Former Red Army Foundation Chairperson Deng Bol Aruei, who resigned to form his own political party, has expressed interest in vying for president in the 2024 general elections.
In a social media post, Mr Aruei posted that he had been approached by many people encouraging him to stand for J1.
He said the offer to challenge President Kiir in the first general elections, has given him the courage to deliver the aspiration of the South Sudanese people.
Mr Aruei said he will soon announce his intention to run for president and will step down from the chairmanship of his party to ensure a transparent primary election.
“When the time is right, I will officially declare and launch my presidential bid in a ceremony that symbolizes the beginning of a new era for South Sudan,” he said in a statement posted on Facebook.
“It is important to note that upon my official declaration, I will resign from the chairmanship of the CPA to ensure a fair and transparent contest within the party for the nomination to represent the party during the 2024 elections.”
On October 14, 2022, Aruei resigned from the Red Army Foundation formed by former child soldiers and formed the Common People’s Alliance (CPA) party.
This was after nine years of his leadership at the foundation since 2012 – that the war veteran took a U-turn and formed his own political party.
According to Aruei, his resignation was inspired by internally displaced persons and the South Sudanese living in the diaspora.
– Physical disability –
The veteran child soldier who is physically disabled and walks in a wheelchair, said he is concerned that some South Sudanese people may think he is not fit to lead the country.
“Since my return to South Sudan in May 2023, I have been approached by numerous individuals urging me to run in the next elections. However, I have been hesitant due to personal reasons, one of which is my physical disability that requires me to use a wheelchair for mobility.,” he said.
Mr. Aruei, however, said the perception is not true and vowed to challenge what he termed as “flawed thinking.”
“While I do not consider myself disabled in any way, and firmly believe that “disability is not an inability,” I have had doubts about running for office in a society that often underestimates the capabilities of individuals with disabilities.”
“Many people mistakenly believe that a two-legged President is necessary to ensure their security and well-being. Yet, we currently have a physically able President and leaders, and yet we find ourselves downtrodden, suffering, and trapped in a cycle of violence.”
Article 98 of the Transitional Constitution which stipulates eligibility for office of the president, says a candidate for the office of the President shall be a South Sudanese by birth, be of sound mind, be at least forty years of age, be literate; and not have been convicted of an offence involving honesty or moral turpitude.
– First ever elections –
South Sudan has never conducted a general election as an independent state.
General elections were scheduled to be held on 9 July 2015, but the outbreak of conflict in 2013 scattered the planned polls.
The South Sudan parliament voted overwhelmingly in April 2015 to amend the transitional 2011 constitution to extend the presidential and parliamentary term until 9 July 2018. The polls were again postponed to 2021.
But in 2018, a peace agreement that ended the civil war was signed and a transitional period of three years was agreed on, which would be followed by elections in 2023.
In 2022, the transitional government and opposition agreed to extend the transitional period until late 2024 where an elected government would then be ushered in 2025.
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