JUBA – South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir Mayardit has reiterated his intention to hold elections in 2023 saying the democratic process, which will be first of its kind in South Sudan, will go on as planned despite what other politicians including his first deputy Dr. Riek Machar Teny, say.
This comes just days after First Vice President Dr. Riek Machar Teny and Vice-President for Gender and Youth Cluster Rebecca Garang, said there was no need for elections before completion of the implementation of the security arrangements provided for in the revitalized peace agreement.
While speaking during the opening session of the country’s 5th Governors’ Forum in Juba on Tuesday, Machar said elections should not take place in 2023 if the pending peace tasks provided for in the revitalized peace agreement are not implemented saying that will affect the question of whether the elections is to be held.
“To have fair, free, transparent elections, you must have security forces who will protect the state, its people and not interfere in the election processes. And therefore, it is critical [that] if we are going to go for elections, [then] we must complete in the shortest possible time, the security arrangements,” Machar told the forum.
“I believe why our refugees are not coming is because we have not moved forward on the security arrangements. Once they know we have moved forward in the security arrangements, they will come [home],” Machar added.
For her part, VP Garang said the world’s youngest country should not hold elections until when transitional tasks such as the return of refugees, making of the permanent constitution and national reconciliation are completed by the unity government and this is, according to her, to have credible and inclusive elections.
“You cannot prepare for elections before we bring our people from refugee camps, and our people in displaced people’s camps to be settled is great work. We have been pressured by host countries who are hosting our refugees, by next year they do not want to see our people in their countries and I want you the governors to know this,” she said.
“We will prepare ourselves early next year so that there is a committee which will be formed by us, UNHCR, and all our partners so that we can visit those host countries where our refugees are,” she added.
But President Salva Kiir is now saying that elections will take place despite what the politicians say pointing out that the forum itself was convened to discuss the challenges that may result in the postponement of elections.
“The people will decide, and it is on this basis that the elections will take place despite or regardless of what politicians say. For them, this is what is in the agreement, elections should be held at the end of the transitional period. This is why there are arrangements and the reason I keep asking others to start the screening process of their forces so that there is a unified command and forces to allow necessary arrangements as stipulated in the agreement to be met,” Kiir said.
“I have not seen the report because the conference is still ongoing, but I have heard what others said. What they are citing as the reasons which could affect other arrangements, including the conduct of elections, are the issues that can be resolved and that is the reason this conference was convened,” he stressed.
“It is to allow all the leaders, all the governors, relevant ministers, institutions and mechanisms in the peace agreement, vice presidents, advisers, and all the stakeholders to come up with ideas that could be used to address the challenges being faced in the implementation of the peace agreement. So, regardless of what Machar and others say, elections will happen,” the South Sudanese leader concludes.