Parties sue S. Sudan election commission to stop polls

JUBA – An alliance of 18 opposition parties on Thursday filed a court case against South Sudan's election commission in hopes of delaying elections scheduled for June 30.

"We are here to raise a constitutional suit against the national election commission so that we can seek an injunction for the date which has been fixed," alliance chairperson Lam Akol told reporters at the High Court in Juba.

The suit was lodged with the court's constitutional division.

"The date for elections should be declared null and void," said Akol, who is also leader of the country's main opposition party, the Sudan People's Liberation Movement for Democratic Change.

The election commission has set June 30 as the date for general elections.

But the opposition insists that elections cannot be held in the absence of a permanent constitution.

"The transitional constitution says elections can only take place when there is a permanent constitution and when the census is conducted," said Steward Soroba Budia, deputy chairperson of the United Democratic Party.

Citing a lack of security, the election commission says that no census will be carried out – as stipulated by the transitional constitution – and that voting will be based on constituencies used in 2010 general polls.

South Sudan has been shaken by violence since December of 2013, when President Salva Kiir accused his sacked vice president, Riek Machar, of leading a failed coup attempt against his regime.

Hundreds of people have since been displaced in fighting between the two rivals, close to two million have been uprooted from their homes, and hundreds of thousands now seek shelter in displacement camps across the country.

On Wednesday in Arusha, Tanzania, the warring camps agreed to reconcile their rival factions within the ruling Sudan's People Liberation Movement with a view to resolving the ongoing political crisis.

According to the election commission, the lack of security may hinder voting in some parts of the Upper Nile region – including Jonglei, Upper Nile and Unity states – considered the epicenter of the conflict.

"The priority is peace," Akol insisted. "We cannot have an atmosphere conducive to a free, fair and transparent election when there are bullets hissing around, people are displaced and [there is] fighting."

Copyright © 2015 Anadolu Agency