South Sudan’s parliament voted Tuesday to extend President Salva Kiir’s mandate by three years, an official said, formally ditching any plans for elections this year in the civil war-torn country.
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 of the president is extended by 36 months,” said parliament official Thomas Wani Kundu, adding that the government’s proposal to extend its mandate and award itself continued legitimacy “was passed overwhelmingly”.
Elections in the bitterly divided nation had been due to be held before July 9 — the end of the parliament and president’s mandate under a provisional constitution.
But international donors and civil society groups have opposed any polls, arguing that any vote held in the midst of civil war would be a sham. Instead they pushed in vain for the two sides to strike a peace deal and put an end to a worsening humanitarian crisis.
Talks between Kiir and Machar in neighbouring Ethiopia collapsed earlier this month after the two sides failed to agree on a proposal that would see the rebel leader restored to the position of vice president.