South Sudan’s peace is facing a new challenge as an agreement on the electoral programme to end the current Unity government and usher in a democratically elected administration is delayed.
This week, officials from the Reconstituted Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (R-JMEC), the regional organ that monitors the peace deal implementation, said delays in fulfilling some of the pledges in the 2018 agreement could see the country overshoot its transition timelines.
The delay could cause renewed conflict, said Maj-Gen (Rtd) Charles Tai Gituai, the interim chairman of the R-JMEC, a body created by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (Igad).
Maj-Gen (Rtd) Gituai was speaking in Juba at the Fifth Governor’s Forum, a conference of key regional administration chiefs working under the government of national unity, on Monday.
The forum was created after the 2018 peace agreement between President Salva Kiir, his former deputy Riek Machar and other armed groups.
“Despite progress in some thematic areas, challenges persist. Too much time has been lost,” he said. “We have barely 15 months until the end of the Transitional Period and yet some critical tasks remain outstanding.”
The most crucial stage is planning for an election that will see the public participate. Other issues include writing a new Constitution, merging security forces, and reforms in the Judiciary.
In an address to the UN Security Council this week, President Salva Kiir said he is ready for the 2023 elections as stipulated in the 2018 IGAD-mediated peace deal.
“The Revitalised Peace Agreement is being implemented, although slowly. We are determined to implement it through,” said President Kiir.
However, first vice president Mr Machar said without the implementation of security arrangements the credibility of the elections will be jeopardised.
“For South Sudan to have fair, free, transparent elections, we must have security forces who will protect the state, its people, and that will not interfere with the electoral process. If we are going to elections, we must complete in the shortest possible time the security arrangement,” Mr Machar said.
Fifth vice president Rebecca Nyandeng, however, said the priority for the country should be humanitarian responses, and not elections.
“People talk about elections; you cannot prepare for elections before we bring our people from the refugee camps and our people in the displaced camps to be settled,” she said.
Already, there have been two extensions of the Pre-Transitional Period before the extension of the election deadline to 2023.
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