By Mamer Abraham
South Sudan’s main opposition party cites hitches in implementation of 2018 revitalised peace agreement, saying the process is at risk.
Deputy Chairman of SPLM-IO and first deputy speaker of the Reconstituted Transitional National Legislative Assembly (R-TNLA), Nathaniel Oyet Pierino is urging guarantors to intervene.
Oyet pointed at a loophole where SPLM Parliamentary Caucus unilaterally passed the National Elections Bill, with an article giving powers to the President to appoint 5% of Members of Parliament out of the geographical constituencies.
Subsequently, SPLM-IO legislators walked out of the August House, in disagreement of the controversial clause in the election Bill.
Speaking in a press conference at the SPLM-IO General Secretariat after the walkout, Oyet said that the Bill was passed in a clear violation of the peace agreement.
“Now if somebody were allowed to appoint unilaterally whoever he wants to be in the parliament, that means even the parliamentarians themselves will not be representing the people anymore. Because there is a party called SPLM-IG that is using a mechanical majority in the parliament,” Oyet argued.
“And if we allow them to do so, that means even if the permanent constitution comes later during the transitional period and during the roadmap, they can change the text of the permanent constitution. There is no guarantee anymore that the text of the permanent constitution will be respected because they don’t respect the agreement anyway,” he continued.
He urged the principals of the agreement, the Reconstituted Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (R-JMEC) and the guarantors to break the deadlock to stop the risks the agreement is currently exposed to.
“On matters to do with the peace agreement, we cannot put it to a vote, because if we allow the agreement to be voted on, parties who hold the majority in the agreement can vote the agreement out,” he continued.
“We cannot allow that……we are calling for R-JMEC to break the deadlock should the principals fail. Guarantors, we are also alerting them that the agreement is at risk, especially on matters related to the peace agreement.”
In August, the SPLM Parliamentary Caucus unilaterally passed the controversial national budget with a 400 percent increment instead of the proposed 600 percent increment for civil servant salaries.
But the SPLM-IO parliamentary caucus walked out of Parliament in protest of the decision, saying it was not in favor of civil servants.
In response to this, the national Minister of Information, Michael Makuei Lueth branded the boycott of the budget by the SPLM-IO lawmakers as political gimmick.
“The marching out of the SPLM-IO is a clear game; they want to deceive the people and other political parties that we (the SPLM-IO) are the only people who care for you; all the rest don’t care about your own livelihood,” Makuei told the press.
“But did they [SPLM-IO] care about the lives of the people when they left their livelihood? Which comes first—the lives of the people or the livelihood? So, they should not mislead people into believing that if they raise the salary structure to 600 percent, then they have won the confidence of the people,” he added.
Makuei argued that the protest was a decision against progress in the implementation of the peace agreement and obstruction to elections.
The government spokesperson claimed that the SPLM-IO was unrealistic and fond of cheating people.