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CONSENSUS; UN urges parties to dialogue

By Bida Elly David


South Sudan’s political parties to 2018 peace agreement should dialogue to reach a consensus on elections, UN has urged.

United Nations Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Nicholas Haysom made the call after meeting President Salva Kiir, on Friday.

He emphasized the importance of free and fair elections in promoting democracy and stability in the country.

Mr. Haysom urged political parties to continue their dialogue and prioritize the interests of the people and the country over their political agendas.

“We underscore that election in South Sudan is a sovereign right of the country and its people, and we have taken note that there is considerable evidence that people want to see elections taking place,” the UN Chief stated.

He also expressed the UN’s readiness to support the democratic process in South Sudan, expressing confidence that the December 2024 election deadline can be successfully met with collective efforts.

According to a statement from the office of the president, Kiir highlighted the significance of elections in shaping the country’s future and stressed the need for all stakeholders to cooperate in ensuring a smooth and transparent electoral process.

He also discouraged the idea of having multiple vice presidents.

This week, Ambassador Dr. Ismail Wais, IGAD’s Special Envoy to South Sudan also called for the parties to dialogue to ensure peaceful end of the transitional government.

He said the IGAD is going to stand for South Sudan until the peace process concludes.

“We want to see the government that is elected by the people and for the people. As the Intergovernmental Authority for Development we are going to do everything possible to make sure that there are free and credible elections,” he added.

With less than 8 months to the conduct of elections, parties to the agreement are at odds over the matter.

The ruling Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) has maintained the elections must take place to end the cycle of transitional governments, despite some pending tasks in the agreement.

On Wednesday, the SPLM proposed that presidential and gubernatorial elections be held due to funding shortages and literacy concerns.

In a statement signed by Party Secretary General Peter Lam Both, the group argued that necessary institutions and legislation are in place, and the parliament is about to approve a budget during the first weeks of April.

“The substantive institutions and legislations necessary for the conduct of the elections have been put in place. What now remains is for the National Assembly to approve the budget for the elections institutions in the first week of April 2024 so that they can start their work immediately,” the group said.

The SPLM also urged the parties to dialogue on whether they would go for General Elections or Executive Elections given the budgetary consideration for the elections and the literacy of our voters as too many election boxes for so many candidates might confuse many people on the election day.

“We propose that we conduct Presidential and Gubernatorial elections in December 2024 and the Parliamentary elections to follow after one year of the elected government,” the statement added.

But the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-In Opposition (SPLM-IO) demanded a mediator to be involved in the parties’ election dialogue.

“In light of the challenges registered during the five (5) years of implementation, we would like to state that dialogue and its outcome shall only be credible in the presence of a mediator,” Dr. Riek Machar said.

“In addition, there is a critical need to demonstrate political will on the part of the parties and the resolution of the critical issues that have been affecting the implementation of the agreement,” he added.

Meanwhile, the National Democratic Movement (NDM) and Sudan People’s Liberation Movement In-Opposition (SPLM-IO) also emphasized the need for dialogue and mediation to achieve consensus on the conduct of elections.

Dr. Lam Akol, Chairman of the National Democratic Movement, expressed concerns that holding elections without political dialogue would be unsafe due to a lack of trust between the principal parties.

“We are not ready for the election. The dialogue we are talking about is to discuss how to end the transition period and when, said Dr. Akol said.

“Those who want to go for elections should tell us why, and those who don’t want to should also tell us why; that will be the meaning of the dialogue we are seeking,” he added.

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