JUBA, SEPTEMBER 14, 2023 (SUDANS POST) – President Salva Kiir Mayardit and his first deputy Riek Machar have yet again given contradicting statements on whether South Sudan will finally hold its first elections since independence in December 2024.
Speaking during the swearing in ceremony of new senior SPLM officials in Juba, Kiir who is also the leader of the ruling SPLM faction said there would be no more extensions of the transitional government and that the country will conduct elections as scheduled.
“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.
“If it is my deputies telling people that there is no election, I will tell them that there is no extension of the agreement,” Kiir added, referring to comments made by First Vice President Machar last week.
For his part, Machar who is also the leader of the main armed opposition Sudan People’s Liberation Movement in Opposition (SPLM-IO) said it was important to implement the requirements of the peace agreement in order to lead to elections.
“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 last week during the closing session of South Sudan’s first economic conference.
The current transitional government was formed in 2020 under the terms of a peace agreement that ended a five-year civil war. The agreement stipulated that elections would be held within three years, but the deadline has been extended twice.
The latest extension was granted in August last year with the new election date set for December 2024.
However, there is growing doubt that this deadline will be met, as the government has not yet completed all of the necessary preparations.
The conflicting statements from Kiir and Machar have raised concerns about the likelihood of elections being held in December.
It is unclear whether the two leaders are able to agree on a common position on the issue.
If elections are not held in December, it is likely that the transitional government will be extended again.
This would be a disappointing development for many South Sudanese, who are eager to see a democratically elected government in place, and the international community who have funded the process and have helped with humanitarian needs.