National, News

Granting President powers to appoint MPs undemocratic-activist

By Mamer Abraham

A rights defender in Jonglei State says granting the president the power to appoint 5 percent members to the national parliament was a slap on tenets of democracy.

On Monday, the parliament controversially passed the National Election Act 2012 (Amendment) Bill 2023.

An Article in the Bill gives the president elect; the power to appoint about 17 members of the 332 Parliamentarians of the national Assembly.

The issue of whether the president should have the power to appoint members of parliament from specific groups caused disagreement among political parties.

Lawmakers from the South Sudan Opposition Alliance (SSOA) and SPLM-IO stood against it and termed it non-ideological.

However, Bol Deng Bol, the executive director of Intrepid South Sudan (ISS) said passing the Bill with that provision overlooks the efforts of the National Constitutional Amendment Committee (NCAC).

He said the controversial Bill passed on Monday was disadvantageous to the other political parties.

“Firstly, it gives an unnecessary privilege to the President and his or her political party, hence disadvantaging other parties in the Parliament. It is a unilateral appointment of 17 MPs into the Parliament by an elected President and probably relieving them without question; that’s a big number,” said Bol.

The activist argued that the president, not being a constituency, couldn’t staff the parliament and therefore the separation of powers couldn’t be reflected between the legislature, executive, and judiciary.

He added that it could not reflect the power of the people to elect their own representatives and therefore was not democratic.

Bol also suggested that the nomination should be guided by the National Elections Commission.

“I am therefore suggesting that the percentage be reduced to 1 percent (3 MPs) to comprise persons with disabilities and faith-based groups and that the nomination process be managed by an independent institution, for instance, the National Elections Commission,” said the activist.

“The process will involve the nomination of this special group, vetting, selection, and the final list to be submitted to the President for appointment. The President is to not interfere in the process by the independent institution, but his or her role is to only appoint the selected into the Parliament.”

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