[Yei, South Sudan, TCT] The Acting Governor of South Sudan’s Yei River State has said peaceful dialogue with armed opposition groups is what the state wants in order to bring stability and peace in the state.
Stephen Lado Onesimo said the state government has given religious leaders, commissioners of the state’s thirteen counties, and traditional leaders the go-ahead to reach out to armed opposition groups in the state to pursue an amicable resolution to their grievances.
Lado, who was briefing a team of representatives from UN agencies on the general humanitarian and security situation in the state, said the situation would improve if armed groups accept peaceful resolutions to their conflicts.
“The government sees that the people of Yei want the chance for dialogue to be the first priority,” he said, during the briefing in the State Secretariat.
Rising insecurity has led to blockage of most major roads leading to and from Yei. The only major road in use is Yei-Juba, while Yei-Kaya, Yei-Tore as well as Yei-Lasu highways are not operational due to insecurity.
Lado added that political and local leaders are now embarking on peaceful means to resolve the crisis, expressing hope that the roads will open soon if the current efforts are successful.
“If this [dialogue] goes well, I think the roads will open,” said Lado, who is also the State Minister for Information and government spokesperson.
Catholic priest Fr Tom Poru Martin said the church remains neutral and is committed to ensuring that the government and armed youth in the state sit at the table to resolve any grievances.
“The road is long so we are still trying. We are struggling so that peace comes. Pray hard,” Fr Poru told worshipers at Christ the King Church during a women’s meeting called to pray for peace, which was held last week.
Fr Poru said South Sudan political leaders should stop confusing their citizens and unite to end targeted killings, mounting divisions, and property destruction in the war-ripped country.
Ahmed Warsame, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) representative in South Sudan, encouraged church leaders and the state government to find a political solution to the crisis, and to provide a safe environment where no one is subjected to harassment, intimidation and abuse.
“We want to see a situation and a safe environment where people can return home and rebuild their lives. I think that is our ultimate goal,” he said.