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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.

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Politics

Look beyond Lungu, Hichilema, former minister Siamunene urges Zambians

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Former Defense Minister, Richwell Siamunene, suggests Zambians should see beyond President Hakainde Hichilema and Edgar Lungu if recent reconciliation efforts failed.

Siamunene made the position known while guesting on Saturday’s Prime Television Governance and Leadership Talk. “They needed to reconcile like yesterday. But if they fail to reconcile, Zambians should forget about them and choose other leaders among the 20 million citizens. Life shouldn’t be about the two,” he said.

Siamunene said the appeal for Presidents Lungu and Hichilema to reconcile was long overdue and that Zambians should turn elsewhere if they don’t while also urging the public to refrain from ‘joking when voting’ to enhance governance

“I think Zambian voters joke a lot when voting. We need to be as serious as Zambians; that is why the country is in this situation,” Siamunene said.

He stressed that ethnically motivated leadership was harmful.

Siamunene believed that leaders should be chosen based on their ability to advance development, not their wealth or education.

“Once you become a leader of the country, you cease to be family property and become part of the Zambian family. No friends or family considerations should influence decisions,” he said.

He underlined the necessity for exceptional leadership to fight corruption, saying that waiting for the President to authorize probes makes it academic.

Hichilema at his sixth attempt at winning the presidency in 2021 defeated the incumbent, President Edgar Lungu, by a landslide – more than a million votes. Hichilema capitalized on the failings of Mr. Lungu’s six-year tenure which was criticized for human rights abuses, corruption, a faltering economy, and high unemployment. The two politicians have remained political enemies despite recent talks of reconciliation.

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Tunisia’s Kais Saied eyes reelection despite human rights concerns

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In one of over twenty presidential elections scheduled to be held across Africa in 2024, Tunisian President, Kais Saied, declared his intention to seek reelection on October 6.

According to Saied, the goal of the campaign is “to continue the national liberation struggle,” as stated in a Facebook video posted by the presidency.

The government of Saied has been accused by opposition parties, many of whose leaders are incarcerated, of pressuring the courts to punish his opponents in the 2024 elections so that he may be elected to a second term.

On the same day that opposition leader Lotfi Mraihi, a possible presidential contender, was sentenced to eight months in prison for allegedly purchasing votes, the bid to run for reelection was made public.

Additionally, the court permanently barred Mraihi, the head of the Republican Union Party and a vocal opponent of President Kais Saied, from standing for office.

The opposition claims that unless imprisoned politicians are released and the media is free to operate without interference from the government, no fair or credible elections can be place.

The opposition has referred to Saied’s 2021 dissolution of the parliament and transition to executive order as a coup. Saied was elected in 2019.

According to the president, putting a stop to years of widespread corruption within the political class required judicial action.

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