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UN, US pressure South Sudan over elections

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The United Nations on Wednesday warned South Sudan’s leaders that the nation’s fragile peace process was under serious threat due to slow progress, calling for “fresh urgency” to revive negotiations.

The United Nations and United States urged the leaders of South Sudan to do more to prepare for elections due to be held in less than a year or risk “catastrophe.”

“As I have stated before, elections have the potential to be a nation-building moment, or a catastrophe,” the UN envoy for South Sudan, Nicholas Haysom, told the Security Council.

“Much depends on the political will and leadership of the South Sudanese working together,” he said.

The US ambassador to the UN, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, according to France24 said that in order to “work toward a true democracy,” the South Sudanese government needed to move swiftly to implement the provisions set out in an agreement on revitalizing the peace process.

“That means an inclusive constitution drafting process, public financial management reform, transitional security arrangements, and transitional justice mechanisms” she said.

“Unfortunately, the government of South Sudan is behind in meeting key electoral benchmarks” set out in the agreement, she added.

With a Security Council decision expected on March 15 on renewing the peacekeeping mission in South Sudan for a year — one of the most expensive on the UN’s books, with an annual budget exceeding $1 billion — Haysom pleaded for the deployment to remain at current levels of 17,000 troops and 2,100 police.

“We anticipate a mandate flexible enough to support the conduct of free and fair elections, upon the request of the government,” he said.

With less than a year until elections, South Sudan, which has been independent since only 2011, risks plunging back into war, the UN warned in February.

The youngest country in the world, it has experienced chronic instability since its independence from Sudan.

Between 2013 and 2018, it descended into a bloody civil war between sworn enemies Riek Machar and Salva Kiir, which left nearly 400,000 dead and millions displaced.

A peace deal signed in 2018 led to power-sharing in a national unity government sworn in February 2020, with Kiir as president and Machar as vice-president.

But the provisions of the peace agreement remain largely unimplemented, due mainly to persistent disputes between the two rivals.

Politics

Congo DR electoral body, CENI, announces date of presidential election

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The electoral authorities in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Commission Electorale Nationale Independente (CENI) have announced dates for the next presidential election.

CENI on Saturday said the election will take place on December 20th next year.

The commission outlined several challenges, including the logistics of transporting ballot materials thousands of miles, health concerns about Ebola and COVID-19, and unrest that has forced hundreds of thousands to flee their homes.

The incumbent president, Felix Tshisekedi, who already expressed his intention to run again. He might be running against Martin Fayulu, who continues to claim that he won the 2018 election and was denied victory.

Terrorist activities, largely by a rebel group, M23 have drawn reactions from stakeholders in the East Africa region and global observers. The M23 is a rebel military group based in eastern areas of the DRC, mainly operating in the province of North Kivu.

According to the electoral authorities, insecurity remains the main challenge for the next elections.

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Congo DR rebel group, M23 wants direct talks with government. Will Kinshasa concede?

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The M23 rebel group, which has been at loggerheads with the government of the Democratic Republic of Congo has asked for a direct talk with the government.

The positions are days after the deadline for the declaration of a permanent truce between the worrying battles.

Leaders of Rwanda, Burundi, and Angola met this week in Luanda to find a solution to the conflict in eastern Congo, which has forced thousands to flee their homes.

But the M23 was not part of the discussions and found out about the statement on social media, its spokesperson said.

The spokesperson of the group, Lawrence Kanyuka, “thanked the regional leaders for their efforts to find a peaceful solution to the current conflict.”

“Give us direct negotiations with the government to resolve the root causes of conflict that are producing all these wars here,” he said. M23 leader Bertrand Bisimwa also issued a statement to the same effect.

Meanwhile, Congo DR’s foreign minister Christophe Lutundula said: “It won’t happen. I can reassure you on behalf of the government and the President of the Republic.”

The M23 is a rebel military group based in eastern areas of the DRC, mainly operating in the province of North Kivu.

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