UNMISS Chief: “When is the date for elections?”

UNMISS Chief: “When is the date for elections?”
UNMISS Chief: “When is the date for elections?”

Africa-Press – South-Sudan. The head of the UN Mission in South Sudan is calling on the unity government to set a date for general elections as the transitional period withers away.

Nicholas Haysom said during a press conference in Juba, that elections timetable must be availed in advance if the international community is to plan on how to support the process.

“The international community, which will be required to support the elections, needs to know when the elections are likely to be held so that we can align and prioritize our support,” Mr. Haysom said at a media breifing Thursday.

The 2018 peace deal obligates the peace government to organize elections sixty days before the end of the current transitional period.

This is expected to enable the establishment of a democratically elected government.

According to the peace agreement, the parties are only left with less than nine months to the end of the transitional period.

“But if we don’t have a date then nobody will really commit to supporting elections and South Sudanese will not get into the frame of mind which is necessary for the elections to be held,” said the peacekeeping official.

Haysom also said the UN Agency would like elections in in the country to be a nation building moment and not a divisive one which triggers conflict.

Prerequisite to election, the agreement expects the permanent constitution to be completed and enacted before a new National Elections Commission organizes the polls.

It also states that the Political Parties Act of 2012 must be reviewed and approved by the parliament.

This is to enable free and democratic registration of political parties in the country.

Two weeks ago, the parliament deliberated on the provision and controversially approved it, amidst uproar from opposition MPs.

Parliamentarians mainly from the SPLM-IO claimed some articles in the political parties act have been tempered with.

Speaker Jemma Nunu, however said the matter has been referred to the presidency.

Besides, the government is yet to reconstitute an electoral commission, graduate the unified force and implement key judicial and economic reforms, among others.

In November last year, President Salva Kiir told the citizens that despite the delays in peace implementation, general elections would take place as planned in 2023.

But the First Vice President, Dr. Riak Machar earlier said there would be no fair and free elections next year unless key provisions in the 2018 peace deal are fully implemented.

The leader of the National Democratic Movement Lam Akol has also voiced skepticism on the possibility of holding a free and fair election in the country.

The unity government is yet to unify and graduate the former warring forces, repatriate the refugees and displaced persons and conduct a population census.

Asked on these concerns, Nicholas Haysom insists elections can still be done if the government creates a space for a robust and competitive political process.

“It is particularly our hope that the parties will announce a formal elections timetable. It is not only technical and logistical planning that is necessary for elections to take place. What is also required is a free and open political environment,

“This means creating a space for a robust and competitive political process to take place, one that fosters nation building not only division. The impact of delay however is manifest in the ongoing frustration across the country.”

Last month, the U.S. Embassy in Juba re-emphasized on the need for South Sudan leaders to create a conducive environment for general election if the Biden Administration is to support the exercise.

David Renz, the former Embassy’s Chargé d’Affaires said the US government wants full implementation of key provisions of the 2018 peace agreement.

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