parties’ Leadership Forum (PPLF), a body established in 2010 to encourage all political parties to examine, discuss and debate forthcoming laws released by the Council of Ministers.

The PPLF secretariat office was officially opened in Juba by Vice President Riek Machar Teny one week before South Sudan’s Independence Day celebrations. The vice president proudly welcomed all of South Sudan’s political parties to use its resources for research and meetings. During the celebration, he also invited all parties to submit their recommendations for nominees to the Political Parties Council – the nine member body tasked with officially registering political parties – to President Salva Kiir at a future PPLF meeting.

U.S. Ambassador Susan Page, also in attendance at the office opening, congratulated South Sudan on its steady advance toward democracy. During her remarks, she addressed how the PPLF is in a unique and unparalleled position to help the country establish a strong multiparty dialogue process, key to any democracy.

The new secretariat office serves not only as the official headquarters of the PPLF but also provides a neutral venue where parties can research and discuss proposed legislation. It will house a resource center and library equipped with full-time staff to assist party members – both opposition and ruling – as they navigate through bills and conduct research. Furthermore, the office represents a crucial step in the evolution of the PPLF, not to mention South Sudan’s democratic transition. Opposition party members will now be able to attend meetings at a neutral headquarters, rather than government or Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) venues, an important step in a country where the ruling SPLM controls more than 90 percent of the seats in the National Legislative Assembly.

In addition to the Vice President and U.S. Ambassador, representatives from the SPLM, SPLM-Democratic Change, United Democratic Salvation Front-Mainstream, Democratic Forum, National Democratic Front, African National Congress and National Justice Movement Party, as

well as the Ambassador of Norway and the secretary of political affairs from the Swedish Embassy attended the office opening.

The International Republican Institute supports the PPLF office through a grant from the U.S. Agency for International Development.

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