August 24, 2013 (JUBA) – An extraordinary session of South Sudan lawmakers on Saturday unanimously endorsed James Wani Igga as the country’s new vice president.
- South Sudanese MPs stand during a parliamentary session in Juba on August 31, 2011 (AFP)
The extraordinary sitting, chaired by the deputy speaker, Daniel Awet Akot, gave limited opportunities to the members of the house to deliberate over vetting mechanisms and approval of the nominee.
Members of the assembly, Akot told reporters, approved the nomination of the new vice president "unanimously" with "no objection".
He however stressed that limited debate was allowed during the session due to time factor, declining to comment on the parliamentary procedures and mechanisms used to endorse Igga’s nomination.
Under the country’s Transitional Constitution, the house adopts a parliamentary decision after application of certain mechanisms. This includes a provision, which permits taking decisions by unanimity, consensus or by simple majority exercised through secret vote.
Igga, formerly the national legislative assembly speaker was Friday appointed by President Salva Kiir, exactly a month after he dissolved his entire government, including the position of vice president.
He was first considered for the position during a consultative meeting the president convened for senior members from the south-ruling party (SPLM), last month.
With at least two-thirds of the country’s lawmakers required to endorse the vice president’s nomination, fears were high that the house would reject Igga, just like it happened to the new justice minister two weeks back.
Kiir had earlier uttered strong statements threatening to dissolve the elected national parliament, unless its members backed his choice of the new vice president during the vetting.
The president made the remarks Saturday morning during a meeting he held with the ruling party’s (SPLM) parliamentary caucus, where he introduced his nominated new Vice President, James Wani Igga, lobbying for his endorsement.
“Actually some of us lobbied the appointment of comrade James Wani Igga. We also lobbied the house to approve his appointment by consensus. I was one of the members who personally assured the president that we will work for comrade James[Wani Igga] to be approved, but I was surprised that the president showed lack of trust by resorting to threats and intimidating behaviours”, a lawmaker who attended the meeting told Sudan Tribune.
The legislator, who preferred anonymity, claimed Kiir showed up at the meeting in an “unfriendly” mood and gave no chances for comments, introducing only his new deputy before closing the meeting.
- South Sudan’s new vice president James Wani Igga (Photo: Larco Lomayat)
“The purpose of this meeting is to introduce you comrade James Wani. He is not new to any of you because he was the speaker of the national legislative assembly, but I am doing this now because you know he has now been given new assignment, which require your support without objection”, the president reportedly said.
The president, another MP said, “was rough and used undiplomatic language”.
“I wanted to be given an opportunity, but the president decided to close the meeting without giving us a chance to talk. It was like talking without the right to ask or comment. I think the president acted that way because he feared the house would reject endorsing the nomination of comrade James Igga,” he said.
He [Kiir] must have been given wrong advice about members of parliament, added the lawmaker.
The South Sudan leader, he further disclosed, threatened to dissolve the entire the assembly, while some members were allegedly called by security operatives and asked whether they still belonged to the SPLM.
Meanwhile, the vice president, sources told Sudan Tribune, will be sworn-in on Sunday before he takes over office Monday.