Church pledges to help mediate South Sudan peace talks

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[Juba, South Sudan, TCT] South Sudan Council of Churches (SSCC) said they will help the regional body Inter Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) to mediate the next phase of the peace revitalization forum set to start on 26 April 2018 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

The IGAD member states, the South Sudan government, the armed oppositions and the other estranged groups, have agreed to upgrade the role of the religious leaders from observers to mediators and subsequently, will get involved in the next round of the talks.

In a statement to the participants at the workshop organized by the Community Empowerment for Progress Organization (CEPO) in Juba on Monday, the Archbishop of the Episcopal Church of South Sudan-Central Equatoria Internal Province, Paul Yugusuk, said the IGAD has solicited the religious leaders to get involved in the next round of the talks to reach an agreement on the litigious issues.

The second phase of the revitalization forum which was held in February concluded with a lot of insults and arguments over the contentious issues.

The armed opposition group allied to Dr. Machar decided to walk out of the talks in protest of what it termed as persisting assaults on its positions by the government forces.

The presence of the church leaders in the next Addis Ababa peace talks this time as mediators would soften and fasten the consolidated efforts to bring peace in the country.

Yugusuk appealed to parties to the talks to separate national issues from personal grudges, saying the church would also speak with one voice.

“The South Sudan Council of Churches should shoulder this responsibility of uniting the churches as an independent faith-based organization catering for the welfare of South Sudan”, Yugusuk lamented.

Over the last months, the US administration has mounted political and economic pressure on South Sudan leaders to reach a durable peace agreement.

This week, the South Sudan government said that if the peace talks fail, the nation would prepare for elections where citizens exercise their democratic rights to adjust or preserve the current administration in the country.

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