May 25, 2016 (JUBA) – Current sittings of the former national legislative assembly of South Sudan are illegal following formation of new unity government which should have reconstituted new parliament, said officials of the armed opposition faction of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM-IO).
The opposition faction also said their leadership has been committed to peace and cooperated in its implementation, including the urgent need to reconstitute the parliament in accordance with the August 2015 peace agreement.
“We have a new transitional government of national unity, being executive, since 29 April. There should have been a reconstituted new inclusive transitional national legislative assembly from that day. This would have included memberships of opposition factions,” James Gatdet Dak, press secretary of the SPLM-IO’s leader, Riek Machar, told Sudan Tribune on Wednesday.
“This has not happened and the former parliament of pre-transitional unity government has continued to illegally operate alongside the new executive organ,” he said.
Dak said mode of electing new speaker as well as who should chair the first sitting during which the speaker should be elected from lawmakers from Equatoria region have delayed reconstitution of the new parliament.
He said while the SPLM-IO was for secret ballot votes in electing the speaker and that the oldest Member of Parliament should be best suited to chair the sitting, the former government was for show of hand in voting and for the current speaker, Manasseh Magok Rundial, to chair the first sitting.
“But the most serious violation or inconsistency as the parliament is concerned is the ongoing illegal sitting of the former parliament of the former government when a new government is in place,” he said.
The SPLM-IO’s leadership, he added, was of the view that the sittings should have been suspended until the contentious issues were addressed by the new government and a new national parliament reconstituted which could now sit under new inclusive membership and speakership.
On Monday, for instance, he said the old parliament of President Salva Kiir’s faction unilaterally deliberated on and ratified a document which made South Sudan a member of the East African Community (EAC).
He said such an important decision affecting the future of the whole country should have been delayed to be discussed by the new transitional unity parliament.
Dak also said the former parliament has continued to summon national ministers of the new unity government to present to its sittings in violation of the peace agreement.
The Agreement on the Resolution of Conflict in South Sudan (ARCISS), which the parties signed in August 2015 to end 21 months of civil war, has called on the parties to form a new unity government, including new parliament with membership from all the peace partners.
He said the SPLM-IO’s leadership is committed to the implementation of the peace agreement as signed to end the suffering of the people, but added that there is need for reciprocity from the other partner.
Dak reiterated other challenges including lack of resolution on the status of the 28 states unilaterally created by former government against the peace deal which was based on the country’s 10 states.
Refusal by President Kiir’s faction in the cabinet to agree on cantonment of opposition forces in Equatoria and Bahr el Ghazal regions is another stumbling block, he said.
NO OFFICE FOR MACHAR
Dak also revealed that the SPLM-IO’s chairman, Riek Machar, who was appointed as First Vice President in the transitional government of national unity has not yet been given office to operate from.
Machar, he said, has been operating officially from his temporary prefab residence behind Jebel Kujur, about 6kms west of Juba city center or the presidential palace, and would only come to the government’s premises or meeting hall in the city when there was cabinet meeting or to attend other official meetings involving other ministers or senior foreign dignitaries.
Several ministers appointed from the SPLM-IO, he added, have no cars to take them to work as cars used by the former ministers were nowhere to be found and no new cars have been provided for them.
He said some of the new ministers have been forced by the situation to hire vehicles or share hired cars for official transportation.