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Norway special envoy worries of election conduct

By Gladys Fred Kole


Norwegian special envoy to South Sudan and Sudan has expressed worry regarding the conduct of elections in the country as days pass by without meaningful progress in implementing the roadmap.

Ambassador Jon Anton Johnson raised the concerns yesterday, during a press conference to wrap up his three-day visit to Juba.

He told journalists that they are concerned by the lack of progress when it comes to the implementation of the peace roadmap, citing that the process needs to be speeded up in order to get the elections on time.

He emphasized that there are several risks relating to elections, adding that it’s extremely important to have a conducive environment for the looming elections.

“To open the political and civic space is a clear precondition, and exactly how elections are conducted, it’s a matter of the people being able to vote for the leaders they want. It’s a matter of how this is organized when it comes to security,” said Jon.

The Norwegian special envoy to Juba and Khartoum warned authorities that there’s a risk of increased violence, something that he said shouldn’t be underestimated.

Jon told the interim unity government that it’s important to establish a timeframe for conducting the elections so that it does not lead to violence.

According to him, elections are about competition between different parties, and it’s extremely important that South Sudan resolve its disagreements and conflicts of interest in a peaceful manner.

“The history of this country has told us that it’s very easy to resort to violence, and it should be avoided by any means.” Said Jon.

The Norwegian diplomat noted that the implementation of the peace agreement and follow-up of the roadmap established by the parties are lagging behind, something that’s concerning.

“The conditions of the elections are extremely important, and we have been following that closely from the Norwegian side, the Troika side, and the international community.” Ambassador Jon hinted.

“Elections are very much about political will and establishing institutions needed for running the elections, which include the national elections commission, the political parties committee, and other key institutions,” he noted.

“When I am here, I have to believe what people tell me, but it is worrying that things are not in place yet and the implementation of the peace agreement is lagging behind.” Jon exclaimed.

For her part, the Ambassador of Norway to South Sudan, Linken Nymann Berryman, said that they are very focused on issues regarding security concerns.

“Those go along with civic space and political space and must be supported by security so that people feel safe to say what they need to say for the betterment of this country and any other country that is getting ready for democratic elections,” she said.

Norway’s special envoy for South Sudan and Sudan concluded a three-day visit to Juba, during which he engaged in high-level discussions with H.E. President Salva Kiir, first vice president Dr. Riek Machar, other senior government officials, and key stakeholders, including representatives of the civic society.

Ambassador Jon Anthon described the meeting with the president as uplifting, adding that they are still committed to the implementation of the peace agreement.

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