JUBA – The United States government has made it yet again clear that elections planned for end of South Sudan’s transitional period must be credible and reflect the will of the South Sudanese people saying a credible process will be critical for South Sudan’s transition.
South Sudan President Salva Kiir Mayardit and First Vice President Dr. Riek Machar Teny in September 2018 signed a revitalized version of a 2015 peace agreement ending a five-year-old civil war in February 2020 with the appointment of Machar, a then rebel leader, as First Vice President.
However, the parties to the agreement haven’t yet completed critical tasks provided for in the revitalized peace agreement such as the formation of a unified national army which must precede conduct of elections, which will be the first of its kind since the country gained independence in 2011.
President Salva Kiir Mayardit has in recent past called for conduct of elections in 2023, but critical tasks including census, which must come before elections, hasn’t yet taken place, and senior government officials have accused Western countries of refusing to fund the implementation of the peace deal.
Speaking before the United Nations Security Council today, United States Deputy Representative to the United Nations, Ambassador Richard Mills, said the planned elections must be credible and must reflect the will of the people of South Sudan.
“Pursuing free and fair elections that are inclusive and peaceful and that reflect the will of the South Sudanese people will be critical for a transition towards a stable, democratic, and self-reliant state,” he told the Council today.
“However, credible elections that reflect the will of the people must be preceded by an inclusive, transparent constitution-drafting process, carried out in an environment that permits freedom of expression and provides space for political dissent,” he added.
The top Untied States diplomat said his government is about South Sudan government’s “continued efforts to limit political opposition, including the recent arrest of local civil society members and the stifling of free speech and freedom of association.”
He added that the Biden Administration is “also increasingly concerned at the prolonged violence at the sub-national level throughout South Sudan, often involving large and well-equipped armed groups.”