JUBA – South Sudan parties to the revitalized peace agreement needs to unveil election timeline for the international community to plan in advance how to support the polls, a top United Nations diplomat in South Sudan said Thursday.
Nicholas Haysom, the head of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) and Special Representative of the UN Secretary General, made the remarks during a press briefing to journalists in the capital Juba.
The South African lawyer said that for the international community to plan in advance how to support the democratic process, the parties to the revitalized peace agreement need to unveil a timeline on when to conduct the elections.
“The international community, which will be required to support the elections, needs to know when the elections are likely to be held so that we can align and prioritize our support,” Mr. Haysom said during the briefing.
“But if we don’t have a date then nobody will really commit to supporting elections and South Sudanese will not get into the frame of mind which is necessary for the elections to be held,” said the peacekeeping official,” he added.
He said the UN mission in the world’s youngest country needs to be aware of the election timeframe to support the process in different ways.
“It is particularly our hope that the parties will announce a formal elections timetable. It is not only technical and logistical planning that is necessary for elections to take place. What is also required is a free and open political environment,” he said.
“This means creating a space for a robust and competitive political process to take place, one that fosters nation building not only division. The impact of delay however is manifest in the ongoing frustration across the country,” he added.
He said what is currently needed is “is national leadership, dedicated resources for completing the transition, and a visible commitment by South Sudan’s leaders to fulfil their responsibilities under the peace agreement.”
The Special Representative of the Secretary-General warned that the window of opportunity was closing on the Revitalized Peace Agreement, which was signed by all parties in 2018 to end repeated civil wars.
“I call on all parties to demonstrate collective common purpose—unity of purpose—by working together towards the full implementation of the agreement. I encourage the leaders to take the necessary steps for the country to exit its transitional period, through the conduct of free, fair, credible, and peaceful elections,” Haysom said.
While acknowledging progress in certain areas, including the formation of the reconstituted transitional legislature, Haysom outlined four key areas that must be prioritized top help move South Sudan from war to lasting peace.
“Firstly, the legislature should resume sittings and pass the Constitution Making Process Bill, which will govern the drafting of a permanent constitution, a vital measure in tackling root causes of the protracted crisis in South Sudan, by addressing issues of governance, as well as federal power and revenue sharing,” he stated.
“The country must have a fully functioning, truly national security apparatus to ensure a safe and secure environment, but also as a prerequisite for citizens to vote, to express their will at the polls,” he added.