World Bulletin / News Desk
South Sudan's opposition parties on Monday rejected a proposal for holding their country's general elections in 2015, citing the lack of peace across the fledgling state.
South Sudan's Election Commission held a meeting with party leaders and representatives to convince them to start preparations for the elections and also opine on the election timetable.
"In all honesty, is the current situation in the country conducive to democratic, peaceful, free, fair or credible elections?” Steward Soroba, the deputy chairman of the United Democratic Party, asked during a media briefing in Juba on behalf of the political parties.
"Can a situation in which bullets are hissing, vast territories of land are depopulated and potential candidates cannot cross tribal boundaries for the ethnic nature the war has acquired be conducive [to elections]?” Soroba asked again.
He said South Sudan's opposition parties believed that the time was not ripe for conducting fair elections in the war-torn country.
He said restoring peace to South Sudan should be the priority of the country at present.
"Our priority should be to double efforts to bring about a negotiated peaceful settlement to the armed conflict," Soroba said.
He said South Sudan could reach peace in a matter of seven months, particularly if the country's stakeholders had the necessary political will and were able to offer the compromises necessary for the attainment of peace.
Soroba said it was up to his country's politicians – not the election commission – to decide whether they wanted the elections to be held in 2015 or not.
South Sudan's one-year-old conflict, which began as an internal dispute within the ruling Sudan People's Liberation Movement, has displaced almost 2 million people and left 4 million others in need of assistance.
However, election commission head Abednego Akok Kacuol insisted that the elections would be held in 2015 as proposed.
"Today, we have presented the election calendar to the political parties," he said in the same media briefing.
He added that he had asked the political parties to opine on the election timetable and suggest modifications so that the timetable could be out.
"Time is running out," the election commission head said.
He said South Sudan should have a new government by July 9 of next year, referring to the day, which is celebrated as South Sudan's independence day every year.
Kacuol did not, however, reveal the proposed election date, but said this date would be made known soon.
"The election date should be out within six months and until the end of this month, everything will be ready," Kacuol said.
He said some other countries held their elections amid crises, mentioning the examples of Syria and neighboring Sudan.
"We have conducted some studies about nations with crises where elections were held," Kacuol said. "We discovered that nations like that held elections credibly," he added, claiming that Syria had done that and Sudan had also done that during the war with South Sudan.
Kacuol said elections' credibility was always determined by individual votes, noting that what was needed was for voters to be free to cast their votes in the elections without harassment or intimidation.
"The executive must provide the resources and they must provide the conditions," the head of the election commission said.
He added that South Sudan's 2008 population census and the constituencies drawn up in 2010 would be the basis for the proposed electoral process, noting that the fledgling state did not have time to either conduct a new population census or draw up new constituencies.
Kacuol expressed sorrow, however, at the lack of support for his country from the international community.
He said South Sudan used to receive technical assistance from other countries in the past, noting that USAID had recently officially notified South Sudan that it did not have any more support for it.Last Mod: 01 Aralık 2014, 17:54