March 30, 2015 (JUBA) – South Sudan’s national legislative assembly (NLA) said the state’s 10 parliaments did not need to amend their respective constitutions, saying they were to extend their term limits automatically for the next three years as resolved at the national level.
- South Sudanese MPs stand during a parliamentary session in Juba on 31 August 2011 (AFP)
Juba lawmakers also said the states should not spend resources to debate and amend their respective transitional constitutions unnecessarily.
Thomas Wani Kundu, the chairperson of information and communication committee in the assembly told reporters on Monday that the tenure of governors together with president Salva Kiir and that of the state assemblies extended with that of the national legislature.
“The fact that article 165 is silent about the period of the office of the governors, it doesn’t mean that the state parliament is to amend the constitution,” said Kundu.
Article 165 says “There shall be a governor for each state elected by the residents of that state in compliance with the requirements prescribed by the National Elections Commission and in accordance with this Constitution and the relevant state constitution.”
NLA last week extended the mandate of president Kiir and its own lifespan by three years.
According to transitional constitution of South Sudan, 2011, the term of office of president Kiir and that of NLA and state governments was supposed to end on 8 July 2015. The MPs amended the constitution after the government introduced a bill in February, 2015.
The term in office for governors is, however, detailed separately in each state’s transitional constitution.
But Kundu insisted that state governments don’t have the legal rights to initiate amendments
“The only person who has the full mandate and has a legitimacy to initiate amendment of the national constitution is the president of the republic as is stipulated in the article 101,” he said.
However, Upper Nile state legislative assembly went ahead and extended the term limit for governor Simon Kun Puoch, with senior officials of the national legislative assembly in Juba saying it was the right thing to do in contradiction to the other interpretations of the constitution.
The earliest next elections which could be held in South Sudan will be before July 2018, when the extension of elective offices made by the NLA will expire.
The controversial extension of the term limit for president and legislature witnessed local and international criticism, with concerns that it will derail the ongoing peace process with the rebel groups.