South Sudan's parliament has changed the Constitution to increase presidential powers, a move that could undermine a power-sharing deal hoped to end a nearly two-year long civil war.
Information Minister Michael Makuei Lueth said on Thursday that the change will boost presidential powers and facilitate the creation of new states in South Sudan.
The parliament, which is almost entirely in support of President Salva Kiir, amended certain articles of the Constitution, which limited the number of states to ten.
The constitutional change comes weeks after president ordered the number of regional states to be nearly tripled. South Sudanese lawmakers have defended President Kiir’s unilateral establishment order which expanded the country’s 10 states to 28.
However, critics say the new plan to divide the violence-country into more states would render the agreed power-sharing formula redundant.
In reaction to the presidential order, rebel leader Riek Machar in a recent statement strongly denounced the decision, saying that unilateral move “is a clear violation of the peace agreement,” which is based on 10 states.
Machar signed the agreement on August 17 while the South Sudanese president signed the peace deal about ten days later, on August 26.
The power-sharing deal aimed to end the civil war in the world’s youngest nation.
South Sudan plunged into chaos in December 2013, when fighting erupted outside the capital, Juba, between troops loyal to Kiir and defectors led by Machar.