Why the US should support South Sudan’s upcoming general elections

Two weeks ago, Comrade Chairman, Salva Kiir Mayardit received, in his office, a very important US government official, who stated on SSBC that the US government under Joe Biden will support South Sudan’s general elections.

By Emmanuel Monychol 

Two weeks ago, Comrade Chairman, Salva Kiir Mayardit received, in his office, a very important US government official, who stated on SSBC that the US government under Joe Biden will support South Sudan’s general elections. This was welcoming, reassuring news, especially after South Sudan’s hopes which hinges on the December 2024 general elections were seemingly let down when Joe Biden and President Salva Kiir didn’t meet on the sideline meetings in New York. In that meeting, President Salva Kiir would personally brief President Joe Biden, but this could not happen. It shook our hopes to the core; the country felt like it had lost a very important peace partner, without whom we cannot do much.  Shortly after that, when Comrade Chairman, Gen. Salva came back to South Sudan, and went straight to Russia to meet with President Vladimir Putin, renewed sanctions of oil sector institutions and individuals of interest were thrown in by the US State Department. 

On October 18, over two weeks after the President Kiir’s meeting with Putin, the US Ambassador to South Sudan, Michael J. Adler also sought President Kiir’s audience and discussed the importance of achieving a credible, peaceful, free and fair election in 2024.

Accompanied by the Director for the United States Institute of Peace Susan Stigant, Adler said they discussed with President Kiir the requirements for the elections, which includes a legal framework that provides for political and civic space as well as politically neutral security force that can be achieved by the deployment of the Necessary Unified Forces.

The US has a sanction stance on South Sudan. It has 15 South Sudanese entities on their sanction list accusing them for alleged contribution to crisis in South Sudan.

The 15 entities included Ascom Sudd Operating Company, Dar Petroleum Operating Company, DietsmannNile, Greater Pioneer Operating Co. Ltd, Juba Petrotech Technical Services Ltd, Nile Delta Petroleum Company, Nile Drilling and Services Company, Nile Petroleum Corporation, Nyakek and Sons, Oranto Petroleum, Safinat Group, SIPET Engineering and Consultancy Services, South Sudan Ministry of Mining, South Sudan Ministry of Petroleum, and Sudd Petroleum Operating Co.

All these are very crucial for getting the resources to run the huge transitional government of national unity, steering South Sudan towards the elections, and fostering peace and security.

Whatever, those sanctioned entities hold the key to all these and the actions on them makes US motives towards South Sudan very questionable.

The U.S. sent a warning this year to U.S. businesses, individuals, and other persons, including academic institutions, research service providers, and investors conducting or contemplating business in South Sudan that “risks continue to grow as a result of South Sudan’s transitional government’s failure to implement political and economic reforms, improve transparency and public financial management, and address pervasive, endemic corruption and human rights violations.”

The warning, ‘South Sudan business advisory’ posted on the U.S Department of State website said businesses and individuals should be particularly wary of the associated illicit finance, reputational, economic, and potential legal risks of conducting business and utilizing supply chains of enterprises with ties to the South Sudanese government officials or their family members or “enterprises with ties to the South Sudanese government.”

Businesses and individuals that operate in the oil and mining sectors are particularly exposed to such risks it said noting that the advisory relates specifically to the Revitalized Transitional Government of National Unity (RTGoNU), companies controlled by government officials and/or their family members, and civilian-owned enterprises with ties to the South Sudanese transitional government. 

Some of the questions that run in our minds are as follows: Why is the US government actions insinuating that it is against these elections? Doesn’t the US government know that the heavy burden of the humanitarian service being offered by its government, to the tune of over $288 million a burden on her own economy? For how long shall we as the people of South Sudan continue to be under this burdensome transition government that has reduced President Salva to a resource sharing President, who must allocate a monthly budget from our oil money to the five vice presidents, leaving nothing for development?   How long will this burden our leaders are putting on our resources continue?  Is the US government not aware that all the positions created by the peace agreement including the five vice president dockets are a serious economic burden on our economy? Why is the US, the country that helped the birth of South Sudan “unhelpful” in the state of affairs that will change our country from where it is now, to a country of new legitimacy and better governance, compared to the past?

Why must we not focus on the implementation matrix of this transition government under five vice presidents?

We know that the transitional government is being run by five vice presidents and headed by President Salva Kiir Mayardit. The peace implementation matrix could not be fully implemented on time because of three reasons. (1) It is a complicated matrix intended only for positions and resources sharing and no development (2) some vice presidents are simply comfortable with the resource sharing agreement, or the status quo. They may care less if the transitional government runs on since it provides hefty budgets that nobody is accounting for. (3) Insufficient funding from the peace partners. 

The only liberating approach for a renewed call for unity, development and creating a vibrant private sector that will give young people jobs is this election.   The President of the Republic of South Sudan has the moral duty to listen to the peoples call for elections.  The South Sudanese people want these elections to take place because they want to be given the chance to elect their own leaders, and to bring down this bloated, resource consuming government and its parliament. It is also a moral duty of the US government to support these elections for the same reasons. 

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