JUBA, NOV. 5, 2023 (SUDANS POST) – South Sudan’s newly reconstituted National Elections Commission (NEC) has come under fire from activists questioning its impartiality and calling for its dissolution.
President Salva Kiir on Friday night re-appointed Abednego Akol Chol, a member of his ruling Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) party faction, as the chairman of the NEC.
This decision has raised concerns among activists who believe that Akol’s close ties to the ruling party will compromise the commission’s ability to conduct fair and transparent elections.
Ter Manyang Gatwech, Executive Director of the Centre for Peace and Advocacy (CPA), expressed his concerns in an email to Sudans Post, stating that “the Chairperson of the NEC must be impartial in order for the citizens to trust the outcomes of the election.”
He called on Kiir to dissolve the NEC and reappoint an impartial body, citing examples from other countries where the appointment of the NEC Chairperson is subject to verification by the national parliament.
Edmund Yakani, Executive Director of Community Empowerment for Progress Organization (CEPO), echoed Manyang’s concerns, emphasizing the need for the new NEC leadership to prove its impartiality to the public.
He stated that “the NEC new leadership have a lot to do and to prove to the South Sudan society, region and global community his impartiality.”
Yakani added that CEPO will be closely monitoring the NEC’s compliance with the principles of impartiality, transparency, and inclusivity.
South Sudan’s exiled civil rights activist Wani Michael said in a statement posted on his X (formerly Twitter) that the National Elections Commission is full of people he said are active members of political organizations.
“How do you expect the Electoral Commission to be INDEPENDENT as demanded by the Constitution when its membership is full of ACTIVE Political Parties members?” Wani asked “How independent will this Commission be when its nominees are PURELY active members of different political parties. President Kiir has appointed many active members of SPLM and their affiliates.”
He said “Kiir is already preparing his rigging machinery! He knows the people of South Sudan will vote the SPLM out of power. Whether he appoints his close relatives and associates, the power of the people is bigger than those in power.”
Sudans Post has also learned that SPLM-IO official Amos Juma Ochieng was nominated by First Vice President Machar, the leader of SPLM-IO, to be the Chief Election Officer, but he was replaced with Mark Michael Deng, an SPLM-allied civil servant, in the last minutes.
The main armed opposition group which has accused Kiir of planning to rig elections in the past has not yet issued any statement regarding this.
Sudans Post is an independent, young, and grass roots news media organization aimed at providing readers with an alternate depiction of events that occur on Sudan, South Sudan and East Africa, and to establish an engaging social platform for readers to discover and discuss the various issues that impact the two countries and the region.