South Sudan’s Transitional National Legislative Assembly (TNLA) Thursday passed a bill extending the mandate of President Salva Kiir and the legislature for three additional years.
President Kiir’s current term which had been extended for three years in July 2015, terminates next August.
The government initially threatened to hold elections if the opposition continues to drag its feet in the peace talks but finally, it was decided to extend Kiir mandate for another three years to cope with the 35-month transitional period proposed in the draft governance agreement.
Under the new constitutional amendment, the “current term of the President has been extended from 12th August 2018 to 12th August 2021,” reads the article (100) while the article (66) extends the term of the TNLA to 12 August 2021.
“The transitional constitution amendment bill number five for the year 2018 is hereby passed by the national legislature,” said the TNLA Speaker Anthony Lino Makana, on Thursday after the vote
The government says the extension is justified by the need to avoid a constitutional vacuum in the troubled country, adding such situation would encourage the opposition to cast doubts on the government legitimacy to discuss deal ensuring the implementation of the 2015 peace agreement.
“This Amendment Bill is based on the fact that the Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan has been formally incorporated into the Transitional Constitution of South Sudan, 2011 (as amended),” says the explanatory note attached with the bill.
“Therefore, its provisions have been reflected in the relevant Articles of the Constitution as provided in the attached proposed Amendment Bill,” further says Paulino Wanawilla Unango Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs who submitted the amendment.
Following a recent meeting in Entebbe, President Kiir removed his veto over the participation of SPLM-IO Riek Machar in the transitional government as First Vice President.
However, all the opposition groups declared their rejection of the Entebbe Proposal saying it gives all the powers to the government. Sources in Khartoum claim that Machar may accept the deal but not the other opposition groups.
The Khartoum round of talks has been extended but not an official announcement has been made. The parties committed themselves in the Khartoum Declaration of Agreement to settle the outstanding issues on the security arrangements and the governance in Sudan before to move to Nairobi.