Title: Constitutional Transformations: Failure and Opportunity in Post-Independence South Sudan

Presenter: Mark Deng

Advisors: Dr Caitlin Goss, Prof Graeme Orr

Time: Friday, 22 July 2020; 10.30-11am

Zoom: https://uqz.zoom.us/j/92942862947 


South Sudan achieved independence in 2011 after roughly 50 years of civil war. Celebrated as a ‘dream come true’, independence was historic, marking the beginning of a new era for the South Sudanese. As might be expected, however, the new nation was faced immediately with myriad of post-independence challenges. One such challenge was drafting the Transitional Constitution to provide for a temporary governance system while the country prepares to stand on its own feet. Written in haste (and in a non-inclusive manner), however, the Transitional Constitution sought to concentrate power in the national executive. An all-powerful national executive was deemed necessary to maintain peace and stability in the country, at least as a transitional measure. However, it has miscarried, resulting, in part, in the intractable political instability in South Sudan.

The aim of this thesis has been to examine post-independence constitutional development in South Sudan, making particular findings. One of the findings, indeed, the thesis’ principal claim, is that there has been constitutional failure in South Sudan. Many factors attest to this. For example, there was a failure of constitutional discourse in 2010 in Southern Sudan (the then semi-autonomous region of Sudan) regarding a preferable way to draft the Transitional Constitution (ie elite-driven or people-driven process). This failure was evidenced in the failed talks between the SPLM, the incumbent party, and opposition parties. The failed talks left the SPLM largely in control of the drafting process, giving it an undue advantage in having the Transitional Constitution drafted in a way that suited its own political agenda (to arrogate to itself much of the political power).