JUBA – South Sudan’s Vice-President for Youth and Gender Cluster Rebecca Nyandeng De Mabior has said that the world’s youngest country should not hold elections until when transitional tasks such as the return of refugees is completed by the unity government.
According to the country’s revitalized peace agreement, the country should go to elections next year, but delays in the implementation of provisions of the agreement is inevitable to push the elections timeline to 2023 as senior government officials including President Kiir and his first deputy Dr. Riek Machar have given contradicting statements regarding the matter.
The transitional tasks include the reunification of rival forces that would enable formation of a unified army, population census, making of a permanent constitution, and the return of the displaced.
President Salva Kiir Mayardit on several occasions has stated that elections will take place in 2023, but prominent opposition leaders including Machar has expressed a strong disapproval of elections before the reunification of their armies.
Speaking during the opening session of the 5th Governors’ Forum in Juba on Tuesday, Vice-President Garang said elections cannot take place in 2023 before refugees are returned home, among other peace tasks.
“You cannot prepare for elections before we bring our people from refugee camps, and our people in displaced people’s camps to be settled is great work,” Garang told the forum.
The senior South Sudan government official further said a team from South Sudan will be visiting refugees in neighboring countries next year
“We have been pressured by host countries who are hosting our refugees, by next year they do not want to see our people in their countries and I want you the governors to know this,” VP Nyandeng said.
“We will prepare ourselves early next year so that there is a committee which will be formed by us, UNHCR, and all our partners so that we can visit those host countries where our refugees are,” she added.