Insecurity could hamper elections, Kiir warns

Insecurity could hamper elections, Kiir warns
President Salva Kiir (photo credit: Presidential Press Unit)

President Salva Kiir has warned that without law and order, the country risks having flawed elections which could bring chaos.

He said to restore law and order, the state governors and the chief administrators must apprehend criminals who often cause insecurity in the country.

Kiir made the statement on Monday during the closure of the 5th Governors’ Forum in Juba.

While closing the one-week governors’ forum in Juba, the president directed the governors to restore peace and stability in the states and the administrative areas.

“As governors and chief administrators, the bulk of your mandate centred on the restoration of law and order within your states and administrative areas,” Kiir said.

He urged them to collaborate with their counterparts to crack down on inter-state criminals who always destabilise borders and impede the government’s effort to implement the peace agreement.

“I would like to emphasise that people need law and order to engage in productive activities, and my instruction to governors and chief administrators is please work within lawful means to apprehend those who disrupt peace and harmony within your states and administrative areas.”

Something must be done

Kiir warned the governors that South Sudan cannot hold credible elections or repatriate South Sudanese living in refugee camps unless there is a law that governs the entire country.

“We cannot hold credible elections, which is the end game of the revitalised peace agreement. We will also not be able to repatriate our citizens who are still residing in refugee camps in neighbouring countries,” the president said.

He added: “Another critical aspect for the governors and the chief administrators is the role of states and administrative areas in the implementation of the Revitalised Peace Agreement.’’

He said the government risked a reversal of the gains already achieved since its formation in February 2020 if no security approach could be found.

Previous concerns         

President Kiir’s sentiment comes just a month after lawmakers in the Reconstituted Transitional National Legislative Assembly (R-TNLA) warned against a rushed election, saying it could plunge the country into chaos.

Dr Aldo Ajou Deng, a lawmaker in the Council of States, said it was necessary to have reforms in the country before thinking about going to the ballot. Dr Deng was categorical that the security sector needed to be streamlined as per the requirements of the security arrangements outlined in the 2018 peace agreement.

“Let us put the security together, let us put the institutions including judiciary in its place. Let us declare freedom and liberty in democracy and the rule of law before we talk about the election,” he said.

Ajou stressed that “these gaps are fundamental for a country to run, but when they are absent, you cannot say you run institutions and you make people accountable for the development.”

The Deputy Speaker of the RTLNA, Nathaniel Oyet, at the time questioned the logistics in place to help in securing election if South Sudanese were still languishing in camps and no single soldier had graduated.

“From 2018 to 2021, we have not even graduated a single soldier and now we are talking about the election and you know these parties some of them have arms, they have forces, if we go for elections as commander in chief and as generals, I wonder what kind of elections we will be holding,” Oyet questioned.

Oyet further raised the concern of political intolerance, saying much needed to be done by the government to ensure that democratic ideals prevail. For instance, he said the political leaders were being intimidated by security personnel, a situation he said could open pandora’s box for unlawful political detentions during elections.

“We have a lack of political space. You hear in Wau, Central Equatoria and other parts of this country, security operatives are detaining members of other political parties. They don’t allow them to have their meetings. Civil liberties are hampered,’’ he lamented.

 ‘‘You hear people are leaving in embassies and these are bad signs we don’t want to see in this country. [If] we want credible elections then we must desist from this kind of practice.”

On  Monday, President Kiir dropped another assurance that the government was focused on graduating the soldiers even without guns. Chapter five of the peace agreement, which is one of the cornerstones of security is yet to be implemented.