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South Sudan activists slam parliament’s weak stance on federalism

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July 11, 2014 (JUBA) – A South Sudanese activist has criticised the national parliament for showing reluctance to lead debate on federalism, questioning why the legislature hasn’t taken a symbolic stance.

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South Sudanese MPs stand during a parliamentary session in Juba on August 31, 2011 (AFP)

“Our people wonder what has become of this parliament. This is supposed to be the House of Representatives where issues of national importance, things that are supposed to be discussed because of the public interest attached to them, are discussed,” said Anthony Sebit told Sudan Tribune from Nairobi.

“But you find issues like the current debate about federalism and the way the peace talks are progressing in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, are not discussed. And the more hurting thing is that they seem not [to be] bothered by [the] behaviours of the security personnel, even when they know they do not have the basis for harassing journalists,” he added.

He also questioned why the legislative body hadn’t taken more leadership in guiding current debate about federalism across the country.

“Until yesterday (Thursday) when I was in Juba, the parliament had not shown any interest to open a debate about federalism. Is it because they do not see the importance of this debate? I don’t know,” he said.

“But I have observed that this parliament takes no symbolic stance on issues of national importance … They are even not questioning the behaviour of the security, even though they know very well that they have not passed any guiding regulation,” he said.

“There is no security law that I know had been passed by the parliament at the moment,” he added.

Meanwhile, a journalist with the Citizen newspaper attributed the parliament’s reluctance to fear of being sacked by the president should they raise a motion supportive of public debate on federalism.

“I do not blame these members because majority of the current members of parliament are those who came to the house because their weakness which the ruling party used as the advantage to deny the competence candidates the opportunity during the 2010 elections because they know very well that weak members would not be able to challenge and question the executive on certain critical issues,” he said.

He said he knows of some MPs who have never raised a hand in parliament to pose a question on any subject matter being discussed before the house.

“To be honest with you, there are members of parliament I know myself that do not talk. They only go there to sign the attendant and leave or sit to watch, without making [any] contribution because they do not know any other language apart from the mother tongue or some English words which cannot convey any meaningful message,” he explained.

“RUBBER STAMP” HOUSE

One government critic described the national parliament as a “rubber stamp” house, saying it was filled with “yes groups” purporting to be representative of the people.

“This idiocy that is happening is because many of the current members of parliament representing the areas they claim to represent in this assembly see that the way you get noticed is to propose a ridiculous motion,” he said.

“Of course, everyone knows that the legislative fashion is strictly for more restrictions. You need to sponsor a motion … which bans something, shuts something down. That is what gets rewarded … It’s all going in one direction, which is to tighten restrictions, toughen penalties, close any possible loopholes in previous laws,” he adds.

He claimed that despite the government already having significant controls in place, it still felt the need to intensify restrictions and debate over federalism.

Moses Duku Simon, an independent political analyst, said there has been an “abominable drop in the quality of legislative acts”.

“Very rarely is there anything resembling reasonable debate. Initiatives tend to get rushed through this parliament in short order. Objections or arguments against the measures seldom get a hearing,” he said.

“The sheer number of laws which are not properly discussed is totally unprecedented,” he adds.

(ST)

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  • 13 July 06:34, by Lotodo Awino Odug

    First, who the hell is Anthony Sebit? second, Why all this fuss about federalism when the country is still at war. third, is there anything behind this federal desire apart its simple meaning of power devolution and resources monopolization?

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    • 13 July 12:40, by Mr Point

      Why are all the comments here irrelevant to the topic?

      Nobody discusses the fact that the Parliament just obeys the President without question.

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  • 13 July 06:53, by Madina Tonj

    Mr. Anthony Sebit. You need to make your own judgment if the Idea of Federalism/central government will bring peace in South Sudan.? First of all, you know that 70% Southern Sudanese citizens are none education and participation on Federalism system wouldn’t be smoothly because the majority citizens are not educated. Why not let the government continues resolving of rebellion in the country first.

