Juba, National, News

Planned 2024 election at crossroads – Oyet

By Ephraim Modi Duku Sokiri

Despite a consensus by key signatories to peace roadmap to transit South Sudan into democratic nation, chances of conducting elections in December 2024 as stimulated are diminishing.

The skepticism emanates from lack of political will in effecting the pending tasks of the roadmap implementation.

First Deputy Speaker of the National Transitional Legislative Assembly (NTLA) Rt. Hon. Nathaniel Oyet Pierino said that likelihoods of conducting elections in South Sudan are at a crossroads.

“It is too early to dismiss that elections may not take place but I want to register my worries that election in South Sudan is already at the crossroads, we are at a point of either holding elections or not” he said.

“This is May, we are now two months into the Transitional Period, actually we are going to June and it will be four months into the extended Transitional Period, the roadmap,” he observed.

Oyet underlined that the election is defendant on the month of May to finish the phases bounded on the roadmap to decide on the future of either having the election or not by December 2024.

“So, we are at a critical point between having one or not, it is only this month, if we pass without achieving what I have outlined, it will be enough for any skeptic to conclude that elections, the condition is not right,” he ruled.

He said elections take up some steps in piloting that must be realistically observed to be free, fair and democratic, including establishing a court that’s independent.

“Election is not an event, it is a process and in a context of conflict like the one of South Sudan must be credibly organised to meet certain benchmarks of free, fair and democratic,” he hinted.

“An election that citizens are free to vote leaders of their choice, an election that is taking place within a safe and secure environment where there’s rule of law, an election where you have an independent judiciary in which if there’s dispute arising from elections, people can go to a court that they believe is independent, a court that’s just and fair, that prospect is not there,” he further explained.

He said it should be election where “you know the number of voters is census, properly organised census, we don’t have one, permanent constitution making process.”

The Revitalized Agreement on the Resolution of Conflicts in South Sudan (R-ARCSS) requires that elections shall be held on a basis of a new constitution, repatriation of the refugees and other phases in the roadmap be implemented which hangs in the sky.

“That process has not started. We are supposed to reconstitute the NCRC, we are supposed to establish the preparatory subcommittee, we are supposed to constitute the drafting Constitutional Technical Committee (CTC), we are supposed to plan for national constitutional conference, this is not happening, security arrangement,” said Oyet.

“We are supposed to unify and deploy the unified forces, is not there, we are stuck, we are supposed to disarm our civil population so that no candidate will go around …and roam in the villages, mobilizing people or voters who are armed, we are supposed to have this in place, that prospect is not there.”

He hinted that conferring to the Global Humanitarian Data; the country has about three million refugees across many foreign nations that should be repatriated back into the country to participate in the elections.

“Therefore, reparation and reintegration are key, some of these refugees and IDPs who are still in the POCs, they left from places where they last voted in the referendum or in the last elections under Sudan. If you go to their places, they are not there, where will you take the ballot papers. These people must return back.”

MP Oyet further echoed that the delay in implementing the remaining chapters in the roadmap is due to a lack of a political will which is the doctrine of all the endeavors in the countries.

“Lack of political will, the lack of political will is the mother of all evils, is the mother of all slow lines, lack of political will is the murder of the implementation of the agreement,” he said.

Meanwhile, Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) secretary for Political Affairs, Mobilization and Organization, Kuol Atem has insisted that election will take place by 2024 December.

“One month, we will have a permanent constitution, I think election is going to take place because the only thing that can suspend or delay is the issue of the [population] census [but] if census is not going to be conducted; we can use 2008 census [report],” said Atem.

He revealed about the plan of the government of South Sudan to repatriate the refugees back to the country before the period of the election to be involved in the voting.

“There is a plan now to bring them [those South Sudanese in refugee camps] back within these two years, everybody will come back and know that there is peace, because if there is no peace, they will not come,” he said.

Repatriation laws give non-citizens who are part of the titular majority group, the opportunity to immigrate and receive citizenship. Repatriation of their titular diaspora is practiced by most ethnic nation states.

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