Norway’s Ambassador to South Sudan Linken Nymann Berryman (File photo)

Norway tells South Sudan to seek peace and credible polls

Norway has called on the South Sudanese leaders to seek durable peace and prepare for elections as the world’s youngest state marked the 13th independence anniversary.

In a message to mark the attainment of the independence, the Norwegian ambassador to South Sudan, Linken Nymann Berryman, said Norway had stood with the citizens of the African state for more than half a century.

“Driven by values of freedom, democracy, gender equality and human rights, we provided support through difficult times, 13 years have gone by since independence, we had expected more,” Berryman said.

“We continue to stand by the people of South Sudan. Norway’s support to the people of South Sudan endures in numerous ways, with the latest being our backing of the Tumaini Initiative,” she added.

The Norwegian diplomat called on the South Sudan political leaders to unite the people, prepare for general elections and open the civic space.

“Political leaders are the custodians of the well-being of their people. We continue to urge the transitional government of South Sudan to find solutions that unite and urge the leaders to dialogue in good faith.

“We want to see necessary preparations for peaceful and credible elections, including unification of armed forces, opening of civic and political space, and credible, independent electoral institutions,” she said.

South Sudan’s National Elections Commission (NEC) has announced 22 December 2024 as the election date as per Section 16 (1) of the National Election Act 2023.

The NEC chairperson told the press last week that delays by the parties to the 2018 peace deal to agree on the elections have deferred the voter registration exercise, which was supposed to have started in June.

Despite the plans unveiled by the National Elections Commission, the feasibility of South Sudan’s December 2024 elections — the first since the country gained independence in July 2011 — is increasingly in doubt.

South Sudan has been formally at peace since a 2018 agreement ended a five-year civil war responsible for hundreds of thousands of deaths, but violence between rival communities flares frequently.