South Sudan has once again delayed its first general election, pushing it back to late 2024. The decision, which was announced by the National Electoral Commission (NEC), is the latest setback for the country’s democratic transition.
The election was originally scheduled to take place in 2015, following South Sudan’s independence from Sudan in 2011. However, it was repeatedly postponed due to a variety of factors, including ongoing conflict, lack of funding, and logistical challenges.
The latest delay comes amid growing concerns about the country’s ability to hold a free and fair election. The NEC cited a number of factors, including ongoing violence, lack of infrastructure, and the need to update voter registration lists, as reasons for the postponement.
In a statement, the NEC said that it “acknowledges the disappointment and frustration that the postponement may cause”, but emphasized that “the integrity and credibility of the election process are of the utmost importance”.
The decision to delay the election has been met with mixed reactions. Some political parties and civil society groups have criticized the move, arguing that it undermines the country’s democratic transition and prolongs the suffering of the South Sudanese people.
Others, however, have welcomed the decision, saying that it is necessary to ensure a credible and transparent election. They argue that rushing into an election without adequate preparation and infrastructure could lead to further conflict and instability.
Despite the delay, there are some signs of progress in South Sudan’s democratic transition. In February 2022, President Salva Kiir appointed a new government, which includes representatives from various political parties and opposition groups. The move was seen as a step towards inclusive governance and reconciliation.
In addition, the government has been working with international partners to address the country’s economic and humanitarian crisis, which has been exacerbated by the ongoing conflict and displacement. In May 2021, the government and the United Nations launched a humanitarian appeal, seeking $1.7 billion to provide assistance to millions of South Sudanese in need.