OpEd, Politics

Save the dying economy, give people hope. A call for ‘YES’ to elections and ‘NO’ to extension of the interim period

By Diing Atem Akoi Diing


To begin, I would like to tell you, and I know you already know that, besides the dying economy, people have begun to lose hope.

If you know someone with an eagle’s eye who is able to decent the future and would say no to an extension of the interim period, why? Simply because elections are the only hope for regime change and economic recovery. And now that some parties and politicians call for the extension of the interim period, the citizens think it’s better that the unfair and unfree election is done rather than to extend this gigantic government further.

But, by the way, what are unfair elections? Before I dive into this article so deeply, you get to know that many people are already giving different definitions of fair and unfair elections.

However, I would simply say, in a political way, that an unfair or sham election is that kind of election that does not represent the will of voters and aspirants.

Citing the definition above, we all know that unfair elections have a great negative impact on the people of every country because they can lead to violence, which undermines the civil and political rights of the masses and likewise can significantly lead to human suffering, while also diminishing people’s trust in the democratic processes and institutions responsible for elections. These (unfair elections) are elections whose results are being manipulated; in fact, these are elections that aren’t transparent, credible, free, and fair.

Despite all the challenges being faced both by the politicians and the citizens in regard to bringing a permanent solution to the country’s problem, I am appealing to all our political parties and stakeholders to the revitalized peace agreement to agree on an election to be held in the month of December 2024 as stipulated by the revitalized agreement.

Only elections can change our image by solving political instability, economic crises, and insecurity. We have been kept in the democratic darkness for a very long time, and thus it’s far better to conduct elections than to opt for an extension. Not only in South Sudan, it’s the prayer of every nation to have good and peaceful elections. Yes, there are some conditions hindering us from conducting free and fair elections, but we need to make sure as early as now to iron them out in order to save the dying hope of our citizens as well as our dying economy. Transparent exercises are very expensive. Though we are not sure about the transparency and fairness of the coming elections, it’s better than having no election.

As elections are nearing, insecurity is being talked about as the main challenge that would derail the elections, yet this should not worry anyone of us or could not be an obstacle preventing the election from happening as scheduled.

However, I am calling upon armed youths to put down their guns and pick up voting cards as the right tool to remove unwanted politicians from power. The issue of peace agreement implementation, especially the deployment of unified forces to their respective cantonments, generates the question, How can elections be done without a full implementation of peace  agreements?” This question is being discussed at tea places and offices, and it brings doubt to citizens.

In a sense, there are still pending issues that need to be implemented, but time is against us. I am very aware that, even though the peace agreement is extended for another two years, nothing will change because full implementation needs financial assistance, logistics, good shelter, and other better services, which the current government of national unity cannot afford.

The idea of having an election raises some concerns among peace agreement signatories, where some political parties and stakeholders agreed to have an election while others called for a dialogue or roundtable talk about the possibilities of coming elections.

For us, citizens of South Sudan, we are in support of dialogue or round table talk, but we suggest it should not turn down the idea of having an election later at the end of the year. I urge all political parties to discuss without their own interests but for the benefit of dear citizens. Sometimes, politicians think there are the right people who will come and change South Sudan, but it’s their responsibility to make our country better. Only an election can give our country a new look; only an election can reduce the heavy weight of the executive (e.g., the presidency of five vices), legislature, and judiciary arms of government. Only elections will bring new faces and energetic people into power and could put pressure on the old ones to work professionally, effectively, and efficiently in public offices.

In every country, fair and free elections are conducted, and corrupt leaders are removed through the ballot. Having no election for a long time has contributed to our economic crisis and insecurity as well. We are very aware that some politicians do not support the idea of having elections but call for extensions out of political interest. It may seem like a good idea to extend the current government, but elections can save our dying economy and bring about hope for the citizens.

In that case, an extension is like the previous balance, which is carried over to the current statement (balance carried forward) in accounting language. So, what does an extension of RTGoNU mean? It simply means that South Sudanese sufferings will be carried forward into the future.

It’s my appeal to the institutions responsible for elections to prepare enough so that elections are transparent, credible, free, inclusive, and trusted by voters and those contested. The electoral commission constituted by the president months ago must provide equitable opportunities for all political parties to compete in the elections and have genuine political competition. These broad principles are enshrined in key obligations, rights, and freedoms that derive from public international law.

In every election, free and fair results are always unifying factors. Voters and contestants will have greater confidence in a process in which there is an opportunity to review the outcome. Ideally, a body that is independent and not affiliated with political parties ensures the credibility and fairness of the elections. For elections to have integrity, they must avoid this winner-take-all situation and instead create a political system in which even losers have an incentive to participate.

In conclusion, I am calling for political parties to reconsider their views and look at the views of the citizens in the election. The South Sudanese have suffered enough at the hands of the current transitional government. So, we prefer an election to an extension. And so, I repeat, save the dying economy and restore hope for the citizens of South Sudan. Welcome back from the celebration of a happy Easter!

The author is a student at Maseno University, Kenya.

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