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By Dr. Joseph Madak Wuol - 28 Dec 2023

Opinion | Why elections should be allowed to happen in 2024?

With the year-end and turn to 2024, all the eyes of resilient South Sudanese people and the world are fixed on all the parties to the Revitalized Transitional Government of National Unity (R-TGONU) to prioritize transition to democracy through elections not to be a wishful thinking but an intentional genuine will.

The past experiences, locally, regionally and internationally, including from the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) implementation that brought about the independence of South Sudan in 2011, the Kenyans elections, Congo and many more in the continent and internationally, should help the South Sudanese political leaders to the Revitalized Peace Agreement to the Conflict Resolution in the Republic of South Sudan (R-ARCSS) to commit for a transition to a government by the people and for the people. Thereforeit will be for the good of the country and the people to have optimism and resolve to support firm calls to have an elected government in place. Essentially, It is only through an elected government that guarantees hope, trust and support to address the concerns of good governance, the rule of law, the return of a large number of refugees in the neighbouring countries, the IDPs across the country, rampant inter-communal conflicts, mismanagement of public wealth, infrastructure and social overheads development. Think about these questions: How do you expect refugees and IDPs to return home where they can not hope for a meal, healthcare, education for their children, and some form of security? When do you expect the current transitional government's extensions to end, since it has been there since the country's independence and is already going into its 12th year? Change of circumstances takes time and sacrifices. How about taking on the fear of election processes for a democratic and accountable government? Which evil is better, the status quo or change? The region (EAC, IGAD & AU), South Sudanese friends globally (TROIKA, China, Japan), etc. and the UN are ready to help; if you doubt them, what are the chances for the current political rivals/or parties to agree on a credible transition to an elected government or fully implement the peace deal?

President Kiir Mayardiit, Machar and the leaders of other parties to the R-ACRSS need to be reminded that decisions to move forward are never stalled because of fear of consequences that can be altered in the course of achieving grand goals of social progress and change. Let us take, for example, the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) signed on the 9th January 2005 between the ruling National Congress Party (NCP), representing the Government of Sudan, and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A), representing the Sudanese armed opposition has gone through practical implementation challenges in most of its implementation modalities and protocols. Delays and failures in the elections in 2010, financing of the historic referendum, and the demarcation of the North-South border where the north has not complied with security arrangements, for instance, with a drawing of SAF south of our borderlines. Also, the Abyei protocol and Wealth sharing remain outstanding until today. The South Sudanese managed the provocations and lack of political will from the Northern Sudanese peace partner, and the election was conducted in 2010. Despite the challenges, the historic referendum commission funding was intentionally sabotaged, and that never hindered the resolve of the current leadership of the SPLM/A of President Kiir Mayardiit, Chairman of the SPLM, to the promised land to become an independent sovereign state. I believe President Kiir still has the same will to keep his promise to ensure that peaceful, free, transparent and credible elections happen in accordance with the schedule in the same way he did during the difficult times of the road to independence during the CPA implementation in 2006.

A clear example is what we are going through today, after the Post-independent violent conflict in December 2013, the agreement on the resolution of the conflict, and the subsequent Revitalized Agreement of the Conflict ( ARCSS & R-ARCSS), signed in 2015 and 2018 respectively between the SPLM in - Government, representing the government and the SPLM in -Opposition, and other opposition group, how different is it from the CPA implementation framework processes, how much has been realized with resolve and intentional will?

These and many other experiences suggest why political leaders should be discouraged from moving on to a transition to democracy through nationwide elections and working together to overcome the current challenges of R-ARCSS implementation.

To back up broadly the case for the conduct of elections by 2024, let us together see without prejudice what actually has been achieved by the parties to the R-TGoNU from the implementation of R-ARCSS:

Chapter 1 of the R-ARCSS:

  • Formation of the Transitional Government of National Unity (Appointment of the President, FVP, VPs, Advisors & Ministers).
  • Formation of Transitional National Assembly and the TEN States Assemblies
  • Formation of States Governments (Governors, Advisors, Ministers and Commissions)

Chapter II of the R-ARCSS: Security arrangement. The achievement includes:

  • Formation of the Permanent Ceasefire Mechanism which helped maintain cessation of hostilities
  • Formation of pre-transitional and National transitional Committee that implemented most of the security arrangements ( screening, training, graduation and deployment of forces).
  • Formation of the National Defense Board (SDSRB), tasked with defense strategic plans of the national defense.

Chapter III of the R-ARCSS: Humanitarian Assistance and Reconstruction. The following has been achieved:

  • Appointment of the States Commissions for the South Sudan Relief and Rehabilitation Commission: Chairpersons, deputies and members
  • Parties made some progress to appointment of the National commissions, institutions and parastatals (SPLM -IG filled -in some commissions positions).

Chapter IV of the R-ARCSS: Resource Management and Financial Mobilization.

  • Formation of some of the institutions under the Economic Cluster
  • IMF, WB & African Development Bank exert efforts to reform the sector

Chapter V of the R-ARCSS: Transitional Justice, Accountability, Reconciliation and Healing. The parties agreed in principle to constitute and hailed the role to the Ministry of Justice, the key institutions are:

  • Commission for Truth, Reconciliation and Healing (CTRH)
  • Hybrid Court for South Sudan (HCSS)
  • Appointment of the members of both the CTRH and HCSS.

