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Troika, South Sudan opposition reject extension of Kiir’s term

President Salva Kiir addresses the National prayer day at the John Garang's Mausoleum in the capital Juba, March 10, 2017. (Photo Reuters)
July 13, 2018 (JUBA) - The Troika countries and South Sudanese opposition groups Friday strongly reacted against the extension of the mandate of President Salva Kiir for three years, saying it would not help to bring peace in South Sudan.

The Transitional National Legislative Assembly (TNLA) Thursday amended the constitution to empower President Kiir to rule the country for more three years from August 2018 to August 2021. Also, it did the same for the parliament and other vice-presidents.

In a statement issued through the American Embassy in Juba, the Troika (Norway, United Kingdom and the United States) said they are deeply concerned by the unilateral extension of the presidential term and called on President Kiir to reject it.

"This move will not lead to lasting peace and we do not consider this as a legitimate step. The vote on July 12 undermines the ongoing peace talks with opposition groups and civil society," said the Troika.

The three countries which facilitate the peace process further urged to focus on negotiating an inclusive transitional governing arrangement with the opposition groups as it is the last outstanding issue in the ongoing talks in Khartoum.

"Without a negotiated and inclusive agreement, there can be no sustainable peace in South Sudan," stressed the Troika countries.

Juba says the bill extending the terms of President and the Legislature is line with the ongoing process to ensure the implementation of the 2015 peace deal (ARCISS) and avoid a constitutional vacuum.

"This Amendment Bill is based on the fact that the (ARCISS) has been formally incorporated into the Transitional Constitution of South Sudan, 2011 (as amended)," said Paulino Wanawilla Unango,
Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, when he submitted the amendment to the parliament.

For his part, the leader of the SPLM Leaders (FPD) Pagan Amum deplored "the illegal and illegitimate move" adding they are "particularly perturbed by the implications of the bad faith underlying this move for the current peace process as well as the new transition that the peace process is trying to achieve".

He further suspected that by incorporating ARCISS into the transitional constitution could be "a ploy to prepare a second horse to ride at the opportune time in order to avoid implementing a “Revitalized ARCISS.”

The former SPLM secretary-general called on the South Sudanese to reject the "unilateral and unlawful" extension.

"We urge the IGAD mediators and UN Security Council to prevail on Juba Government to stop taking actions that undermine the peace process currently underway," he further said.

In a separate release, United People’s Democratic Movement (UPDM) condemned the "unconstitutional extension of tenure" saying it is a manipulation of the constitution to hold on to power against the will of the people.

The opposition group called on the African Union Peace and Security Council to take urgent, decisive action against the latest move by Juba government.

Furthermore, it called for a strong condemnation by the IGAD, UN Security Council and TROIKA member States, to the recent political development "and take necessary actions to deter the habit of unconstitutional extension of power in the new country".