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Senior UN officials, diplomats together with South Sudanese government officials in group photo.

South Sudan dispels doubts over meeting timeline for elections

 South Sudan’s government assured on Monday that it will definitely meet the December 2024 election timeline, despite a range of pending outstanding issues that are critical for the polls to be held.

 Deng Dau Deng, Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, said during the celebration of the 75th International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers, that they are banking on support from the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) and other UN agencies to help them accomplish the constitutional making process.

“We are counting on our partners like UNMISS and the UN family to continue supporting us in critical areas, like the constitutional making process and organization of free, fair, credible and transparent elections,” he said in Juba, the capital of South Sudan.

“We should not be doubted because elections are not just about elections by it, but it is about the will of the people, legitimacy from the people. So the government will definitely do everything possible for us to go for elections so that the people of South Sudan can have a chance to be able to elect their leaders from the local level to national level,” Deng added.

The constitutional-making process is 10 months behind schedule and the elections’ planning is eight months behind schedule, and yet elections are to be held next year under the extended roadmap agreed upon in August 2022.

Nicholas Haysom, Special Representative of the Secretary General and head of UNMISS, said that 2023 remains a critical year for the parties to the 2018 revitalized peace agreement to complete all the outstanding tasks such as enactment of permanent constitution, enactment of electoral laws and establishment of electoral institutions.

“At UNMISS, our top priority is to help South Sudan advance political solutions at national and sub-national levels in order to achieve the sustainable peace and development, stability and democracy they themselves have set out in the peace agreement forged between the South Sudanese themselves,” Haysom said.

He warned that the peace process remains at critical juncture this year, adding that it requires special attention from the region and international partners, despite attention being diverted to the ongoing crisis in Ukraine and in neighboring Sudan.

“Despite mounting challenges including the recent crisis in Sudan, and the impact of the global economic downturn, you all have a role to play in shaping a brighter and more stable future. UNMISS is here to be part of the solution and we will not take our eyes off the ball even in the face of war in Sudan,” Haysom said.

South Sudanese primary school children perform during the international peacekeepers day at UN house.

Haysom also paid tribute to the 124 peacekeepers that lost their lives in the line duty since inception of the peacekeeping mission in South Sudan in 2011.

He hailed the diversity of the peacekeeping force, adding that it is the glue that keeps the force strong and united.

“Our diversity remains our strength, the uniformed personnel come alone from 76 different countries with a variety of different languages and cultures, but they serve in support of common ideals, international and regional peace under the values of the UN charter and under the common symbol of the UN flag,” Haysom said.

The UN peacekeeping force consists of nearly 13,000 military, 1500 police and 2600 civilians including nearly 400 UN volunteers.

In addition, Deng Dau Deng also disclosed that they have created forum bringing together top leadership of South Sudan’s army  (SSPDF), intelligence services, police and ministry foreign affairs and UNMISS and other UN agencies to resolve misunderstandings on monthly basis.

“We have established guidelines, where we meet on monthly basis for us to remove all the misunderstandings and obstacles so that all the operations of the UN smoothly go down to all our people,” Deng said.

This year’s theme of the International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers is ‘Peace begins with me”.

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