National, News

Parties to decide on election schedule-NEC

By William Madouk


Chairperson of the National Elections Commission (NEC), Prof. Abednego Akok, said the fate of the announcement of the election calendar date will now be decided by the parties to the peace deal in inter-party dialogue.

With only few days left for the NEC to announce the anticipated election date calendar according to the Elections Act, parties are now under pressure to meet and reach a consensus to declare the conduct of the December polls.

In his address to the media, Prof. Abednego revealed that NEC commissioners had visited eight states to assess the situation before establishing the state high committees across the country for the smooth rollout of polls.

“We have completed eight states, and we are left with two states and three administrative areas. We will visit them soon, and from there we will establish the state high committees in 10 states and three administrative areas,” Akok told journalists yesterday.

He cited that the visit aimed to assess infrastructure and manpower in those states ahead of restructuring.

Besides, Prof. Akok revealed that the structures built in 2015 were vandalized, and some members have deserted their duty posts or passed away.

According to him, the two difficult tasks during the electoral process, are the registration of eligible voters and how they would be casting their votes, however, he added if funds are provided the process would be easy.

“At the movement, the little resources are there, but the real budget is before the national assembly to be passed by them,” he noted.

Although Akok avowed earlier that the date of the upcoming elections will be declared in June 2024, he stressed that this can only happen if parties adopt and pass the proposed electoral calendar.

By law, Prof. Akok states that when ‘it is remaining six months, the election date must be declared and must be two months before the end of the transition period.

“The final decision-makers are the political parties that signed the peace agreement; we suggest to them that [registration for] the election must start in June. Now, the delay is from them [parties],” he said.

“Otherwise, we would have already started the registration, but they [parties] must commit that this is the right electoral calendar; they should pass it,” the boss of NEC highlighted.

Akok emphasized that out of the proposed 236 million US dollars elections budget, his docket received only SSP 22 million. He also urged the parliament to fast-track the passage of the budget.

“I am not worried about that; I am to demonstrate what I can do with the little resources and then remind the decision-makers that let us work hard to see into it that the budget is passed to go ahead with the plans” he noted.

Unfazed Akok said he is not ‘worried’ because polls would be conducted on time.

He added that, as a technical person at the helm of the NEC, his role is to abide by the law and exercise wisdom to ensure that people vote.

“I am not worried because I am guided by almighty God, who gives me wisdom and will guide me. I am also happy that the Act is before me and can guide me, and there is nothing to worry about” he expressed.

“And the public should be aware that the sovereignty is theirs and the power is theirs. So, it is the power to be transferred to the people through peaceful, creditable, and impartial elections” he continued.

According to Article 16 of the National Election Act, NEC is to choose the date of the elections and make it official six months prior to the ballot day.

On April 1, the commissioners began travelling to the states and administrative areas to assess their offices in preparation for the upcoming December 2024 elections.

The National Election Commission (NEC) is scheduled to start voter registration in June. These actions came after the commission claimed that it had received SSP22 billion from the unity government to carry out pre-election responsibilities.

The peace parties were supposed to begin a political engagement to find common ground on the sensitive election issue.

However, no substantive results emerged from the first day of the meeting, despite a joint news conference to promise citizens that a consensus on whether and how to organize elections would be achieved.

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