Peaceful elections for South Sudan are possible: monitors

Peace deal monitors in South Sudan said peaceful and democratic elections for the country are possible in the next 24 months.

Peace deal monitors in South Sudan said peaceful and democratic elections for the country are possible in the next 24 months.

South Sudan’s warring sides signed the revitalized peace agreement in 2018, establishing a transitional unity government.

In August 2022, the parties to the peace agreement extended the transitional government for another two years, meaning general elections would be held in December 2024.

Speaking during the 25th monthly meeting in Juba on Wednesday, the Interim Chairperson of the Reconstituted Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (RJMEC), Charles Tai Gituai, said peaceful and democratic elections are possible if the parties adhere to the roadmap timelines and prioritise implementation through the availing of predictable, timely and adequate funding for all tasks.

The peace monitor called on the Reconstituted Transitional National Legislative to expedite the processing of all bills before the legislature besides commencing phase 2 of the unification of forces.

Gatuai also appealed to the government to address subnational violence, especially in Upper Nile and Jonglei States, hold perpetrators accountable, and take steps to address the root causes and protect civilians and their property.

“Kickstart preparations for the reconstitution and appointment of the critical constitution-making mechanisms and institutions, including giving due attention to the 35% level of women’s participation, as well as taking note of youth and people living with disabilities,” he said.

“There are immense tasks and expectations ahead, and even with the extension (of the transitional period), time is of the essence. The people of South Sudan deserve nothing less than total implementation of the Roadmap in letter and spirit in order to enjoy the peace dividends that it brings,” he continued.

The RJMEC leader expressed his deep concern over the escalating violence in both Upper Nile and Jonglei States “with innocent lives being lost, thousands displaced, livelihoods and property destroyed.”

“If not addressed urgently, the wider ramifications of such violence could destabilize the ongoing implementation of the Peace Agreement,” Gituai said.

Separately, the Head of the UN Mission in South Sudan, Nicholas Haysom, on Tuesday briefed the UN Security Council on the peace process in South Sudan.

Mr. Haysom said progress has included  passage of essential bills and the legislature’s ratification of the roadmap, which extends the current transitional period by 24 months, paving the way for elections.

“We hold the view that the roadmap is a second mortgage on the Revitalized Peace Agreement, one which must be repaid in good faith and within the stipulated timeframes,” he told the Council.

“As moral guarantors and partners of that agreement, our collective task is to ensure that the parties have the best possible international support to help them fulfil their commitments to the people of South Sudan.”

Mr. Haysom expressed concern that deadlines for the Political Parties Act, the reconstituted National Constitutional Review Commission, and the establishment of the Constitutional Drafting Committee, have been missed.

“We consistently remind the South Sudanese that the two-year extension should not be regarded as a holiday break. We are concerned that delays are already having a domino effect on subsequent key benchmarks,” he warned.