Longer term: The extension of Salva Kiir’s term in office has been criticised by opposition groups. Picture: REUTERS
Longer term: The extension of Salva Kiir’s term in office has been criticised by opposition groups. Picture: REUTERS

Juba — South Sudan’s parliament voted on Thursday to extend President Salva Kiir’s term in office until 2021, a move likely to undermine peace talks as opposition groups have said the change would be illegal.

"Now the speaker hereby declares that the transitional constitution amendment ... is hereby passed by [the] national legislature," Anthony Lino Makana, speaker of parliament, told the members.

MP Paul Youani Bonju, chairman of parliament’s information committee, said the extension, which will also apply to vice-presidents, state legislatures and governors, would bolster the government negotiating team in peace talks with rebel groups in Khartoum, Sudan.

South Sudan, the world’s youngest nation after gaining independence from Sudan in 2011, erupted into violence in 2013 over a political disagreement between Kiir and former vice-president Riek Machar.

Machar’s rebel group reiterated its opposition to extending officials’ terms.

"We regret the move as it shows the regime is playing games at the negotiating table. The international community should not recognise this move and the regime should be declared as a rogue regime," Mabior Garang de Mabior, spokesman of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-in-Opposition, told Reuters by phone from Nairobi.

The law change will extend the presidential and other officials’ terms until July 12 2021.

The government first submitted the proposed law change to parliament early in July.

This week, Machar’s rebel group rejected plans to reinstate Machar as vice-president, saying it had failed to dilute Kiir’s strong power base.

The civil war has killed tens of thousands of people and forced millions to flee from their homes. It has also cut South Sudan’s crude oil production, which the government depends on for revenue, with output at less than half its pre-war level of 245,000 barrels a day.

Reuters

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