National, News

Deputy Minister defends controversial recently passed Election Act

By Mamer Abraham

South Sudan’s Deputy Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, Joseph Malek Arop, has maintained that allotting five percent of lawmakers to be appointed by the elected president would increase inclusivity in parliament.

Last week, the parliament controversially passed the National Election Act 2012 (Amendment) Bill 2023, with a provision granting the elected president the authority to appoint 5 percent (17 members) of the 332 members of the National Assembly.

The debate over the president’s authority led to disagreement among political parties. The South Sudan Opposition Alliance (SSOA) and SPLM-IO, termed it non-ideological.

But Mr. Malek who moved the motion said allowing the president to appoint minority groups will ensure inclusivity.

“I made the motion that the elected president should be given the prerogative to appoint 5%; this drew attention between the IO and ITGoNU, but what we mean is that we need parliament to be inclusive,” he revealed in an exclusive interview with No. 1 Citizen Daily Newspaper.

“South Sudan should accept that the elected president should be given a prerogative to appoint minority people, including civil society, pastoralists, and farmers. We need an inclusive parliament where every person and armed force should be represented,” he reiterated.

Malek argued that minorities cannot participate in elections, and therefore, the president must have the privilege to appoint them to the national legislative assembly.

The Deputy Minister of Justice added that the change would also be for the wounded heroes and other professions to help in forging good reforms.

James Boboya, a political analyst, slammed the decision made by the Transitional National Legislative Assembly (TNLA), saying it was a breach of the powers of the parties to the revitalized peace agreement.

“The parliamentarians have put an illegal provision into the elections act because the power of deciding whether the president shall be given five percent or whatever to appoint in parliament is not raised in parliament; it is raised with the peace partners,” Boboya said.

Boboya added that the act had given the head of state too many powers in addition to his power to appoint ministers as well.

He argued that the role of the parliament was only to ratify the provisions in the National Elections Act, not amend them.

Last week, the Executive Director of INTREPID South Sudan, Bol Deng Bol, said the five percent was too big to be given to the president to appoint.

He suggested that at least the president should be given only one percent to appoint because the other five percent undermined democracy.

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