Abraham Kuol Nyuon.

Parliament sittings without SPLM-IO violates peace deal: Experts

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The ongoing parliamentary sittings without participation of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-in opposition (SPLM-IO) violates the 2018 revitalized peace deal.

Abraham Kuol Nyuon, prof. of Political Science at the University of Juba, said the parties to the peace agreement should instead be be consulting among themselves to speed up pending critical tasks.

“The SPLM-IG and SPLM-IO are big pillars of the peace agreement, when business of parliament continues minus SPLM-IO, this is going to create doubt among the partners especially the international community and the region,” Nyuon told The Juba Echo in Juba on Wednesday.

 He said the current impasse over the political parties’ bill that forced the SPLM-IO to boycott parliamentary sessions in June goes against the letter and spirit of the agreement.

The SPLM-IO disagreed with the SPLM’s decision to increase the number of party members at state level for political parties to be registered.

The initial number under the peace deal was 300 but this was increased to 500 party members.

“From the legal point of view, if there is no quorum then the parliamentary session should not continue, normally when the parliament sits you (MPs) register to tell how many members of parliament are available in that particular session, the quorum does not have to include parties it is counted on individual members,” said Reech Malual, the Deputy Spokesman for South Sudan Lawyers Association.

Ter Manyang Gatwech, the Executive Director for the Center for peace and Advocacy, said that the SPLM should not rely on it’s majority to muzzle other parties in the house.

“The SPLM-IO have grievances on the political parties Act if this concern is not taken care of, I am afraid, it is going to jeopardize the implementation of the agreement. The SPLM is taking advantage of it’s majority in parliament,” he said.

Parliamentary sessions ongoing despite SPLM-IO boycott       

The Transitional National Legislative Assembly (TNLA) continues to sit despite boycott by the main opposition Sudan People’sLiberation Movement- in opposition (SPLM-IO).

This was revealed to The Juba Echo on Tuesday by John Agany Deng, the Chairperson for Specialized Committee of Information in the TNLA in Juba.                                                                                                                                 

“We are using Conduct of Business, people can not dodge the law, what article in the agreement and constitution says if one of the parties withdraw from the sitting the other sittings will not go ahead, where is it written therefore there is no violation,” Deng said.       

The SPLM-IO led by First Vice President Riek Machar in the transitional unity government in June decided to withdraw from attending parliament citing discrepancies within the Political Parties Bill unanimously adopted by the majority SPLM party led by President Salva Kiir.     

The bone of contention in the Political Parties Bill involved the adjustment done by the SPLM increasing the number of party members from 300 to 500 all political parties should have in the states to be eligible for registration.

The revitalized peace agreement put the requisite number at 300 members.

“Now the people who are actually out of the sitting are SPLM-IO and they are 128, the quorum needed is 278, yesterday(Monday) the sitting was 290 it was more than the quorum. When a bill is passed by the national assembly it is sent to the president, the president within one month must assent to it,” Deng said.

“If the president upholds for any reason to assent to it (bill) after one month the bill automatically becomes law without the signature of the president,” he added.       

Deng disclosed that they have so far passed the constitution-making process bill, wildlife conservation bill, adding that if President Kiir does not assent to them within one month these bills will automatically become law.

“We are a democratic society and if there is anything done democratically and one is discontented then he or she should complain to the right channel,” he said.                                                                                                    

 Juol Nhomngek, a member of SPLM-IO in parliament representing Cueibet County of Lakes State, said the ongoing parliamentary sittings without his party members violates the revitalized peace agreement.             

 He said the peace agreement says that parliamentary proceedings are not based on the principle of majority but on collegial cooperation of the parties to the agreement.

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