South Sudan: UN warns against premature elections
A United Nations monitoring group has warned that if elections are conducted before the government implements constitutional provisions aimed at stabilizing the country’s weak peace accord, South Sudan may devolve into widespread bloodshed.
South Sudan’s three-member Commission on Human Rights has presented its most recent report to the United Nations Human Rights Council.
South Sudan has had a three-year transition phase to execute the requirements of the Revitalized Peace Agreement, which ended the country’s civil conflict, with general elections scheduled for 2023.
Members of the Commission, however, claim that important aspects of the peace deal have yet to be implemented. It claims that the country’s ongoing armed war, as well as extensive, systemic human rights abuses, prohibit the likelihood of free and fair elections.
According to Yasmin Sooka, the commission’s head, the violence has displaced 4 million people both inside the nation and as refugees in neighboring countries.
She said that over 9 million people need humanitarian assistance. She said that the government is rife with corruption and that the political class is looting the country’s wealth.
She said that civil liberties are being suppressed and that human rights advocates and journalists are constantly threatened with death and detained arbitrarily. According to her, conflict-related sexual assault against women and girls is prevalent and systemic in South Sudan.
“How can we speak about constitution-making, elections, and transitional justice in this context of dread and terror?” Is it really feasible to have nationwide consultations? …
“The escalating political crisis threatens to worsen the current humanitarian and human rights concerns, which cause widespread suffering and make life unpleasant for many South Sudanese,” Sooka added.
According to Commission member Andrew Clapham, essential aspects of a constitution have yet to be agreed upon. According to him, both constitution-making and elections need significant legal, institutional, security, and logistical considerations. He said that everything is still up in the air.
“In addition to these crucial legal and procedural concerns, it is vital to realize the dangers of additional division and political violence in the aftermath of these elections, especially when inadequate foundation has been built for the process.”
“The ramifications of a hasty election, inside a contentious political system, and without the necessary security and democratic conditions in place, might be terrible,” Clapham added.
Ruben Madol Arol, South Sudan’s Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, denies the Commission’s accusations. He said that his administration is making progress in implementing the Revitalized Agreement’s stipulations.
However, he claims that a lack of outside funding is impeding development in this area. He said that technical support and capacity-building are required for South Sudan to bring the process ahead.
He requests that the United Nations Council and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights give these instruments.