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South Sudan’s president warns against clinging to power after call to postpone elections

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JUBA, April 4: South Sudan ‘s President Salva Kiir on Wednesday warned lawmakers “not to cling to power” just weeks after his former rival turned deputy proposed a postponement of elections expected to be held in December.

Kiir said an extension of the period of transition to elections would deny citizens an opportunity to choose their leaders and urged parliament to pass the necessary laws to pave the way for the elections.

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The president was addressing lawmakers as parliament returned from recess Wednesday.

South Sudan was supposed to hold elections before February 2023 but that timetable was pushed back last August to December 2024.

Parliament Speaker Jemma Nunu Kumba said lawmakers would redouble their efforts to ensure that all the prerequisites for elections are met.

Vice President Riek Machar, whose forces fought in a five-year civil war that ended in a 2018 peace deal, suggested last month an extension of the transitional government’s term to allow for adequate preparation for the elections.

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The landlocked country is facing an economic crisis due to a decline in oil exports after war-torn Sudan last month declared force majeure on oil shipments passing through the country. The fighting in Sudan has affected shipments destined for a terminal near Port Sudan along the Red Sea coast.

Civil servants and security forces in South Sudan have not been paid for the last six months due to the economic crisis.

South Sudan is working to put into place a permanent constitution, an electoral commission and a unified police force, made up of pro-government and rebel factions, that would provide security to the troubled nation.

Communal violence has continued in parts of South Sudan. The United Nations, while extending a peacekeeping mission in the country, has demanded an end to the violence and pushed for swift progress by the government to ensure that delayed elections are held peacefully and freely in December. (AP)

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