We welcome peace talks from Kiir and Machar, but…

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South Sudan has just celebrated its 3rd independence anniversary, at a time when the country is at war against itself. Various parts of the country are experiencing instability, while the talk of federalism is also raging.

South Sudan has just celebrated its 3rd independence anniversary, at a time when the country is at war against itself. Various parts of the country are experiencing instability, while the talk of federalism is also raging.

 

Many people had dreams of the country taking off after many years of destruction, when it gained independence from the north, in a referendum that was voted for by more than 90% of the citizens.

But many dreams have been shattered, hopes have been dashed and the people are asking themselves, what went wrong, what hit us? When the current crisis broke out, an eye-witness who found himself in the midst of violence narrated to TCT how some people who were in his company who were running away from their homes, were not even sure what was happening and they were not sure where they were going. That is how bad it was.

Addressing the nation during the independence celebrations, President Salva Kiir expressed his willingness to do everything in his power to see that the peace process succeeds. Speaking from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Dr. Riek Machar too expressed his desire for the talks that have been suspended indefinitely, to resume. This is plausible.

But the question that comes to mind is, will they walk the talk of peace? This is not the first time that the two leaders have said that they are willing to come together and negotiate.

Many will take their word with a pinch of salt because, once beaten, twice shy. Already, South Sudanese have witnessed two ceasefire agreements between the two parties being violated. The first of these agreements was done in January, while the latest one was signed in May and was immediately flouted by both parties.

Some interested parties, including the civil society and church leaders, have previously expressed their doubt about the seriousness of the two sides, opining that they could be buying time with the hope of winning the fight on the ground and with guns. But many say that the crisis cannot be resolved with shedding of more innocent blood.

As some church leaders said a few weeks back, in war, we as South Sudanese will all be losers.

Now that the two main protagonists have said that they would like for the peace talks to resume, it is our hope that they are serious and that they are ready to give it their all.

This past week, the European Union announced sanctions against two military leaders, one from the rebel side, and one from the government side. This is in addition to sanctions that were announced earlier by the US, against individuals from the two sides.

If these sanctions are what it will take for the two sides to get serious and come back to the negotiating table, so be it. We believe that all who are interested in the welfare of the country will support any efforts, from whatever quarter, that will exert pressure on the two sides to resume the talks and put in place an interim government, as per an earlier agreement between the two sides.

For now, we hope and pray that goodwill will prevail from the two leaders, and that they will provide leadership and bring back their teams to the negotiating table. Time is of essence, because as things stand now, they may not meet the two month deadline they had to put in place a transitional government.

But it is not too late. President Kiir and Dr. Machar can still rise up to the occasion and provide leadership, which will restore peace in the country, and hope among the citizens.