By Philip Buda Ladu
As the clock ticks down towards the end of the transitional period with about 8 months left to complete the implementation of the Revitalized Agreement where elections are expected to be held at the end of the transition, the atmosphere looks uncertain for the conduct of credible elections as many tasks necessary for the elections conduct remain pending.
The Minister of Cabinet Affairs Dr. Martin Elia Lomuro said it will be up to the parties to the Agreement to come forward with their buy-in positions on whether they think the country will go for the polls at the end of the transitional period in February 2023 with the options available.
According to the Revitalized Agreement implementation matrix, the transitional period will end in February 2023 whereas elections are required to be conducted two months to the end of the transitional period.
However, many critical tasks and provisions of the September 2018 Revitalized Agreement remain unimplemented including the graduations of the Necessary Unified Forces which is the important component of the 2018 peace pact; the review and enactment of the country’s permanent constitution; the enactment of new Elections Act; amendment of various security laws among many other tasks are yet to be realized.
Dr. Lomuro however, told the 23rd plenary of the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (R-JMEC) on Thursday that the government of national unity is working to produce a roadmap for tracking and expediting the implementation of the remaining tasks of the agreement, gearing towards the elections.
He said the most important task for them in the government is to prepare a roadmap for the transitional period. “So what we are doing is to prepare the status of implementation chapter by chapter; identify tasks that are not yet implemented and then use that to provide a roadmap” Dr. Lomuro noted.
“The roadmap is primarily a document for the parties to the agreement, for them to agree to either go for election with options that are available or to insist on going for elections with the new permanent constitution of the Republic of South Sudan and the elections conducted according to the new law of elections” he told the R-JMEC plenary
“Once we have got the buy-in of all the parties to the agreement, we will then bring to this august house (R-JMEC plenary) to note because this would be a major decision that will even go as far as IGAD and the African Union” Dr. Lomuro added.
He stressed that the task is massive on their hands to come up with the roadmap for the reaming tasks but they are determined that by this week the leadership of the country should have the first zero draft in their hands, so that they get another one week or so before it becomes a document.
The Minister of Cabinet Affairs said in one to two weeks’ time the roadmap document on the implementation of the remaining tasks of the agreement would be ready to be brought to the R-JMEC plenary even if under an extraordinary sitting.
He underlined that they want to come up with the roadmap and submit to R-JMEC, so that the country is assured that the government is moving forward with the agreement from all the parties and that there will be no calls for concern.
Dr. Lomuro acknowledged that the challenges that they experienced throughout the pre-transitional period as well as the transitional period, he envisaged, will also be there in the implementation of the roadmap.
He called on the members’ representative R-JMEC to look at this particular stage in the implementation of the agreement differently and to come to the help.
The SPM-IG and the SPLM-IO had previously already expressed deferring positions on the conduct of credible free and fair elections by end of the transitional period in February 2023 with the SPLM-IG in support will the IO against holding the election citing pending critical tasks.
Maj. Gen. Charles Tai Gituai, R-JMEC Interim chairperson in his opening remarks at the plenary underlined that there is a growing public anxiety, frustration and despair on what happens when the transitional Period lapses in February 2023, without the completion of all tasks of the Agreement”.