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SSudan SPLM-IO Stages Walkout

Leader of the Sudan People's Liberation Movement in Opposition (SPLM-IO) Riek Machar shakes hands with South Sudan's President Salva Kiir after a tripartite summit at the State House in Entebbe, Uganda, Nov. 7, 2019.

South Sudan opposition lawmakers walked out of parliament Monday to protest the passage of the Political Parties Act, saying it did not have majority consensus.

A top Sudan People's Liberation Movement-in-Opposition (SPLM-IO) official warned his party will only return to parliament after the bill is brought back for consideration.

Oyet Nathaniel, first deputy speaker in the National Legislative Assembly, told South Sudan in Focus the speaker’s move to approve the legislation was carried out without consensus and accused the majority Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) party of tampering with the bill’s language.

“The SPLM tried to make sure that this bill is undemocratic. It should bar other parties from registering so that it can contest and participate in elections,” Nathaniel told VOA.

He also said the National Constitutional Amendment Committee was supposed to draft all amendments to the bill, which did not occur. Nathanial accused the ruling party of also tampering with a security bill, a wildlife bill, a police bill and other legislation.

A coalition of parties called Other Political Parties (OPP) also protested passage of the Political Parties Act and threatened to boycott parliament if the bill is not renegotiated.

OPP spokesperson Albino Akol Atak also accused the ruling party of tampering with certain provisions of the bill such as funding of political parties, the independence of the commission and the number of registered voters a party must obtain to qualify for registration in each state.

“We have written to the speaker and what we specified is that we rejected the way it was actually made and we are calling for this issue to be ratified,” Atak told VOA.

Parliament spokesperson John Agany asserted that proper procedures were followed to approve the bill.

“I-O and OPP, they should come to their senses that this was a normal process,” Agany told VOA.

Nathaniel said unless the issue is resolved, SPLM-IO members will refuse to return to parliament. He pointed out that President Salva Kiir may elect not to sign the bill and return it to parliament for further consideration.

Preparing for elections

Meanwhile, the ruling SPLM party has been busy mobilizing members ahead of next year’s schedule general elections.

At a swearing-in ceremony Monday in the capital, Juba, for deputy governors and the head of an administrative area, Vice President Wani Igga urged SPLA party leaders to energize the party base.

“These elections are not going to be the usual elections. We have people who are going to do their level best to compete and democratically destroy us here,” said Igga.

At the same event, SPLA acting secretary general Peter Lam Both urged party leaders to unify party supporters.

“Unity of the SPLM membership is your business. No one takes a position to go and fail unless your logic is misplaced. We all go in order to win and succeed in our assignment. For you to succeed, unite the party members,” said Both.

Albino Akol, spokesperson of the South Sudan Opposition Alliance, a coalition of political parties and armed groups, said citizens want change.

“The only way to get rid of bad rulers in any country is through elections. So we as political parties, we are waiting for the time that elections will take place at the end of transition period,” Akol told South Sudan in Focus.

Observers have raised concerns over the slow implementation of provisions in the Revitalized Peace Agreement, which ended country's civil war, ahead of the 2023 general election.