The controversial move, decreed by President Salva Kiir Mayardit in early October, was criticised by analysts who said it will undermine the power–sharing deal signed by the President and the Vice President and rebel leader Riek Machar.
In August a peace deal was inked, including a transitional government, to end 21 months of conflict which has killed more than 10,000 people.
The minority leader in the parliament, SPLM-DC’s Adigo Onyoti Nyikwac, who led a team of six MPs walking out from parliament during the amendment, described the move as “legal corruption”. At least 37 members of the Equatoria Parliamentary Caucus boycotted the sitting.
Adigo Onyoti Nyikwac said it is unconstitutional and it is a violation of the Peace Deal. “It is really a game played by the people here in South Sudan, they are not doing things according to the law, but only something I consider it as ‘jungle law’,” Adigo told journalists.
But this was rejected by the Speaker of the National Legislative Assembly, Manesseh Magok Rundial, who said: “We passed this unanimously. There is not any clash, no lying, nothing,” Magok said.
Information Minister Michael Makuei Lueth played down the fact that the opposition walked out of session: “The task of opposition, especially as it is understood in the third world, is to ensure that you oppose the government whether is doing the right or wrong thing.”
Some welcomed the move, saying it would boost democracy: “We are thankful that our demand as the citizens of the country has been answered by our representatives [MPs] in the Assembly,” said Akuoch Ajang, Chairperson of South Sudan Civil Society Association.
According to many MPs and the president, the amendment responds to the popular demand of the people for transfer of power to them.
“This demand is underpinned by the policy of decentralisation through which the Republic of South Sudan is being ruled in accordance with its constitution and the SPLM policy of taking towns to the people,” Kiir said.