The Rt. Hon. Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Jacob Oulanyah, has advised visiting legislators from South Sudan to work for peace in order for their Legislature to function and carry out its duties.
Oulanyah, whose political career took him to South Sudan on peace missions, said that “without peace nothing can be done.”
“Without peace, you cannot have Parliament. Peace is central for Parliament to function,” said Oulanyah, who was meeting members of the Women Parliamentary Caucus of the Transitional National Legislative Assembly of South Sudan.
“As MPs, you must fight to have peace in the country, since democracy is premised on peace,” added Oulanyah.
In December 2013, fighting broke out in South Sudan when President Salva Kiir accused his former deputy, Riek Machar, of attempting a coup d’état. Several efforts to solve the conflict and stop the fighting in which hundreds have died have come to naught.
Oulanyah said that even when there is Parliament, there may not be business in the House considering that government would be tied up with solving emergencies all the time.
Emphasizing the importance of peace, Oulanyah said that in Uganda, the Constitution by which the President and MPs swear, mandates Parliament to “make laws for the peace, order, development and good governance” of the country.
Hon. Andrew Cosmas Bul appealed to the Government of Uganda not to tire in giving support to their country, arguing that as neighbours, instability at home affects Uganda.
“As refugees, we end up burdening your resources. Our situation is desperate; we need your help because we are in need,” said Hon. Bul.
The Deputy Speaker pledged Uganda’s continued assistance to South Sudan saying that the conflict in the country should have been solved in a better way to minimise deaths.
“The commitment of Uganda to peace and security in South Sudan is total. What happened (the coup) was unfortunate,” said Oulanyah, adding that “The struggle has been on for so long, it needs to stop.”
The Deputy Speaker also asked the visitors to copy Uganda’s example in empowering women and marginalised groups to tap their contribution in governance.
Oulanyah said that various affirmative action programmes, some of which have been enshrined within the country’s laws, have helped increase the participation of women in government and entrepreneurship.
He said that having women, and the other formerly marginalized groups including the youth, workers, persons with disabilities and the army in Parliament helped as these groups weigh in on subjects that affect those groups.
“Parliament is the highest legislative institution in the country. We have tried to ensure equality in government. We have achieved this progressively,” said Oulanyah.