US differs with UN chief on South Sudan pre-poll conditions

US differs with UN chief on South Sudan pre-poll conditions
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. [Photo: Courtesy]

The United States Department of State disapproved the evaluation of the conditions for South Sudan’s elections by the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, claiming that the country’s political leaders were not meeting their obligations.

U.S. State Department Spokesperson, Mathew Miller, clarified on Tuesday that Mr Gueterres’ letter dated April 8, in which he listed more than a dozen essential prerequisites that the South Sudan transitional government still needs to meet in order to hold legitimate and peaceful elections, is a direct message to the Security Council.

“Despite significant international support, including identification of key election issues by the United Nations, African Union, and Intergovernmental Authority on Development, the letter demonstrates that President Salva Kiir, First Vice President Riek Machar, and other South Sudanese political leaders have thus far collectively failed to meet the standards necessary for genuine and peaceful elections to take place in December,” said the US department

 “The United States remains concerned about ongoing reports of human rights violations, as well as inadequate investment in key democratic institutions,” it added.

The department stated that, “Transitional government leaders should act with urgency to address these deficiencies and create the necessary preconditions for a genuine and peaceful electoral process, including by protecting civic space, standing up politically neutral security forces, strengthening electoral institutions, and holding dialogue among leaders to resolve outstanding election decisions,”

 The U.S. State Department urged that UN electoral support should focus on establishing these preconditions.  

“The longer South Sudan’s leaders avoid taking these steps, the greater the risk of additional violence,” Miller said. “An estimated 75 percent of the country’s population will require humanitarian assistance this year alone as a result of ongoing violence.”

The press release claims that the United States’ engagement with the people of South Sudan, which started decades before the nation gained its independence, is still centered on the common principles of democracy, human rights, peace, and the obligation of the state to meet the needs of its citizens.