By Charles K Mark
South Sudan’s Minister of Information, Telecommunication and Postal Services has highlighted that the country does not have age limits for political contest.
In a weekly press briefing, last Friday in Juba, Micheal Makuei Lueth, urged citizens to be knowledgeable of the country’s transitional constitution.
The government spokesperson told journalists that the transitional constitution 2011 (Amended), only stipulates a 5-year term for a president in office, without any mention of an age limit.
“For your information, it is only in the civil service that there is retirement but in politics, there is no age of retirement,” Makuei said.
The minister also noted that political term depends on electorates, adding that it’s hard to retire because there are no benefits after office.
He said politicians in South Sudan are only retired when electorates decide not to vote them back to office.
“You can decide to say I’m going home, that is a voluntary retirement. Or else you are rejected by the people when you go for elections,” he noted.
However, the flamboyant government mouthpiece was quick to rule that such a measure of throwing out a politician by denying him votes amounts to forceful retirement.
“When they refuse to vote you in, then you are automatically retired. That is forceful retirement,” Makuei gesticulated.
An independent political analyst, who is also executive director for Institute of Social Policy and Research (ISPR), James Boboya Edmond Barnaba criticized the absence of an age limit in the transitional constitution.
The activist considers age limit as a standard measure of democracy.
“One of the very strong systems in democratic governance is the introduction of age limit,” he hinted.
He said not retiring politicians for fear of not giving them pensions is a spirit of bad governance that the country is promoting, adding that legislators deliberately avoid some provisions for their benefit.
“One of the issues the lawmakers are doing is to deliberately ignore certain critical provisions so that the situation remains messy,” he blasted.
Mr. Boboya tasks leaders to begin thinking about the age limit and retirement, saying the country is not ready to see politicians staying in power for life.