South Sudan Opposition Parties Criticize New Election Laws 

Juba, South Sudan     — A new electoral regulation in South Sudan has received harsh criticism from opposition parties that see the move as a way to lock them out of the forthcoming general election that will be a first for the world’s youngest nation.

Key opposition parties in South Sudan have termed a contentious electoral law as a scheme by the government to keep them out of upcoming elections in December.

The Coalition of Opposition Parties presented a petition to the country’s Political Party Council Monday demanding revocation of the $50,000 registration fee imposed on parties seeking to field candidates in the upcoming polls.

The world’s youngest nation is set to have its first democratically elected government in December this year.

But parties like the People’s Progressive Party, SSOA, Coalition of Opposition Parties and United People’s Party now see the newly registration fee as an attempt by the government to stifle democracy and restrict the participation of opposition parties in the polls.

Opposition politician Lam Akol is the leader of the National Democratic Movement (NDM) and had challenged President Salva Kiir in the first election held in 2010 when South Sudan was seceding from Sudan.

“How many parties will afford $50,000?” he said

In 2010 parties had been required to pay about $150 as a registration fee.

Riek Machar, chairperson of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement in Opposition (SPLM-IO), the main opposition party in the transitional government, blames President Kiir’s side of the government for failing the people of South Sudan. Machar insists that they will not take part in the election unless all the pending chapters in the peace agreement are fully implemented.

Opposition leaders also say they don’t have faith in the local judicial process should they feel the need to challenge the outcome of the election. Gabriel Akok, chairperson of the People’s Progressive Party (PPP), claims that, as currently constituted the judiciary is controlled by government sympathizers.

“Considering the current situation in South Sudan, we are not sure, everyone is not quite sure that we can petition the election results when they are not free and fair, simply because the judiciary is headed by an active member of the SPLM, the current ruling political party in South Sudan,” said Akok.

South Sudan is currently under a transitional government whose term is set to end with the election in December.

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