South Sudan: A Wake-Up Call for Credible Elections
UN Mission Head’s Warning
The Head of the United Nations Mission to South Sudan recently issued a wake-up call to Juba, the country’s government. He emphasized the urgent need to create the foundations for credible elections next year. This involves fostering a conducive political and civil environment that accommodates all political parties, civil society groups, media, and the citizens of South Sudan.
The Troubles of a Young Nation
Since its independence in 2011, South Sudan has been marred by a series of crises. A civil war that claimed around 400,000 lives before a peace agreement was signed in 2018 has been the most devastating. Despite this agreement, the fragile unity government, led by President Salva Kiir and his deputy Riek Machar, has largely failed to fulfill the promises of the peace agreement, including drafting a constitution.
President Kiir pledged to hold the country’s first presidential elections by December 2024, However, the UN envoy, Nicholas Haysom, warned that authorities need to act quickly to ensure “peaceful, inclusive, and credible elections.” The UN has frequently criticized South Sudan’s leadership for its role in inciting violence, suppressing political freedoms, and plundering state coffers.
Impending Elections and Delayed Promises
The government was supposed to complete a transitional period with elections in February 2023 but has so far failed to implement key provisions of the peace agreement. The crisis in Sudan between the army and “rapid support” forces has exacerbated South Sudan’s problems, with over 190,000 people fleeing across the border to escape the fighting, according to Haysom.
South Sudan’s Economic Paradox
Despite having substantial oil reserves, South Sudan is one of the poorest countries in the world. It has spent half of its time since independence at war and continues to suffer from ethnically motivated political violence.
Humanitarian Crisis and Famine Risk
UN relief organizations have also warned of a severe famine risk for around 7.8 million people in South Sudan due to the country’s prolonged conflict, flooding, and drought. In September last year, about 173 civilians were killed, and 37 were kidnapped in South Sudan in fighting between forces loyal to President Salva Kiir and those loyal to Vice President Riek Machar. The UN has also condemned several instances of sexual violence.
Looking Ahead: The Need for Peaceful Elections
In conclusion, the current state of South Sudan calls for immediate action towards creating a conducive environment for credible elections. The peace and stability of the nation rely heavily on these elections. It is a wake-up call for South Sudan’s government to earnestly address the country’s crises and strive for a peaceful, inclusive, and stable political environment.
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