Newly sworn in politicians in Western Bahr-el-Ghazal gather to build trust and confidence amid concerns of insufficient female representation
Newly appointed state government officials in Western Bahr-el-Ghazal State recently spent three days at a trust and confidence building retreat in Wau, learning how to work together across political divides in the best socioeconomic interest of its citizens.
The gathering of approximately 100 politicians, aimed at creating dialogue and good relationships, also included a thorough briefing on the provisions of the revitalized peace agreement and what is expected of the politicians in terms of its implementation. It was organized by the state government and sponsored by the United Nations Mission in South Sudan.
“We have been able to review ourselves and learn how to work together to implement the peace agreement as a government of national unity. We have shared experiences across party lines about our role to meet the needs of our citizens and deliver the services required,” said Arkangelo Anyar Anyar, Minster of Cabinet Affairs.
“Our people have been waiting for a unity government to fully implement the peace agreement, and now we are ready and well equipped to move forward,” he added as he praised the event, which took place under the theme “People first – building trust for a united and inclusive government”.
Ms. Anna Kedi, a member of the state’s Anti-Corruption Commission, was one of many women present at the retreat who expressed concern about the poor representation of women among the appointed politicians.
“Only ten women have been selected, which is a lot less than the 35 per cent female political representation stipulated in the revitalized peace agreement. That is problematic,” she says, adding that more needs to be done to ensure that women are adequately represented.
Discussions were “frank”, according to Deputy Governor Angelo Taban and Sam Muhumure, Head of the peacekeeping mission’s field office in Wau.
“We touched almost all issues that we think are critical for running this government cohesively and cooperatively and in a way that can create trust among the population,” said Mr. Muhumure.
Other topics pondered by the participating politicians included protection of civilians, the voluntary return of internally displaced persons to their homes and their integration into the building of the nation, and the need for the armed forces to be united and redeployed after a long time of training in cantonment sites across the country. The need for improved relations with the UN and other humanitarian actors was also discussed.
The importance of finishing work on the country’s permanent constitution was similarly stressed, as was the urgency of moving forward with transitional justice, truth, and reconciliation, as they are all crucial components of the revitalized peace agreement.