Over five hundred elected lawmakers were sworn in on Monday in the countries capital Juba.
Lawmakers of the newly created National Parliament on Monday, August 2, 2021 took the oath of office in the capital Juba. A total of 588 MPs (a mix of delegates from the ruling party and former rebel factions who signed the truce) took the oath of office at a ceremony presided over by the chief justice. The creation of an inclusive national assembly was a key condition of the 2018 ceasefire that paused five years of bloodshed between government and rebel forces that left over 400,000 people dead and many others displaced.
AFP reports that, like several other urgent and crucial provisions of the peace accords, the convening of parliament went long unfulfilled, eroding trust between the political rivals that unified in a tenuous coalition after the war. The swearing in comes nearly a year behind schedule and remains incomplete, with 62 MPs absent from the swearing-in ceremony, some because of squabbles with the government over the power-sharing arrangement. President Salva Kiir and his Vice Riek Machar did not attend the historic event.
“Know that South Sudanese are watching you,” said Justine Badi Arama, the Archbishop of the Anglican Church in South Sudan, who offered prayers ahead of the swearing-in ceremony.
Daniel Awet, deputy of the ruling SPLM party, hailed the occasion as a show of unity.
“It is only through unity of purpose and love of one another that we progress our country and secure the future for the young generation that have been saved after long wars,” he told the lawmakers, community representatives and church leaders present at the landmark ceremony.
The number of lawmakers has moved from 450 to 650 in the new assembly, with more delegates than seats available in the existing building, where a planned expansion is behind schedule.
“For the time being however, we appeal to the honorable members to be patient as we struggle to rectify this situation,” the new Parliamentary Speaker, Jemma Nunu Kumba told lawmakers. South Sudan has struggled with war, famine and chronic political and economic crisis since celebrating its hard-fought independence from Sudan a decade ago. Last week a coalition of civil society launched a public campaign to demand political reforms after the 10 turbulent and bloody years of independence.