(Left) Seth Kumi, UNMISS head of Political Affairs.
[Juba, South Sudan, TCT] The UN Mission in South Sudan says that it wants an inclusive peace process in the country that involves all political players.
“We believe that this conflict that erupted in December 2013 was a political conflict, a struggle for political power among the ruling elite,” said Seth Kumi, UNMISS head of Political Affairs.
The crisis pitted forces loyal to President Salva Kiir against forces loyal to his then deputy Dr. Riek Machar. Dr. Machar has since moved to exile in South Africa. He was replaced by Taban Deng Gai as the country’s first vice president.
Kumi said it was unfortunate the conflict took an ethnic dimension because South Sudan has yet to develop its national institutions and lacks a national identity, which makes it easy for politicians and civilians to fall back to their tribes whenever there are political differences.
He mentioned that other issues the country must deal with in 2017 are good governance and inclusivity in the political and economic processes.
Speaking to Radio Miraya, Kumi said the difficulty in implementation of the peace agreement signed in 2015 was one of the greatest challenges for the mission in 2016. He said the crisis that erupted in July 2016 made worse the humanitarian situation and complicated the political landscape.
He said the mission was hopeful that political leaders will come together and create a conducive environment for the majority of the people to be able to continue their livelihoods uninterrupted.
“My hope is that we would be able to reach a policy, we would agree on the need for national reconciliation, for truth and reconciliation…my hope and my wish is that in 2017, all South Sudanese will be able to rise above their animosities and live as brothers,” he said.
He added that the mission would like to have the peace agreement implemented and its tenets incorporated in the interim constitution. The mission also wants the constitutional review committee to be in place and the executive to guarantee the human rights of all citizens.
“Unless these political issues are resolved, there wouldn’t be a conducive atmosphere for economic development,” he said.
He announced that the mission would work with all political players in 2017 for the betterment of South Sudan, and hoped that humanitarian actors will be allowed access to all parts of the country.
“We will be working with the political leadership to ensure access because this is one of the key issues hindering the delivery of humanitarian services,” he said.
Despite all the setbacks that the peace process had faced, he says he remains optimistic that in 2017, the political leaders will be able to place the interests of the country above their own interests and that South Sudanese will be able to develop their potential.
“My wish is that all South Sudanese, including their political leaders, will put the past behind them and look forward to a bright future that gives light at the end of the tunnel, that South Sudanese will be able to embrace each other despite their political and ethnic differences, and they will be able to move forward to build a prosperous nation,” he said.