By Roger Alfred Yoron Modi, October 15th 2019
Last week, South Sudan Presidential Press Unit reported that the Interim Chairperson of the Reconstituted Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission RJMEC, Ambassador Augustino Njoroge, discussed with President Salva Kiir, among other things, the submission to the National Constitutional Amendment Committee NCAC a list of Parties’ nominees to the Transitional National Legislation Assembly which is due to be formed together with the Revitalised Transitional Government of National Unity RTGoNU in November, as per the 2018 Revitalized Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan R-ARCSS.
The R-ARCSS provides that the RTGoNU shall comprise of five parties: 1-The Incumbent TGoNU, comprising of: the former GRSS; the former SPLM/A-IO (led by Gen. Taban Deng Gai); and the Other Political Parties in TGoNU and represented, as such, at the HLRF; 2- The SPLM/A-IO(led by Dr Riek Machar); 3- The Former Detainees (FDs); 4- Other Political Parties (OPP) outside of the Incumbent TGoNU including Alliance, Umbrella and political parties participating as such at the HLRF; and 5- The South Sudan Opposition Alliance (SSOA).
The 2015 Agreement of the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan ARCSS had provided that the current expanded Assembly shall be known as the Transitional National Legislative Assembly (TNLA), comprising of four hundred (400) members, including the prior three hundred and thirty-two (332) members and an additional sixty-eight (68) representatives appointed according to the following criteria:
1. South Sudan Armed Opposition: fifty (50) members;
2. Former Detainees: one (1) member;
3. Other Political Parties: seventeen (17) members.
“Members of the National Legislative Assembly and the Council of States unseated from the National Legislative Assembly or the Council of States following the crisis in the Republic of South Sudan on 15 December 2013, shall be reinstated to their seats, and shall continue to serve for the duration of the term of the Assembly or the Council of States, respectively during the Transitional Period,” Chapter One, Article 11.2 of the ARCSS had provided.
However, now all these have changed with the R-ARCSS. Though the R-ARCSS provides that The Transitional National Legislature (TNL) shall consist of the Transitional National Legislative Assembly (TNLA) and the Council of States, it has not provided for continuity of the current members and that means all the parties have the right to appoint new members and or reshuffle the current ones while appointing new members to fill the new positions.
According to the R-ARCSS, the TNLA shall compose of fifty (550) members to be shared among the parties: Incumbent TGoNU: three hundred and thirty-two (332) members; SPLM/A-IO: one hundred and twenty-eight (128) members; SSOA: fifty (50) members; OPP: thirty (30) members; FDs: ten (10) members.
The Agreement adds that “The Speaker of the TNLA shall be nominated by the Incumbent TGoNU. One Deputy Speaker shall be nominated by SPLM/A-IO; another, who shall be a woman, shall be nominated by the Incumbent TGoNU; and a third Deputy Speaker to be nominated by OPP.”
On the Council of States, the R-ARCSS provides that the function of the Independent Boundaries Commission IBC for the Republic of South Sudan, appointed by the IGAD Executive Secretariat, taking into account the decision of the 55th Extra-Ordinary Session of the IGAD Council of Ministers held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, January 30-31, 2016, “shall be to consider the number of States of the Republic of South Sudan, their boundaries, the composition and restructuring of the Council of States and to make recommendations on the same.” That is yet to happen.
On the other hand, the Agreement says the Speaker of the Council of States shall be nominated by SPLM/A-IO, Deputy Speaker shall be nominated by Incumbent TGoNU, and shall be a woman, and another Deputy Speaker shall be nominated by SSOA.
As a journalist who had been a correspond at the National Legislative Assembly for the Citizen Newspaper which was shut down by the National Security Service prior to the 2015 ARCSS, I can attest there are a lot of problems (probably save to some extent for those appointed under the ARCSS) with South Sudan legislators who were elected during the 2010 elections and who are mostly the same people occupying the posts.
First, over 90 percent of the legislators were elected not because of their competence and loyalty to national agenda but because of the party, SPLM.
While reporting from the National Legislative Assembly I came to realise that many of the legislators are even unaware of their own internal rules and regulations. That made them unable to bring out motions and legislation procedurally.
The smart legislators who have other agenda which are not national, always find ways to supress even the good intentions of the incompetent ones based on simple technicalities. The damage has been that the Country has not been able to pass motions or legislation that could benefit the Country and democratise it, at least for the sake of peaceful coexistence.
That is why since the parties to the R-ARCSS now have the powers to remove and appoint new legislators, I am urging the Incumbent TGoNU under President Kiir, the Opposition groups and the other parties to appoint members who are competent, have national agenda and can understand complex policy issues and geopolitics.
That is the only way South Sudan could move forward since the coming period (Revitalized Transitional period) involve enactment, not only of several legislation to democratise the Country, but also the enactment of a Permanent Constitution for the Republic of South Sudan towards the end of the Transitional Period.
Do not abuse those powers. Seize the moment and put the Country on the right trajectory.