UN, peace monitors welcome reconstitution of key electoral institutions in South Sudan

By Xinhua
On 10 November 2023 at 07:16

The United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) and the country’s peace monitors, the Reconstituted Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (RJMEC), on Thursday welcomed the reconstitution of critical electoral bodies.

President Salva Kiir last week reconstituted the National Elections Commission, the Political Parties Council and the National Constitutional Review Commission and appointed officials to lead them as the country prepares for the elections in December 2024.

Charles Tai Gituai, RJMEC interim chairperson, said that the Political Parties Council is mandated to register, monitor and regulate the activities of political parties, while the National Constitutional Review Commission will drive forward the permanent constitution-making process and the National Elections Commission will undertake preparations for the conduct of elections.

"The reconstitution of these institutions is a welcome development and I commend the parties to the agreement for this milestone," Gituai said during the RJMEC monthly plenary meeting held in Juba, the capital of South Sudan. He disclosed that their effective functioning will pave the way toward the completion of the permanent constitution and the timely conduct of elections.

"Let me start by welcoming the recent reconstitution of the National Elections Commission, Political Parties Council and National Constitutional Review Commission. However, the credibility of these bodies begins with establishing public trust and confidence in these institutions from their inception," said Nicholas Haysom, the special representative of the UN Secretary-General and head of UNMISS.

He encouraged the government to address the concerns raised by different parties related to the reconstitution of these bodies. "This includes ensuring the buy-in of all the parties on the way forward. Additionally, the limited participation of women must be addressed, and a clear plan should be developed to expedite their operationalization so as to ensure these institutions are adequately resourced and have the required capabilities to deliver on their critical mandates," Haysom said.

He noted that as the electoral architecture begins to take shape, technical, legal and operational decisions are urgently needed to enable the elections to take place in December 2024. Haysom said that the UN is ready to provide technical assistance to these critical processes as part of the trilateral mechanism which brings together and leverages the combined comparative advantages of the UN, the African Union and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development.

Haysom also urged all the parties to expedite the deployment of the first batch of the graduated forces and the commencement of the second phase of training of the unified forces.

South Sudan is supposed to graduate and deploy 83,000 unified forces comprising police, army, wildlife, prisons and intelligence. In August 2022, the parties to the 2018 revitalized peace agreement graduated 53,000 unified forces who are yet to be deployed to take charge of security.

In Wau, South Sudan, a state-level political parties forum jointly hosted by UNMISS, the AU, and RJMEC, saw spirited conversations on the need for extending political and civic space before this young nation heads to the polls in its first-ever elections next year. Photo by Michael Wondi/UNMISS