South Sudan: Kiir Fails to Meet Gender Threshold of 35% in New Cabinet Positions

South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir failed to meet a crucial aspect of gender balance in the formation of the government of national unity when he recently announced a reconstituted legislative assembly.

Out of the 550 lawmakers he announced through a presidential decree, only 116 female lawmakers were appointed, a move that violates the affirmative action that stipulates 35 percent of representation from a different gender.

Various Juba-based and diaspora activists took to social media, days after the announcement, to condemn the peace parties over what they called continued violation of some accord provisions.

In February last year, out of 35 ministerial posts, only 10 women were included in the unity government Cabinet, a gap that violates the affirmative action as specified in the peace accord.

During the announcement of governors for the 10 states last July, only one woman, nominated by First Vice President Riek Machar’s side made it through. And when it came to the States’ government nominations and appointments months ago, women were also less represented in those administrations.

Edmund Yakani, the head Community Empowerment for Progress Organisation, a civic education and peace building body, said not meeting the gender threshold is a serious violation of the peace accord.

“South Sudan Opposition Alliance was supposed to appoint either 18 or 17 female MPs, but only appointed 13 female lawmakers. Other political parties were also wrong by selecting just six female MPs, yet they should have been 10.

“The incumbent government was supposed to appoint 116 female MPs but appointed 102. On the other hand, the Sudan People Liberation Movement was supposed to appoint either 45 or 44 women MPs, but appointed 37 MPs. That move was really heartbreaking and a serious violation,” Mr Yakani told The EastAfrican.

The agreement stipulated the selection of at least 192 women legislators to the national parliament.

In a joint statement, the governments of United States, United Kingdom, Norway, Canada, the European Union, Germany, France, the Netherlands, and Sweden congratulated the unity government on reconstituting the Transitional National Legislative Assembly. But they were also vocal on the gender gap.

“We also look forward to the reconstitution of the Council of States, which will be crucial in tackling numerous challenges within the states, including displacement, land issues, and conflict.