Religious groups now weigh in on the national dialogue

Justice, Peace & Reconciliation
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[Juba, South Sudan, TCT, By Philip Buda] Representatives of various church denominations and Islamic religion in South Sudan have added their concerns to the Resolutions of the National Dialogue Regional Conference.

[Juba, South Sudan, TCT, By Philip Buda] Representatives of various church denominations and Islamic religion in South Sudan have added their concerns to the Resolutions of the National Dialogue Regional Conference.

In a communique issued at the close of the two-day conference, the religious leaders who assembled for the faith-based conference on the national dialogue endorsed support for the National Dialogue saying it is an inclusive grassroot peace process and key to national healing and reconciliation.

They also said they strongly support and affirm the views of the people of South Sudan generated through the grassroot consultations.

“we welcome and endorse recommendations of the three Regional Conferences to the national Dialogue Conference and approved the outline of the National Conference Agenda” States the communique.

In their communique publicly seen, the group made a commitment to abide by and take part in implementation of the Final Resolutions and Recommendations of the National Dialogue Conference.

The two-days conference which brought together about 20 religious groups to seek their opinions on how to achieve lasting peace in the country, was organized by the steering committee of the national dialogue

The conference themed “Come Let’s Dialogue, Come Let’s Heal Our Nation” took place in Juba on the 18th and 19th of November 2019. The gathering came up with 23 resolutions unanimously passed for the National Dialogue Conference Agenda anticipated for December 2019.

In his key note Angelo Beda, the co-chair of the National Dialogue, said they (Steering Committee of the National Dialogue) were being regarded as the white-wash of the President by the religious leaders and as such, they  decided to call for the conference of the religious groups to consult with them, their views before heading for the National Conference.

Co-chair Beda told the gathering that no one has experienced any intimidation for speaking their mind frankly in the national dialogue.

“No one has been arrested at the National dialogue Regional conferences for speaking their grievances.,” Beda guaranteed.

Co-chair Beda also criticized leaders who see their security more important than the safety and security of the citizens.

“There is no need for leaders to protect themselves without protecting the citizens,” he stressed. 

The Religious group asked that the Commission for Truth, Healing and Reconciliation provided in the R-ARCSS to be established immediately and be headed by religious leaders. They also called for the creation of the ministry of religious affairs to handle issues affecting faith-based institutions in the country.

The group statements further appealed to the political leaders to return to God and live religious lives and desist from witchcraft and idol worshiping. They asked for a review of the South Sudan educational philosophy to reflect religious and cultural values.

As many people are still skeptical of whether the Resolutions and Recommendations of the National Dialogue Conference will be successfully implemented by the government, the religious group has called for the establishment of a strong implementation mechanism for the Final Resolutions of the National Dialogue Conference composed of the current leadership of the National Dialogue Steering Committee and religious leaders.

Jeremiah Swaka, a member of the Catholic church and former undersecretary in the Ministry of Justice, said since the Steering Committee is skeptical which is the right authority to hand over the responsibility of implementation and evaluation of the Resolutions of the National Dialogue Conference, it should be given to the President as he is the initiator of the idea.

However Swaka warned that resolutions and recommendations shouldn’t be tampered with by the Presidency or by the legislative assembly.
Another religious leader Hassan Ajak, a member of the Islamic Council, said he too agrees with the idea of giving the responsibility of follow-up, implementation and evaluation of the Resolution of the National Dialogue to the President but with the Parliament also playing a role in overseeing the process.

President Salva Kiir initiated the National Dialogue last year and constituted the Steering Committee headed by prominent old politicians, Angelo Beda and Abel Alier as the Co-chairs and their specialized committee members.

The Steering Committee was tasked to carry out a grassroots consultations to find out grievances of the people and their popular demands and what could be their possible solutions to address the conflict in South Sudan that has engulfed the nation in order to achieve lasting peace.

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