UN okays Juba’s request to help it prepare for elections

The United Nations has greenlit the government’s request to help it in the electoral processes as the country prepares for general elections in 2024.

In a letter dated January 24, 2023, addressed to UNMISS Chief Nicholas Haysom, Cabinet Affairs Minister Dr. Martin Elia asked the mission to provide comprehensive support to the government and relevant institutions as the country prepares for elections.

According to the implementation matrix of the September 2018 agreement, South Sudan was supposed to go to polls in 2023 after implementation of key provisions of the agreement.

But in August 2022, the peace parties had to extend the transitional period in order to implement all the the important provisions.

In order to hold the first-ever general elections since South Sudan gained independence in July 2011, the revitalized peace agreement expects the permanent constitution to be completed and enacted.

It also provides for repatriation of millions of refugees and displaced persons and conduct of population census.

The agreement also obliges the revision of the Political Parties Act of 2012 to be reviewed and approved by the parliament. President Salva Kiir assent to it in December 2022.

The Act is a key requirement for the registration of the political organizations interested to operate and participating in a free and democratic and political activity in the country.

While briefing the 26th plenary meeting of the Reconstituted Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (R-JMEC), the special representative of the UN Secretary General to South Sudan, Nicholas Haysom, said the world’s body is ready to provide technical assistance in ensuring that South Sudan go for credible and fair elections.

“I can confirm that this week, the United Nations received the formal invitation from the government to assist in the [elections] process. This is significance because it authorizes the United Nations to advise and assist on best practices for the technical process for the elections,” Said Haysom

“Let me reiterate that it would not be a UN-run process but a South Sudanese administered elections with UN support.”

The UN high profile said consolidation, strengthening and deployment of necessary unified forces to enable the protection of civilians across the country is crucial in the preparation for election.

In May 2022, the former United States ambassador, David Renz stressed the need for leaders to create a conducive environment for general elections if Washington was to continue providing any meaningful support for holding elections and improving relations between the two countries – a call Haysom seconded.

“Expansion of civic and political space will be the defining legacy of the transitional period as it constitute the ultimate criteria by which the credibility and legitimacy of the electoral process will be judged,” he added.