September 23, 2013 (JUBA) – The newly appointed US special envoy for Sudan and South Sudan, Donald Booth, has urged the new country to ensure the holding of the first post-independence elections in 2015 without fail.
- U.S. special envoy Donald Booth talks to reporters after a meeting with the Sudanese foreign minister Ali Karti (SUNA)
Booth made his statements clear to the electoral body during his visit to the South Sudanese capital, Juba, this week.
The American envoy while in Juba met on Thursday with both the chairperson of the National Elections Commission, Abednego Akok Kacuol, and the chairperson of the National Bureau of Statistics, Isaiah Chol Aruai.
The two bodies for elections and census last week rang separate alarm bells, telling the nation that the scheduled 2014 population census and the subsequent 2015 elections may not take place due to lack of funds from the government.
The census bureau chairman, Isaiah Chol, however told the US envoy that the census, which is constitutionally a prerequisite for the elections, may not take place unless the government released funds.
Meanwhile Abednego Akok, chair for the electoral body, confirmed fears that without the census, elections may not happen.
Akok on Friday revealed that he needed 58 million South Sudanese pounds in order to prepare for the exercise, adding that the government had not responded to his request which he needed to begin the necessary preparations.
However, Booth urged the government to allocate funds to ensure successful conduct of the elections in 2015, saying his government was interested to provide support towards the democratic exercise.
Observers say the government’s leadership seem to lack a political will to hold the elections and may use the lack of funds as excuses for avoiding the exercises.
The ruling party itself, the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM), is stuck with its proposed transformation process. Some leaders including the president and party chairperson, Salva Kiir Mayardit, fear the internal process may erode their powers and instead threaten some of their critical colleagues with dismissals amidst drawn redlines, observers say.
Kiir has since March shied away from calling for the party leadership meeting despite several requests by his senior colleagues, including the party secretary general, Pagan Amum, to fix a date soon for the long-awaited meetings in order to discuss the challenges facing the leadership.
The party chairman has suspended the party SG and on Saturday while addressing a public rally in Aweil of Northern Bahr el Ghazal state, threatened to dismiss him from the party unless he cooperated with the committee he selected to investigate his behaviour.