South Sudan’s government plans to cancel presidential elections scheduled for June 30 and extend its own term by two years amid efforts to end the conflict in the oil-producing country.
“In our quest for peace, the cabinet has decided to call off the elections and extend the lifespan of the elected positions so that we give peace a chance,” Information Minister Michael Makuei Lueth told reporters today in the capital, Juba. The main opposition party welcomed the move.
President Salva Kiir and the legislature’s tenures will be extended until July 9, 2017, Lueth said. Lawmakers will vote next week on a constitutional amendment for the government to continue without elections, he said in a phone interview.
South Sudan has been engulfed by conflict since December 2013, when a power struggle within the ruling party turned violent. After Kiir arrested rivals for allegedly plotting a coup and ethnic Nuer accused soldiers loyal to the president of targeting them, commanders rebelled in three states. Riek Machar, Kiir’s deputy until July 2013 and a Nuer, fled the capital and became the rebel leader.