The Steering Committee of the National Dialogue has expressed its commitment to go and ask the armed groups to announce ceasefire for the National Dialogue to move forward.

Speaking during a consultative meeting between political parties and Voluntary Civil Society Taskforce on the National Dialogue, a member of the Secretariat of the National Dialogue, Zachariah Diing Akol said the committee would soon conduct consultation with the armed groups to convince them to accept dialogue as a means of resolving the conflict in order to stop hostilities in the country.

“The issue of insecurity is something that we are aware but we are not worried about it,” Akol said.

“We intend to reach out to the entire armed groups and ask them to follow President Salva Kiir by declaring a unilateral ceasefire,” Akol added.

He stressed that they could not force them but it would be based on their interest to come out of the bush to live a normal life, adding that it would be possible if the rebels could be willing to engage in the process of the National Dialogue.

The Executive Director of South Sudanese Network for Democracy and Elections [SSuNDE], Rajab Mohandis who also represented the Voluntary Civil Society Taskforce on the consultation on the National Dialogue, said the unilateral ceasefire declared by President Kiir should be enforced by the leaders of the armed opposition groups in order to create a peaceful and conducive environment for the conduct of the National Dialogue.

“All South Sudanese opposition political forces both within and outside the country should embrace the National Dialogue as a peaceful means to end the prolonged violent conflict in our country and to participate in the process,” Mohandis said.

According to Zacharia Akol, after swearing in of the Steering Committee, they started their work on the 29th May, 2017 by holding series of meetings preparing for the rolling out of the process of the National Dialogue.

At least 15 committees have been formed to go to difference areas for consultation and organise conferences at grassroots up to regional level.

Akol continued that another committee is working on the issue of logistics to mobilize resources.

“Each group has been tasked to come up with work plan that would be put together to form an overall plan for the steering committee to guide the process moving forward.

Out of the 15 committees, 10 committees will go to the 10 former states, 2 groups will go to the former Administrative Area of Greater Pibor and Abyei, one group will be at the national headquarters in Juba which would be in consultation with the stakeholders and another committee will go outside to the refugee camps and the Diaspora.

“This consultation is to generate the issues that will be the basis upon which the agenda can be established. It is the agenda that will guide the process once the agenda and rules are established, decision making mechanisms and how consensus can be reached and then the process of dialogue will begin,” Akol said.

By Kidega Livingstone