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South Sudan: What You Need to Know About Political Parties Act 2022

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South Sudan MPs in Freedom Hall

In May, the transitional legislative assembly passed the Political Parties Act 2012 (Amendment) Bill 2022 after its third and fourth final reading.

The Bill was passed by the legislative assembly despite a boycott by the SPLM-IO Party, which has 128 members. It objected to the conditions in the bill for a party to be legally registered.

The Act stipulates that for a political party to be registered in South Sudan, it must have at least 500 members from each of the country’s 10 states.

In this article, we attempt to answer your questions to help you understand the status of the Act after the SPLM-IO caucus ended the boycott of parliamentary sittings in the last two weeks after reaching an agreement with President Salva Kiir.

The transitional legislative assembly, reconstituted under the 2018 peace agreement, comprises 550 members.

President Kiir’s group has a parliamentary majority with 332 members. It is followed by Riek Machar’s Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM-IO) with 128 members, then the South Sudan Opposition Alliance (SSOA) with 50 members. Other political parties are represented by 30 members and former detainees by 10 members. 

1. What is the status of the Political Parties Act 2012 (Amendment) Bill 2022?

The Political Parties Act 2021 (amendment) Bill 2022 has now become a law because it has been passed by the parliament and assented to by the President.

Article 85 of the South Sudan Constitution says any bill approved by the national legislative assembly shall not become a law unless the President assents to it and signs it into law. If the President withholds assent for thirty days without giving reasons, the bill shall be deemed to have been so signed.

 “The Political Parties Bill is now an Act. It has already been assented to by the president,” Oyet Nathaniel, the first deputy speaker of the national legislative assembly said.

Oyet is also the deputy chairperson of the SPLM-IO Party led by First Vice President Riek Machar.

Deng John Deng, a legal expert, said: “Constitutionally, after a bill has been passed by the parliament and assented to by the President, it cannot be re-tabled for discussion, it becomes a law. “

The SPLM-IO members returned to parliament in mid-August.

2. How can the Political Parties Act be re-introduced to the parliament?

For the Political Parties Act 2012 (Amendment) Bill 2022, passed in the absence of SPLM-IO, to be re-introduced to the parliament, it must go through some procedures first.

A motion will have to be raised indicating the sections that are targeted, and then the motion has to be supported by at least 20 members of the parliament. Then it will be moved within the house and this might bring back the Political Parties Act 2012 (Amendment) Bill 2022 for deliberations.

“The Political Parties Act 2012 (Amendment) Bill 2022 has a different procedure than the other bills passed in our absence but have not been assented to by the President. The other bills that have not been assented to by the president will automatically be re-tabled for deliberations,” Oyet said.

Meanwhile, lawyer Deng John Deng said:” The bills passed by the legislative assembly in the absence of SPLM-IO members or any other party are constitutional because the important thing is for the parliamentary sittings to meet the quorum.”

3. Is it legal for the parliament to pass bills without one of the peace parties?

“If a two-thirds majority of all members or a simple majority of the members held a sitting and passed a bill, it is constitutional. For example, if 275 members of the national legislative assembly passed a bill, it is considered constitutional,” lawyer Deng said.

In the absence of the 128 members of the SPLM-IO, the other members of the transitional legislative assembly can still meet the quorum and pass bills. “Any bill passed with a quorum is constitutional. But the recent settlement reached by the President and SPLM-IO leadership on some bills is political; it has nothing to do with the law,” Deng said.

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