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RE-EXTENSION: SPLM-IO pushes for 2-year election delay

By Jurugo Emmanuel Ogasto


Sudan People’s Liberation Movement In Opposition (SPLM-IO) has suggested extension of the transition government for 24-months, before elections.

The main opposition party under Dr. Riek Machar Teny, who is also the First Vice President, noted in a dossier that the extension will allow the country to enact a permanent constitution and complete other pending peace roadmap tasks.

According to a statement seen by this outlet, SPLM/A-IO crafted the proposal to extend the transition period on February 13, 2024 during the party’s political bureau meeting.

The main opposition partner in the interim unity government argued that free and fair elections can only be held when the pending tasks of the peace roadmap are completed.

In their position paper signed by Dr. Machar and addressed to President Salva Kiir Mayardit on February 13, 2024, as seen by this outlet, they underlined the deficient provisions of the revitalized peace agreement as justification for the delay.

Machar’s political camp noted the need to complete security arrangements, establish a permanent constitution, conduct a population census, implement judicial reforms, and address the repatriation of refugees and resettlement of internally displaced persons.

The SPLM-IO chair further stressed the need to establish transitional justice mechanisms, disseminate the peace agreement, reconstitute independent commissions and institutions, and conduct pre-election activities, including voter registration, before the election is scheduled.

He also reiterated that the implementation of the R-ARCSS is the only viable means to end political violence, and the cycle of political transition in the country and elections follows.

“These unattended tasks need a timeline enlarge at least 24 months and necessitate dialogue among parties to agree on a path forward. They highlight that the constitution-making process has the longest timeline and will ultimately regulate the end of the transitional period and the timing of elections.” Machar asserted this in his letter.

Under the terms of the revitalized peace agreement and a 2022 extension roadmap, South Sudan was scheduled to hold its first elections in December of this year.

The first Vice President, however, expressed his disappointment, noting that the taking over of the SPLM-IO Ministry of Petroleum by the SPLM through republican order No. 3/2024, stripping the minister of powers and arrogating the same to the undersecretary and the director general of the Petroleum Authority, is one of the violations of the R-ARCSS during the roadmap.

He also pointed out that there is a lack of political space and civil liberties manifested by the continued obstruction of other parties from freely assembling and holding public meetings and rallies.

Last year, the Minister of Information and government spokesperson, Michael Makuei, who also doubles as the government spokesperson, said making a constitution is a process that should not be done in a hurry by the appointed parliament but rather be left to the elected government to make it.

According to the 2018 peace agreement, the permanent constitution is among the critical provisions expected to usher in a new democratic dispensation.

However, leaders of South Sudan Opposition Alliance (SSOA), signatory to the 2018 revitalized peace agreement, recently expressed support for the country to go for polls in December, this year.

SSOA Chairperson, who is also the national minister of Agriculture and Food Security, Josephine Lagu Yanga, said in a meeting with President Salva Kiir Mayardit that they support timely conduct of December 2024 elections.

She requested that government speeds up implementation of remaining prerequisites of the peace agreement.

According to SSOA, citizens are fed up with endless transitions and are yearning for elections to choose their leaders.

They added that polls are a primary requirement of the revitalized peace agreement, adding that failure to hold elections in itself is a violation.

“Let us dialogue to see together how the transitional period can be ended peacefully in the way it should. Our people have suffered enough, and they need a new beginning,” she noted.

In September last year, during a swearing-in ceremony of SPLM national office bearers, President Salva Kiir made it clear that the country would go for elections this year for him to shade off the bulky presidency.

He observed that South Sudan has a unique government with five Vice Presidents, something that doesn’t exist anywhere in the World.

“I have five vice presidents; there is no country that has five vice presidents,” the president said.

Exhausted of the bulky government of five vice presidents, President Kiir contemplated that conducting polls in December would end the transitional period.

“There are people who are saying that there are no elections; do you know if there is someone who is tired? That someone is me” the president stated.

Kiir refutes views that doubt conduct of election by next year.

“If it is my deputies who go and encourage people that there are no elections, I am telling you there is no extension of the government; we must move forward; there is nothing that lets us go back,” he added.

Additionally, early this month, President Salva Kiir also reassured the Holy See, through envoy, Cardinal Michael Czerny on his administration’s commitment to conduct free and credible elections this Year.

Holy Father reiterated his call on the leadership of South Sudan to embrace peace and stability as the country heads toward a democratic transition.

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