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Advocate welcomes Justice Minister’s nullification of $75,000 fees

Author: Michael Daniel | Published: Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Justice Ruben Madol, the Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs - Credit: Moses Awan/Eye Radio, Date: April 17, 2023

A lawyer representing the political parties has welcomed the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs’ decision to nullify the $75,000 fees.

Justice Ruben Madol Arol made a groundbreaking announcement on Monday, May 20, 2024, declaring the $75,000 registration fees imposed on political parties by the Political Parties Council Chairperson null and void.

Gabriel Kuot Akok Deng, an Advocate and Legal Consultants who represented the political parties, expressed his approval of the decision.

He highlighted that the decision was rooted in several key legal documents, including the Transitional Constitution of the Republic of South Sudan 2011 as amended, the Political Parties Act of 2012, the South Sudan Bank Act, and the South Sudan Political Parties Regulation of 2015.

“Today, the 20th of May 2024 the Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs made a decision a legal opinion identifying a 75,000 US Dollars registration fee for the political parties, that the decision of the chairperson was null and void,” said Kuot.

“It was against the transitional constitution of the Republic of South Sudan 2011 as amended, it also violated the provision of political parties 2011 as amended,” he said.

“It also violates the prevision of South Sudan Bank 2011; our legal tender is South Sudanese pounds and all transactions to be made in South Sudan must be made in local currency which is South Sudanese pounds not US Dollars, so all these therefore were declared null and void.

On the 25 of April 2024, fourteen political parties threatened to sue the Political Parties’ Council at the East African Court of Justice over what they described as unreasonable and illegal registration fees imposed on them.

The parties say they intend to take the move after failing to get a response to their March 25, 2024, call on the council to reconsider its decision to impose an exorbitant” fee increment from the previous 20,000 pounds to $50,000 with no legal basis.

In their previous letter, the parties rejected the $50,000 provisional license fee and the $25,000 full registration fee set by the Political Parties Council (PPC).

They described it as a direct contradiction to the principles of democracy and fair political participation.

Four of the protesting political parties including the National Democratic Movement led by Dr. Lam Akol, are members of the South Sudan Opposition Alliance, SSOA.

They called on the political parties’ leadership to reconsider its decision and revert the fee to 20,000 South Sudan Pounds.

In a notification addressed to Justice Minister Ruben, Madol Aron by Advocate Gabriel Kuot Akok Deng, the group said, the lack of response has left them with no option but to seek justice before a competent court of Justice.

They argued that the imposed fee constitutes a violation of the right to form a political party.

For his party, the leadership of the political parties’ council said it would respond after receiving the letter.

Earlier, PPC boss, Eng. James Akol Zakayo said some parties were unable to meet registration requirements including the $50,000 registration fee.

The registration fee, according to Zakayo, was benchmarked from Ghana – one of Africa’s best democracies.

But he said some minority political parties are unable to raise the fee.

Zakayo argued that a political party with 500 members, as required by law, should be able to raise the amount, with each member contributing at least $100.

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