Rebels say Parliament flouted rules to extend Kiir's term

Wednesday March 25 2015

South Sudanese President Salva Kiir. PHOTO | FILE

South Sudan's opposition has accused Parliament of flouting procedures to extend President Sirva Kiir’s term on Monday ahead of the resumption of peace talks next week.

Adel Sandrai, the SPLM-In-Opposition spokesperson in Kenya told The East African that parliament did not follow the 30 working days for constitutional amendments but instead counted the calendar days to push for a vote in a House dominated by Salva Kiir loyalists.

“What they have done means a self-imposed government that now begs the question of legitimacy because the people of South Sudan were not consulted. We knew they were capable of such a thing but what we want is to bring back peace and the action by parliament is inconsequential to the peace negotiations,” said Mr Sandrai.

Parliament on Tuesday voted 264-6 to pass the Constitutional Amendment Bill 2015, extending Mr Kiir's term and that of the current parliament by three years to July 2018.

READ: South Sudan parliament extends President Salva Kiir's term until 2018

South Sudan's Minister for Foreign Affairs, Dr Barnaba Marial Benjamin, had earlier in the week told The East African that the amendments had reached its Third Reading and could be taken anytime.


“The best thing is to go for a transitional period to give peace a chance because we don’t want to go for elections on June 30 as earlier proposed and later the rebels will claim that they were excluded,” said Dr Benjamin.

READ: Q&A with Dr Barnaba Marial Benjamin

The government’s intention was to avoid a constitutional vacuum in case the life of the current government ended in July 9, 2015 without a peace agreement and without elections.

However, the debate now is how the extension is going to impact the peace talks in Addis Ababa scheduled to resume early next month under new structures bringing in more players from the five regions of the continent.

READ: Igad asks more countries to join South Sudan peace talks

According to Kuir E Garang, a South Sudanese author based in Canada, the extension of Kiir's presidency may not have been the best decision under the circumstances, but is better than spending over $500 million on shame elections.

The extension was based on Article 100 (2) of the constitution, but six members of the opposition voted against it while 254 of those present voted for it. There about six members from the main opposition, the Sudan People's Liberation Movement - Democratic Change (SPLM-DC) in parliament led by former foreign minister, Dr Lam Akol, while the ruling SPLM party consists of 325 lawmakers.

26 of the SPLM members of parliament had decided to desert parliament and follow Dr Riek Machar when the war broke out in December 2013.