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United Nation doubts South Sudan’s 2024 elections

By Gladys Fred Kole

The United Nations (UN) casts uncertainty on South Sudan’s readiness to hold credible elections, next year.

UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative to South Sudan, who is also the Head of the UN Peacekeeping Mission, UNMISS, Mr. Nicholas Haysom, expressed during a press conference, on Wednesday.

“The candid and honest observation of most analysts, observers, and stakeholders is that, as it stands today; South Sudan is not yet ready for elections,” Mr. Haysom remarked.

Mr. Haysom, who was briefing the media at UN House in Thongpiny, on the current political situation in the country, said that going to the polls in 2024 is simply not enough for South Sudan.

He calls for an urgent need for all stakeholders to stimulate political will and achieve peace benchmarks for holding of free, fair, credible, and transparent elections.

“Elections are not a one-day event but a process that involves deliberate and thoughtful actions before, way before, during, and after the electoral process,” Haysom said.

The UN representative emphasized that South Sudanese people must have full confidence of the electoral process to make it a nation-building activity and not a divisive or violent activity.

“I repeat, what I had said in the earlier press conference that 2023 is a make-or-break year,” UN top diplomat in the country stressed.

Barely, 17 months are left on the roadmap timeline for 2024 elections, but the UNMISS boss stressed that key decisions and actions that must be taken for peaceful and credible exercise.

According to Haysom, the formation of significant bodies and legal structures that can address election-related disputes must all be taken into consideration now.

He underscored that the national constitution review commission, the national elections commission, and the political parties council reconstitution should be prioritized and expedited.

Finalizing the transitional security arrangements and the permanent constitution-making process, are other issues that needed to be rectified before the polls.

South Sudan also needs to create civic and political spaces where every citizen is free to debate and engage on the political and constitutional options without fear.

“The credibility, transparency, and inclusivity of the process are what bring legitimacy,” the UN representative continued.

He said that political parties must be able to register and campaign freely, while the civil society will serve as extended arms for civic education and act as watchdog of the process.

“It includes the media that can report on the process and give space to the variety of voices and opinions for voters to make informed choices,” the SRSG stressed.

Mr. Haysom further reiterated UNMISS’ support to electoral and constitution-making processes, together with regional partners such as the African Union and IGAD.

“I believe there will be international willingness to support the peace process and the elections if there are demonstrable actions by the principal stakeholders in those elections and the right frameworks to allow for the receipt of such assistance,” he stated.

However, Haysom said that key decisions about electoral, constitutional, and security structures must be made urgently, adding that these decisions do not require special additional resources.

“Success in this area will persuade donors and international partners that a peaceful and secure South Sudan is a viable place for investment and support,” he urged.


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