EU official denies allegation that Western powers want to delay South Sudan's elections

JUBA, South Sudan (AP) — The European Union delegation in South Sudan has denied reports that it is working to delay elections in the country as was alleged by President Salva Kiir.

Deputy Head of the EU Delegation Lothar Jaschke said Thursday that his group is fully supporting an environment to enable elections, a constitution and transitional justice.

Kiir had alleged on Saturday that Western powers wanted to delay elections, but he did not explain how they were doing that. Kiir said he was committed to ensuring elections proceed in December as planned and warned that a postponement would spark violence.

South Sudan is due to hold its first election in December, but crucial processes that include the adoption of a permanent constitution and a unified police force are not in place.

Last week, the interim chairperson of an international commission to oversee South Sudan's 2015 peace agreement, Charles Tai Gituai of Kenya, said there was no evidence of sufficient preparation to conduct elections. He cited the lack of electoral bodies at the state level and a delay in the publishing of a voters register.

South Sudan is also going through an economic crisis, with reduced oil exports, due to the war in neighboring Sudan. Civil servants have not been paid for months.

Deng Machol, The Associated Press