September 2, 2013 (JUBA) – South Sudan’s parliament on Monday endorsed a new speaker who was nominated by the president of the republic, Salva Kiir Mayardit, denying the lawmakers to vet and elect one among their own choices, MPs revealed.
- Members of South Sudan’s parliament sing the national anthem during the reopening of parliamentary sessions in Juba on June 11, 2012. (Photo by Giulio Petrocco/AFP-Getty)
A little known MP in the national legislative assembly, Magok Rundial, from Unity state, was endorsed as the new speaker per the directives of the president.
A member of parliament who spoke on condition of anonymity told Sudan Tribune on Monday shortly after endorsing the new speaker that the process was "undemocratic because it witnessed a direct interference from the executive, particularly the president himself".
Explaining what transpired in the august house, he said before the parliament sitting to elect a speaker in the afternoon, Kiir called for the ruling party (SPLM) caucus in the assembly on in the morning where he chaired the meeting himself and went ahead by reading three names of his choice for the positions of the speaker and two deputies: Magok Rundial, Mark Nyipuoch and Jasmine Samuel, respectively.
"The president came in and chaired the SPLM parliamentary caucus meeting himself and read to us the three names of his choice to become the nominees of the ruling party in the assembly. Frightened by the situation and considering the consistent threats that always accompany such unilateral decisions, the caucus simply clapped for the president in show of reluctant submission to his choices", he said.
About 95% of the assembly members come from the ruling party which constitute the SPLM parliamentary caucus.
He said the situation replicated the manner in which the new Vice President, James Wani Igga, was endorsed by the parliament on 24 August to replace Riek Machar.
Kiir had to threaten to dissolve the parliament or dismiss individual members from the august house if they did not support his actions.
The state-owned South Sudan Television (SSTV) confirmed the procedure when president Kiir was shown on TV inside the parliament reading the three names and declaring that they were the nominees of the SPLM caucus.
Kiir’s broadcast remarks in the parliament also carried threats to the members of the SPLM, telling them to stand by the decisions of the party and warned that it would be "unfortunate" for any member who was not committed.
The new vice-president, James Wani Igga, and the former vice-president, Riek Machar, also MP, were present in the parliament when Kiir delivered his remarks.
No voting was conducted during the endorsement of the new speaker as it took only one member to stand up and announced the nomination of Magok Rundial and another member seconded him, and then the rest of the members simply stood up clapping for him.
Another source said the former minister of Justice, John Luk Jok, who was nominated by the Greater Upper Nile caucus for the position of the speaker, had to withdraw his desire to contest after earlier realising that the whole process was predetermined.
"It was something already cooked. It was not a free and fair democratic procedure as the parliament is concerned", said another member.
Days before the endorsement of the new speaker, Richard K. Mulla, MP representing Mundri West County and a lawyer by profession, also decried the violations of the assembly’s conduct of business, suspecting direct interference from the executive to impose a handpicked speaker.
Two deputies, Mark Nyipuoch (Western Bahr el Ghazal state) and Jasmine Samuel (Western Equatoria state) were similarly endorsed without voting to contenders to replace Daniel Awet Akot (Lakes state) and Fatima Nyawang Biliu (Unity state), who resigned from their positions.