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SPLM-IO rebels accuse Juba of unconstitutional term extension.

March 26, 2015 (ADDIS ABABA) -- A senior official of the rebel faction of the Sudan Peoples' Liberation Movement (SPLM-IO) led by the former vice-president, Riek Machar, has strongly criticised the recent amendment of the country's transitional constitution which extended for three more years president Salva Kiir's term limit and that of the legislature.

Mabior John Garang de Mabior (File photo MC Clatchy Newspapers)

The term in office for the South Sudanese leader was set to end by 8 July which would end his ten years rule or go for re-election to secure additional five years mandate as president.

President Kiir and armed opposition leader Machar have been chairing splintered factions of the ruling SPLM and commanding battling rival armies for the past 15 months since the war broke out in mid-December 2013.

The two warring parties have been negotiating a peace agreement in Addis Ababa under the auspices of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) which includes possible formation of a transitional government of national unity by 9 July.

The transitional government would run the country for two and half years during which it would implement provisions of the peace agreement and make a permanent constitution for the country before next general elections.

Talks however collapsed on 6 March when the two principal leaders could not agree on almost everything on leadership structure, governance, reforms, security arrangements, power and wealth sharing and accountability and reconciliation. IGAD announced the negotiations on the outstanding issues including formation of a two and a half years of transitional government of national unity would resume in April.

However, South Sudan government on Tuesday resorted to unilateral extension of its lifespan without an agreement with the opposition factions.

In a hastily passed amendments on Tuesday, the legislature, comprising of the national legislative assembly and the council of states in a joint sitting extended their own members legitimacy for three years as well as that of the president.

The SPLM-IO main opposition faction's chairman of the national committee for information and public relations, Mabior Garang de Mabior, denounced the move and described it as unconstitutional.

"This is not only another violation of the constitution, but also an indication that the administration of president Salva Kiir Kuethpiny is not serious about the peace process. The transitional constitution of South Sudan provides procedures for constitutional amendment that must be followed to avoid violations and abuse of power by both the legislature and executive," Mabior said in a press statement extended to Sudan Tribune on Thursday.

Mabior further said the amendments violated articles 101 (f) and 197 which stated a set of procedures for such an undertaking.

He cited as an example that the transitional constitution clearly bars any sitting president from extending his own term limit in office.

The rebel official said the self-extension of president Kiir's mandate and his colleagues in parliament to rule for three more years without seeking approval from the people amounted to a coup against the very people of South Sudan.

SPLM-IO-s spokesperson called on the international community to reign in the government to commit to the peace process in Addis Ababa, saying the action by parliament was a serious attempt to derail the peace process.

He further stressed that the rebel faction was committed to the peace process and that the government should not dwell in the interest to further escalate the war.

"The SPLM/SPLA would like to remind the administration of president Salva Kiir Kuethpiny and his allies that there is no military solution to this conflict and would like to caution that an escalation of war is not in our mutual interests nor in the interest of the people of South Sudan," he said.

He said the rebel faction had therefore denounced the extension of the term limit of the president and the MPs, adding this would further encourage unnecessary intransigence on the side of the government.

(ST)

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Publication:Sudan Tribune (Sudan)
Date:Mar 27, 2015
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