South Sudan President Has Called for the Dissolution of Parliament.

After nearly a year of delays, Kiir and Machar formed a coalition government on February 22, 2020.
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South Sudan's President Salva Kiir speaks after meeting with Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir, in the capital Juba, South Sudan, Jan. 6, 2014.

President Salva Kiir of South Sudan has dissolved parliament, allowing representatives from opposite sides of the country's civil war to be named under a 2018 peace agreement.

Kiir's decision was announced on public television on Saturday evening, but no timetable for the new parliament's start was issued.

The creation of a new legislative body was part of a September 2018 agreement between Kiir and Vice President Riek Machar, who had been on opposing sides for years during the five-year civil war that killed 380,000 people and displaced four million.

Activists and civil society organizations applauded the dissolution of parliament, claiming it had been long overdue, but expressed reservations.

“It is a welcome development and we hope that the dissolution (will not) also open the way to a lengthy process towards reconstituting the parliament,” Jame David Kolock, 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.”

According to the 2018 agreement, the new assembly would have 550 members, with 332 of them from Kiir's ruling SPLM party. Parliamentarians would not be elected, but rather nominated by various political parties.

The dissolution of parliament occurred on the eve of US special envoy to South Sudan Donald Booth's visit to the capital, Juba.

“Of particular concern to the United States is the slow implementation of the Revitalized 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.

After nearly a year of delays, Kiir and Machar formed a coalition government on February 22, 2020.

However, only a few terms of the cease-fire have been observed, prompting observers to predict a return to war.

The oil-rich country is still badly underdeveloped and controlled.

Despite the peace agreement, violent communal disputes — mostly over livestock raiding — persist, with over 1,000 people killed in fighting between rival groups in the first half of 2020.