A civil society activist has trashed an argument by some legislators that they are still mandated by the constitution to continue serving in the national parliament.
Edmund Yakani, who leads Community Empowerment for Progress Organization says the MPs do not have the right to summon government officials because the parliament has not been reconstituted as per the revitalized peace agreement.
“The parliament of 400 members is not a legitimate parliament, considering the implementation of the agreement,” Yakani argues.
This came after a member of parliament representing Yei River maintained that they would proceed with their legislative duties until the President restructures the assembly.
MPs recently summoned the minister of finance, central bank governor, and the commissioner-general of the National Revenue Authority to answer questions regarding the economic situation.
But President Salva Kiir is yet to issue an order to reorganize the parliament and the Council of States.
The parties have also not submitted the names of their nominees to the National Constitutional Amendment Committee for review and subsequent appointments.
The august house was supposed to run concurrently with the new peace government until elections are held.
Hon. Paul Yoane, the chairperson of the parliamentary Information Committee, insists that they are still the legitimate representatives of the people.
“The agreement talks about expansion and reconstitution, I have gone through the agreement and I have never come across a word in the agreement called dissolution of the parliament and you cannot reconstitute or expand any institution without a body existing,” Hon. Yoane stresses.
“You expand and reconstitute something out of an existing institution. That is why you see the current members of parliament interacting with the media and the assembly business committee meeting. It is because they have to exist, awaiting the expansion and reconstitution.”
But Yakani rejects the assertion, saying the revitalized agreement overwrites some aspects of the constitution to which the current MPs derive their mandate from.
“It is not a functional parliament, because the agreement says it must be reconstituted – to comprise of 550 MPs in order to be legitimate,” he explains.
According to the revitalized peace deal, the national parliament and the Council of States shall be reconstituted.
The parliament shall then be expanded from 400 to 550 members.
The peace accord further states that the reconstituted national parliament shall, in the conduct of its business, support the agreement and enact legislation that enables and assists the transitional processes and reforms described in the accord.
It is mandated to make laws and hold the government to account for its policies, actions, and spending.
In March, some legislators demanded that the reconstitution of the parliament be delayed due to coronavirus fears.
This is because the current parliament building cannot accommodate all the 550 legislators.
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Published Wednesday, September 23, 2020
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