Person voting

South Sudan would go ahead with general elections in case it fails to reach an agreement with the various opposition groups in the next round of talks later this month, government spokesman Michael Makuei has said.

Makuei said the government will move on with elections if the opposition attempts to frustrate the upcoming peace process in a bid to create political vacuum in South Sudan. “The government is ready to go for the talks at any time. We should not also dismiss the idea of us going for elections,” he told reporters late Friday after the weekly cabinet meeting.

“We talk of going for elections when we see that the opposition is not serious and they are dragging their feet with a plan that there will be vacuum that will lead to illegitimacy of the government,” Makuei said. South Sudan was supposed to hold elections in July 2015 but the plan was interrupted after the world’s newest nation descended into civil war in late 2013.

The country’s parliament in June 2015 extended Salva Kiir’s government until July due to the conflict. A peace deal signed in August 2015 between the rival leaders under UN pressure led to the establishment of a transitional unity government in April, but was shattered by renewed fighting in July the same year. The agreement provided that elections be held within 30 months, but local and international observers including the United Nations and the African Union (AU) have argued that the current environment in the East African country does not permit conduct of credible elections due to insecurity. Makuei said the government remains committed to the April 26 peace talks in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to end the conflict. “We have so many options ahead of us that we may look into when that time comes. But the government is serious and we will be going to Addis Ababa as planned,” he said.

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