South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir commits to holding country’s first election in 2024
South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir announced on Tuesday his commitment to conducting the country’s long-awaited elections, scheduled to take place in 2024. Kiir, who has been the nation’s leader since its independence from Sudan in 2011, stated that he intends to run for the presidency once again.
The world’s youngest nation has faced numerous challenges and conflicts throughout Kiir’s tenure, relying on a fragile unity government established between Kiir and Vice President Riek Machar to maintain stability. The transitional period, initially expected to conclude with elections in February 2023, has faced setbacks, including the failure to draft a constitution, as outlined in the agreement..
Addressing supporters of his governing Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) party, Kiir described the endorsement of his presidential candidacy as a “historic event” and expressed his commitment to implementing the provisions of the revitalized peace agreement. He assured that the elections would indeed take place in 2024.
While no other candidate has officially declared their candidacy, Machar, a historical rival of Kiir, is anticipated to run. In August, both leaders extended the transitional government by two years, citing the need to overcome challenges hindering the peace agreement’s implementation.
Kiir emphasized that these challenges would be addressed before the elections, scheduled for December next year. Despite possessing significant oil reserves, South Sudan remains one of the poorest countries globally, having spent nearly half of its existence as an independent nation embroiled in war.
Following a five-year civil war that claimed the lives of approximately 400,000 people, Kiir and Machar signed a peace deal in 2018, forming the unity government. However, South Sudan has since struggled with issues such as flooding, hunger, violence, and political disagreements, resulting in unfulfilled promises from the peace agreement.
The United Nations has consistently criticized South Sudan’s leadership for inciting violence, suppressing political freedoms, and engaging in corruption. In March, UN envoy Nicholas Haysom warned that 2023 would be a “make or break” year for South Sudan, urging its leaders to implement the peace agreement and ensure the upcoming elections are “inclusive and credible.”
Haysom emphasized that Juba, the capital of South Sudan, had clearly stated that there would be no further extensions of the election timelines beyond the end of 2024. The international community closely watches South Sudan’s progress toward holding successful and transparent elections, hoping it will mark a crucial step towards stability and development in the nation.