Articles (Opinion/Analysis)

South Sudan Constitution & R-ARCSS: SSPDF, SPLA Name Changes & Reform issues

By Roger Alfred Yoron Modi, May 5th 2022

Is the review of the SPLA Act, 2009 provided for in the Revitalised Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan (R-ARCSS) about “officially” changing the name of the Sudan Peoples Liberation Army (SPLA) into South Sudan People’s Defence Force (SSPDF)? As mixed reports, including last week, continue about that and the changes that have been made in the name starting in 2017, then 2018 and other reported actions per the ARCSSS, what would the term “officially” being mentioned in the current processes really mean when the name SSPF has already been used/cited officially? The recent legislative processes, reported last week, and about the R-ARCSS.

While there is already the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (Amendment) Bill, 2022, approved by the Council of Ministers, were presented to the TNL for deliberations and enactment, also as stated by Maj. Gen. Charles Tai Gituai (Rtd), the Interim Chairperson of RJMEC, in the Report On the Status of the Implementation of the R-ARCSS, for the period 1st January to 31 st March 2022, moving forward, some of the confusion that shall need debate and clarity are about whether the changes needed are on related articles of the Transitional Constitution of the Republic of South Sudan, some Sections of the SPLA Act, 2009, or both.

Relevant and important to note here quickly are three points in the R-ARCSS:

– That the review and Amendments are to relevant national security legislations to bring their provisions into conformity with the R-ARCSS, including: the SPLA Act, 2009.  (Article 1.18.1.2.)

-Building of the national army, police, national security service and other organised forces shall be completed before the end of the Transitional Period. (2.3.4.)

-By the end of the Transitional Period the national army and other organized forces shall be redeployed throughout the Republic of South Sudan pursuant to the plan laid down by the Strategic Defense and Security Review Board (SDSRB).

For Debate and Clarifications

In light of the above, moving forward, here are some related Articles and Sections of the Transitional Constitution and the Sudan People’s Liberation Act, 2009, that shall need debate and clarifications, as far as the needed changes or reforms in one or both laws are concerned:

The Transitional Constitution

-The President of the Republic of South Sudan is the head of State and Government, the Commander-in-Chief of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army and the Supreme Commander of all the other regular forces. (Article 97 (2)).

Composition, Status, Mission and Duties

Article 151:

(1) The Sudan People’s Liberation Army shall constitute the national armed forces of the Republic of South Sudan.

(2) The Sudan People’s Liberation Army shall be transformed into the South Sudan Armed Forces, and shall be non-partisan, national in character, patriotic, regular, professional, disciplined, productive and subordinate to the civilian authority as established under this Constitution and the law.

(3) No person or persons shall raise any armed or paramilitary force in South Sudan except in accordance with this Constitution and the law.

(4) The mission of the national armed forces, in addition to its other national duties, shall be to:

(a) uphold this Constitution;

(b) defend the sovereignty of the country;

(c) protect the people of South Sudan;

(d) secure the territorial integrity of South Sudan;

(e) defend South Sudan against external threats and aggression; and

(f) be involved in addressing any emergencies, participate in reconstruction  activities, and assist in disaster management and relief in accordance with this Constitution and the law.

(5) The law shall stipulate the conditions in which the civilian authority may resort to the engagement of the armed forces in missions of non-military nature.

(6) The national armed forces shall respect and abide by the rule of law and respect the will of the people, the civilian authority, democracy, basic human rights and fundamental freedoms.

(7) The national armed forces shall not have any internal law and order mandate except as may be requested by the civilian authority when necessity so requires.

(8) Military service, Military Courts and military legal services shall be regulated by law.

The Sudan People’s Liberation Act, 2009:

In its Section 5, under Interpretations, the Act says, “The Sudan People’s Liberation Army ” means the Sudan People’s Liberation Army constituted under section 7 (1) of the Act and abbreviated ‘‘SPLA’’.

Further, it says, “SPLA personnel” means the Sudan People’s Liberation Army officers and other ranks and any person subject to the provisions of the Act.

Section 7, Constitution of the SPLA:

(1) There shall be constituted in Southern Sudan a sole armed forces to be known as the ‘‘Sudan People’s Liberation Army’’ herein after abbreviated and referred to as “SPLA”.

(2) Members of the SPLA force shall be Sudanese nationals who satisfy the conditions for recruitment and without discrimination on grounds of sex, religion or ethnicity.

Mission of the SPLA (Section 8):

The mission of the SPLA, in addition to its other national duties, shall be to:-

(1) protect the Comprehensive Peace Agreement;

(2) defend the Interim Constitution of Southern Sudan, 2005;

(3) protect the people of Southern Sudan;

(4) secure the territorial integrity of Southern Sudan;

(5) undertake responsibility for the defence of Southern Sudan against internal and external threats and aggressions; and

(6) be involved in addressing specified emergencies, participate in reconstruction activities, assist in disaster relief whenever directed by  the Government of Southern Sudan, this Act and any other law in force in Southern Sudan.

Conclusions

The context of the R-ARCSS as a mechanism and road-map aimed at resolving the conflict in the Republic of South Sudan, including of legal and institutional reforms, continues to be significant. That is also the context through which ideas and information in this article, in light of the Transitional Constitution and the Sudan People’s Liberation Act, 2009 can be taken, as far as the needed changes or reforms in one or both laws are concerned. As also that some of the tasks in the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, 2005, that would give South (thern) Sudanese the chance to vote in the 2011 Referendum and became/gained Independent/Independence  (Republic)  were not completed as envisioned/ provided for. A discussion I had sometimes recently on Beyond the Headlines contains some relevant details also. All also as a matter of making information available to public, as right of access to information matter. Creating awareness for decision making.

Roger Alfred Yoron Modi, a South Sudanese journalist, is the author of the book Freedom of Expression and Media Laws in South Sudan.  He is also the Producer and Host of The Weekly Review: Making Sense of Relevant Topics and News. For more, keep in touch with this his website rogeryoronmodi.com

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