Chapter VI of the R-ARCSS: Parameters for Permanent Constitution. The parties have made vital steps in its implementation which includes:

  • The parties had several consultative and sensitization workshops with the help of UN agencies and Universities on understanding the role of the National Constitutional Review Commission for a permanent constitution.
  • Appointment of the officials and members of the NCRC

Chapter VII of the R- ARCSS: Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission. The parties to the R-ACRSS had a substantial progress, especially in:

  • Confirming appointment of officials designated to each party,
  • Providing necessary support and cooperation to perform its  mandate
  • Reporting on a regular basis its mandate to IGAD, for example, periodical monitoring and evaluation activities.

Chapter VIII of the R-ARCSS: Supremacy of this Agreement and Procedure of the Amendment. This chapter expects the parties to:

  • Ratify the agreement and upholds its
  • Ensuring that it is incorporated into the Transitional Constitution of South Sudan 2011, amended.
  • Uphold the agreement supremacy over any other national legislations and any other existing agreements to the contrary,
  • Stick to “ agreement may be amended by  ⅔ of the parties, or atleast ⅔ of the council of ministers of the R-TGONU, etc.
  • Ratification of amendment by the R-NTLA in accordance to the Transitional constitution amended in 2011.

However, the implementation of the agreement has been marred by practical challenges and significant milestones which are impossible to downplay. The parties to the agreement have adhered to the ceasefire, and the country continues to witness such relative security and tranquillity several weeks after its signing on the 18th of September, 2018, in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa. Similarly, the ongoing consultation between the parties to complete the reconstituting of the commissions, institutions, and parastatals is a meaningful working relationship between the parties to complete the outstanding tasks in that important chapter of the governance reforms stipulated in the R-ARCSS. The stability of the political executive organs, legislature and Judiciary are good performance indicators, even if there is much to be desired for improvement. Also, the ongoing security arrangement, for example, the graduation and deployment of the opposition forces and the preparation now in place to screen, train and deploy the last batch of the armed opposition forces, signifies political will and substantiated progress in that direction. The Economic, judicial and constitutional review measures by the parties show their commitment to progress in those chapters of the agreement as well.

In conclusion, despite the difficulties faced by the parties to fully complete the implementation of the R-ARCSS, one would encourage the leaders and the people of South Sudan, the region and the world that the parties should be applauded for taking bold decisions and resolving to stay on track, especially their commitment” NEVER” to return the country to the bitter realities of the violent conflict of 2013 and 2016, respectively. The South Sudanese diaspora should and MUST exert efforts and influences to support the parties to R-ACRSS realize the transition to democratic governance through elections as scheduled by the current leadership in the country.

Hence, I urge all of us for our country to move forward to reflect on the PREAMBLE of our Constitution that:

Grateful to the almighty God for giving the people of South Sudan the wisdom and courage to determine their destiny and future through a free, transparent and peaceful referendum in accordance with the provisions of hard-won peace agreement, in 2005;

Recalling our long and heroic struggle for justice, freedom, equality and dignity in South Sudan;

Remembering and inspired by selfless sacrifice of our martyrs, heroes and heroines’

Dedicated to a genuine national healing process and the building of trust and confidence in our society through dialogue;

Determined to lay the foundation for a united, peaceful and prosperous society based on justice, equality, respect for human rights and the rule of law;

Committed to establishing a federal democratic, multi-party system of governance in which power shall be peacefully transferred and upholding values of human dignity and equal rights and duties of every individual;

Conscious of the need to manage our natural resources sustainably and efficiently for the benefit of the present and future generations and to eradicate poverty, disease and attain sustainable human happiness goals;

Do hereby, make solemn commitment to support the PREAMBLE of this constitution of the Republic of South Sudan, 2011, referred to as the “TRANSITIONAL CONSTITUTION OF THE REPUBLIC OF SOUTH SUDAN,”and shall be the supreme law by which the independent and sovereign South Sudan shall be governed during the transitional period, leading to an election for an elected government, and undertake to abide by , respect and defend it.

Dear readers and friends, this opinion article deliberately calls on us all to strategically prioritize transitioning to democratic governance through an election not further than 2024 for a new dispensation. i.e. the transition to democratic governance, the rule of law, transparency and accountability. The issues of political space, media and journalists' freedom of expression are all enshrined in the transitional constitution and the peace agreement, and they can be fought for and promoted in the course of the quest and transition to democratic rule, especially during the election voter education and parties campaigns.

More importantly, the achievements so far realized through the R-ARCRSS should not be underestimated because they are all indispensable steps for the final goal of the R-ARCSS, which is to create a democratic South Sudan. Hence, let us have confidence that we can overcome our fears to achieve our great ancestors’ sacrifices for a federal, democratic, united, prosperous, peaceful, and stable South Sudan.

Nevertheless, our current leaders deserve tribute for their heroic sacrifices despite their weaknesses before leaving the leadership. It is an undeniable fact that both President Kiir and Machar contributed significantly in delaying instead of fast-tracking our vision, mission and objectives of socio-economic development and political stability by engaging in political wrangling not befitting their sacrifices over the past decades of our liberation struggle for freedom, justice and equality. Our history is clear that South Sudanese fought together for independence from grave injustices by successive governments in the old Sudan … Hanna Arendt worked with many politicians who struggled to come to terms with the political violence that the Cold War had fueled. She argues that forgiveness and reconciliation if done from the heart, can overcome hopelessness and resentment.

Merry Christmas and happy holidays to you all, wishing you joy, peace and prosperity!

The writer, Dr. Joseph Madak Wuol, is former Secretary of the Secretariat of the Government Performance Management System (GPMS), office of the President. He also served in various senior capacities in the government of South Sudan and in the then Sudan. Currently, he is an Independent Policy Consultant in Public Policy Administrations. He can be reached via email:

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