A new political party, the People’s United Front (PUF), made its debut in Juba on Saturday, calling for the conduct of general elections in December 2024.
Dr. Gai Chol Paul, Chairman of the People’s United Front, addressed the media during the momentous event, highlighting the party’s substantial progress and goals.
Dr. Chol said that the People’s United Front has already registered an impressive membership of 50,000 individuals across nine states in the country. He also revealed that the party has set up offices in Western and Northern Bahr el Ghazal States.
The new party leader said the formation of the People’s United Front in 2022 and its official launch on July 27th 2023 were driven by the members’ quest for an alternative platform that could genuinely address the nation’s issues and amplify the people’s aspirations.
Dr. Chol urged the Transitional Government of National Unity to expedite preparations for the forthcoming elections, emphasizing the importance of updating the constitution that guides the electoral process, ensuring a secure environment for the elections, and deploying the Unified Forces to maintain stability.
While expressing some scepticism about the feasibility of entirely free and fair elections, Dr. Chol emphasized the urgency of conducting elections rather than relying solely on the peace agreement. He stated, “Our push now is to see that the constitution is available, free political space is created, and the Unified Forces are deployed because these are simple things that the current government can do. The other provisions that they think they cannot manage, they can put them aside and can be solved by the coming government. For us in the PUF, we are pushing for elections whether it will be bad elections; the bad elections are better than doing nothing.”
Moreover, Dr. Chol made an earnest appeal to the government to unshackle the political space and called on other political parties to join hands in advocating for an open and democratic society. In his poignant words, “The political space is very narrow in the country. Free political space has never existed. We have never been a democratic society since the time of Jalaba in 1956. Even during the liberation struggle, it was more of a dictatorship. People were executed without even judicial processes, and it has become the new culture of the new republic.”
He continued, “There is no existing political space, but we have to work for it. Like we have held our function today, I ask the other political parties not to fear but to push for their rights. Plan your activities, and conduct your rallies. And to avoid any frustrations, I advise all political parties to provide a request to the national security a month prior to the conduct of their political activities.”
President Salva Kiir, First Vice President and SPLM-IO leader Riek Machar, and other political figures signed a peace agreement in 2018 that ended five years of civil war in the country.
The end of the transitional period was scheduled for 2022 but was pushed back to December 2024 due to the lack of progress on many key provisions of the deal. General elections are due to be held before the end of the transitional period.