EU denies allegation that tries to delay South Sudan’s elections

RJMEC South Sudan @RJMECsouthsudan
On May 23, Ambassador Charles Tai Gituai of Kenya, the interim chairperson of the Reconstituted Joint Monitoring & Evaluation Commission, an international commission to oversee South Sudan's 2015 peace agreement, stated that there was no evidence of sufficient preparation to conduct elections.

Despite facing significant obstacles, including a severe economic crisis, South Sudan is preparing to hold its first election in December. However, President Salva Kiir has accused the EU and other Western countries of trying to delay the election process, but he has not provided any evidence to support his claim. Kiir has emphasised the importance of the December elections for stability in the country and has warned that any delay could lead to violence.

The European Union delegation in South Sudan has firmly denied President Kiir’s allegations, asserting its full support for creating an environment conducive to holding elections, establishing a constitution, and implementing transitional justice. Deputy Head of the EU Delegation Lothar Jaschke said Thursday that the EU strongly supports an environment that enables elections, a constitution, and transitional justice.

UN Security Council extends the sanction regime

The United Nations Security Council has extended the sanctions regime imposed on South Sudan for one year, including asset freezes, travel bans, and an arms embargo, on May 30. The Council’s willingness to review the arms embargo based on progress made on established benchmarks is a key detail that provides a comprehensive understanding of the international community’s stance on South Sudan.

The delegate from South Sudan acknowledged the views of some representatives that sanctions, especially the arms embargo, are needed to uphold pressure and promote the peace process. However, he noted that South Sudan’s commitment to peace and stability is evident through establishing a unified armed command structure for the necessary unified forces and the progress made in implementation. He also warned that the ongoing imposition of sanctions hampers the country’s efforts to develop robust security institutions to ensure stability and safeguard its citizens.

No sufficient preparation for elections

On May 23, Ambassador Charles Tai Gituai of Kenya, the interim chairperson of the Reconstituted Joint Monitoring & Evaluation Commission, which oversees the implementation of the R-ARCSS, an international commission to oversee South Sudan’s 2015 peace agreement, stated that there was no evidence of sufficient preparation to conduct elections.

At the opening of the commission’s 35th monthly meeting in Juba, the RJMEC Interim Chairperson expressed concern that “barely seven months to the elections, there is still no evidence of sufficient preparation for the conduct of elections and implementation of critical election-related tasks.” He emphasised that critical tasks such as the full operationalisation and funding of the Political Parties Council (PPC), the National Elections Commission (NEC), and the National Constitutional Review Commission (NCRC), completion of Phase I and Phase II unification of forces, and making of a permanent constitution to guide the conduct of elections need to be completed.

Additionally, he mentioned that tasks like establishing subsidiary electoral management bodies at the state level, establishing procedures for the voter registry and registration, supporting civic education and voter outreach, and publishing the voter register six months before elections are still pending.

He also highlighted the need for judicial reform, review of the Judiciary Act, the establishment of the Constitutional Court, and the enactment of the revised National Security Service Act (Amendment) Bill 2023 to create an enabling civic and political space for citizens’ participation in governance.

Ambassador Gituai stressed the importance of expediting the inter-party dialogue to clarify the way forward.

“This would help the South Sudanese to prepare sufficiently and enable timely mobilisation of resources by the regional and international community to support the process,” Ambassador Gituai said.

Additionally, he raised concerns about continued inter-communal violence in different parts of the country, such as in Tambura, Twic, and parts of the Abyei region. 

“This underlines the critical importance of full unification of all forces and their redeployment to provide security in all parts of the country,” he said. In his recommendation, the Interim Chairperson asked the Transitional Government and the Parties to dialogue collegially, build consensus, provide regular updates and a way forward on elections, complete the unified forces’ deployment, and commence Phase II without further delay.

Ambassador Tai Gituai extensively discussed the status of implementation of the R-ARCSS and its critical pending tasks during a meeting with the Minister of Foreign Affairs & International Cooperation of the Republic of South Sudan, Hon. Ramadan Mohamed Abdallah Goc, on May 29.

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