News / Africa

    South Sudan General Elections Will Be Held June 30

    Election officials carry ballot boxes, moments after polls closed in Juba in January 2011. Officials say this year's vote will be held on June 30. Election officials carry ballot boxes, moments after polls closed in Juba in January 2011. Officials say this year's vote will be held on June 30.
    x
    Election officials carry ballot boxes, moments after polls closed in Juba in January 2011. Officials say this year's vote will be held on June 30.
    Election officials carry ballot boxes, moments after polls closed in Juba in January 2011. Officials say this year's vote will be held on June 30.
    John Tanza

    South Sudan's National Election Commission (NEC) has set June 30 as the date for this year's general elections.

    NEC chair Abednego Akok announced the date at a news conference in Juba on Thursday.

    The announcement drew protests from opposition officials, who said widespread insecurity will make it impossible to hold safe and fair elections in June. They also said the millions of dollars that have been earmarked for the elections should be spent on helping the people of South Sudan, not on organizing polls.

    At least 10,000 people have been killed and around 1.8 million people have been displaced by fighting in South Sudan, which erupted in December 2013 when a rift between President Salva Kiir and his former deputy, Riek Machar, boiled over into violence. Hundreds of thousands of children have been forced to drop out of school because of the fighting, and hundreds of thousands of South Sudanese face severe food insecurity.

    'Joke of the year'

    Former political detainee Ezekiel Lol Gatkuoth, who is now deputy foreign affairs secretary in Machar's rebel movement, said holding elections when millions of people are suffering would be unacceptable. He added that insecurity around the country would make it impossible to organize a free and fair vote.

    "It is actually the joke of the year," Gatkuoth told South Sudan in Focus.

    "It is unacceptable because nobody will be focussing on having elections," he said. "The money that you are using to run an election, you should actually be providing this money to feed your people."

    Gatkuoth said because the government does not control many parts of the country,  it would be difficult to organize safe and fair elections.

    Former justice minister John Luk said the government should focus on ending the year-old conflict before elections are held. "I think holding elections in June is not sensible at all," he said. "The best would be to focus on a serious peace." Like Gatkuoth, he was detained by the government after fighting broke out in Juba on Dec. 15, 2013. 

    Cheaper alternative

    The government last month announced that it has approved a budget of 1.5 billion South Sudanese Pounds ($517 million) for the elections, in which the presidency and all of the seats in the National Assembly will be decided.

    Lual Deng, the head of Juba-based think tank, The Ebony Center, said that's a lot of money to spend when South Sudan's oil-dependent economy is in such poor shape after a year of conflict, and with the global price of crude down sharply.

    South Sudan's oil production has been cut by around a third since the conflict began. On top of that, the price of oil has fallen from around $108 per barrel in the middle of last year to less than $55 per barrel at the start of 2015.

    "I don't see where you're getting that amount of money at this stage," Deng said, referring to the budget allocated for elections.

    He suggested that, instead of holding elections, South Sudan's constitution be amended to extend the tenure of the legislature by 36 months.

    "The cost of extending the National Assembly would be about 250 million South Sudanese pounds over three years if you take the salaries, the benefits, the associated buildings, the staff, all those things. So it's much, much cheaper in terms of economics," he said.

    "I would...  extend the tenure of the national legislature and use the remaining 1.26 billion South Sudanese pounds to improve" the country's infrastructure, Deng said.

    Information Minister Michael Makuei said last week that, according to South Sudan's transitional constitution, elections must be held this year.

    A check of the constitution shows that it does not stipulate that elections must be held by a certain date, but does say that President Kiir's term will come to an end by July 9 of this year. The constitution also says that if no election has been held by then, the presidency will be considered vacant and the vice president will assume the top executive post until a vote is organized.

    The transitional constitution of South Sudan also calls for a census to be held ahead of the next general elections, to "determine the number of electoral constituencies for" the  vote. Because of the ongoing conflict, that has not happened.

    Philip Thon Aleu contributed to this report from Juba.

