The special representative of the United Nations Secretary-General and head of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), Nicholas Haysom, has underscored the importance of ensuring a level playing field for all political parties in South Sudan as the nation gears up for its elections in 2024. Haysom emphasized that elections are a comprehensive process, necessitating thoughtful decisions before, during, and after the event.
A Call for Fairness and Transparency
For South Sudan, a country still recuperating from a divisive conflict, it is of paramount importance that this process receives the full support of its people. The UNMISS head has stressed the need for parties to agree on a code of conduct to ensure free, fair, and transparent competition. He warned against unilateral actions that could undermine trust among stakeholders.
Urgency and Critical Decisions
Haysom also urged the South Sudanese people to work towards their first post-independence elections with a sense of urgency. He stated that critical decisions need to be made by the first quarter of 2024 to envision credible elections. South Sudan, which gained independence in 2011, experienced a brutal civil war triggered by a political conflict between President Salva Kiir and his former Deputy Riek Machar, resulting in approximately 400,000 deaths.
Reflection of the People's Will
Haysom emphasized that the elections should reflect the will and consensus of all South Sudanese. He also highlighted the ongoing diplomatic engagements aimed at garnering support and partnerships for South Sudan in preparation for the elections. The UN official underscored the importance of collective imagination and practical compromise among the parties to the Revitalized Peace Agreement. Haysom also addressed concerns about gender and political representation, stressing on the need for resourcing and operationalizing key bodies to execute their mandates.
As South Sudan moves towards its first post-independence elections, the world watches with bated breath, hoping for a fair and peaceful electoral process that would further solidify the nation's strides towards lasting peace and stability.