The government of South Sudan has defended a controversial decision to give parliamentarians car loans of $40,000 each, saying ‘they have a right to mobility’.
The bonuses which were awarded to the lawmakers, barely a month after the lawmakers extended President Salva Kiir’s mandate until 2021, have been widely criticised by opposition politicians and human rights bodies like the Center for Peace and Justice (CJP) in South Sudan.
“I question the professionality of our MPs and it is clear they are just a rubber stamp of the executive and can encourage corruption if they can be rewarded like what has now been done,” said Tito Anthony, the executive director of CPJ.
In an interview with the BBC’s NewsDay, presidential spokesperson Ateny Wek Ateny said the money had been set aside as part of this year’s national budget, as had been done in 2005 and 2009.
‘‘This money has been given to the parliamentarians to buy cars, because they currently use motorbikes,’‘ Ateny said.
The country’s economy has been wrecked by a five-year civil war, and earlier this month a UN report warned that atrocities committed in the conflict may amount to war crimes. Tens of thousands of people have been killed in the violence and more than 1.5 million people have fled the country.