September 27, 2013 (NEW YORK) – South Sudan will hold its elections as constitutionally required in 2015, despite fears of possible delays, the country’s vice president told the United Nations General Assembly Friday.
- James Wani Igga delivers a speech at the meeting of the 68th session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York City – September 26, 2013 (UN Photo/Devra Berkowitz)
James Wani Igga, who addressed the assembly for the first time since his appointment, said the ruling party Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) will hold its general convention in March next year to “freely” elect its structures in preparation for the vote.
The vice-president remarks come weeks after senior officials, including president Salva Kiir, cited lack of funds and the delays in the constitutional review process as major setbacks to the 2015 polls.
Igga, however, told the UN assembly that president Kiir had publicly confirmed on 18 September that the elections will be held in two years.
Critics say the delays in the election process were simply a ploy by the president and his allies to prolong their grip on power, an allegations Kiir’s supporters have dismissed.
BUILDING FROM SCRATCH
South Sudan, its vice president told the UN assembly, was literally built from scratch, having inherited non-existent physical and social infrastructure after decades of war.
The young nation, he said, currently has the worst human development indicators in the world, including high maternity and infant mortality rates as well as high illiteracy levels among a population of over 8 million people.
“While we as humans and government recognize that we must have made errors of judgment as we try to fix a war-devastated country, there are also successful steps taken and we appeal for the goodwill shown to us in those times of difficulty to continue,” Igga told the assembly.
We are confronted with the test of adherence to human rights, which are a consequence of malicious action by external hands, rather than our own making, he added.
ZERO TOLERANCE FOR CORRUPTION
The South Sudanese officials said his government was determined to fight corruption and maladministration practices, to ensure public funds are properly utilised.
Last year, in response to oil shutdown last year, South Sudan implemented austerity measures and reduced governing spending by 40%.
“We take seriously our responsibility to ensure that public funds are properly utilized and our spending will be rigorously monitored. We are, thus, determined to uncompromisingly fight practices of maladministration”, Igga stressed.
The vice president, however, said his country will continue to cooperate with neighbouring Sudan to implement the agreement on the final status of Abyei through a referendum fixed for October 2013 by the African Union High Level Implementation Panel (AUHIP).
According to Igga, the AU Peace and Security Council, and the UN Security Council accepted the proposal as “representing a fair, equitable and workable solution.”
“The international community must ensure that this proposal is implemented expeditiously”, he said.
Igga, a former speaker of the country’s assembly, also used this occasion to appeal to the UN to double its efforts in nurturing and reinforcing its new member, South Sudan.
He specifically urged the world body to monitor and push forward for complete implementation of the Cooperation Agreement reached between the two Sudan’s for harmonious and peaceful co-existence.