An influential South Sudanese opposition figure has criticised President Salva Kiir and former First Vice President turned rebel leader Riek Machar, saying the two men were opposed to democracy in the world’s youngest nation.
Lam Akol Ajawin, Chairman of South Sudan’s opposition National Democratic Movement (NDM), on Monday launched a sharp attack on Kiir and Machar over their leadership style describing them as ‘anti-democracy’.
Speaking to Radio Tamazuj, Akol said the SPLM faction loyal to Kiir and Machar’s SPLM-IO group did not want to allow for a transitional government of technocrats for the sake of peace and stability in the country.
“Our opinion is that the transitional government must be led by a government of technocrats and all political parties including our party should be excluded during the traditional period. All of us as political parties we wait for elections,” he said.
“Any transitional government bringing together Salva Kiir and Riek Machar will never lead to a democratic transition in the country,” he added.
Lam Akol, former agriculture minister in Kiir’s administration, spoke out against the East African regional bloc IGAD saying it is supporting President Kiir at the expenses of South Sudanese people.
“You cannot mediate and at the same time you are siding with one of the parties, so there are many issues that are not clear,” he said.
Akol called on the international community to initiate a new inclusive peace process in order to find home-grown solutions to the ongoing conflict in South Sudan.
A leading civil society group in South Sudan said the current security situation is not conducive to hold credible, free and fair elections, pointing out that the general elections will be held only when the situation becomes “conducive.”
In a statement extended to Radio Tamazuj on Sunday, the Community Empowerment for Progress Organization (CEPO) said the ongoing conflict will not allow the upcoming general elections to meet democratic standards.
Edmund Yakani, Executive Director of CEPO, said the 2015 peace agreement requires reforms in the areas of legal frameworks and institutions to allow free and fair elections.
“The priority now is to extend the transitional period for a realistic timeline with clear defined milestones that are concrete with attached sanctions if violated by any of the parties to the peace agreement,” said Yakani.
“Going for elections in the current context of South Sudan is critical and not possible, specifically with issues of free movement, free political campaigns and safety and protection of contesting candidates and protection of the electoral processes by our security institutions,” he added.
CEPO called upon the East African regional bloc IGAD to prioritize the extension of the transitional period.
Last week, South Sudan’s Minister of Information Michael Makuei said the government was ready to hold general elections in 2018 despite insecurity.
He said the insecurity situation will not be an excuse for the people of South Sudan not to hold the 2018 elections.
Chapter 1, Article 16 of the signed peace agreement is about general elections in South Sudan. The agreement says that the President and First Vice President will agree on the formation of a National Elections Commission.
According to the 2015 peace deal, the elections must take place 60 days before the end of the transitional period, which will be in 2018.