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UN envoy highlights obstacles to peaceful elections

By Kidega Livingstone


UN special representative in South Sudan, Nicholas Haysom, has highlighted growing tensions between armed groups and inter-communal conflicts as major barriers to free and fair elections in South Sudan.

He highlighted the fragility of the situation in Unity State and communal clashes as key concerns.

“The tensions in northern Unity between SSPDF and SPLA-IO, as well as the fragile situation regarding the Dinka Twic and Ngok Dinka, with the involvement now of Nuer communities, is a major inhibitor, together with other instances of inter-communal conflict, to an ideal environment for open political competition, Haysom said during the 34th RJMEC plenary meeting, yesterday.

He urged leaders to commit to peaceful resolution of differences and establish a level playing field for political competition.

Though he welcomed the recent meeting between President Kiir and First Vice President Machar, Haysom emphasized the need for concrete action to address these issues.

He also acknowledged the public desire for elections but raised concerns about the preparedness of key institutions like the security apparatus and emphasized the need for adequate resources and a neutral security force to support credible polls.

“It is also evident that the electoral and constitution-making commissions lack the resources, including office space and equipment, to move at the pace needed to achieve the desired readiness across the country.” Haysom noted.

For his part, Ambassador Guy Warrington, representing the Troika countries, at the RJMEC monthly plenary reiterated their commitment to peace, human rights, and democracy in South Sudan.

He stressed the importance of credible, peaceful, and inclusive elections but warned that they are impossible without the political will to reject violence, ensure free expression, and establish neutral security forces.

“There is a need for political and civil space so that individual candidates and parties can freely express their views and campaign without threat or intimidation, he said.

He called for leaders to demonstrate their commitment to these values through transparent governance, protection of citizens, and genuine dialogue.

“Beyond taking the steps needed for credible and peaceful elections, the transitional government can demonstrate its support of peace and human rights through the transparent use of public revenue to fund public needs,” Warrington added.

Both speakers emphasized the need for concrete steps from the transitional government to address security concerns, resource issues, and political neutrality before conducting elections.

They underscored the importance of public trust and transparency in building a foundation for peace and democracy.

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