October 12, 2014 (JUBA) – South Sudan’s former justice minister, John Luk Jok, says he regrets his role in drafting the current Transitional Constitution, which he says gives the president excessive powers.

john_luk_jok-2-9cac7  JPEG – 93.7 kb South Sudan’s former justice minister John Luk Jok (ST/File)

Jok, served as the legal affairs and constitutional development minister prior to South Sudan’s independence in 2011. He also chaired the interim constitution review committee, which drafted and passed the constitution, despite several opposing voices to the draft legislation. “Between 2011 and 2013, I was the minister for justice and constitutional development in the government of President Salva Kiir Mayaardit.

It was therefore under my watch that the present transitional constitution was passed, controversially,” said Jok in an op-ed extended to Sudan Tribune. He asked South Sudanese citizens to forgive him for the role he played in drafting and passing of the Transitional Constitution, which he described as the “unpopular” supreme law of the land. Jok was one the 11 senior South Sudanese politicians who were arrested, detained before their eventual release in connection with last year’s alleged coup attempt in the capital, Juba.

Under the constitution, the president has powers to remove elected governors and dissolve state legislative assemblies in the event of any developing situation in a given area within territorial jurisdiction of the country becomes an imminent threat to national security. In exercising these powers, president Salva Kiir removed elected governors from Lakes and Unity states, receiving different reactions to the order and generating commotions, months before political debates within the country’s governing party (SPLM) turned violence. President Kiir’s critics contested the decision and described it as “undemocratic” attempts to silence voices advocating for reforms within the country’s governing party.


The former minister compared the circumstances under which the constitution was passed to the current division over the national security service bill, which has virtually received the same opposition. “Just like now for the case of the National Security Service bill had explicitly opposed some tyrannical clauses in the draft version of the interim constitution before it could be approved. However, as has been recorded by history, the government, spearheaded by none other than me, intimidated the MPs and bulldozed the draft constitution into law. Fast forward today and it is abundantly clear to all concerned that it was a tragic, political blunder on my part,” said Jok. “In light of last year political and military crisis in our beloved nation, I have now unequivocally realised that I had committed a great sin against the people of South Sudan. Forgive me,” he added.

The official used biblical story to explain himself in an attempt to seek pardon from the general public, saying the rich man upon his death could not succeed when he pleaded forgiveness for sinful life he had lived on earth, while the poor man succeeded to go to heaven. He described the new security bill as “very draconian” and that “South Sudanese people should not, once again, invest all their constitutional powers in the hand of one politicised institution”. “It does not matter whether it is the presidency, parliament, judiciary, media or the national security services under minister Isaac Mamur. Mark my words my dear people, the Magok Rundial of today will soon be the John Luk of tomorrow. Likewise, the John Luk of yesterday is regrettably the Isaac Mamur Mete of today,” said Jok. Mumur is the current minister for national security service while Rundial is the speaker of the national legislative assembly. “History is the judge, for those who don’t learn from history are destined to repeat it, much to their bitter regret. Junubiin, forewarned is forearmed,” further noted the former minister. (ST)

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