The 2015 National Census and Elections: An Analysis of President Kiir’s Announcements
Organization: The Sudd Institute
Type: Policy Briefs
The recent violence in South Sudan has sparked a range of reactions comprising deep divisions in public criticisms between those supporting the government and those supporting the rebels. These public reactions also spurred analysis of contemporary and historical causes of discontents in the SPLM, what the role of the international bodies should be, media propaganda, and how the government should respond in order to restore peace in the country. Despite substantial international attention from within the region of East Africa and beyond, primacy seems placed upon short-term interventions that immediately reestablish tranquility in an overwhelmingly distressed country. Yet, attaining lasting peace goes beyond the issues of restoration of the status quo. It invokes delimiting the conflict itself, with pronounced emphases on participatory democracy or political reforms, institutional and administrative conditions, social justice, security and civil service sectors reforms, the rule of law and accountability, and governance.
In view of the prevailing public discourse on the conflict, long-term reforms in all the sectors should be inextricably linked to political reforms, a widespread opinion that identifies the strained political space as a serious burden on the country and is intrinsically linked to current violence. However, the government’s response is politically promising, with President Salva Kiir Mayardit having recently publicly announced his plans for the next 12 months, provided that a measure of peace is fully employed.
Regardless of the merit of the government’s announcement, we suspect that the leadership is misinformed about the technical nature of the two projects it seeks to undertake. In light of this, our analysis then cautions the leadership against blanket political assurances, offers basic nuances into the census conduct, suggests the general elections be conducted in 2015, and calls for the establishment of presidential support technical team (PRESTECT) comprising rigorously trained scientists. The next sections discuss the national census, implications of the current violence, and the long-term implications of empty political assurances. Finally, we conclude with policy counsel, which considers, among other things, instituting presidential support technical team.
Jok Madut Jok is trained in the anthropology of health and holds a Ph.D. from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). He is a fellow of Rift Valley Institute and Director of the Sudd Institute. Jok has held fellowship positions at a number of other institutions, including the United States Institute of Peace and the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. He also served in the Government of South Sudan as undersecretary in the Ministry of Culture and Heritage for three years. He has also worked in aid and development and author of four books and numerous articles covering gender, sexuality and reproductive health, humanitarian aid, ethnography of political violence, gender-based violence, war and slavery, and the politics of identity in South Sudan and Sudan. His book Breaking Sudan: The Search for Peace, was published in 2017 by OneWorld.
Augustino Ting Mayai is the Director of Research at the Sudd Institute. He holds a Ph.D. in Sociology, with concentrations on demography and development from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He currently studies how state effectiveness affects child health outcomes in South Sudan and Ethiopia. Dr. Mayai has written extensively on South Sudan’s current affairs.