Operationalizing the 2023 National Elections Act: Opportunities and Challenges

October 24, 2023

Joseph Geng Akech
Luka Biong Deng
This Weekly Review assesses the South Sudan’s National Elections Act, 2023. This is paramount because
the upcoming elections are crucial for democratic consolidation in the country. Time, however, is running out
as there are only 14 months left before the elections are supposedly held. In recognition of this, the Revitalized
National Legislature has passed the National Elections Act (Amendment 2023), legally enabling the conduct
of these elections in 2024. Nonetheless, the National Elections Act is marred by substantive and operational
challenges, which the Unity Government should address. One of the challenges includes section 60, which
suffers a mathematical error. Specifically, section 60 states that 50% representations shall come from
geographical constituencies, 35% women, and 15% proportional closed party lists, all of which sum up to a
100%. The law then adds 5% of the 332 legislators to be appointed by an elected president. Understandably,
this is an error that should be immediately corrected. In addition, the Act is silent on how to determine the
population of South Sudan and the adoption of permanent constitution as a prerequisite for the conduct of
elections. Also, section 61, which prescribes the composition of state legislative assemblies, ought to be amended
to reflect the three administrative areas.
It is in this context that we make the following policy recommendations to help operationalize the National
Elections Act, 2023:
§ The RTGoNU should amend section 60 of the National Elections Act (Amendment 2023) to
address the underlying inaccuracies.
§ Amend relevant sections that affect the three administrative areas such as section 61.
§ Develop and incorporate a procedure for appointing 5% of the legislators, with due consideration to
youth, persons with disabilities, veterans, professionals, and smaller ethnic communities such as
Bongo, Kachipo (Suri), and many others.
§ Should urgently reconstitute the National Elections Commission and resource it to ensure operational
preparedness, and
§ The parties to the Revitalized Peace Agreement to agree on other substantive issues bearing importance
to the elections such as conditionality of the permanent constitution1.
1 The authors are grateful to Adv. Pourac Achiek for collating and sharing some of the materials used in this.