OpEd, Politics

South Sudan at crossroads ahead of the 2024 elections

By Umba Peter Bosco

Internalization of peace and security in the era of globalization is becoming increasingly important, although ambiguous. This phenomenon is exacerbated by the devastating Western hegemony which often has implications on local efforts to achieve community peace and security.

Politicization of humanitarian and developmental interventions also creates a vague relationship between recipient nations and the West, especially the international community. This nature of relationship deprives recipient countries of their autonomy and right to make decisions about their own future independently.

For eighteen years since 2005, South Sudan has continued to depend on financial and technical support from its friends, especially the TROIKA countries, that is, Norway, the United States, and the United Kingdom. Yet the local population in South Sudan is less knowledgeable and has limited understanding of this relationship.

Rather than this relationship being well understood by or beneficial to the local population, only a small clique of the country’s political leaders, the civil society and intellectuals are aware of and understand the dynamics and benefits of this relationship. Much of the reporting by the media focuses on support received by South Sudan from foreign governments and the international community as well as acknowledging and appreciating them for their generosity. The media rarely sheds light on the disadvantages of dependency such as increasing vulnerability and the image this attribute creates for the country and its people.

The ailing economy, in light of the looming elections, is likely to compel South Sudan to seek financial assistance as well as technical and logistical support from its friends and the international community who have already demonstrated willingness to support although with strict conditions such as reconstitution of the electoral commission, constitutional review and restructuring the political parties’ council including completion of the graduation of unified forces.

In fact, one of the reasons the government says for extending the transitional period by twenty-four months is the limited resources, the need for adequate preparations and the full implementation of important stipulations in the revitalized peace agreement prior to the elections in December 2024. This pronouncement prompted public debate involving those who want elections at all costs with or without adequate preparation which is hoped to determine the country’s future. Pressure is also being mounted by TROIKA urging parties and the government to prioritize and ascertain the country’s future through elections.

While elections are often believed to ensure peaceful and nonviolent transition of leadership, timing, a country’s level of preparedness and conduciveness of an electoral environment must be taken into account as they are important determining factors for successful elections in which citizens’ involvement and participation is free, fair, secure and transparent.

The looming elections in South Sudan are likely to be held in an unsafe and insecure environment thus making rigging and intimidation inevitable. The credibility of key institutions such as the electoral commission, judiciary, and absence of a disciplined army that would protect the entire electoral process will likely have undesirable effects on the outcome of the election.

Therefore, honest decisions must be made by the South Sudanese leaders to ensure conduct of the election in a safe, secure and peaceful environment so as to realize a citizen-centered government capable of addressing the country’s many problems including economic depression and communal violence among others as a way to ascertain South Sudan’s integrity and reputation globally.

Umba Peter Bosco is a South Sudanese political scientist and conflict analyst reachable via umbapeter28@gmail.com

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