JUBA - South Sudan opposition leader Lam Akol on Thursday joined forces with 18 political parties to bring a legal challenge against President Salva Kiir's controversial order to expand the number of states in the country from 10 to 28.
“That order actually violates the constitution and it also contravenes the peace agreement," that Mr. Kiir and the head of the armed opposition in South Sudan, Riek Machar, signed in August, said Akol.
"Our people are yearning for peace, so nobody should tamper with this peace agreement," he said.
Akol said the political parties he has allied with to bring the petition are demanding that the Supreme Court annul President Kiir's October 2 order.
The order is due to take effect at the beginning of next month – thirty working days after it was issued by the president. Akol said he is filing a complaint with the courts because he believes that implementing the order and reconfiguring South Sudan’s internal boundaries would stall development and bring the peace process in the country to a halt.
Akol said the complainants "are raising issues connected with the violation of the constitution" in the petition.
"We are also raising the provisions of the peace agreement that have been infringed and we are also raising the legal basis of the order itself," he said.
Earlier this week, regional bloc IGAD, which led nearly two years of peace talks for South Sudan, said President Kiir's order violated the peace agreement and called on the government to put it on hold.
The troika for South Sudan -- Norway, the United Kingdom and the United States -- and the European Union have also spoken out against Mr. Kiir's order, saying it goes against the "spirit and the letter of the peace agreement."