By William Madouk Garang
The Head of the UN Mission in South Sudan is calling on the government of national unity to set a date for general elections as the transitional period nears.
The UNMISS head Nicholas Haysom made the call in a press conference on Thursday. He said that elections timetable must be availed in advance if international community is to plan on how to support the process.
Mr. Haysom who is also Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General said as the window of transitional period is closing; the national leaders should exert their efforts to allow the country conduct credible elections.
“Now what is required is national leadership, dedicated resources for completing the transition, and a visible commitment by South Sudan’s leaders to fulfil their responsibilities under the peace agreement,” Haysom told journalists during press briefing in Juba.
“I call on all parties to demonstrate collective common purpose—unity of purpose—by working together towards the full implementation of the agreement. I encourage the leaders to take the necessary steps for the country to exit its transitional period, through the conduct of free, fair, credible, and peaceful elections,” he urged.
He also acknowledged progress in certain areas, including the formation of the reconstituted transitional legislature, but outlined four key areas that must be prioritized top help move South Sudan from war to lasting peace.
“Firstly, the legislature should resume sittings and pass the Constitution Making Process Bill, which will govern the drafting of a permanent constitution, a vital measure in tackling root causes of the protracted crisis in South Sudan, by addressing issues of governance, as well as federal power and revenue sharing,” Haysom stated.
The UNMISS chief called on government to graduate the necessary unified forces to provide security as a prerequisite for citizens to vote and express their will at poll as well as the enactment of permanent constitution.
According to head of peace keepers said parties must work, and National Constitution Amendment Committee to review National Elections Act of 2012 to provide framework for launching of the electoral process and formation the National Election Commission.
He urged the Government and all signatories to the peace agreement to redouble efforts and agree on a roadmap with clear benchmarks, timelines and priority tasks, adding that this is a joint task from all partners, including stakeholders.
However, the UN envoy condemned political impasses which have effected lives of South Sudanese people as well as political defectors which mounted to surging in subnational violence.
“I condemn in the strongest terms the violence in Eastern and Central Equatoria, Unity, Warrap, and Jonglei States, as well as around the Abyei Administrative Area,” he stated.
“This year, more than 80 per cent of civilian casualties have been attributed to inter-communal violence and community-based militias. This violence stokes divisions and hampers reconciliation efforts,” Mr. Haysom continued.
The Special Representative for UN Secretary General in South Sudan also expressed his deep concern about sexual and gender-based violence report which has shut up to 500 percent since last report, asserting that primarily protection of civilians’ lies on government.
“I am deeply troubled about reports that sexual and gender-based violence have surged exponentially, on some accounts rising by as much as 500 percent since the last time we reported. These impacts most severely on the women and girls who are the mothers, daughters, and sisters of this young nation” Nicolas gravely emphasized.
He further cautioned that as needs grow globally with competing crises across the world, funds are diminishing. “International partners are financially stretched, leading to shortfalls in funding. Less than 30 percent of the $1.7 billion required for humanitarian response has been received”.