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No clear roadmap for refugees’ voting participation-UN

By Kidega Livingstone


UN has remained puzzled and expressed concerns about lack of clear arrangements for the South Sudanese refugees to vote in the December elections.

The Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), Nicholas Haysom, said no provision has been concretely developed on the possibility of refugees participating in the forthcoming polls.

Speaking in a press briefing in Juba on Friday, Hayson revealed that the UN and other peace partners gave ten (10) critical questions to the parties to the agreement that had to be answered for the election to take place.

Among them was the arrangement for the refugees to vote from where they are or in the country, a question that has not been cleared.

“One of those questions concerns the arrangements for refugees to vote. That is to say that no provision has actually been concretely developed, but that we put it on the list, and I believe that the political stakeholders, political parties, and signatories will have to discuss this question,” Hayson said.

“I should indicate that the R-ARCSS contemplates that refugees will be able to vote. The question is, in what way? Will they be required to return to vote? Will there be provision for them to vote where they are? So, the answer is strictly that it will be an important question to be resolved. As far as we can tell, it hasn’t been resolved at this stage,” he lamented.

In November 2023, the UNMISS chief stated that arrangements for the election to take place and for the refugees to vote at each stage of the peace agreement require the parties to be in agreement.

He clarified that it was not whether the United Nations agreed or decided, but whether the peace signatories are in agreement with those arrangements.

President Salva Kiir had constantly emphasized that the country will go for an election, saying the election will be free and fair and citing the commitment from the transitional government of national unity and the parties to the agreement, as well as the technical institutions for elections and constitutions.

In November last year, President Kiir reconstituted the National Election Commission (NEC) and Political Parties Council (PPC), as well as the National Constitution Review Commissions, and appointed members from different political parties, civil society, eminent personalities, business unions, refugees and internally displaced persons, people living with disabilities, and the media.

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