S.Sudan risks delayed 2024 elections due to the ‘stuck’ deal

Saturday December 23 2023
SAlva kiir

President Salva Kiir (C) flanked by his political nemesis Dr Riek Machar (R) during a past press briefing in Juba, South Sudan. PHOTO | AFP


South Sudan is closing the year with a negative report on implementation of 2018 peace agreement, with an accusing finger being pointed at lack of political will.

What with the political leadership avoiding transitional justice, thus the Hybrid Court to try those who committed crimes against humanity since 2013 has been pushed to the back burner.

Most observers peg the successful holding of the December 2024 elections on the implementation of the Revitalised Peace Agreement.

“The urgent need for the completion of the unification of forces, the making of the permanent constitution and the holding of free, fair and credible elections, among other issues identified as priorities in its draft resolutions,” said Gen Charles Gituai, chairman of the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (JMEC).

Read: S. Sudan transition stuck in mud of floods, politics

In November, the National Elections Commission (Nec), and the National Constitutional Review Commission —institutions responsible for registering voters, overseeing and regulating activities of political parties, driving forward the permanent constitution-making process, and preparing and conducting elections - were reconstituted.


The transitional national legislative assembly has passed the majority of legislation tabled before them. However, the National Security Service Bill, the National Audit Chamber Bill and the Public Finance Management and Accountability Bill are still pending enactment.

Also pending is the restructuring and reconstitution of the Commissions and Institutions at the national level to ensure their independence and accountability, as provided for under Article 1.19 of the Peace Agreement.

Edmund Yakani, Executive Director of the Community Empowerment for Progress Organisation, says that the swearing-in of members of the National Election Commission and the national Constitutional Commission is a good sign.

“But our worry is that the government has not told the public how these institutions will be funded. We want these institutions ti hit the road running in January,” said Mr Yakani.

These include the Land Commission, the Fiscal and Financial Allocation Monitoring Commission, and the Anti-Corruption Commission.

The signatories are yet to enforce the 35 percent minimum level of women’s participation in these bodies.

Read: Numerous hurdles ahead of South Sudan’s first-ever general election

These include, among others, the Land Commission, the Fiscal and Financial Allocation Monitoring Commission, and the Anti-Corruption Commission. The signatories are yet to enforce the 35 percent minimum level of women’s participation in these bodies.

The most challenging is the delayed security sector reforms that would ensure that the elections are peaceful. In November, the first phase of redeployment of the military component of the 55,000 graduated Necessary Unified Forces out of the 83,000 commenced by the 2018 agreement.

The security sector transformation is critical, including the formulation of defence and security policies, conducted by the Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR) Board.

In the meantime, President Salva Kiir has been soliciting for defections of the military high command of the possible opponent in the elections, Dr Riek Machar.

“In the context of the ongoing unification of forces, military defections are evidently counterproductive,” said Gen Gituai.

There have been defections of General Ochan in Upper Nile State, General Lokujo in Central Equatoria State, and General Nando in Western Equatoria State, which have resulted in the killing of innocent people, civilian displacement, and loss of livelihoods.

The work of the Judicial Reform Committee (JRC)—a critical mechanism established to study and recommend appropriate reforms of the judiciary—has been stalled largely due to lack of funding.

Read: Salva Kiir puts South Sudan on edge

The completion of the JRC’s work is critical to reforming the judiciary, including the establishment of an independent Constitutional Court, review of the Judiciary Act, and the reconstitution of the Judicial Service Commission.

But most critical is enactment of the new constitution. South Sudan has been operating on the 2011 provisional constitution that is basically a cut and paste copy of the former larger Sudan.

There has been a delay in effecting the National Constitutional Review Commission, and the Preparatory Sub-Committee for the National Constitutional Conference. These two institutions will drive forward the making of the permanent constitution, which will guide the conduct of elections at the end of the Transitional Period.