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UNMISS urges parties to speed up outstanding issues ahead of 2024

The  head of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS, Nicholas Haysom said that there are some key hurdles that the parties must clear in order to successfully position South Sudan to complete the final leg of the transitional phase next year.

“Most critically, UNMISS urges the finalization of the legal framework and the reconstitution of the National Elections Commission. The National Elections Commission has been a largely defunct body for nearly ten years, lacking human resources and material infrastructure. Key electoral choices must be determined soon. These steps cannot be shelved until 2024,” Haysom said while briefing the United Nations Security Council on Monday.

 He noted that 2023 is the “make or break” year for all parties to the peace agreement to conclude the outstanding critical issues in the deal.

“We believe there are some key hurdles that the parties must clear in order to successfully position South Sudan to complete the final leg of the transitional phase next year, first, is the drafting of a new constitution,” Haysom said.

Haysom disclosed that it is a critical opportunity for South Sudanese to agree on the arrangements by which they can live together harmoniously, avoiding a repeat of the two civil wars that have defined the last decade.

He said successful implementation of the pending issues prior to the end of the extended transitional period next year, will allow South Sudanese to consolidate their identity and establish how they want to be governed.

“The leadership of South Sudan is now facing a stark choice, they can embark upon a path of mutual cooperation and reconciliation in the urgent implementation of their peace agreement, or they can take a low road which privileges self-interest and conflict over nation building,” Haysom said.

He called on the government to immediately reconstitute and fund the National Constitutional Review Commission and to fast-track the establishment of the Constitutional Drafting Committee and for parliament to end its lengthy recess.

“I can confirm that the United Nations has received a government request to assist the South Sudanese owned and administered elections. Noteworthy is the request to support an enabling environment for elections, working with civil society, political parties, and the media,” he said.

Haysom stressed the need to fast-track all preparatory work now, including the immediate constitution and operationalization of the Political Parties Council.

“We believe that the visit of the Ecumenical pilgrimage for peace led by His Holiness the Pope, the Archbishop of Canterbury, and the Moderator of the Church of Scotland have served to echo the message of peace, tolerance, reconciliation, and civic participation so often called for by the South Sudanese themselves,” he disclosed.

 Haysom welcomed the transitional government’s commitment, but said current “slippages” in meeting agreed timelines remain a concern.

“On the heels of parties extending timelines by two years, neither stake-holders nor the international community are of a mind to contemplate further extensions,” he said.

South Sudan parties are expected to go for national election in December 2024 to transition the country toward peace and democracy.

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