SPLM-IO rooting for elections, says Machar

The First Vice President Dr. Riek Machar said SPLM/A-IO is wholeheartedly supporting the conduct of elections as “the end point of the agreement.”

Machar, who had a meeting with the RJMEC chairman, Maj Gen (rtd) Charles Gituai, on the implementation of Roadmap tasks on Friday, conceded that the activities leading to election have not yet been completed.

“The activities leading to conducting free, fair, and credible elections have not been started, such as security arrangement, repatriation of refugees and IDPs, conducting census, and permanent constitution,” Machar said.

He said the lag in the deployment of the necessary unified forces is due to lack of resources and logistical challenges to transport the forces from training centres to their areas of deployment.

Machar notified RJMEC on disagreements in the middle echelons of the military and police, adding that another agreement has been reached in four units including, national security, prisons, civil defense, and wildlife.

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He further reiterated his commitment to the full implementation of the peace agreement in letter and spirit.

Gituai promised to continue engaging with the peace parties to exert effort in addressing the issues at hand to fast-track the implementation of the peace agreement.

The meeting also discussed the need for clarifications on the continued movement restrictions of Dr. Machar staying in Juba without travelling to other countries.

Machar’s affirmation comes in the wake of suspicion from the peace partners, SPLM-IG, that his movement may not be keen on participating in the elections come next year.

In August, 2023, the Acting Press Secretary in the Office of the First Vice President, Puok Baluang, cautioned at an online discussion hosted by an activist that conducting an election without proper security arrangements would lay a carpet for a return to war.

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Baluang argued that the country to hold elections “with two to three armies,” as he underlined the importance of the deployment of the graduated forces.

“I would like to point out that we will not take part in any activity that will lead the country back to conflict. These prerequisites are very important and they are not out of space,” he said.

He added, “Are we conducting elections in Juba only or in the areas that (are) controlled by the SPLM-IG? So, we have to think, beyond our own interests as parties.”

Baluang was categorical that the movement would not be part of a charade exercise that would plunge the country into conflict.

However, in a separate interview with Radio Tamazuj, the government spokesperson, Michael Makuei, responded to the SPLM/A-IO with a clever dig, accusing them of clinging to all manner of excuses to have the election postponed.

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“Well, we have been very clear that the elections will take place as scheduled in December 2024,” Makuei said.

“So, those who still say that there are some pending critical tasks before elections are those who do not want elections to take place,” he said.

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