UN appeals for open political space as South Sudan prepares for elections 

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South Sudan

The United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) on Thursday called for a level playing ground for all political parties in the country as the country prepares for elections in 2024.

Nicholas Haysom, the special representative of the UN Secretary-General and head of the UNMISS, said elections are not a one-day event, but a process that incorporates deliberate and thoughtful decisions before, during, and after the polls.

Haysom said the process for the elections must have the full buy-in and support of the South Sudanese, especially in the case of a country emerging from divisive conflict.

“It is imperative for the parties to agree on a code of conduct around free, fair and transparent competition. UNMISS cautions against the temptation towards unilateral actions that undermine the trust needed amongst all stakeholders,” he told journalists in Juba, the capital of South Sudan.

The UN official urged South Sudanese to galvanize momentum toward their first post-independence elections.

“Looking ahead, it would be impossible to envision free, fair, and credible elections in December 2024, unless all South Sudanese parties, leaders, and stakeholders grab the bull by the horns, and agree on a critical mass of decisions by the first quarter of 2024,” Haysom said.

South Sudan descended into a bloody civil war shortly after independence following a political disagreement between President Salva Kiir and his then Deputy Riek Machar that killed about 400,000 people, according to the UN.

Kiir, Machar, and other political leaders signed a peace agreement in 2018 that ended the war. At the end of the transitional period, the country is expected to conduct a general election in December 2024.

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