April 5, 2011 (KHARTOUM) – South Sudan President Salva Kiir Mayardit is due to meet on Thursday with Sudan’s president Omar Al-Bashir in Juba to discuss the current crisis over disallowing south Sudan MPs to retain their seats in the national parliament after the region voted for independence in a referendum earlier this year.
The speaker of Sudan’s national assembly Mohamed Ibrahim Al-Bashir last month gave rise to a fresh crisis with south Sudan when he said that the region’s MPs would not be allowed to attend parliamentary session as of April in line with the outcome South Sudan referendum which paved the way for the region’s split in July.
Al-Tahir cited article 118 of the constitution to justify his decision, interpreting it as saying that Southern MP’s have no representation authority because the constituencies they won are now in the south.
The current standoff highlights the challenges facing the bifurcation of the country after the south voted almost unanimously for secession from the north in a referendum conducted earlier this year under the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) which ended decades of north-south civil wars in 2005.
Salva Kiir, who also serves as vice-president of Sudan, met on Monday with a delegation from his party the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) and received briefing on the crisis.
According to Sudan Tribune sources, the SPLM’s leadership had considered a decision to withdraw all southern ministers in the national government while keeping the ministers of oil and humanitarian affairs to serve until the end of the CPA’s interim period in July 9.
Kiir preempted his meeting with Al-Bashir by calling for the necessity of untangling north and south Sudan in a smooth manner that guarantees continuation of ties between the two sides after secession. He further reiterated the SPLM’s commitment to implementing the remaining phases of the CPA.
However, the SPLM’s secretary-general Pagan Amum stroke a critical tone in a press conference he held on Tuesday following his return from a visit to the US, describing the speaker’s decision to terminate membership of southerners in the parliament as inconsistent with the constitution and the CPA which stipulates that the outcome of the referendum be carried out by the end of the CPA’s interim period.
“According to the CPA, all protocols concerning power and wealth sharing in the national government and the parliament should remain in effect until 9 July,” Amum was quoted as saying.
The ruling National Congress Party (NCP) in control of the North has stated in the past that all Southerners in the central government, military and civil service will be dismissed once results are certified.