The world’s newest country, South Sudan, has been wracked by serious inter-ethnic conflict in recent weeks, in which cattle raids have escalated to large-scale pogroms between Nuer and Murle ethnic groups. The situation seems to be deteriorating rapidly, and presents serious challenges to the Government as well as international peacekeepers, who have been unable to stop the violence.
While it will have little immediate impact, one key step in building the state is taking place in Juba, where the process of making the Permanent Constitution is just beginning. Last week, the President called a meeting to consult on appointments to a new Constitutional Review Commission, which will have one year to review the current Transitional Constitution and to propose changes. While the original proposal seems to have been for eleven members, opposition groups pushed for the expansion of the Commission to 45 total members. This is sure to produce greater representation, but could also generate an unwieldy body unable to engage in meaningful deliberation. Much political skill will be required to keep the Commission on track to accomplish its heavy workload.
The process is governed by Sections 202 and 203 of the Transitional Constitution, which does not provide the number of members on the Commission. Besides constitutional reform, the Constitutional Review Commission is to conduct a civic education program, and will have to consult widely to solicit input; for this task, more members might be helpful.
After the draft is prepared by the Constitutional Review Commission, a National Constitutional Conference will be established to deliberate on the draft and gather public input. The whole process must be completed by October 2014 at very latest.