• Salva Kiir, a prominent warlord, is the only president South Sudan has known since he led the country to independence from Sudan in 2011.
• No other candidate has declared their candidacy, but historical foe Machar is expected to run.
• United Nations calls for the imminent holding of elections.
In a latest political development in East Africa, South Sudanese President Salva Kiir has pledged elections, previously postponed, and now scheduled for next year, would go ahead as planned. He also confirmed his electoral candidature for the top office.
Salva Kiir, a prominent warlord and a towering guerilla war commander, is the only president South Sudan has known since he led the country to independence from Sudan in 2011.
However, the world’s youngest country has since gone from crisis to crisis, held together only by a fragile government of national unity, created after a peace agreement between Mr. Kiir and Vice President Riek Machar.
After a transition period, elections were due to be held in February 2023, but the government has so far failed to meet key clauses of the agreement between Mr. Kiir and Mr. Machar, including the drafting of a constitution.
In August, the two leaders extended their transitional government by two years beyond the agreed deadline, citing the need to address challenges that impeded the implementation of the peace agreement.
“I appreciate the support for my presidential candidacy in 2024,” Mr. Kiir told members of his SPLM party, referring to a “historic event”. “We are committed to implementing the chapters of the refreshed peace agreement and the election will be held in 2024”, the South Sudan president emphasised. No other candidate has declared their candidacy, but historical foe Machar is expected to run.
South Sudan`s persistent political and civil unrest.
One of the poorest countries on the planet despite large oil reserves, South Sudan has spent almost half of its life as a nation at war.
After independence from Sudan in July 2011, South Sudan slid into more than five years of civil war, with forces loyal to President Salva Kiir battling supporters of Vice President Riek Machar.
Thousands died in the war, and more than 2 million fled to neighbouring countries, including Sudan. Since mid-April, when a rivalry between two Sudanese generals turned into open conflict, more than 117,000 people have crossed back into South Sudan seeking safety. Haysom told council members that 93% of them are South Sudanese returning home.
United Nations calls for the imminent holding of elections.
The United Nations has repeatedly criticized South Sudan’s leadership for its role in stoking violence, cracking down on political freedoms and plundering public coffers.
In March, the U.N. envoy to South Sudan, Nicholas Haysom, cautioned the country faced a “make or break” year in 2023, and its leaders must implement the peace agreement to hold “inclusive and credible” elections next year.
Haysom stressed Juba had “stated clearly that there would be no more extensions of the timelines” for elections at the end of 2024.
Sources: Africa News