Kiir’s decision was announced on state television on Saturday evening, but no date has been given as to when the new parliament will begin functioning.
The establishment of a new legislative body was part of an agreement 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 the death 380,000 people and displaced four million.
Activists and civil society groups welcomed the dissolution of parliament, saying it was long overdue, but also expressing distrust.
“This is a welcome development and we hope that the dissolution [will] also pave the way for a long process of reconstituting parliament, ”said Jame David Kolok, chair of the South Sudan Civil Society Forum.
“Civil society is frustrated and no longer believes that even if the parliament is reconstituted, it will be a very viable parliament.”
As per the 2018 accord, the new assembly will have 550 lawmakers, the majority – 332 – of Kiir’s ruling SPLM party. Parliamentarians will not be elected but appointed by different parties.
The dissolution of parliament came on the eve of a visit to the capital, Juba, by the US special envoy to South Sudan, Donald Booth.
“The United States is particularly concerned about the slow implementation of the revitalized Agreement on Conflict Resolution in the Republic of South Sudan, the continued violence and the deteriorating economic and humanitarian conditions,” the department said. of American State in a press release.
Kiir and Machar formed a coalition government on February 22, 2020, after nearly a year of delays.
However, few provisions of the truce have been honored and analysts have warned of a return to war.
The oil-rich country remains severely underdeveloped and poorly managed.
According to the International Famine Warning System, about half of South Sudan’s population faces “high levels of acute food insecurity”, and more than 92,000 people living in multiple regions – including the region. administration of Grand Pibor, northern Bahr al-Ghazal and Warrap – “were facing conditions of famine at the beginning of March 2021”.
Despite the peace deal, brutal community conflicts – often linked to cattle rustling – continue, with more than 1,000 dead in violence between rival communities in the last six months of 2020.