Kiir, Machar to decide on 2023 election, Makuei tells UN

Kiir, Machar to decide on 2023 election, Makuei tells UN
Information Minister Michael Makuei said that plans are a foot to increase workers’ pay. [Courtesy]

The Minister for Information, Michael Makuei, said the duty of determining the date of South Sudan’s election is a duty bestowed on the principals of the peace agreement and they will exercise it at their discretion.

Makuei said this yesterday in response to UN Secretary-General António Guterres, who on Thursday urged the parties to the 2018 peace accord to engage in dialogue and agree on a clear road map for finishing up the transitional phase, which culminates in an election.

Guterres urged the parties to demonstrate national leadership by finishing up the constitution and holding free, fair, credible, and inclusive elections in the limited time remaining. He challenged the government to prioritise funding the security mechanisms to enable the graduation, deployment, and operationalisation of the necessary unified forces as soon as possible.

Makuei, who is also a member of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM-IG), has remarked that while elections are beyond the ability of the parties to the agreement, his party is ready for them.

 “This question has been hanging forever and it is not within our [jurisdiction] to decide on it.” It is the [duty] of the parties to the agreement and this was even raised in the R-JMEC [meeting] and it was agreed by the parties to the agreement that the principles of the agreement are the ones to come out with their final report or decision on the issue of the election.”

“SPLM is straightforward that it is for elections but the positions of other parties are not clear and this is what we are waiting for from them,” said Makuei yesterday during a press briefing on cabinet meeting.

According to Oyet Nathaniel, deputy chairman of the SPLM-IO and first deputy speaker of the Transitional National Legislative Assembly, the problem of the country is not a lack of elections but the prevalent civil wars condemning it to a “failed state” status.

‘Elections not priority’

Oyet said South Sudan needed to have organised and professional security forces and open up its political space to allow civic liberty. This he said would allow a democratic transition to take place and earn the country respect among its peers.

“The call for elections in the prevailing social, political, and security situation is a non-starter because the objective of the revitalised peace agreement is not yet met,’’ he said. 

“There is a cartel that has captured the state. They are embarrassing and robbing the country of much-needed resources for service delivery,’’ he further alleged. 

The parties are yet to finish important parts of the peace agreement, such as the controversial Political Parties Act, which was amended by parliament and is being challenged by the SPLM-IO, as well as amending the Election Act and reconstituting the electoral commission.

Other provisions include, among other things, the unification of the necessary unified forces, economic reforms, the permanent constitution-making process, the reconstitution of the electoral commission, ratification of the election act, census-taking, and the return and resettlement of refugees and internally displaced persons to their homes.

According to the reports, the majority of South Sudan’s civilian population is armed, and frantic efforts to mop out illegal guns are yet to yield substantial fruits. When the Vice President of Economic Cluster, Dr James Wani Igga, visited Bahr-El-Ghazal in 2020, he claimed that civilians are more equipped than government soldiers- a sentiment that Mr Oyet agreed with.

 “If you are telling civilians to go for elections when they are well-armed, you will lose the election itself”.

 “We need a new constitution to be in place, we need parties to be organised; we need transition justice to be carried out, the truth, reconciliation, and healing,’’ he said.

“We need the hybrid court to ensure accountability for atrocities and crimes committed during the conflict.” We also need our refugees to be returned to the country and settled back home, and a census. “