Upper Nile Parliament Extends Governor’s Term

Members of parliament in Upper Nile State Legislative Assembly on Monday amended their state constitution and extended the term of the Governor, Simon Kun Puoch for another three years.

By Ariik Atekdit

31 March 2015 [Gurtong] – The move comes just immediately after President Salva Kiir assented to the extension of his term on Monday.

The Speaker of the state assembly, Rt. Hon. Joseph Deng Foraj said that the state parliament was replicating the move taken by the National Assembly.

"We were responding to the move being done by the National assembly and especially after the President signed the document of extension. We have extended the tenure for the State Parliament and as well as the office of state governor," stated the Speaker.

Foraj said that changes were made in article 62 (2) to lengthen the lifespan of the legislature and that article 98 (2) was also amended to increase the state Governor's tenure for the next three years.

He also justified the move saying members unanimously resolved to pass the amendment of the state constitution to allow for peace to be achieved before any elections can be conducted.
"You know our governments whether at the National level or states would end on July 9, 2015. We were expecting the elections to take place but because of the crisis we have to make peace a priority in the country. We will make this extended tenure to achieve peace in the country," Foraj said.

Upper Nile State is the first state out of the ten states in South Sudan to amend its constitution and extend the office of the Governor.

Some government officials accused the state parliamentarians and said that they do not have powers to extend the lifespan of the Governor's office.

The Head of Information Committee in the National Parliament, Hon. Thomas Wani Kundu said that state constitution and parliament have no powers to extend the office of the governors.
"We in the National Parliament left the offices of the governors not extended because the national constitution is silenced about the tenure of the governors. Article 165 only says that the governors must be elected. The state and national parliaments and the office of the president are very clear in the national constitution and so we extended their tenure," Wani said.

"I believe the state parliaments have no constitutional right to extend governors' offices because they only do changes that are relevant to the national constitution. What I know is that maybe it is the President to decide on what to do with the governors," Wani added.

However, Upper Nile Legislative Assembly's speaker said that the opposition parties in the state house objected the move and voted against it.

"We were 31 MPs in the parliament. We voted and 23 legislators voted for the extension while 8 members of the SPLM-DC voted against the move, however, they still remain the minority," Foraj concluded.


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