UN vows support for roadmap toward elections in South Sudan

Flag of South Sudan with flare and dark blue sky

The UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) on Thursday pledged support for the ongoing constitutional making process paving the way for democratic elections slated to be held in 2023.

Nicholas Haysom, the special representative of the Secretary-General and head of UNMISS, said the UN Security Council has to advance a three-year strategic vision aimed at preventing a return to civil war and ensuring free, fair, and peaceful polls when renewing their mandate.

UN HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK, NY, UNITED STATES – 2019/01/03: The United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Somalia Nicholas Haysom is seen during a Security Council meeting regarding the situation in Somalia. Mr. Haysom’s appearance before the Council took place after the Somali government declared him persona non grata and he was forced to leave Somalia. (Photo by Albin Lohr-Jones/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)

“Our priority is to provide technical assistance to build the capacity of local institutions, reform the security and justice sectors, and to progress important elements of the broader peace deal such as constitutional making and ultimately free, and fair elections,” Haysom told journalists in Juba.

The UNSC has recently asked for a needs assessment to look at security, procedural and logistical requirements to enable elections to be held. Haysom revealed that the making of the permanent constitution of South Sudan will reflect a series of promises between the parties to the peace agreement and the people.

“These promises will set the rules for South Sudan’s future of peace, stability and prosperity. It’s important that the constitutional making process is inclusive and enables a national conversation, if solutions to conflict and divisions come from the people then a durable peace is likely to have a surviving chance,” he said.

The UN envoy said the UNMISS is deploying troops to conflict hot spots, setting up temporary bases and intensifying patrols to deter sub-national conflict. He added that they are working to protect humanitarian workers who recently have come under attack by armed gunmen and unemployed youth demanding jobs.

According to Haysom, the peacekeeping mission is also undertaking border protection activities to enable and encourage displaced people to return home, through quick impact projects such as building medical clinics, schools, police posts and courthouses.

Haysom observed that the peace process remains fragile, despite some recent progress made by the parties to the 2018 revitalized peace deal signed in Ethiopia. “Courageous decisions need to be made including the unification of security forces, I urge the people and leaders of South Sudan to breathe fresh life in the peace process and fully implement the agreement, including by finalizing the constitution and eventually holding elections,” he said.

The UN official added that the peace process must be led and owned by the people of South Sudan to ensure that the peace that is achieved is sustainable.