April 15, 2013 (JUBA) - South Sudanese president Salva Kiir on Monday issued a decree withdrawing executive powers that were delegated to his vice-president Riek Machar, according to a broadcast by the state-run South Sudan Television.
- South Sudan’s vice-president Riek Machar (Reuters)
The order did not cite or state any reason for the move and no official statement has been released. It also did not specify to the public which powers he delegated to the Vice President and had to be withdrawn or the difference such powers have with the powers stipulated in the constitution and wanted him to continue to exercise.
Kiir now restricted Machar to the powers “stipulated in the article 105” of the transitional constitution.
The decision may be linked to Machar’s intentions, which he made clear during the last politburo meeting of the ruling Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM), to run for its chairmanship in the upcoming convention.
Article 105 of the transitional Constitution of South Sudan gives the vice-president ceremonial powers to act for the president in the event that the head of state is out of the country in order to perform any functions or duties conferred upon the president.
Earlier today, Kiir also issued a decree dissolving the national reconciliation committee and cancelling the entire process which was overseen by Machar.
The process was initially planned to start on 18 April but the convention was pushed back to June on the grounds that more time was needed to prepare for it.
Sources claim the postponement was due to political differences over the agenda and the timing of the process.
PUBLIC REACTION TO THE DECREES
Manyok Deng Barac, a resident of Juba from Jonglei state, accused politicians of politicising the national reconciliation process, claiming there are people within the SPLM who were opposed to the initiative from the start.
“The president cannot just decide to dissolve the whole national reconciliation process. There must be something which he did not like. Maybe his kitchen advisors and confidants have advised him to do so. It has been politicised. It cannot happen just like that”, said Barac on Monday in an interview.
A well-placed source at the office of the president confirmed the existence of internal disagreements and claimed that some senior government officials protested the conduct of the reconciliation process, saying it was without a clear agenda.
The officials also expressed suspicions that the vice-president had wanted to use it as a political campaign project against the president.
“There are people who think the president does not know what they are doing. He knows everything and he made a wise decision for this case. First of all he [the president] was not consulted by the vice-president and his group from the day this so called national reconciliation project came to light. The president was surprised when it was brought up in the council of ministers,” a presidential source told Sudan Tribune on Monday.
“How would they feel if they [the organisers] were the president? This is clearly a political project. You see they went to the extent of collecting people from the states and brought them to Juba without the knowledge of the president”, he added.
Peter Tut, a resident of Juba from Unity state, questioned why the president, who himself has been seen as someone preaching peace and reconciliation, cancelled an initiative meant to complement his efforts to bring stability to the country.
“I was surprised when I watched South Sudan Television announcing [these] decrees. One of the decrees was withdrawal of some powers which the president delegated to the vice-president and the decree dissolving and cancelling the entire reconciliation process and finally a decree retiring two senior police officers”, Tut said.
“I do not mind about the other decrees; the one about withdrawal of the powers which the president delegates to the vice-president and the order which retires two senior police officers. What surprised me was the decree cancelling the national reconciliation process and dissolution of the committee because this was complementing the president’s effort about peace”, he said
Deng Lual Baak, a native of Warrap state currently visiting Juba, said the president cannot be blamed because he is surrounded by people who perceive any popular initiative as a threat to them.
“Nothing will ever go well in this country if the president continues to keep the same misleading elements around him. They have blocked him to the extent that he is not getting any meaningful messages from the people. The president is actually not getting fresh air. He is not in touch with the people. He is cut off from the general public by unpopular cliques”, Baak told Sudan Tribune.