US diplomat urges South Sudan to open political space before elections

US diplomat

United States Ambassador to South Sudan, Michael J. Adler, called on the South Sudanese government to enhance political openness and deliver essential services to citizens in preparation for the upcoming December elections.Speaking at an event commemorating Martin Luther King Jr. at the University of Juba on Friday, Ambassador Adler emphasized the transformative potential of the year 2024 for South Sudan.Adler highlighted the significance of free, fair, and peaceful elections in achieving sustainable peace and well-being for South Sudan. Drawing parallels with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s advocacy for change in America, the US diplomat stressed the importance of leaders demonstrating a commitment to values that steer the nation away from violence towards peace.“Now is the time for South Sudan leaders to demonstrate their commitment to these values. Now is the time for South Sudan leaders to reject the use of violence as a tool for political competition. Now is the time for them to act with urgency and take the necessary steps to create an environment conducive to peaceful elections,” urged Ambassador Adler.“This involves ensuring political and civic space where individuals, candidates, and parties can freely express their views and campaign without fear. This encompasses the importance of having politically neutral security forces. Currently, leaders should seize the opportunity to utilize public revenues for addressing critical public needs. This includes facilitating the return of South Sudanese individuals who have been displaced since the outbreak of the conflict in Sudan. Additionally, leaders must prioritize the provision of essential services, such as health and education, to all citizens of South Sudan,” he said.“It is crucial to ensure timely payment of public sector salaries, covering security forces, health workers, and teachers. Furthermore, there is a pressing need to allocate funds for the effective functioning and operationalization of electoral institutions,” he stressed.The Ambassador highlighted that South Sudan is a distinct country with a unique history, differing from that of the United States. Presently, South Sudan faces significant challenges both domestically and in the region. Despite this, the Ambassador expressed optimism about the South Sudanese people realizing their dreams.“After more than 12 years since gaining independence and enduring the painful years of civil war, the people of this country still hold onto their dream. This dream, rooted in shared values of peace, democracy, human rights, and the right of the people to have a responsive government, is significant. The South Sudanese people, along with all international partners, including the United States, can collectively affirm our commitment to this shared dream,” Ambassador Adler affirmed.“As we embark on this new year, my hope is that the people of South Sudan will reflect on 2024 as the year when their country made rapid and peaceful strides toward achieving their dreams. This aspiration goes beyond mere wishful thinking; it represents the deserving aspirations of the South Sudanese people, akin to the dreams of people worldwide. It is also a shared vision within the international community, which has dedicated decades of support to the people of South Sudan and continues to anticipate positive progress,” he emphasized.Peter Awongo, a South Sudanese businessman, echoed a similar sentiment, expressing his dream for a peaceful and prosperous South Sudan.“I envision a South Sudan free from corruption, where the rule of law prevails. My dream is for the government to prioritize social infrastructure and development projects, fostering the creation of roads, hospitals, electricity, public spaces, and an efficient public transportation system,” he stated.Awongo’s dream extends to a South Sudan where citizens can live freely, devoid of communal violence, and where people can reside in any part of the country without fear based on tribal affiliations, celebrating the strength of diversity.“I envision a South Sudan where the government creates an enabling environment for businesses to thrive, fostering economic progress and job opportunities. Additionally, I dream that young girls in this country can be protected, attend school, graduate, pursue careers, and have the freedom to make choices in marriage,” expressed Awongo.Continuing his vision, he emphasized the importance of a peaceful South Sudan that encourages engagement in agriculture for food security. Awongo believes that national security should be centered on food security, rather than relying on men and women in uniform. “If we achieve food security, everyone would be satisfied, and people could focus on the positive developments in the country without the need for individuals carrying arms as a representation of national security,” he explained.Yaguob Abdallah Mohamed, a Sudanese national residing in South Sudan, shared his dream for peace and prosperity in both South Sudan and Sudan. “My dream is for peace, democracy, and positive change for all the people in South Sudan. I aspire for a better life, democracy, and strong national security to bring about positive change in both Sudan and South Sudan. This dream extends to the entire African continent, emphasizing the necessity of democracy and shared leadership between men and women,” Abdallah stated.“We must prioritize human rights and ensure that women have the opportunity to participate in politics and various sectors. This is crucial for realizing our dreams and effecting positive change in our community and country. It is imperative for both the Sudanese and South Sudanese people to work diligently for justice and democracy, actively combating corruption. By doing so, communities can flourish, human rights can be upheld, and meaningful reforms can be established in the security sector of both countries,” he emphasized.


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