Almost three years after the signing of the peace deal, South Sudan’s Transitional National Legislative Assembly has been reconstituted in a formal ceremony presided over by President Salva Kiir.
In his speech, the President called on members to work together to speed up the implementation of agreement. While that would be the primary focus of their legislative agenda, he also urged assembly members to prioritize development projects to benefit citizens who are struggling due to the dire economic situation.
“I’m sure the days of green pastures for South Sudan will come very soon,” he said.
The President pointed to the high price of food and other basic items as a significant concern for families across the country as well as a source of instability.
“In the face of this challenge, we continue to be advised that prices will eventually come down as supply and demand balance out. However, these persistent high prices are affecting the purchasing power of many of our citizens,” said the President. “Improving the wellbeing of our people is our priority.”
The country’s first female Speaker, Jemma Nunu Kumba, described the suffering experienced by women as the result of the prolonged civil war, including horrific incidents of sexual and gender-based violence which continue to plague the country today.
“Mothers advocate for peace and peaceful coexistence in the community and we cherish life. We do not want our lovely kids to live in a perpetual insecure environment and die miserably fighting futile wars. Unfortunately, even as we women detest war, it is often we who bear the brunt of war and associated atrocities,” she said.
Despite being suppressed, women had been the backbone of society throughout the conflict, working through extreme hardship to sustain their families.
“It is with this spirit of resilience and industriousness that the South Sudan women are joining the top echelon of Government,” said Jemma Nunu Kumba, promising that women holding top leadership positions would leave no stone unturned to ensure the peace agreement is fully implemented.
The President pointed to a number of ongoing challenges to the peace process, including a rift between members of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement In-Opposition, persistent intercommunal violence and cattle raiding, as well as attacks on humanitarian organizations and civilians. He urged all parties to work together to resolve these issues and called for the graduation and deployment of the unified security forces which has been repeatedly delayed.
“We must all show we do care for our people by protecting them, avoiding violent conflict and use the peace we have created to work for their prosperity.”