     

    You May Like

    Vietnam Mulls Tough Measures for ‘Misbehaving’ Chinese Tourists

    Move comes after footage surfaced online of Chinese travelers harassing a banana hawker in Da Nang

    Pakistan Social Media Star's Honor Killing Fuels Debate

    Qandeel Baloch's murder puts spotlight on deadly tradition and other mistreatment of women

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Francis Akol from: Melbourne
    January 04, 2015 9:24 PM
    Yes, general election has to be held to let the South Sudanese people decide who the leaders are going to govern our new born nation.
    Date: 05/01/2015.

    by: Riek gach from: Ethiopia
    January 04, 2015 7:54 AM
    Government of south sudan should think more about on going conflict of the country instead of thinking about election.election could be free and fair when country is on peace.money that must spend for election is better to save the live of the people cross the country.

    by: madut magok magok from: juba
    January 03, 2015 1:23 PM
    I apreciated the move of allowing election although the government is in the crissis, not by bullet but ballet

    by: majok ngor aguto from: kakuma
    January 03, 2015 12:46 PM
    why should we have an election this?and u pple knew what happen just some days back as a government of s.sudan u should concider the citizen and trid to help them and the budget that should be use should be given idps and the most important is to find the way how to united us as one nation .

    by: James Akol from: Aweil
    January 03, 2015 8:10 AM
    Yes, the election is to be held by June 30 this year.
    The people complaining are the very people responsible for this conflicts, if not let them stop and come for general election this is the only way out.

    by: Lisa from: Dallas
    January 03, 2015 12:09 AM
    This is madness, the electoral commission are all after money. Nothing else yes the oil money will be used buy people to vote for current government. You better believe me. They just don't care whether the country is still in war, all what they want is to stay in power forever, while poor people are suffering, on top of that there is no development whatsoever. Apart from the minister's and the fiends of the president are the only people who are benefiting from the government. God help my poor people, the government might not protect you but God knows what is going on.we should just have faith in God, so that change could come.
    In Response

    by: Dut Mayou from: Juba
    January 04, 2015 3:50 PM
    Of course, election should take place by June inorder to avoid more conflict because others says the current govt, is doing nothing lets them vote for the right pole they know. the more delay of the election the more crisis.

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Borderi
    X
    July 22, 2016 12:30 AM
    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Poor Residents in Cleveland Not Feeling High Hopes of Republican Convention

    With the Republican Party's National Convention underway in Cleveland, Ohio, delegates and visitors are gathered in the host city's downtown - waiting to hear from the party's presidential candidate, Donald Trump. But a few kilometers from the convention's venue, Cleveland's poorest residents are not convinced Trump or his policies will make a difference in their lives. VOA's Ramon Taylor spoke with some of these residents as well as some of the Republican delegates and filed this report.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video With Yosemite as Backdrop, Obama Praises National Parks

    Last month, President Barack Obama and his family visited some of the most beautiful national parks in the U.S. Using the majestic backdrop of a towering waterfall in California's Yosemite National Park, Obama praised the national park system which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. He talked about the importance of America’s “national treasures” and the need to protect them from climate change and other threats. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Counter-Islamic State Coalition Plots Next Steps

    As momentum shifts against Islamic State in Iraq, discussions are taking place about the next steps for driving the terrorist group from its final strongholds. Secretary of State John Kerry is hosting a counter-IS meeting at the State Department, a day after defense ministers from more than 30 countries reviewed and agreed upon a course of action. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb reports.
    Video

    Video Russia's Participation at Brazil Olympic Games Still In Question

    The International Olympic Committee has delayed a decision on whether to ban all Russian teams from competing in next month's Olympic Games in Brazil over allegations of an elaborate doping scheme. The World Anti-Doping Agency recently released an independent report alleging widespread doping by Russian athletes at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. So far, only Russian track and field athletes have been barred from the Summer Games in Brazil. VOA's Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.
    Video

    Video Millennials Could Determine Who Wins Race to White House

    With only four months to go until Americans elect a new president, one group of voters is getting a lot more attention these days: those ages 18 to 35, a generation known as millennials. It’s a demographic that some analysts say could have the power to decide the 2016 election. But a lot depends on whether they actually turn out to vote. VOA’s Alexa Lamanna reports.
    Video

    Video Number of Syrian Refugees Arriving in US Jumps

    The United States is committed to resettling 85,000 refugees from around the world by October. Of that number, 10,000 will come from Syria and already some 4,000 Syrian refugees have arrived in the United States, many of them settling in the state of Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports from Chicago, their arrival is not the end of a difficult journey to find peace and stability.
    Video

    Video Rio’s Trams Await Olympic Tourists

    Over the past century, many cities around the world replaced electric trams, prone to breakdowns and backups, with faster and more spacious buses. But for some reason restored antique trams are a huge tourist attraction. So it’s no wonder the authorities in Rio de Janeiro are busy restoring their city’s old tram line ahead of the Summer Olympic Games. VOA’ George Putic reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora