16th July 2024
Make a Donation

Opposition threatens to abandon Tumaini Initiative unless NSS bill revoked

Author: Emmanuel J. Akile | Published: Monday, July 8, 2024

SSOMA groups hold a press conference in Nairobi. July 8, 2024. (Photo: Courtesy).

The opposition groups in the Tumaini Initiative, negotiating peace under Kenyan mediation with the transitional government, declared on Monday that they will not sign any agreement with the R-TGONU until the recently passed National Security Service Act is revoked.

On July 3, 2024, the National Legislative Assembly passed the National Security Service Act 2014 Amendment Bill 2024 in a dramatic sitting.

The passing of the security law is said to be in contrary to a 2023 consensus between President Kiir and First Vice President, Dr Machar that Articles 54 and 55 mandate the National Security Service to arrest without a warrant should be scrapped.

However, after a long and heated debate, the National Legislative Assembly passed the long-overdue National Security Service Act 2014 Amendment Bill 2023.

Reacting to the matter, the opposition groups in the Tumaini Initiative said the NSS must be reconstituted into a civilian National Intelligence Service with the mandate to gather intelligence without powers of arrest, detention, and interference in the political processes.

They added that the rush by the unity government to push this act through its parliament is intended to undercut the peace process in Nairobi, as an act of bad faith.

“The opposition will not sign any agreement with the Revitalized Transitional Government of National Unity until the National Security Service Act is repealed,” said Pagan Amum, the leader of Real SPLM, who spoke on behalf of the SSOMA in Nairobi on Monday.

“I repeat, the opposition will never sign any agreement until this law is repealed. The National Security Service must be reconstituted into a civilian intelligence service with the mandate to gather intelligence without power of arrest or detention, or interference in the political processes in the country.”

“The rush by the R-TGoNU to push this act through its parliament is intended to undercut the peace process in Nairobi and we consider this an act of bad faith.”

Before its passing, the bill was presented in its third reading stage by Hon. Kom Kom Geng, the chairperson of the Committee on National Security and Public Order. In the final show of hands, 274 members voted in favour, and 114 were opposed to it, with 3 MPs absent.

The next step is for the speaker to refer the bill to the president for assent in 30 days. Within the given period, Kiir has the option to refer the bill back to Parliament for reconsideration of reservations.

If he fails to sign within the timeframe, the bill will automatically become law.

Following its passing, Human Rights Watch called on President Salva Kiir to use his constitutional powers to reject the bill, adding that it will further undermine human rights and entrench the agency’s longstanding abuses in the country.

Laetitia Bader, the Deputy Africa Director at Human Rights Watch, said the South Sudan parliament was expected to omit the clause used as justification for alleged arbitrary arrests and detention.

“Instead of reining in the security service, which has been the government’s preferred tool of repression, South Sudan’s parliament has further emboldened the agency,” she said.

“This was an opportunity to promote and enhance justice and human rights. But instead, parliament chose to strengthen a security service that routinely abuses rights with impunity.”

The watchdog further stated that the security service has exercised these powers without meaningful judicial or legislative oversight, and its agents are rarely punished for abuses.

Support Eye Radio, the first independent radio broadcaster of news, information & entertainment in South Sudan.

Make a monthly or a one off contribution.

error: Alert: Content is protected !!