UN Security Council to monitor South Sudan election

UN Security Council to monitor South Sudan election
The United Nations Securoty Council | File Photo

The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) has resolved to establish a dedicated team of experts to assist South Sudan’s electoral process.

The 15-member council made the endorsement on Thursday following a presidential statement presented by Kenya Council President requesting the UN Severity-General to establish an integrated electoral assistance team for South Sudan.

Furthermore, the UNSC emphasised that elections must be preceded by an inclusive, transparent constitution-drafting process, carried out in an environment that respects freedom of expression, association, and peaceful assembly, and encourages civic engagement.

The council then urged the South Sudanese authorities to make progress on key milestones, including the necessary security arrangements, the establishment of the legal framework for elections, and the establishment of a functioning National Election Commission both in Juba and at the subnational level.

South Sudan will be expected to hold its first election as an independent country in 2023 despite criticism by activists and some government officials. The year marks the end of the transitional period.

In September, President Salva Kiir reiterated the government’s readiness to conduct general elections at the end of the interim period and called on parties to demonstrate the political will to enable the implementation of the outstanding tasks to effect the move.

It was yet unclear whether parties to the revitalised agreement would complete the tasks within the remaining 16 months to a pathway for the election to take place.

However, last month, the Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General Nicholas Haysom warned that the slow implementation of the security arrangements could obstruct election after the end of the transitional period.

“Don’t rush”

“We witnessed an increase in violence particularly communal violence and humanitarian challenges. The slow security arrangements can be an obstacle for the coming election,” he said.

His sentiments were echoed by the Executive Director of CEPO, Edmund Yakani, who urged the president to take responsibility for transitioning the country from violence to peace.

“The delay in implementing the transitional security arrangements and slow establishment of the political proposed structures by the various provisions of the R-ARCSS is posing worry for successful transitioning of the country from violence to peace,” Mr Yakani noted.

Earlier this year, the SPLM-IO also warned against conducting the poll if not all the crucial chapters are implemented. 

“It is not just about stating that the election will be held in 2023. We are not against it, but to reach election, we need to implement the agreement,” said Manawa Peter Gatkuoth, SPLM-IO Spokesperson who is also the National Minister of Water Resources and Irrigation.

Some Members of Parliament in the Reconstituted Transitional National Legislative Assembly (RTNLA) on Wednesday warned that the planned 2023 elections will not be possible without political reforms and a permanent constitution.

Dr Aldo Ajou Deng, a lawmaker in the Council of States, said for election to take place in South Sudan, the issue of security and reforms in institutions must be considered to ensure a fair and credible outcome.

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

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

Article 1.20 subsection 1.20.5 of the Revitalised Agreement on the Resolution of Conflict in South Sudan states that 60 days before the end of the transitional period, the national election commission (NEC) shall organise elections under the provisions of the permanent constitution adopted according to the agreement, and shall ensure that the outcome is broadly reflective of the will of the electorate