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South Sudan: Peace Signatories to Decide on Elections Timetable

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South Sudan Information MInister Michael Makuei Lueth

South Sudan’s information minister Michael Makuei Lueth over the weekend said the decision on when to hold the general elections next year now lies in the hands of the key signatories to the revitalized peace agreement.

According to the 2018 peace deal, South Sudan is expected to hold general elections at the end of the extended transitional period.

Minister Makue’si assertion came as a reply to a media query on the government’s position over a recent urge from the United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres calling on the signatories to agree on a timetable for conducting elections to avoid last-minute unilateral decisions that might jeopardize the process. 

“The parties should decide on electoral timetable and avoid unilateral actions that might undermine the environment for elections. Noting the difficult terrain of South Sudan, the dearth of infrastructure,” Gutteres said while delivering a situational report to the UN Security Council on Wednesday.

“I call upon the parties to immediately engage in a broad-based discussion and agree as soon as possible on a clear roadmap for the end of the transitional period,” he added.

Guterres noted that the South Sudanese leaders have shown that they can make real progress if there is a sense of urgency and determination, citing the progress in the unification of the command structure.

“They should again show national leadership by completing the constitution and holding free, fair credible, and inclusive elections in the little time that is left,” he reiterated.

The UN Secretary-General, however, raised concern about the limited time left for the transitional period to elapse while critical outstanding issues remain unresolved something he fears could lead to further extension.

Makuei told reporters on Friday after the weekly cabinet meeting that the decision on whether to hold elections or not has remained hanging.

“Well this question has ever been hanging and it is not within our competence to decide on it. This is the competence of the parties to the agreement and as such this was even raised in the Reconstituted Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (R-JMEC) plenary and it was agreed that the parties to the agreement, that is the principals to the agreement, are the ones to come up with that final report or decision on the issue of elections,” Makuei said.

He however said the SPLM party is ready for the polls.

“For SPLM, it is straight forward and it is out for elections but the position of other parties is not clear and that is what we are waiting for,” he added.

When asked about the hold groups, Makuei said, “Well, the holdout groups are not a problem. The problem is with us (the signatories) to the agreement and if we agree that we hold elections we will hold it.”

“What will the other groups who are holding out do, they will not do anything”, he added.

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