South Sudanese President Salva Kiir on Wednesday declined to sign a controversial national security service bill into law, referring the draft legislation to legal experts for examination.
Pressure has mounted on Kiir not to approve the controversial bill, which, critics say, threatens to infringe on human rights.
Presidential spokesman Ateny Wek Ateny said the bill had been met with outrage among civil rights groups both in and outside the country.
"As a result, a number of petitions… were submitted to the office of the president urging him not to sign the act into law," Ateny added.
The bill, approved by parliament last month, gives the authorities the power to arrest without first obtaining judicial warrants.
The bill states: "Any person who is found committing any one of the offences against the State as provided under Section 5 of this bill, or who is reasonably suspected of having committed – or of having attempted to commit or of being about to commit – such an offense may be arrested without warrant by any officer and detained."
Offences mentioned in Section 5 of the bill include any activity related to espionage, sabotage, terrorism, subversion, or an intention to engage in any such activity directed against or considered detrimental to the national interest.
It also includes among the offences any activity aimed at undermining or intended to bring about the destruction or overthrow of South Sudan's constitutionally established government.
"The bill is now with the legal administration in the office of the president, which is competent to deal with matters related to controversies and, accordingly, will advise the president on whether to assent to, sign or return the bill to the national legislative assembly with all the reasons deemed as appropriate in the circumstances," Ateny said.
South Sudan has been shaken by violence since last December, when Kiir accused Riek Machar, his sacked vice president, of plotting to overthrow his regime.
Hundreds of thousands of South Sudanese have since been displaced in fighting between the two rivals, leading to an increasingly dire humanitarian situation countrywide.
In recent months, the warring camps have held on-again, off-again peace talks in Addis Ababa under the auspices of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), a Djibouti-based East African regional bloc.
AALast Mod: 26 Kasım 2014, 23:24