South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir has dissolved parliament, opening the way for lawmakers from opposing sides of the country’s civil war to be appointed under a 2018 peace accord.
Kiir’s decision was announced on public television on Saturday evening but no date was given as to when the new parliament will begin working.
The setting up of a new legislative body was part of an accord signed in September 2018 between Kiir and Vice president Riek Machar, for years on opposing sides during the five-year civil war that led to 380,000 people’s death and displaced four million.
Activists and civil society groups welcomed the dissolution of parliament, saying it was long overdue but also expressing distrust.
“It is a welcome development and we hope that the dissolution [will] also open the way to a lengthy process towards reconstituting the parliament,” said Jame David Kolok, chairman of the South Sudan Civil Society Forum.
“The civil society is getting frustrated and no longer believes that even if the parliament is reconstituted it will be a very viable parliament.”
In accordance with the 2018 accord, the new assembly will number 550 lawmakers, the majority – 332 – from Kiir’s governing SPLM party. The parliamentarians will not be elected but nominated by different parties.
“Of particular concern to the United States is the slow implementation of the Revitalised Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan, ongoing violence, and deteriorating economic and humanitarian conditions,” the US State Department said in a statement.—Al Jazeera