Different sources: MAR/24/2015, SSN;
South Sudan’s parliament, predominated by the Kiir’s own SPLM in Juba voted Tuesday to extend President Salva Kiir’s mandate by three years, from 9 July 2015 to 9 July 2018, an official said, formally ditching any plans for elections to be held this year in the country.
The parliament also extended its own term as well as that of all the states’ legislatures by three years.
270 members of parliament attended the sitting, with 264 voting in favor of the bill and 6 against, according to an unofficial tally.
The passing of the amended bill came after five hours of debate by the parliamentarians.
“The Transitional Constitution 2011 Amendment Bill of 2015 has been passed unanimously by more than two thirds majority,” said the parliamentary speaker Manasseh Magok Rundial after the vote.
Magok said the Parliament acted in accordance with the Transitional Constitution of South Sudan to amend Articles 66 and 164 to extend the president’s and legislature’s terms.
The move has been seen as going against peace efforts by regional mediators, who have been pushing President Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar to share power in a transitional government, although officials insist Kiir is seeking to avoid a power vacuum following the collapse of peace talks.
“The tenure of the office is extended by 36 months,” said parliament official Thomas Wani Kundu, adding that the government’s proposal to extend its mandate “was passed overwhelmingly”.
Elections in the bitterly divided nation had been due before July 9 — the end of the parliament and president’s mandate under a provisional constitution — but they were opposed by international donors and civil society groups who say any vote held in the midst of civil war would be a sham.
Talks between President Kiir and Dr Machar, which have been hosted by neighbouring Ethiopia, collapsed earlier this month after the two sides failed to agree on a proposal that would see them share power again.
Both sides have since signaled their intention to fight on. Mr Kundu, however, said the extension of President Kiir’s mandate was designed to give the government time to reach a peace deal.
“All these amendments were initiated by the President in order to give peace a chance. These (extra) three years are in order to give us a chance to get prepared… so we can conduct free and fair elections,” he said.
Dengtiel Kuur, chairperson of the legal affairs committee, said the country is passing through a civil war which may make it impractical to conduct elections with a peaceful transfer of power in accordance with the schedules and timelines provided by the constitution.
Dengtiel said the president and the legislature are empowered by Article 100 Subarticle 2 of the constitution to introduce and enact amendments to the constitution.
Article 202 was also amended to extend the mandate and tenure of the constitutional review commission to 31 December 2018.
Fighting broke out in December 2013 when President Kiir accused Dr Machar of attempting a coup, setting off a cycle of retaliatory killings across the country.
Over half the country’s 12 million people need aid, according to the UN, which is also sheltering some 100,000 civilians trapped inside camps ringed with barbed wire, too terrified to venture out for fear of being killed.