Africa

First election to be held in South Sudan since independence

The country’s leader said the government is committed to addressing challenges causing delays

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South Sudan’s long-delayed general elections will be held next year as planned, according to the country’s President Salva Kiir, who also announced his candidacy on Tuesday.

Kiir has been the president of the world’s newest country since it gained independence from Sudan in 2011. Since then, the nation has experienced numerous conflicts, including a civil war in 2013 as a result of political rivalries between Kiir and his former vice president, Riek Machar.

In August 2018, the warring factions reached an agreement to share power, bringing an end to the prolonged civil war.

The initial plan was to have a transition period culminating in elections scheduled for February 2023. However, the government has struggled to meet key requirements of the agreement, such as drafting a new constitution, resulting in an extension.

Speaking to supporters of his governing Sudan People’s Liberation Movement party on Tuesday, Kiir committed to tackling existing challenges before the scheduled elections in December 2024, ensuring their resolution.

He said the Revitalized Transitional Government of National Unity, established in 2020 with the aim of transitioning to civil rule, was doing everything possible to ensure that the 2024 general elections take place.

I am deeply touched by your endorsement, and your continued support to our historic party gives me confidence that we will stand together as we go towards elections next year,” he said, as quoted by the Sudan Tribune.

The five-year-long civil war that erupted in South Sudan in December 2013 resulted in the deaths of around 383,000 citizens, according to researchers at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

In March, Nicholas Haysom, head of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan, stated that 2023 would be a critical year for Juba, as it marked the beginning of a recent 24-month extension of its transition process.

He warned against further delays in implementing the peace agreement and holding credible elections in the country, which is one of Africa’s poorest as a result of political tensions.

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