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South Sudanese women leaders end mission here

A delegation of women leaders from South Sudan has ended an experience-sharing mission to Liberia ahead of the country’s December election.

By: Kruah Thompson 

Monrovia, Liberia, April 2, 2024 – A delegation of esteemed women leaders from the Republic of South Sudan has successfully concluded a transformative learning and experience-sharing mission to Liberia. 

The mission here sought to engage with Liberian officials, civil society representatives, and international stakeholders to understand how the West African country successfully conducted peaceful elections despite a tension-packed campaign during the 2023 election that brought President Joseph Nyuma Boakai to power.

However, South Sudan, the world’s youngest nation and Africa’s 54th country remains entrenched in a severe electoral crisis. This crisis is rooted in longstanding political tensions and power struggles within the country, characterized by disputes over electoral processes, fairness, and transparency. 

Historical divisions, economic challenges, and ethnic complexities often exacerbate these issues. Key concerns include allegations of voter suppression, manipulation of electoral results, and challenges to the legitimacy of electoral institutions.

 Additionally, there are worries about excluding certain groups from the electoral process and the impact of military interference on democratic governance. These factors fueled ongoing instability and uncertainty surrounding Sudan’s electoral landscape.

Jean-Pierre Lacroix, a senior United Nations official and French diplomat serving as the United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Peace Operations since April 1, 2017, informed the Security Council that South Sudan is not currently prepared to hold elections, given escalating internal and external challenges.

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However, on Saturday, March 23, 2024, a delegation comprising representatives from key South Sudanese institutions—including  Political Parties Council, Transitional National Legislative Assembly,  Judicial Reform Commission, National Transformational Leadership Institute at the University of Juba, the South Sudan Women’s Coalition, Centre for Inclusive Governance, Peace, and Justice, National Press Club of South Sudan, and UN Women South Sudan Office—arrived in Liberia on a mission to engage with various Liberian entities to glean valuable insights and acquire new skills to address the civic issues in Sudan as they prepared for the upcoming election scheduled for December this year.

During their visit, they met with the Ministry of Gender, Children, and Social Protection, the National Elections Commission, the Ministry of Justice, and the security sector, as well as the United Nations Country Team (UNCT), the Women Legislative Caucus, the ECOWAS Commission to Liberia, the Liberia Elections Observation Network (LEON), Liberia Women Mass Action for Peace, and various Civil Society Organizations advocating for inclusive women’s political participation in elections. They also met with the former Vice President of the Republic of Liberia, Jewel Howard Taylor.

Addressing a press conference marking the conclusion of their mission here, the head of the delegation and Secretary of Finance for the South Sudanese Women Parliamentary Caucus, Hon. Charity Yacob Kimbo, emphasized the innovative approaches and strategies learned from their interactions with Liberian women and youth organizations involved in addressing the structural barriers to women’s electoral participation in Liberia.

Madame Kimbo expressed profound gratitude for the hospitality and knowledge-sharing extended by their Liberian counterparts. She emphasized the critical importance of awareness as Sudan approaches its December election.

Reading from a prepared text, the delegation head also disclosed that through engagement with their Liberian counterparts, they investigated the significant role of election management, constitutional-making bodies, and the necessity for support from elections and other key actors’ institutions. They also recognized the importance of preventing violence against women in various forms, including physical, sexual, verbal, or cyber harassment, which can have significant psychological impacts.

“We are immensely grateful to the Government of Liberia, the UN family, and all stakeholders for addressing pertinent issues aimed at achieving durable peace and democracy,” she stated. “Having drawn strength from your hospitality and shared experiences, we return home with renewed minds and ideas, ready to contribute to enhancing our preparations for the 2024 elections.”

“We assure you that we are returning home with renewed certainty and commitment, armed with new ideas that will significantly contribute to our preparations for the 2024 election. We trust that with the continued support of Liberia and other partners, Sudan will be successful. We hope our collective dream for a healed Africa will be realized in our lifetime.” She concluded. Editing by Jonathan Browne

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