Elections partly guaranteed as cabinet passes the bill

By Bida Elly David

The Council of ministers in its Friday’s ordinary meeting passed the long-awaited national election Bill to the parliament for further scrutiny before its enactment into law partly guaranteeing the Country’s position to conduct democratic elections before the end of the transitional period in December 2024.

Minister of Justice and constitutional Affairs has been directed to table amendment bill 2023 before reconstituted transitional national legislative assembly (R-TNLA) for deliberation and consideration.

This positive development came after presentation of three bills by the minister of justice and constitutional affairs before the cabinet putting election bill as the lead of the three bills.

Minister of information and government spokesperson, Michael Makuei Lueth, told reporters in his cabinet briefing shortly after Friday’s meeting that that the bill was passed to ensure necessary preparation of the County for elections.

“The minister of justice first made presentation of the national election act 2012 amendment bill 2023. Indeed, this is a very important bill as you know that it is the law that will regulate elections as we talk about going for it,” he said.

Makuei stated that the allocation of percentages to various denominations on the account of contesting during the elections was done saying that the Council agreed that 50% of the seats in the parliament should go to Geographical constituencies where as 35% goes to women constituencies as stated in the agreement.

He furthered added that the remaining 15% is given to the party list where 3% will go to the youth 2% for persons with disability (PWD) and 10% to other party members making the total of 100%.

“Concerning the 50% of geographical constituencies, of course there is no problem since everybody will individually go to contest and if you win, it is your luck,” he clarified.

In regards to how the representation will be made, Michael said that they agreed that the above-mentioned allocation of percentages will be generated from the party lists of political parties constituting the government.

“The allocation of the percentages for representation should be according to the party list as well as the 2% of the persons with disabilities. This is the only way we can run smooth elections.”

He said “After thorough deliberations, election laws were passed.”

At the same juncture, minister Makuei noted that the Council further passed South Sudan Revenue Authority act 2016 amended 2023, South Sudan Anti-Corruption Commission act 2009 amended 2023 and national tourism bill and directed the minister of justice to also table it for consideration by the R-TNLA.

He said that the four bills were amended and passed in order to conform to the revitalized agreement signed.

On the issue of whether elections will be held with or without Census, Michael said that it will be the decision of the government to determine the Country’s position concerning the matter.

He said that the recent estimated population figures presented by the national bureau of statistics shall not be liable to be used for the general elections but rather to help the government in policy making and service delivery to the people.

However, Makuei warned the public against contradicting and correlating the recent presented statistics by Bureau of standards with the Country’s elections stating that it is the role of the authority not citizens.

Meanwhile the chairperson of National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), Isaiah Chol Aruai this week told journalists that the Population Estimation Survey report (PES) figures released recently won’t be used for the 2024 election but rather for proper planning and development purpose.

Last week the national bureau of statistics and development partners launched the country’s population survey dabbed “South Sudan 2021 Population Estimation Survey report” which put the current population figures in the country minus refuges at over 12 million people.

And upon release of the PES report, the South Sudan election commission (SSNEC) chairperson, Abednego Akok however stated that the country is most likely to conduct the forthcoming elections without census due to the fact that the roadmap implementation is being impacted by number of challenges.

Akok then suggested that the 2008 Sudan population and housing census might be used to conduct the elections.

“One of the ways to conduct elections is to use the 2008 Census which was done during Sudan time because resources currently are not available. If the revitalized peace agreement is implemented in time, there may be chance to conduct elections,” Akok said.

Both Chol and Akok doubted the conduct of population and housing census which is one of the key requirement for the anticipated December 2024 election given the racing timeframe against the roadmap implementation that still lags behind with a number of pending tasks and Bills not enacted one of which is the national election action just passed by the cabinet waiting for parliament scrutiny.

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