Attendants during the peace celebration on Wednesday (photo by Moses Gum)
By Moses Gum
The African Union and Inter-Governmental Authority on Development have commended the peace celebration in South Sudan with regional leaders describing it as a step of confidence building.
Meanwhile at the same event, the head of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) re-echoed that the UN would provide all the necessary support for the implementation of the recently signed revitalized agreement.
The African Union Representative, Prof. Jerome Biswaro noted the commitment of South Sudanese leaders in signing the revitalised peace agreement and celebrating the achievements.
He said celebrating the achievements of peace marked a milestone for commitment to implementing the agreement to end the conflict in the region.
“On behalf of the African Union, I am happy with step taken by South Sudanese leaders to have this peace celebrated. This shows leaders’ commitment to implement and end the war,” he said.
Biswaro stressed the need of ushering in peace to South Sudan for prosperity of the nation.
“It is paramount to usher in peace. For these reasons; good governance, prosperity, security and freedom of the people in the nation,” Biswaro stated.
The AU representative expressed that the solutions for African problems must be brought by Africans for the purpose of regional stability.
“This peace agreement is African made; African solutions to African problems. It is African peace done by Africans,” Biswaro insisted.
He described South Sudan as one of the African nations that had potential but required leaders to leave differences aside, put the interest of the people ahead and develop the nation.
“South Sudan is the richest in Africa. It is a matter of time, it will be a donor country,” he noted.
He urged leaders to be ready to make changes, embrace one another as well as acknowledge the aspirations of millions of people who were suffering.
Biswaro called on regional leaders especially IGAD to continue supporting the country for full implementation of the revitalised agreement.
On his part, the IGAD special envoy to South Sudan, Ismail Wais stressed the need for the leaders to jointly move the country forward to gain permanent peace and security.
“Leaders of South Sudan must come together, join hands and implement this peace fully. By doing so, it will help relieve the suffering of the people,” he said.
He said that the parties to the conflict deserved special commitment to implement the agreement.
The special envoy further thanked the African Union, regional leaders and guarantors for bringing peace back to South Sudan.
David Shearer, the head of UNMISS also reiterated that the UN would put all the resources to support in the area of peacebuilding and reconciliation.
“Let me assure you, the United Nations is absolutely committed to working with you all as a partner. We will stand alongside the parties as they move forward in peace. We will use our resources and our presence across the country to support reconciliation and peace building,” Shearer said.
“It is my hope that we will reach the day when the presence of UNMISS is no longer required and it can depart leaving my colleagues here from the United Nations agencies to help secure South Sudan’s development,” he added.
He called on the parties to the conflict to demonstrate political will to implement the agreement, adding that the parties’ commitment would persuade the international community to support the agreement.
In his statement, Shearer further tasked the parties to work hard in order to fully implement the agreement, urging the parties to build trust in every step of the implementation.
“The key ingredient needed at every step is trust. The personalities who signed the Agreement have in the past been former friends and foes. So, the big challenge ahead is to build trust and confidence between the parties and between the parties and the people,” he said.
“That is not just a job for the signatories. It is beholden on all of us here today officials, civil society, religious leaders and the international community – to generate trust so that peace can flourish,” Shearer said.
He also commended the parties for showing their commitment and continuing efforts to work together in the pursuit of enduring peace for the sake of the people.
On Wednesday, thousands of South Sudan citizens gathered at Dr. John Garang Mausoleum to celebrate the peace under the theme “Celebrating the dawn of peace, Appreciating friends, Cherishing Reconciliation and Unity.”
The event was attended by IGAD heads of state and government including Ugandan President, Yoweri Museveni Kaguta, Sudanese President Omar, Ethiopian President, Sahle Work Zewde, Egyptian Prime Minister, Mustaffa Kamal and Somalia’s President Mohammed Abdullahi Mohammed.
The peace celebration saw former first vice President Dr. Riek Machar land in the country for the first time since barely leaving after the July incidence in 2016.
The day was crowned with Sudan’s President Omar El Bashir being awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Philosophy in Peace and Diplomacy by the University of Juba.