South Sudan’s Machar hints at postponement of 2023 election

FILE PHOTO: South Sudan President Salva Kiir (C) gives a press conference jointly with first vice-president Riek Machar (R) at the State House in Juba, on February 20, 2020, /VCG

South Sudan’s First Vice President and leader of the main opposition group, Sudan People’s Liberation Army in Opposition (SPLA-IO), Dr. Riek Machar, on Thursday said that elections slated for 2023 would be impossible without the graduation of a unified army that would take charge of security during the polls, local publication Sudans Post reported.

“People talk of elections but there are prerequisites for elections to be conducted because you want free, fair, and credible elections. If you don’t have unified forces, then you don’t have security for elections. There is debate these days, can elections be conducted without unified forces, and personally I said no, you need to secure the environment in which you conduct elections,” Machar said while speaking during the opening session of the 4th SPLM-IO National Liberation Council meeting in Juba this morning.

Machar said the implementation of security arrangements is critical for credible and transparent elections.

“So, for elections to be conducted the first prerequisite is you should have security, and two we have a lot of refugees, and this is our next neighbor in the south; there are more than 1.1,000 refugees in Uganda, they will need to come back,”  he said.

Machar said for elections to be conducted, the refugees must be brought back into the country and resettled.

“Also, another prerequisite for elections to be conducted is a census. We now have 550 PMs at the national assembly and the council of states is 100”

“These are arbitrary figures done to resolve the crisis but if you are to go for elections, our population let us say is 15 million, our members of parliament in national assembly can’t be 550, it would be maybe half of that number,” he added.

According to the 2018 peace deal, the unified forces, composed of oppositions and government forces, were supposed to be graduated before the end of the pre-transitional period which ended in February 2020 with the appointment of Dr. Machar as First Vice President.