Parliamentary Crisis: Has the S. SudanTNLA overstepped its authority by tampering with the form and contents of the Political Parties Act 2012 amendment Bill 2022?
The Republic of South Sudan arose from almost four decades of persistent political conflict. For far too long, the culture of violence and warfare has harmed South Sudan’s socioeconomic, political, and cultural fabric as a consequence of such terrible and generational battles.
When South Sudan declared independence on July 9, 2011, there were great expectations for a rich, peaceful, and unified South Sudan, where conflicts, death, illnesses, property damage, and citizen displacements would be a thing of the past.
Two years later, in Mid-December 2013, such lofty goals were dashed when political violence erupted inside the Presidential (Guard) Tiger Division, escalating into a full-fledged civil war in several sections of the nation.
Without fear of disagreement, South Sudanese political leaders overlooked or wasted possibilities for state and nation-building.
The civil war was brought to an end with the assistance of the international community via the 2018 Revitalized Agreement on the Resolution of Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan (R-ARCSS).
The Transitional National Legislative Assembly (TNLA) was recreated by the R-ARCSS as one of the government’s institutions, with supervisory and legislative duties, as included under the Transitional Constitution of the Republic of South Sudan 2011, as modified.
However, the stipulations of the R-ARCSS as an accepted supreme law of the nation above the Transitional Constitution restrict these legislative monitoring duties.
Many stakeholders in the execution of the R-ARCSS have disregarded such supremacy of the R-ARCSS in many situations, and in this case, certain sections of MPs in a specific party to the R-ARCSS have done so in the ostensible acceptance of the Political Parties Act 2012 as modified.
The basic assumption of this policy brief is that the TNLA has recently boycotted legislative sessions. Parliamentarians from the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement in Opposition (SPLM-IO) and other opposition parties staged a walkout in protest of the approval of the Political Parties Act 2012 (Amendment) Bill 2022.
Opposition groups, in particular, accused the incumbent TGoNU (184.108.40.206 of the R-ARCSS) of unilaterally and illegally passing the Political Parties Act 2012 (Amendment) Bill 2022 in its ordinary sitting No: 09/2022 dated 30 May 2022 by tampering with the form and content of the said law in violation of the R-ARCSS and the Conduct of Business Regulations.
As a result, Article 1.20.1 of the R-ARCSS states that “within six (6) months of the Agreement’s signing, the reconstituted National Constitutional Amendment Committee (NCAC) shall review the Political Parties Act 2012, and ensure that the Act complies with international best practices for the free and democratic registration of political parties in South Sudan, and shall present a draft Bill to the National Legislative Assembly for ADOPTION through the Minister.” The Act would allow for open registration of political parties.”
As enshrined by such express provisions of the R-ARCSS, and in light of the R-supremacy ARCSS over the Transitional Constitution, in accordance with article 8.2 of the R-ARCSS, the TNLA has indeed exceeded its mandate in tinkering with the form and contents of the Political Parties Act 2012 amendment Bill 2022, in violation of the provisions of article 1.20.1 of the R-ARCSS.
On the contrary, opposition organizations misunderstood that all six security-related laws or Bills assessed by the NCAC were only to be accepted by the TNLA. The R-ARCSS or the Conduct of Business Regulations do not support such a story.
Instead, the R-ARCSS ordered the NCAC to “examine and finalize revisions to key national security laws to bring its provisions into compliance with the R-ARCSS.”
In other words, the additional security-related legislation assessed by the NCAC and presented to the Minister for Justice and Constitutional Affairs should go through regular legislative procedures, including the introduction of modifications, if necessary.
The interpretation of the R-two ARCSS’s provisions is clear, one on the Political Parties Act 2012 (Amendment) Bill 2022, which specifically mandated the TNLA under 1.20.1 of the R-ARCSS to adopt it in its entirety, and the other on the TNLA’s review and completion of amendments to relevant national security legislations.
In view of these unequivocal conclusions, I concur with the recommendations of the R-ARCSS that His Excellency the President returns the Political Parties Bill 2022 to the TNLA for adoption of the previously added NCAC wording.
Simultaneously, the SPLM-IO and other opposition organizations should abandon their demands for the approval of the six security-related bills and enable regular parliamentary operations and the passage of such legislation.