South Sudan: SPLM-IO Decries Lack of Consensus During Passing of Election Law

The Sudan People’s Liberation Movement in Opposition (SPLM-IO) expressed strong dissatisfaction on Monday over parliament’s passing of the National Elections Act, accusing the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) and its allies of employing what it describes as a “mechanical majority” to push through bills without achieving a consensus.

This outcry follows a dramatic turn of events when SPLM-IO legislators, led by the House’s First Deputy Speaker Nathaniel Oyet Pierino, walked out during the voting process of the National Elections Act 2012 (Amendment) Bill 2023.

The primary reason for the boycott was the insertion of a new section in the Election Law which grants the president the authority to appoint additional members of parliament following elections.

During a press conference held by the SPLM-IO Parliamentary Caucus after the vote in parliament, Oyet strongly criticized the actions of SPLM-IG and its allies, alleging that they had violated the Revitalized peace agreement.

“The decision by the SPLM-IG and allies is contrary to the provision of the Revitalized Agreement, Article 1.2.13, which states that the National Election Commission shall conduct free, fair, and credible elections before the end of the Transitional Period and shall ensure the outcome reflects the will of the electorates, read together with Article 1.20.5,” he charged. “In the Ordinary Sitting No, 25/2023, dated Monday, September 18, 2023, the TNLA deliberated on the report of the Standing Specialized Committee on the National Election Act, 2012 (Amendment) Bill, 2023, in its Third and Final Reading stage. Some members of the August House, particularly from the SPLM-IG and its allies, decided to introduce a new Section in the Bill seeking to empower the President of the Republic of South Sudan to appoint, after Elections, an additional number of Members of Parliament.”

The SPLM-IO parliamentary caucus vehemently condemned this move, viewing it as an attempt to undermine the democratic nature of the electoral process.

“The SPLM-IO Parliamentary Caucus would like to condemn in the strongest terms possible attempts by the SPLM-IG and its allies to make the process and the conduct of the National elections in South Sudan undemocratic, unfair, and not credible,” Oyet said.

He also raised concerns about the impartiality of Speaker Jemma Nunu Kumba during the discussions.

“We are concerned about the unfair procedure and the manner in which the Rt. Hon. Speaker, Jemma Nunu Kumba, conducted the sitting by not maintaining the order and decorum of the house to balance participation in the deliberation by the members of the August House by denying members of SPLM-IO and other political parties a fair chance to express their views on this critical matter,” he said. “Moreover, the Speaker decided to proceed without consensus and ushered the house into voting despite the lack of consensus.”

“In light of the above violations, the SPLM-IO Parliamentary Caucus condemns in no uncertain terms the continuous violation of the Agreement and disregard of the advice of the two principals, relevant implementation mechanisms like RJMEC and the NCAC,” Oyet added.

This is the second time in a month that SPLM-IO has chosen to boycott voting in the assembly. In August, they staged a similar walkout during the reading of the National Budget. Despite these protests, the TNLA has managed to pass motions and laws without the participation of SPLM-IO.

The First Deputy Speaker warned that if corrective measures are not taken, SPLM-IG and its allies may attempt to alter the original text of the permanent constitution to further their agenda.

Chol Mawel