Skip to main content
By Juol Nhomngek Daniel - 4 Mar 2024

Opinion| Why holding elections now is not in South Sudan’s best interest

The ongoing political discourse in South Sudan revolves around the feasibility of conducting general elections. The SPLM-IO has unequivocally stated that holding elections under the current circumstances is not in the best interest of the country and its citizens. On the contrary, the SPLM-IG and some members of other political parties insist that the transitional period has concluded, advocating for elections to empower the people.

The citizens of South Sudan, grappling with severe challenges due to the government’s service delivery failures, have grown increasingly desperate for change. Some are fervently calling for general elections, not out of weariness with the transitional period itself, but due to the lack of tangible improvements in their lives.

This situation aligns precisely with the objectives of certain elements within the SPLM-IG and their associates, as they aim to garner support from frustrated citizens. Reports from various international human rights sources indicate that the SPLM-IG has been actively hindering the implementation of the Revitalized Agreement, seeking to ensure its failure. This strategy is intended to manipulate vulnerable citizens and perpetuate or regain power through dubious means.

However, as highlighted at the outset of this article, the SPLM-IO Party maintains a clear stance. We are unwilling to participate in any general elections unless the necessary conditions for free, fair, and credible elections are met. Our argument is straightforward: holding general elections at the current juncture is not in the best interest of the people of South Sudan. The pivotal question remains - what truly serves the best interests of South Sudan and its citizens?

The phrase ‘best interest’ generally implies something good, beneficial, advantageous, or helpful for someone. In our context, we argue that holding general elections in South Sudan is not in the best interest of its citizens unless the Revitalized Agreement (R-ARCISS) is fully implemented in both letter and spirit.

Many politicians advocating for general elections either fail to grasp or deliberately ignore the crucial point that the implementation of the Revitalized Agreement is not synonymous with the transitional period. Furthermore, it wasn’t signed solely for the purpose of preparing or conducting general elections. The Revitalized Agreement is a foundational document intended to foster nation-building by empowering citizens to play a central role in decision-making within our system. It’s crucial to note that the current government’s failure stems from citizens' inability to hold the President and other officials accountable.

Elections outlined in the Revitalized Agreement differ significantly from standard elections in other parts of Africa or the world. They are not merely transfers or maintenance of power but must contribute to unity and peace-building in South Sudan. Therefore, for general elections to contribute to unity and peace in the country, the Revitalized Agreement must be implemented to achieve the following:

1-Implementing Security Arrangements to establish a unified security sector operating in a coordinated manner, including comprehensive disarmament of civilians with illegal arms.

2-Repatriating refugees and resettling internally displaced persons to enable their participation in general elections and the free exercise of citizenship political rights. The refugee and IDP population constitutes half of South Sudan’s total population and cannot be ignored by any responsible government.

3-Conducting a population and housing census to determine the number of people in South Sudan, facilitating effective government planning and ensuring equal voting rights, influencing the demarcation of states, constituencies, counties, Payams, and Bomas. This can aid in forming a lean government at all levels, ensuring equal and equitable resource allocations.

4-Implementing transitional justice and its mechanisms to recognize victims, enhance their trust in South Sudanese institutions, reinforce respect for human rights, and promote the rule of law. Transitional justice plays a crucial role in connecting, empowering, and transforming South Sudanese communities, contributing to lasting peace.

5-Conducting a comprehensive and inclusive permanent constitution-making process to establish government and electoral systems suitable for South Sudan. The SPLM-IO's aim is to see South Sudan established on a viable and sustainable system of government, empowering citizens to determine their destiny.

6-Establishing strong institutions, with a recommended federal system, is crucial for ensuring government officials, including the current and future president, are accountable to the citizens.

7-Judicial reforms are imperative to empower citizens with effective access to justice. The current judicial system’s shortcomings contribute to revenge killings and other crimes, hindering citizens from protecting their rights in courts of law. A strong judicial system is essential for holding elections without resorting to physical violence.

8-Dissemination of the Revitalized Agreement is necessary to ensure citizens understand the message of peace. Guaranteeing political space is imperative for all parties to campaign equally, with presidential candidates having equal access to media and national resources.

In summary, adhering to the requirements outlined above for free, fair, and credible elections is crucial for enabling South Sudanese citizens to make informed decisions when choosing their candidates in our representative democracy. The SPLM-IO firmly believes that the implementation of the Revitalized Agreement can contribute to uniting the country, aligning with the best interests of South Sudanese citizens. It’s important to clarify that the best interest of citizens doesn’t necessarily align with individual desires but rather focuses on what is beneficial for the future of the citizens.

Initiating general elections at the current juncture could potentially lead to increased divisions, with a heightened risk of a contested election outcome and accusations of rigging. True leadership involves making decisions and standing by them, especially when these decisions are in the best interest of the people, even if some may not favour them.

Hon. Juol Nhomngek Daniel is a member of the National Parliament (TNLA), representing Cueibet County in Lakes State under the ticket of the SPLM-IO. A legal professional specializing in Constitutional law and human rights, he also serves as a law lecturer at Starford International University. He can be contacted via email at

The views expressed in ‘opinion’ articles published by Radio Tamazuj are solely those of the writer. The veracity of any claims made is the responsibility of the author, not Radio Tamazuj.