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Plural South Sudan looks to federal constitution

As South Sudan celebrates its formal birth as Africa's newest state, its constitution, in the process of being drafted, will have an Indian hand in it, IANS reports.

"South Sudan is looking at the experience of democracies like India," said Sandeep Shastri, pro vice-chancellor at Bangalore's Jain University who is helping draft the statute of the country.

"South Sudan has watched the political and constitutional developments in India with great interest and believe that there is a lot that a country like South Sudan can gain from that experience."

An international consultant with the Forum of Federations, a Canada-based think-tank, Shastri is the only Indian involved with public debates being held across South Sudan, a country of over 8 million people, in the run-up to framing the constitution.

The Forum of Federations was also heavily involved in the Norwegian peace process in Sri Lanka. Its representative, Bob Rae, now the Liberal Party’s interim leader, was deported from Sri Lanka in 2008.

Shastri said he had an intensive dialogue with political parties including the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM), the ruling party in South Sudan, on the federal process.

He underlined that  federalism could be a solution to challenges faced by multi-ethnic, multi-religious, plural societies.

“Like the Indian constitution, the interim constitution does not refer to the country as federal even though (like in India) all the features of a typical federal system are enshrined in the constitutional document,” he said.

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