Elections: Haysom accuses Kiir, Riek of ‘foot-dragging’
AUTHOR: Dhol Deng | PUBLISHED: September 16, 2023
Nicholas Haysom, Special Representative of the Secretary General and Head of the UN Peacekeeping mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) | Credit | Daniel Garang Deng/TRC
Resolving critical outstanding issues requires political will for compromise, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of UNMISS has said.
South Sudan is expected to hold its first elections in December 2024. However, key institutions and legal frameworks are yet to be put in place.
These include decisions on the type of election, voter registration issues, delineating constituencies, and management of electoral disputes.
“In the Mission’s assessment, overall delays on key decisions can be attributed to foot-dragging by the signatories,” Nicholas Haysom told the UN Security Council in Ney York on Friday.
The two main signatories to the September 2018 peace deal – President Salva Kiir and First Vice President Dr Riek Machar – have expressed opposing views on the conduct of election.
Kiir has made it clear that South Sudan will not return to war and that the elections will be held as planned.
“There are people who say there is no election; when they say there is no election, no one is tired like me; I have five deputies, and no country has five vice presidents,” Kiir said at the first National Economic Forum in Juba on September 8.
However, Dr Machar differs, arguing that elections cannot be held without implementation of the key requirements, particularly security arrangements.
“It is important for us to implement the requirement that should take us to the election because if we do not implement it, we will know what will happen,” Machar said at the same event.
In his address, Haysom noted “modest progress” in the implementation of some provisions, including passage of the National Elections Act, commencement of electoral security planning, and initial election budgetary discussions.
“Despite all these challenges, an independent perception survey commissioned by UNMISS showed that there remains significant popular demand for the elections,” Haysom added.