Governor’s forum in Upper Nile: Call for accountability, good governance, service delivery and adequate female representation

unmiss south sudan upper nile state malakal governor forum stakeholders accountability good governance service delivery female political representation

Participants at a forum where stakeholders discussed the future of Upper Nile State demanded adequate political representation for women. Photos: Nyang Touch/UNMISS

9 Sep 2021

Governor’s forum in Upper Nile: Call for accountability, good governance, service delivery and adequate female representation

Nyang Touch/Filip Andersson

When more than a hundred politicians and civil society representatives in Malakal got together to ponder how to consolidate peace and promote development in Upper Nile State, there was a strong call for accountability, good governance and the reliable delivery of basic services.

Some participants at the forum, organized by the Civil Affairs Division of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan, added a fourth necessary pillar: the fulfillment of the 35 per cent political representation for women, as stipulated in the revitalized peace agreement.

“It is unfortunate to see that women are still marginalized at different levels of government, despite the clear specifications on our representation in the peace deal. This is a serious issue that must be resolved,” said Monica Deng Bol, one of the critical voices.

One of many, it appeared, as participating ministers, traditional leaders, and representatives of women and youth were asked to identify their priorities within each of the broader areas of governance, service delivery and the economy. The flipcharts full of listed items will be taken to a national forum to be organized in the capital Juba, with the country’s ten governors expected to attend.

“This forum is a good opportunity for us as county commissioners to agree on opening borders within and between our counties. If we open our markets to each other, products produced in one area can be sold in others. Our economies will boom and household incomes increase,” predicted Maiwut County Commissioner Bang Kawish Deng, who also advocated for inter-county peace rallies and community mobilization to eradicate tribalism and foster social cohesion.

He was not alone in stressing the need for peace. Overall, participants across the board emphasized that the revitalized peace agreement must be fully and speedily implemented for stability and development to prevail.

Facilitators of the first ever Governor’s forum in Malakal, including academics from the University of Juba, also urged politicians to adopt a more systematic approach in wooing development agencies operating in South Sudan. By carefully studying their mandates, they argued, local authorities will stand a better chance of creating beneficial partnerships with humanitarian and other actors.

The support of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan as a partner for peace, on the other hand, is guaranteed, according to Jaroslaw Rabantek, a representative of the peacekeeping mission’s field office in Malakal.

“We are working diligently with the state government in building durable peace among communities in this region and we shall continue to do so,” he affirmed.