National, News

Activist warns MPs against scrapping youth, women elections provisions

By Charles K Mark

Community Empowerment for Progress Organization (CEPO) has appealed to National Legislative Assembly (R-TNLA) not to tamper with allocations for people with disabilities and youth, in the national election bill.

CEPO’s Executive Director, Edmond Yakani, expressed concern over some parliamentarians, who, he said, intent to use the Monday sitting in the third reading of the National Election Act 2012 Amendment Bill 2023 to tamper with the affirmative actions.

“We are getting information that some MPs want to attempt to remove the affirmative action allocation of 2% for direct participation of persons with disabilities in the election and 3% for direct participation of youth in the elections,” Yakani claimed.

He alleged that those fighting to take the 2% and the 3% want to add them to the 10% to make a 15% party list.

CEPO’s boss echoed that, as a representative of civil society, he does not appreciate it, saying he will challenge any attempt to change, terming it a slap in the face of persons with disabilities and youth.

“And we are aware that His Excellency the President signed the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities on February 24, 2023. This attempt is also a slap on the face of the president and a slap on his signature at the same time,” he exclaimed.

Yakani appealed to the parliamentarians, who would seek public perceptions and appreciation, to pass the Electoral Act in 830th reading with a representation of 2% for persons with disabilities and 3% for youth, besides the women.

The activist remained firm in calling for the retention of the percentages that claimed importance in assessments and ensuring inclusive representation in the elections.

CEPO also raised alarm against allegations that there are plans and attempts to change some of the bills in their third reading.

“As we are aware that the bill of national security is very important, and we are getting information of attempts to change what has been agreed upon in the second reading in the third reading to favor certain interests, Yakani echoed.

He stated that any attempt to change the content of a bill in its third reading is a culture of undermining democracy and bullying.

“It’s a culture of people who believe they are more citizens than the citizens of this country. Citizens of this country need to be represented by MPs that believe in the principles of inclusivity and democratic process,” the activist noted.

The National Election Act is one of the key pending documents as a pre-requisite for laying the groundwork for the conduct of general elections at the end of the transitional period.

The Revitalized Transitional National Legislative Assembly (R-TNLA), last month, passed the National Elections Act Amendment Bill 2023 to its third reading with an emphasis on democracy.

James Mabor Gatkuoth, the chairperson of the specialized committee on legislation, said the bill would create a conducive environment for conducting elections.

Mabor, however, argued that the bill was not specific on the participation of internally displaced persons (IDPs) and persons with disabilities (PWDs) in the elections.

He noted that Section 35 of the amended bill gives a provision for South Sudanese to vote abroad with an independent electoral commission that will handle such elections.

Recently, South Africa’s deputy president, Paul Mashatile, in a meeting with the first vice president, Dr. Riek Machar Teny, pledged his government’s support for the electoral process.

However, Dr. Machar briefed the visiting delegation on the progress and challenges facing the implementation of the revitalized agreement and the prerequisites for conducting credible elections in South Sudan.

In August 2022, parties to the agreement extended the transitional period by 24 months. This means that the elections will be conducted in December 2024, and the transitional period will end in February 2025.


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