The region of Southern Sudan (currently the independent republic of South Sudan) became autonomous for the first time, within Sudan, in 1972, through the Addis Ababa Agreement and its local government had five Presidents until 1983, when the Sudanese central government revoked the autonomy.
Autonomy was gained again in 2005, through the Comprehensive Peace Agreement meant to end the Second Sudanese Civil War and the position of president of Southern Sudan was restored.
On 9 July 2011, South Sudan became independent and a new constitution was adopted. South Sudan President Salva Kiir Mayardit has told members of the ruling Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) party that the world’s youngest country will go for elections comes 2023, saying the parties to the revitalized peace agreement must implement the 2018 peace deal in order for the country to go for elections on time.
However, during the swearing in ceremony of the acting SPLM secretary-general Peter Lam Both, Kiir said “If someone wants to fight you just tell him we are in the implementation of the revitalized peace agreement, and we are left with a few months only. When we clock to 2023 we shall go for elections and there is no need to fight one another,”
The South Sudanese head of state said his government will make sure that the country do not return to war because according to him – if the country returns to war, there would be another extension of the transitional period which will not see elections to take place as provided for in the peace agreement.
The country currently is in a state of active conflict and in the midst of a fragile political transition. According to a November 2020 report by the United Nations panel of experts on South Sudan, President Salva Kiir ‘has locked the opposition out of the government’s decision-making process,’ including First Vice President Riek Machar.
In Somalia, the opposition are already questioning the transparency and fairness of February’s presidential polls. They’ve rejected the election committees appointed by the federal government, accusing them of bias towards the incumbent federal government.
Tensions between the federal government and regional states are also high. This doesn’t bode well for the country’s precarious security situation and could give al-Shabaab and Islamic State in Somalia an opportunity to wreak more havoc.
In Uganda President Yoweri Museveni, in power for 34 years and counting, is running for a sixth consecutive term. Term limits were scrapped in 2005 and the age limit for presidential candidates in 2017.
Zambia has historically held relatively peaceful elections, but after the disputed 2016 polls there are concerns that the same scenario if not worse could play out. President Edgar Lungu’s government has undertaken numerous reforms, including revamping the voters register, which has raised suspicions of impending fraud.
With the above history of political dynamics in Africa, South Sudan isn’t exceptional as it prepares to have its elections in 2023. the implementation of the 2018 Peace Agreement remains limited and South Sudanese parties should step up efforts particularly in finalizing two key provisions
These include reconstitution of the Transitional National Legislative Assembly and formation of the Unified Forces. According to the 2018 agreement, all parties were to ensure the permanent ceasefire continue to be upheld.
Sadly there has been a series of insurgencies and the Government needs to put in more efforts to address intercommunal violence to prevent possible adverse impact on the current transitional period.
For now, the only solution the country has is to implement and complete the transitional period and then we go for elections. If you want to be a President, minister or whatever position in the government, you will be voted in by the people,”
The Revitalized peace agreement of 2018 clearly stipulated that elections are to be held in March 2022, but as several transitional period tasks remain uncompleted, the government has extended the transitional period until 2023, a decision that sparked an outcry in the opposition as they demanded elections to be conducted in 2022.