September 21, 2016 (JUBA) – War of words intensified in South Sudan parliament on Wednesday over the legality of abolishing the minority leader’s position in with opposition politicians describing ruling party MPs as “ignorant” of legal regulations.
- Onyoti Adigo Nyikec (mcclatchy)
Onyoti Adigo has been leader of the minority in parliament since 2010.
Last week, parliamentary chairman of information, Oliver Mori said the position for the leader of minority has been abolished in accordance to the peace agreement.
“We are in a transitional government of national unity and this is a transitional national legislative assembly where there is no opposition but parties working together,” said Mori to justify what he said was the decision of President Salva Kiir.
Mori said another lawmaker from the opposition political parties in the national parliament, Gabriel Rorick, has been appointed as national agenda chief whip; a coalition of political parties chaired by cabinet affairs minister, Maritn Elias Lomuro.
But Onyoti criticised Mori for failing to follow the legal procedures as outlined in the conduct of business regulations of parliament and in the transitional constitution.
“Article 71 of the transitional constitution [amended 2015] recognizes the minority leader in parliament and you cannot just wake up and declare the position null and void before you are amend the constitution,” Onyoti told reporters in Juba Tuesday.
“So I am still the legal leader of minority in parliament,” he added.
According to the August 2015 peace agreement, there will be chief whips representing various stakeholders to the agreement and no opposition. Both Mori and Onyoti agreed with this provision. However, Mori claimed Onyoti’s time was up.
“That position is already abolished by the peace agreement,” he said.
Onyoti, however, rejected Mori’s interpretation of the provision in the accord, saying the peace agreement and the transitional constitution have not been incorporated.
“I think they do not understand the agreement; the agreement doesn’t talk of whips. The agreement talks of stakeholders,” stressed the minority leader in the assembly.
“I think those Mori and others who are saying that the position of the minority leader is abolish are ignorant about the provisions of the peace agreement, ignorant about the parliamentary conduct of business and they are ignorant of our laws," he added,
According to the peace deal, before the assembly was expanded to 400 MPs, it should have adopted the accord as the overriding legal document for the formation of the transitional national assembly. That process, however, stalled when President Kiir and former First Vice President, Riek Machar disagreed over the nomination of a speaker.