Some parties decry confusion, “high fees” dragging registration process
There is a brewing discontent over the registration of parties, as some political outfits maintain that there is a plot to lock them out of the process, even though the government maintains that the process is rather smooth.
Last week, the Minister of Cabinet Affairs, Dr Elia Lomuro, revealed during a plenary meeting organised by the peace monitoring body, RJMEC, that 14 political parties had already registered, 13 were yet to register and 24 others had incomplete documents.
On February 8, 2024, the Chairperson of the Political Parties Council, James Akol Zakayo, issued an order for the commencement of the registration of the unregistered political parties. However, some party leaders have lamented that the higher fees slapped on registration have remained their biggest impediment to acquiring the certificate.
In an interview with The City Review on Sunday, President of People’s Progressive Party (PPP) Gabriel Kuot blamed the PPC for failing to give them better terms of registration, alleging that some members of the commission are not neutral.
“The fact is that the current political parties’ council has been made up of SPLM members. And the council is not neutral,” he alleged.
He claimed that small parties would be locked out since they could not raise the fees demanded by the PPC.
“They are making everything complicated, even the registration fees to obtain a licence. Sometimes you would hear millions of pounds and thousands of dollars. The time is also very limited and this person might say that they were given time and the time is over. So, all these indicate that there are still restrictions and there is no equal political participation in South Sudan,” Kuot said, although he did not reveal how much they were required to pay.
“When the council is active, they are supposed to review my document; they go through it and I should pay the licence fees. However, since the reconstitution of the political parties’ council, the council is not operating. They are not registering any political party; they are not issuing licences. And this is done intentionally to delay the process,” he said.
On the other hand, the Chairperson Peoples’ Liberal Party, Peter Mayen, stated that pre-registrations are still in progress for the parties that did not register.
“The pre-registered parties that are signatories to the agreement are still legal because the date has not yet expired. And any party to the agreement that did not register must meet the requirement that were prescribed at the political parties’ council, then must register,” he said.
He warned against any attempt to manipulate the council saying such would invite a legal suit by any patriotic citizen to make things right.
Political parties are expected to meet certain conditions in the Political Parties Act 2012 before they can register. Such includes having a minimum of 500 registered members in each state in South Sudan.
Although some parties had alleged that the registration fees stood in excess of $10,000, Mr Akol cautioned against speculations saying the council had not arrived at the amount to be paid.
According to Article 8 section 6 of the Political Act, registered Political Parties shall maintain their status of registration and also stipulate that registration is an ongoing process and any Political Party not registered is entitled to register in accordance with the provisions of this Act.