No more extension: The Church adds voice in call for general election

No more extension: The Church adds voice in call for general election

The province of the Episcopal Church of South Sudan (ECSS) waded into the contentious debate on the planned 2024 general elections, urging the parties to the revitalised peace agreement to conduct the exercise despite the uncompleted chapters of the agreement.

Speaking to the media on Tuesday, the Archbishop of the Metropolitan Diocese of Juba Dr. Justin Badi Arama said since the leaders have agreed to an election at the end of next year, it would be prudent to conduct it without further delay.

“We are all in agreement that the election must be conducted as stipulated in the revitalized peace agreement and the roadmap,” he said.

 “However, we are very much concerned that the most key prerequisites of the elections process are not fully implemented by the parties to the agreement,” he further lamented.

“Security arrangement, reconstitution of the National Election Commission, funding of the election budget, the 5Rs (Repatriation, Relief, Rehabilitation, Reconstruction and Re-Integration) for the returnees and IDPS, Reconstitution of the Political Party Council.”

The cleric said that ECSS is equally aware of the huge challenges that the government and political parties are facing. But it is also in the interest of the citizens of South Sudan to understand that the election will be conducted on time.

He said the Church will support in election monitoring and mediation, including advocating and preaching for peace as well as praying.

The Episcopal Church also appealed to the Revitalised Transitional Government of National Unity to ensure the election is conducted without further extension.

Last year, President Salva Kiir and First Vice President Dr. Riek Machar extended the period of the transitional government to two years, which was beyond the approved deadline. The parties attributed this to the necessity to address challenges that hindered the implementation of the peace agreement.

But the implementation of the pending chapters of the agreement as stipulated in the roadmap have hit a low speed with many stakeholders like the Reconstituted Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (RJMEC) calling for the completion of the tasks if the polls are to be conducted.

Last month, President Salva Kiir addressed a rally organized by the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) in Wau, Western Bahr el Ghazal State, where he underpinned the commitment to delivering a free and fair poll at the end of the transition.

The U.N. envoy to South Sudan, Nicholas Haysom, also urged the leaders to implement the peace agreement and hold “inclusive and credible” elections next year. Haysom started clearly that there would not be more extensions of the timeline for election at the end of 2024.

Top SPLM leaders like the Secretary for Political Affairs and Mobilisation, Santo Malek, assured that country that there was no plan to extend further the transitional period.

“We are not going to extend anything (election); we will respect time and work according to what is in the peace agreement and the roadmap in particular,” Malek said in an interview with The City Review.

“We have respect, and in December 2024, we will kick off with the election, and whoever is saying that we are going beyond that is nonsense, and there is nothing like extension,” he said.