South Sudan Appoints First Woman As Speaker of Parliament
The Secretary-General of the ruling party in South Sudan, Gemma Nono Kumba, has been appointed Speaker of Parliament, becoming the first woman to hold this position in the country that gained independence ten years ago.
South Sudan President Salva Kiir announced the appointment of Gemma Nono Kumba, the current Secretary-General of the ruling party in South Sudan, as speaker of parliament, becoming the first woman to hold this position in the country that gained independence ten years ago.
At the party's general assembly meeting in the capital, Juba, the president indicated that "Gemma Nono Kumba will be the next speaker of Parliament." The announcement received a standing ovation from the audience.
Following her appointment, Kumba said, "It will not be easy. The current practice of politics requires everyone's involvement, and calls for common goals."
Born in 1966, Kumba joined the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) rebels in the early 1990s in its war against Khartoum. She was also strongly active in the party's ranks and then participated in the peace negotiations between the Sudan People's Liberation Movement and the Sudanese government, led by Omar al-Bashir at the time.
In addition, Kumba held several official positions after South Sudan’s independence in 2011, including the position of Governor of the Western Equatoria State.
In December 2013, South Sudan sank into a civil war over 5 years, killing about 380,000 people and leading to the displacement of four million people, a third of the population, causing a serious humanitarian crisis.
A peace agreement was formally signed in September 2018 between President Salva Kiir and his rival, Riek Machar, and the two men currently run the country in difficult coexistence, the first as president and the second as his deputy.
According to this agreement, parliament was dissolved and then "reconstituted" last May, with 550 lawmakers instead of 400. 332 lawmakers are appointed by Kiir and 128 by Machar, while the other signatories appoint the remaining 90.
Thus, Kumba currently presides over a council, 40% of which are former deputies from Machar's party. The vice president who has yet to be appointed will also be from that party.
In this context, Kiir called on the new president and members of the SPLM to focus on implementing the peace agreement, with many of its provisions not yet implemented. As the president explained: "You must be ambassadors of peace."
In addition to political and economic challenges, the country is facing the worst food crisis since independence, with 60 percent of the population suffering from severe food shortages, according to the World Food Programme.