South Sudan’s parliament voted on Thursday to extend President Salva Kiir’s term in office until 2021, its speaker said, undermining peace talks with opposition groups who have in the past condemned the move as illegal.
“Now the speaker hereby declares that the transitional constitution amendment … is hereby passed by National Legislature,” Edward Makana said during a parliament sitting in the capital Juba.
Government, on July 3, proposed a bill to extend Mr Kiir’s term for three years, undermining peace talks with opposition forces who condemned the move as illegal.
The bill seeks to amend the constitution to extend Mr Kiir’s tenure to 2021, lawmakers told Reuters on Tuesday.
The world’s youngest nation, which gained independence from Sudan in 2011, erupted into violence in late 2013 over a political disagreement between Mr Kiir and his former vice president Riek Machar.
Tens of thousands of people have been killed since, and more than three million forced to flee their homes.
Mr Kiir and Mr Machar met in June agreed on a new peace deal that included a ceasefire that took effect on Saturday.
It was violated on that day when government forces and rebels launched attacks on each other’s positions. On Monday, there was more fighting and at least 18 civilians were killed.
The U. S. on Monday condemned efforts by South Sudan’s government to extend Mr Kiir’s term.
A State Department official said the draft bill undermines ongoing peace talks with opposition groups and civil society.
Backed by the U. S., South Sudan gained independence from Sudan in 2011.
Fighting broke out two years later over a political disagreement between Mr Kiir and his former vice president.
Tens of thousands of people have since been killed and over three million forced to flee their homes.
Mr Kiir and Machar met on June 28 and agreed on a new peace deal.
It included a ceasefire, which took effect on June 30.
It was violated that day when government and rebel forces attacked each other’s positions.
A spokesperson for the rebel group, SPLM-IO, said on Tuesday that the government was proposing an “illegal procedure” in attempting to extend Mr Kiir’s presidential term.