The European Union (EU) Thursday announced assistance to South Sudan with 3 million euros for the general elections slated to take place in December 2024.
The funds will be managed by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to back electoral processes. The project will support the National Elections Commission (NEC), Political Parties Council (PPC), judiciary, media, and the police in their electoral-related roles.
Addressing journalists at a press conference held at the premises of the EU Delegation in Juba on Thursday, EU Ambassador to South Sudan Timo Olkonen said the project will help South Sudan establish enabling legal frameworks for the conduct of free, fair, credible elections.
“Free, fair, credible, peaceful and inclusive elections are key elements of democracy and the rule of law in the country. In South Sudan, elections are expected not only to mark the end of the transition phase but elections also represent a wider opportunity to move towards democracy, good governance and development,” said Timo.
“Elections can be an important mechanism to consolidate peace, to give legitimacy in the eyes of the people to elected institutions, to support reconciliation and to influence how democratic politics can become sustainable with a vibrant and active civil society,” he added.
Meanwhile, UNDP Deputy County Representative Titus Osundina said the project will set the foundation necessary to hold polls next year.
“Phase one of the project will support an enabling environment for elections. Technically, acceptable elections are, of course, important but the before the elections can happen or take place, there are many enabling environment situations that we need to put in place that will set the foundation for credible, inclusive, and peaceful elections. The project is multifaceted. It will strengthen and support the National Elections Commissions (NEC) and the Political Parties Council (PPC) so they can play their role in administrating the elections,” said Titus.
For his part, Mr Yoannes Amum Nyiker, Secretary General of the National Elections Commission, said: “We are not going to conduct democratic elections but it is a conflict resolution elections and peacebuilding and unity. So in these areas, these are critical areas for us to have fair and democratic elections in the young Republic of South Sudan.”
South Sudan is governed by a transitional government created after a 2018 peace agreement between President Salva Kiir, opposition leader Riek Machar and other political figures.
General elections were due to be conducted in February 2023, but the transitional government failed to meet key clauses of the peace deal, including the drafting of a permanent constitution.
In August 2022, the parties to the agreement extended their transitional government for two years beyond the scheduled date, citing difficulties in implementing the peace agreement.
The parties, however, assured the South Sudanese population and the international community that these difficulties would be resolved before the elections, scheduled for December 2024.