South Sudan held its first session of the Transitional National Legislature on Monday, as the government projected an image of continuity amid a controversial UN resolution and change in SPLM-IO leadership.
Officials aligned with Riek Machar said the legislature was illegal because the appointment of Taban Deng Gai as First Vice President was not legitimate.
“The legislature should have been established ninety days from the date of signing the August peace agreement. Unfortunately, we failed to meet that deadline due to petty political differences and lack of cooperation,” President Salva Kiir said.
President Kiir lashed out at the international community in his speech, saying that the country was not opposed to UN peacekeepers, but warned that it could become an “intervention”.
As the room stood and applauded, only some diplomats including the British and American delegations remained seated, in a display of silent protest.
Kiir said that the government is committed to the peace process, and its continued implementation.
“The Transitional National Legislature under my leadership shall exert efforts to work closely with all institutions of the transitional government,” said Anthony Lino Makana, the legislature’s speaker.
Sources in government said the assembly would first decide on a recent UN resolution that sends 4,000 additional peacekeepers to the country.