By Deng Machol
Juba – South Sudan’s presidency has said the country is not in a position to conduct general elections in 2022 despite growing calls for elections as earlier envisioned by the revitalized peace deal.
Based on the revitalized peace agreement, general elections shall be held at the end of the transitional period in 2022
However, this is in response to calls by Dr. Peter Biar Ajak, political activist and former detainee, who sought refuge in the US in 2020.
During his testimony before the US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations two weeks ago, Peter Biar said the government is intentionally derailing the appointment of new election commissioners, the conduct of the population census, and the updating of the voter registry for elections to be held on time and urged the American government to pressure South Sudan President Kiir and force him to hold elections in 2022.
Dr. Biar also accused the President Kiir administration of being undemocratic through stifling free speech and political parties’ freedoms.
Biar called for individual sanctions on some leaders because he believes the reluctance to implement the peace deal is hindering important tasks in the agreement that would have been accomplished on time.
Biar identified the transitional justice process, economic reforms, reconstitution of the transitional legislature, the promulgation of a new constitution, the reunification of forces as crucial issues at stake.
Biar also termed President Kiir’s administration as lacking legitimacy from the electorate since the country last conducted elections in April 2010.
Kiir was elected in 2010 as the president of the then government of Southern Sudan.
In a statement on Monday, South Sudan’s Presidential Affairs Minister Nhial Deng Nhial described Biar’s testimony as a baseless claims.
The president’s office categorically denied any attempts to assassinate or abduct Dr. Biar from Nairobi – Kenya, following his pardon, including others
“Biar’s testimony is full of unsubstantiated allegations and baseless claims,” Kiir’s office said in a four-page response undersigned by the Minister Nhial.
Nhial said that Kiir would have sought reelection in 2015 if it were not for the conflict that engulfed the country in December 2013.
South Sudan’s presidential affair Minister Deng said the calls for elections in 2022 are unjustified because much has not been done in the implementation of the revitalized peace agreement.
“The call for early elections in 2022, is again without justification. It must be borne in mind that the actual inauguration of the (R-TGONU) following conclusion of the Agreement in September 2018 took some time,” Nhial said in a statement seen by Pan African Visions.
The statement said Biar’s call for early elections in 2021 is without justification, citing that the inauguration of the current unity government took some time.
“Hence the time lost must be recouped so that there is adequate time to complete all the tasks of the transition before elections are held,” he added
The statement further dismissed claims that democracy in the country is being stifled by the use of the national security apparatus.
The office of the president insisted that the current responsibility-sharing matrix in the revitalized transitional government is a testimony that democracy is in action.
The state house argues that elections cannot be conducted without a permanent constitution and a population census.
It suggests that more time and adjusting the time-table is required to complete the major tasked identified by the revitalized peace agreement.
Three years have elapsed since the signing of the revitalized peace agreement in September 2018.
The 2018 deal says for elections to take place, the Political Parties Act, 2012 must be reviewed and approved by the parliament to enable free and democratic registration of Political Parties in South Sudan.
But the national parliament is yet to be reconstituted.
The agreement also expects the permanent constitution to be enacted during the transitional period before a new National Elections Commission organizes the polls.
Given the recurrent nature of the phenomenon of flooding in the country, Kiir’s Office urged continued support in helping devise more durable solutions so that flooding and its attendant woes in flood-prone areas of South Sudan becomes a thing of the past.
The East Africa’s youngest nation has been blighted by ongoing sub-national violence and localized conflicts in many parts of the country, leaves million of illegal arms in the hands of civilians.
But president Kiir’s administration said Dr. Biar himself would acknowledge that ultimately it becomes imperative that these illegal arms are collected and disposed of in a manner that ensures they never find their way back again into the hands of those from whom they were taken in the first place.
In reaction, Dr. Biar said that “they (government) want to continue to rule without allowing our people their say through a catch-22 situation.
“They don’t want to hold elections because the country is in conflict, yet they deliberately ignite conflict and sabotage peace deals so that elections cannot be held. Our people must realize this for what it is – an illegal attempt by illegitimate regime to perpetuate its corrupt rule. This is a regime that was never elected. It’s only imposing itself by force. Should Kiir fail to hold elections by next year, the mandate of his government would have expired. Our people must then demand a Liberian model,” Dr. Biar wrote on Social Media.