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JUBA CITY - 26 Sep 2023

MPs irked by Makuei’s remarks about TNLA’s lack of mandate to write constitution

Speaker Jemma Nunu Kumba. (File photo)
Speaker Jemma Nunu Kumba. (File photo)

Parliamentarians at the Revitalized Transitional National Legislative Assembly (R-TNLA) on Monday said they were astounded by comments made by Information Minister Michael Makuei Lueth when he said the current parliament is not mandated to write the country`s permanent constitution.

On Friday last week, Makuei, while addressing a press conference, said that the majority of the current members in the upper and lower houses of parliament were not elected and therefore do not represent the views of the South Sudanese people.

“This parliament now is 550 plus and the Council of States which is 100 and that makes 650. I know that only 171 were elected in 2010 for the regional assembly because by then we were a subnational and 96 were elected to Khartoum,” he said. “These were the people who were brought here. If we are talking of elected people, this (171) was the number that was elected and they are less than half of the membership of these (MPs) people.”

“The current parliament cannot represent the people of South Sudan and as such they need to go and we need to go for elections…it is representatives of the people who will come and pass the constitution,” Makuei added at the time.

However, during a regular sitting chaired by Speaker Jemma Nunu Kumba, Juma Zachariah Deng, an SPLM-IO lawmaker from Western Bahr el Ghazal State, demanded that Makuei explain his assertions to the August House and clarify if it is his personal opinion or the position of the government.

“On Friday the minister of Information held a press conference and was talking that the parliament is not representative of the people,” he said. “We know the minister of information as the spokesperson of the government, he speaks what the government agrees in the council of ministers. So, Information Minister Michael Makuei Lueth is misleading the public with wrong information. I want to know if what he talked about in the media is his view or the view of the government.”

“What I believe is that what he (Makuei) talked about is what he believes,” Deng added.

For his part, John Agany Deng, an SPLM lawmaker from Northern Bahr el Ghazal who is also the House’s spokesperson, reacted angrily and said Minister Makuei should be summoned by parliament to clarify his comments about the illegitimacy of the House.

“Makuei went on media and he disqualified and illegitimatized this assembly. He has to come and explain and this should be a motion without notice so that Makuei come and explain,” he charged. “We are representing people and he is also a member of parliament representing his people in this assembly.”

“Why is he (Makuei) illegitimating this assembly?” Agany asked.

However, Speaker Jemma Nunu Kumba asked the legislator to explain to recount Makuei’s comments so that the House could summon the minister to explain himself.

“I did not hear what he said so those of you who heard can put it down properly so that we can ask him to come and explain,” she said.