National, News

Analysts doubt credible election prospects

By Mamer Abraham

South Sudan anticipates hold its first-ever democratic elections in December, next year, but implementation of some provisions of peace agreement seem lethargic as the timeline approaches.

Parties to the revitalized agreement (R-ARCSS) have been heard trading blames over lack of commitment to realization of the democratic elections.

As per the roadmap for the extension of the transitional period, the elections should be conducted in December 2024, just two months before the end of the transitional period.

Although the ruling party, the SPLM, has always lifted the hopes of the citizens who crave for a credible electoral process, a lot of the prerequisites remain virgin.

Observers and analysts currently maintain that the success of elections hang on a thread as the parties to the agreement are yet to implement numerous tasks in the peace agreement.

Elections fifty-fifty

Boboya James, a political analyst and the executive director of the Institute of Social Policy and Research said the cycle of violence, corruption, and bad governance were some of the factors that might prevent a democratic electoral process.

“I have observed that the people of South Sudan have not exercised the right to choose their leaders since the referendum that secured independence from Sudan in 2011,” Boboya said.

“Instead, they have suffered through cycles of violent conflict, corruption, and bad governance. These factors have prevented the democratic transfer of power,” he observed.

He argued that the requirements for the completion of the key tasks in the peace agreement were not met for the elections to take place.

Boboya mentioned the outstanding issues as constitution-making, security governance, census, electoral act, and post-conflict transitions, without which elections might not take place.

“Without a constitution, an independent election commission, and the Census, which aid the registration of voters, including the delimitation of constituency boundaries, the democratic transition through elections is an elusive quest,” Boboya stated.

The analyst maintained that the environment was not conducive for the political parties to exercise their political rights due to fears of possible election rigging.

“The election environment is not secure for political parties. There is too much fear. The government is ready to rig the election, as already seen from the population estimation survey conducted by South Sudan’s National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) in collaboration with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA),” he added.

The analyst noted that it was only possible for elections to take place when there was political will and the electoral bodies were reconstituted beforehand.

Snail pace

On Tuesday, the Interim Chairperson of the Reconstituted Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (R-JMEC), Charles Tai Gituai, briefed the parliament regarding the progress made in the implementation of the revitalized agreement on the resolution of the conflict in South Sudan (R-ARCSS).

Gituai stated that the parties to the agreement were dragging their feet in implementing the key tasks in the peace agreement.

“Overall, tasks related to the permanent constitution-making and electoral processes have stalled, and critical benchmarks outlined in the roadmap are yet to be implemented,” he stated.

He called for the parties to the agreement to have political will and commit resources for the speedy implementation of the peace agreement.

“In this regard, it is critical to underscore the need for sufficient political will and commitment of resources by the RTGoNU and for the Parties to the Agreement to build trust and confidence.”

Currently, the National Elections Commission has not been reconstituted, the graduation of the unified forces and their deployment has not been completed, and the census has not been conducted, among other critical tasks essential for elections to be conducted.

Last week, Puok Both Baluang, the acting press secretary in the office of the first vice president, Dr. Riek Machar Teny, said in a discussion with civil society activists on X (formerly Twitter) that SPLM-IO would not be part of elections if the pending tasks in the peace agreement were not implemented.

“Basically, we are calling for the agreement, and we are not part of any process that will lead the country back to conflict because… How could you conduct elections in a country where there are two to three armies? Puok argued.

“I would like to point out that we will not take part in any activity that will lead the country back to conflict. These prerequisites are very important, and they are not out of space.”

Puok argued that the census and the dignified repatriation of refugees were assets the peace agreement could not do without.

Comments are closed.