By Esther Lohutuhureng
According to Wikipedia, election is a formal group decision-making process by which a population chooses an individual or multiple individuals to hold public office. Elections may fill offices in the legislature, sometimes in the executive and judiciary, and for regional and local government. This process is also used in many other private and business organizations.
South Sudan has never experienced a national election since the country’s independence on July 9, 2011. The 13-year-old country each time tries to go for an election, but crises used to prevent it from being held. One of the South Sudanese said that if not for the uncertainties, by now the people of South Sudan would have had an election for the second time. Moreover, South Sudanese are waiting impatiently for their first national election, although some of the citizens are ignorant of the procedures for conducting elections. Such as registration of voters, voting procedures, and many more, which are supposed to be put in place by the National Election Commission.
The country is expected to hold a national general election in December 2024. Literally, the country is left with sixteen months from now until election time. However, the necessary arrangements by now should have been in place, such as population censuses and repatriation of refugees, among others.
Most of the citizens are internally displaced persons or refugees, and they are still under the protection of civilian sites or refugee camps. However, before the election, the government should make voluntary repatriation attractive to IDPs and refugees so that they can participate in the election process. Nevertheless, the refugees and IDPs would not return if the reasons for their displacement have not been solved yet, which include the inter-communal violence in some parts of the country and the killing of people in the neighboring POC sites, to mention but a few. Furthermore, the opposite is true if the IDPs and refugees are hearing good news from their places of origin, such as peace, coexistence among communities, a booming economy, free education, and other basic services. They would voluntarily return because home is always the best.
The ruling party has started conducting political rallies, which is an important step to show their readiness for the upcoming election, but the rallies alone are not enough. Besides the election campaigns, the government should start raising awareness among the citizens in order for them to be able to make informed decisions. As mentioned above, the majority of the citizens are unaware of the upcoming election; therefore, raising awareness among the citizens, especially those in the villages, is an important step toward a successful upcoming election.
The citizens are longing for democracy and need a government that discusses issues that matter to them, such as affordable health care, free education, increased job opportunities for the youth, and the welfare of the nation, not the sort of government that only talks about power sharing and parliamentarian budgets without considering other sectors, mainly the civil servants.
It is vital for the signatory parties to the revitalized peace agreement to conduct the election on time according to the road map. Conversely, the upcoming election is a great chance for the people of the Republic of South Sudan to choose the right leaders for them. For that reason, the election emphasizes a democratic transfer of power based on the will of the nation and not a military coup. In addition, some of the current leaders are not the choice of the entire population.
It is well known that elections in other countries are considered the backbone of democracy because, through them, the citizens will decide who should lead them, and it will give them an opportunity to get rid of leaders who do not represent their will or the will of the nation.
An election is all about making an important decision for oneself, one’s family, and future generations. So, when the citizens are going to vote for whatever party they choose, they must know the historical background and objectives of the party they will vote for. For instance, what the party had done in the previous years and what hindered it from delivering services to the citizens in an initial leadership opportunity Citizens should not only focus on the written vision, mission, and objectives of some parties but also on the will of the leadership in the implementation process for the benefit of the nation and her citizens.
All parties should have the right to freely move to different parts of the country and launch an election campaign without being banned by the ruling party or any other political party in the country. So that the people at the grass-roots level would also have enough knowledge to choose which party they want to vote for.
The people of South Sudan should not be discouraged by the upcoming election. Nevertheless, the election can be done by the end of the next year, and it is possible, although it necessitates political goodwill from the government. The evidence is that elections were held in Nigeria in February 2023. And in Kenya in August 2022, and it can also be done here in South Sudan.
The writer can be reached via Tel: 0921492857; Email: Esther090119@gmail.com