President Salva Kiir said the government is committed to accomplishing the pending tasks to the revitalised peace agreement that are considered vital preconditions for a free and fair election.
Kiir made the assurance when he met the Norwegian Special Envoy for South Sudan and Sudan, Jon Anton Johnson, in Juba on Thursday.
The Presidential Press Unit (PPU) issued a statement after the meeting highlighting the promise by the head of state to steer the country into an election. According to the PPU, Johnson also revealed that the major issue on the table for discussion was how to ensure that South Sudanese elect their leaders and hold them to account.
“President Kiir has assured the Norwegian government of his commitment to implement all the provisions of the Peace Agreement, to pave way for the conduct of elections next year,” PPU stated on a statement shared on Facebook.
It added, “Jon added that the meeting as well touched on the big events, including the elections in 2024, as stipulated in the peace accord, to allow South Sudanese choose leaders of their choice.”
The meeting also involved the Foreign Minister Dr. James Pitia, who “said the government would in the coming days establish the electoral institutions to prepare the country for the polls.”
The assurance by President Kiir comes just two weeks after he signed the amended National Elections Act 2023 Bill into law. At the time, the bill had elicited political consternations among the SPLM-IO lawmakers who condemned a clause within it, which empowers a president-elect to nominate five per cent of the members of the parliament.
Aside from the bill, there are also pending tasks to be accomplished prior to the conduct of the elections. One of them is the deployment of the first batch of the graduated necessary unified forces which is yet to happen.
Last month, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of UNMISS, Nicholas Haysom, told the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) that although a sizeable number of South Sudanese are rooting for the elections, there is a parallel feeling that the government has not done much for the preparations for the exercise.
“Passing priority election-related legislation in parliament, allocating a national budget for elections, reconstituting and resourcing key electoral institutions and completing essential benchmarks in the roadmap, especially related to the Transitional Security Arrangements,” Haysom noted.
The same concerns have equally been aired by the Reconstituted Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (RJMEC), which noted in its last plenary that the government was yet to make progress on the pre-electoral phase, particularly on setting up electoral institutions and permanent constitution.
However, last week the government spokesperson Michael Makuei knocked off the suggestions of ill-preparedness, saying the government had a satisfactory record as it looks forward to the exercise.
“We believe that we are [heading] in the right direction because after all, what are those gaps that they think are not [fixed]? We think that, up until now, we have had enough time. If there are any gaps at all, they will be covered within this period. This period is long; it’s not a short period.”
South Sudan entered a roadmap deal to extend the transitional period and set up December 2024 as the period for the elections.
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