South Sudan not ready for December 2024 elections: civil society

Hentet fra Eye Radio | Av Lasuba Memo

Over 70 Civil Society Organizations have concluded that South Sudan is not ready to conduct inclusive, free and fair elections in December 2024, citing unimplemented key provisions of the 2018 peace deal.

The press statement came out of the civil society’s three-day conference on the Way Forward for the Transition in South Sudan held in Juba from Tuesday to Thursday.

The groups underscored that the country is under pressure to make a difficult choice between extending the mandate of a government “that has failed to deliver” and rushing through inadequately prepared and under-resourced transitional processes.

“As it stands now, South Sudan is not ready for an inclusive, free, fair, credible, and peaceful electoral process. If we continue on this trajectory and pace, credible elections cannot be held in December 2024,” it said.

The stakeholders argue that the interim government is yet to demonstrate leadership, compassion and compromise, to reach consensus on the way forward for the transition.

The groups are encouraging the parties to the R-TGONU to embark on an inter-party dialogue to address the outstanding issues in the transitional process.

“Among the key benchmarks for elections are the establishment of safety and security in areas affected by conflict, a decision on how constituencies will be determined, voter registration and robust civic education, including modalities for involving IDPs and refugees, and expediting the registration of political parties,” the resolutions read in part.

They urge the political leadership to reach out to “our people in a spirit of unity, calm their fears” and assure them that they will not let political competition decent into violent conflict.

The civil society groups suggested adequate time and space to enable a people-driven constitution, adding it should not be rushed because of elections.

As part of the inter-party dialogue, they recommend that the parties try to reach a consensus on the timeline for constitution-making, including whether it should be enacted before or after elections.

On Transitional Justice, the groups appeal to the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs to make legislations for forming the Commission on Truth, Reconciliation and Healing, and the Compensation and Reparations Authority.

On Civic and Political Space, the civil society call for amendment of the National Security Services (NSS) Act to remove the NSS’s police powers, and formally rescind restrictions on the ability of civic actors to freely to discuss matters of public interest.

“We have witnessed the toll that civil war has taken on civic and political space in the country. If the R-TGONU do not act urgently to address restrictions on freedom of speech, association and assembly, the space that we have left may soon disappear.”

The groups call on the unity government to speed up the graduation and deployment of necessary unified forces and unify the command at all levels to create a conducive environment for the remaining transitional processes.

Further, the government should also urgently act to provide for the welfare of the armed forces, including by providing uniforms, paying salaries, and providing food and medicine, they recommended.

Concerning the biting economy, the activists said achieving political stability is key to attracting investment and increasing economic production in South Sudan.