JUBA, NOV. 4th, 2023 President Salva Kiir Mayardit on Friday night issued several republican decrees reconstituting key transitional institutions needed for conduct of the country’s long-awaited general elections slated for December next year.
The decrees readout on the state-owned South Sudan Broadcasting Corporation (SSBC) on Friday night reconstituted the National Elections Commission (NEC), the National Constitutional Review Commission (NCRC), and the Political Parties Council (PPC).
In his first decree, Kiir named Dr. Abednego Akol Chol as the chairperson of NEC. Akol is an academic and a member of the ruling Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) party faction under Kiir. He will be deputized by Michael Nyabagayo of the South Sudan Opposition Alliance (SSOA) and civil servant Mark Michael Deng will serve as the Chief Elections Officer.
Notably, no opposition official from the main armed opposition Sudan People’s Liberation Movement in Opposition (SPLM-IO) led by First Vice President Riek Machar was appointed to any executive role in the commission. This omission will likely raise concern about the fairness and transparency of the upcoming elections within the Machar-led SPLM faction.
In another decree, Kiir named Dr. Riang Yier Dhuor of the SPLM-IO as the chairperson of the NCRC. The NCRC is tasked with reviewing South Sudan’s constitution. Riang is a highly respected individual within the SPLM-IO, and he has represented the group in the National Constitutional Amendment Committee (NCA).
Key members of the NCRC include information minister and government spokesman Michael Makuei Lueth, senior member of the Jieng Council of Elders and member of parliament Aldo Ajou Deng and former governor of Warrap State and presidential advisor on decentralization Tor Deng Mawien.
In yet another decree, Kiir named James Akol as the Chairperson of the PPC. He will be deputized by civil society activist Lona Loduro Elia and James Lembi was appointed as the Executive Secretary. The PPC is responsible for regulating and coordinating the activities of political parties in the country.
The National Elections Commission is composed of nine members in total. Meanwhile the Political Parties Council is composed of 10 in total. The National Constitutional Review Commission is composed of 48 members in total.
The reconstitution of these key institutions comes as South Sudan, the world’s youngest country, is preparing for its first pool since independence in December 2024. The country succeeded from Sudan in July 2011 and has never seen elections in its post-independence period.
The presidential action is also an important element in the revitalized peace agreement Kiir signed with several opposition groups such as the SPLM-IO and the SSOA in September 2018 to end a five-year-old deadly conflict which killed nearly half a million people.
South Sudan’s powerful Western friends such as the United States, the United Kingdom, Norway, and Canada have been calling on the collegial presidency under Kiir to fully implement the 2018 peace agreement. There was no immediate reaction to the latest steps in the peace implementation from the Western powers.