UN envoy warns South Sudan ‘show political will’ to hold elections


Anjali Sharma

GG News Bureau

UNITED NATIONS, 16th Sept. UN special envoy for South Sudan, Nicholas Haysom on Friday briefed the members of the Security Council and told that resolving critical outstanding issues requires political will for compromise, as South Sudan prepares to hold its first elections in December.

Nicholas Haysom noted 15 months to the end of the transition period, “time is of the essence” for getting the election process settled.

“Critical questions remain unanswered. Resolving them does not require material resources, only the political will to reach compromise and consensus,” he said.

He noted the decisions on the type of the election, voter registration issues, delineating constituencies, and management of electoral disputes.

He told that there has been modest progress, such as initial discussions on election budgets and the passing of a national elections act, important institutions including the National Elections Commission and political party registration system, have not been set up.

Mr. Haysom said that President Salva Kiir had made a clear commitment that South Sudan will not return to war and that the elections will be held on time.

President Kiir also said that all parties must work to end the era of perpetual transition, Mr. Haysom added.

South Sudan gained independence from Sudan after a referendum in July of 2011.

A political face-off between two factions erupted into full-blown armed conflict, exposed  weak institutions and leading to a major humanitarian crisis and immense suffering.

The country’s leaders signed a new peace agreement in September 2018, including a timeline for national elections.

Mr. Haysom, head of the UN Mission in the country said that it is looking at a two-phased approach to support the elections.

He noted this would include capacity building and expanding political space, followed by supporting the ballot process itself.

Mr. Haysom added that the ceasefire agreed in 2018 is “largely holding” across the country, but communal tensions and sporadic fighting between security forces and groups that did not sign the peace accord continue to present obstacles.

Edem Wosornu, Director of Operations at the UN relief coordination office said that the situation in South Sudan together with the crisis in neighbouring Sudan and limited funding are “deeply complicating” the humanitarian picture.

OCHA reported 9.4 million people in South Sudan 76 per cent of its population relied on aid due to violence climatic shocks.

The outbreak of conflict in Sudan forced over 260,000 people to flee across the border, including many South Sudanese refugees themselves.

She said “The massive influx of returnees and refugees comes on the backdrop of limited funding, that has imposed a huge burden on already stretched support services, leaving insufficient capacity to meet the wide range of needs,”.

Sudan crisis has effects on South Sudan’s trade and economy, leading to sharp food price increases and rising hunger.

Ms. Wosornu urged donors to step up support to the 2023 humanitarian response plan for South Sudan, which has raised less than half its requirements for the year.

“We have a responsibility to support the aspirations of South Sudanese to fend for themselves and live a peaceful and dignified life,” she said.

“It is our hope that with the steadfast support and investment of the international community, South Sudan will make the progress it deserves.”

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