SPLM-IO legislators end boycott after Kiir-Machar meeting

Members of the national parliament representing the SPLM-IO have returned to the assembly after weeks of boycotting parliamentary events.

The legislators resumed work on Monday following a conciliatory meeting between President Salva Kiir and First Vice President Dr. Riek Machar.

On August 3, the SPLM-IO boycotted the tabling of the draft national budget for the fiscal year 2022/2023 at the transitional national legislature.

Nathaniel Oyet who is the Deputy chairman of the SPLM-IO and also Deputy Speaker of the national legislative assembly had said their absence from the tabling of the budget was deliberate.

In June, Dr Riek Machar’s party also walked out of the debate to pass the Political Parties Amendment Bill 2022. It claimed the bill was passed despite their reservations. SPLM-IO said it had raised concerns over the modalities of financing the political parties and the conditions for a party to be legally registered.

Over the weekend, President Kiir and Dr. Machar met to deliberate on the outstanding issues causing the SPLM-IO to boycott the parliamentary sessions.

The SPLM-IO legislators announced on Monday that they have resolved to resume their parliamentary duties.

“The SPLM-IO in its meeting dated 14th August-2022 resolved to terminate its boycott of parliamentary business effective today Monday 15th-August-2022. We would like to state [that] the determination of the boycott is in line with the advice of the 2 principles and the advice of the R-JMEC and the NCAC which clarifies that all bills drafted pursuant to the revitalized peace agreement are special bills that should be ratified or adopted by the parties to the agreement in the parliament,” Nathaniel Oyet stated.

In July, the IGAD Partners Forum advised against continuous bickering among members of the Revitalized Transitional Government of National Unity.

The Forum said it is concerned by incidents of parties boycotting constitutional processes when opposed to actions related to the 2018 peace implementation.

Hon. Oyet said the SPLM-IO parliamentary caucus will remain committed to the implementation of the peace deal.

“We had an extra ordinary assembly business committee meeting which adopted the resolution of the principals to the agreement in its entirety. We are cognizant that as members of parliament representing our people and parties that send us in the parliament, our role is to facilitate the smooth implementation of the peace agreement.”

On August 5, the First Vice President appealed to President Kiir not to sign any bill that has been passed by the national legislature – in the absence of the SPLM-IO.

Hon. Oyet now says the bills will return to the house for another debate. They include; the Wildlife Service bill and the Constitutional-making Process bill.

“These are the 2 key bills that were passed in our absence and they will be re-table…so that the SPLM-IO members of parliament will also have their inputs and their observation about the bills,” he stated.

On the Political Parties Bill which the SPLM-IO boycotted its discussion in June, Hon. Oyet said it has already reached the President for ascension and would require several procedures to recall it.

“The Political Parties’ bill has been ascended to by the President…that would mean other procedural matters have to be fulfilled if the Act is to be return to the House. It means a motion has to be raised by any member of parliament for an Act to be return and amended,” Oyet said.

For his part, John Agany, the chairperson of the Specialized Committee on Information at the parliament said the decision to boycott parliamentary sessions and return to the House business is a right for any political party.

“So it was not unusual for the members of SPLM-IO to make their own decision on what has been going on in the legislative assembly,” he stated.

Hon. Agany had earlier described the actions of the SPLM-IO as counterproductive.

“They should also take the interest of our people as the first priority. They should not have a party’s priority in the government,” he argued.

But Hon. Oyet had insisted that their absence during debates were in the interest of the revitalized peace agreement.

“We don’t want to pretend in parliament that things are moving well…So the boycott is actually one way of protecting the text and the spirit of the agreement so that the agreement achieve its objectives,” he said.

He did not, however, explain in what way the SPLM-IO is “protecting” the agreement by boycotting through boycotts.

The Transitional National Legislative Assembly and the Council of States is made up of representatives from the SPLM-IG/ITGoNU, SPLM-IO, SSOA, OPP and FDs.