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South Sudan Seeks Support for Elections

FILE - A South Sudanese election official waits for voters to cast their vote in Juba, South Sudan, Jan. 13, 2011.
FILE - A South Sudanese election official waits for voters to cast their vote in Juba, South Sudan, Jan. 13, 2011.

The South Sudan government is asking for help from the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) to implement outstanding tasks in the 2018 revitalized peace agreement ahead of the country’s elections scheduled for 2024.

South Sudan’s Minister for Cabinet Affairs Martin Elia Lomuro wrote to UNMISS this week requesting the mission fund certain tasks outlined in the 2018 revitalized peace deal.

A letter addressed to Nicholas Haysom, special representative of the secretary general in South Sudan and UNMISS chief, urged the U.N. to support legislative, institutional and consultative components of the agreement to ensure credible elections in December 2024.

“As I speak now, nobody has come to our help. Those who came with very minimal help only for the graduation of the forces and cantonment and training of the forces. Nothing else, now the most important is the political part of the agreement,” Lomuro told VOA’s South Sudan in Focus in an exclusive interview.

He said stakeholders have not supported some provisions in the peace agreement that paves way for elections.

Lomuro said the country has no experience conducting elections, adding that a lot needs to be done to ensure creditable elections are held in South Sudan.

“We never had a properly established National Election Commission, neither in the headquarters or in the states. Now we want to have a commission that is capable of conducting elections properly and that means we need to have offices in all the states, even in all the counties; it is not easy,” Lomuro said.

Darren Scott Nance, UNMISS head of electoral affairs, confirmed in a recorded message that the mission had received a request for help from the South Sudanese government earlier this week.

“We are highlighting that the government noted that elections are a process that requires starting from now to begin the planning and preparations with immediate need to finalize the electoral legal frame and reconstitute the national elections commissions,” Nance said.

Nance said UNMISS is ready to provide support for South Sudan’s electoral process.

“The United Nations looks at working with the government and with relevant national institutions, civil society, political parties and the media in assisting them with planning and preparation for South Sudan's first elections as a sovereign state,” Nance said but warned that the U.N. will not run South Sudan elections.

Lomuro insists elections can be held in late 2024 if the international community and regional bodies provide help for the electoral process.

“We can do it; two years is enough time. If anybody recognizes the importance of what we are talking about, then they should come to our aid,” said Lomuro, adding “partners should be talking now, not waiting until we get a problem.”

In August last year, parties to the peace deal ending South Sudan’s civil war delayed the country’s first elections since independence by extending the transitional period by two years. The vote slated for next month was pushed to December 2024.