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  • 13 July 06:53, by Madina Tonj

    Mr. Anthony Sebit. You need to make your own judgment if the Idea of Federalism/central government will bring peace in South Sudan.? First of all, you know that 70% Southern Sudanese citizens are none education and participation on Federalism system wouldn’t be smoothly because the majority citizens are not educated. Why not let the government continues resolving of rebellion in the country first.

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    • 13 July 20:12, by Ito

      The issue here folks is not only about federalism but the reluctance of parliamentarians who are sent there by their constituency to represent their interest to say anything in parliament. Are people elected to just sit and not talk and get paid or they are elected to discuss about any issue of national interest. There is instability because of deaf eyes by the government and it will continue

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  • 13 July 06:54, by Madina Tonj

    Mr. Anthony Sebit. You need to make your own judgment if the Idea of Federalism/central government will bring peace in South Sudan.? First of all, you know that 70% Southern Sudanese citizens are none education and participation on Federalism system wouldn’t be smoothly because the majority citizens are not educated. Why not let the government continues resolving of rebellion in the country first.

    repondre message

  • 13 July 08:02, by Chol A.

    Federalism had clearly being seen as bias and it another way of pushing government out of power. If there is nothing behind to federalism then what makes anti Dinka chaos all the time? What makes activist involve in such matter? Those who are after federalism you are beating the bush because what you claim turn to be different.

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  • 13 July 08:38, by Bauer

    Any sensible and reasonable South Sudanese would agree that our Country truly needs this Federal system of governance.Whoever started it does not matter.Gov’t only has to give the people what system of governance they want.The senseless war was started by the president and he should be ready to face the consequences.Killing innocent civilians because they are Nuer from Riek Machar’s tribe.........

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  • 13 July 08:43, by Bauer

    Does not in anyway solve the root cause of their war.People do not need to know English to be taught about Federalism.We all have our languages which can be used to educate the masses about the virtues and vices of Federalism.MP’s who just sit there and are ’yessing’ to everything DO NOT deserve a seat again.This all depends on every eligible voter when the time comes.If you want peace............

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  • 13 July 08:50, by Bauer

    And prosperity, Salva Kiir will not do that for you.This is so because it all starts with you.Do you want to see your child, wife, brother and any other relatives harassed by security personnel just because you are from a different tribe?Since 2005 under the leadership of Salva Kiir has there been any significant developments? Do we have good roads,electricity, schools &good hospitals in place??

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  • 13 July 08:51, by Freedom Fighter

    The White Army terrorist group are the biggest threat facing South Sudan today. The priority should be given not to debate on Federalism but to defending South Sudan against the forces of destruction. There is nothing wrong about federal system. Southerners need to be very careful not to assist the terrorists indirectly.

    Freedom Fighter

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  • 13 July 08:56, by Bauer

    Do you think the 6 elements Machar pointed out are true? When you look deep into them don’t they raise your eye brows? Must Riek Machar’s past actions be used to justify his actions now?Let us be good Citizen’s, don’t take sides because your so much immersed into your tribe but rather reason things out.Everywhere talk Federalism and support federalism for peace, prosperity & dev’t in South Sudan

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    • 13 July 11:31, by Malakal county Simon

      Baurer

      You nailed all bro!! The past is the past....i

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    • 13 July 13:25, by Stephen kuach

      Folks
      There should be open debate about the federal system only though when we feel we have peace to educate those who are clueless about the importance of the Federal system so that when come referendum time,our citizens should then be more open minded and free to cast their votes,Who would vote for something they don’t know whether it will benefit our new country or will it create more problems?

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      • 13 July 20:16, by Bentiu Sudan

        I cannot blame the MPs who keep quiet because those are the people president Kiir wants. Because when some one rise an issue, other MPs see that person as an enemy of Kiir. Kiir use weak and coward MPs like TV remote to block the advancement of valuable candidates to higher positions. MPs who ask questions and rise issues have been relieved because the parliament sees them as true enemy of Kiir.

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