By Awan Achiek
The United Nations has said South Sudan will not be able to hold free, fair and peaceful elections in 2023.
Nicholas Haysom, UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), said elections cannot take place without the parties implementing key provisions of the 2018 revitalized peace deal.
“As we get closer to December the anticipated date for elections following the peace agreement, it will become more apparent that the country would not meet the dateline for elections,” Haysom told journalists during press conference held at UNMISS headquarters in Juba on Thursday.
Haysom warned that premature elections could lead to another phase of violence in South Sudan.
“In a space where conditions are not appropriate would likely lead to violence before, during and after elections,” he disclosed.
He revealed that the electoral management body does not exist, adding that requisite electoral laws have not yet been enacted.
The parties to the 2018 revitalized peace agreement have not yet graduated the 83,000 necessary unified forces, and also enacted the permanent constitution key to providing the requisite environment for free, fair and peaceful elections.
Under the 2018 peace deal, South Sudan is supposed to hold elections in 2023.
“If you have to say to me is the country (South Sudan) ready for elections right now, I would say not because the technical conditions have not been put in place,” said Haysom.
He urged the transitional unity government to provide enabling environment for political parties to exercise their rights.
“We would draw attention to the need for open political space within which the parties can contest to each other’s viewpoints,” said Haysom.
He urged the signatories to the peace agreement to inject fresh momentum into the implementation of the 2018 peace deal.
“The parties have it within their powers to create those conditions, it would certainly need an energetic approach to meeting those conditions at the political level, and to create a political environment in which parties’ competition is possible,” said Haysom.