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Church leaders urge parties to resolve differences through dialogue

By Deng Ghai Deng
Some church leaders are urging the parties to the Revitalized Peace Agreement to resolve any differences through dialogue to prevent the country from returning to war.

 Paul Yugusuk, Archbishop of the Central Equatoria Internal Province of the Episcopal Church says the parties should stop accusing each other of wrongdoing and focus on dialogue to resolve their differences.

“Citizens want the main signatories to the peace agreement – the SPLM in government and SPLM –in Opposition – to show leadership and prevent the country from moving backward. President Salva Kiir Mayardit should remain true to his words that he will never return the country to war. He says the parties should expedite the implementation of key provisions of the agreement such as security arrangements before the transitional period expires,”.

 He added that there is an agreement in place now and that is our hope and the hope of everyone and we are also happy with the statement of the president that he will never take the country back to war. He meant that, and I know he will never do that. We know things are very sensitive but we are urging our leaders that any work is the implementation, so we should put all our efforts toward the implementation of the revitalized peace agreement so that we have elections on time.” Yugusuk said

 He revealed that the SPLM-IO announced a few weeks ago they will no longer participate in the peace monitoring body R-JMEC and security mechanism meetings. In a two-page letter addressed to the Interim Chair of R-JMEC, the group accused the SSPDF of carrying out what it called unprovoked attacks on its military bases. The SSPDF denied the charges. Yukusuk says now is the time for all parties to come together and move on.

 “People will disagree to agree. We have no problem for IO to pull out but pull out for what? Of course, to come back again you don’t pull out and you go for good, so I think it’s time for us to come back. We cannot afford to pull out for good but we reason together, we discuss our own affairs. We are South Sudanese, this is our own problem so whatever challenges are there, it’s us to reason together.” Yugusuk said

David Leng, the Bishop of Jonglei Diocese of the Sudan Pentecostal Church says the latest security development in the country is unfortunate because South Sudanese do not want to see a repeat of the 2013 and 2016 conflicts.
“We are appealing to the leaders of this country not to take the country back to the war. Without peace, there is no development and without peace, there is no change that can happen. All citizens in South Sudan are working hard to change their lives from this miserable life to a good life, so without peace, nobody can go a step ahead. War always is a destructive agent against development, so if there is war nothing can change in South Sudan.” Leng said

Bishop Leng urged the parties to stop bickering and initiate dialogue so that South Sudanese can believe in the future of their country.

 Last month, the U.S. government has called on President Kiir and First Vice President Riek Machar to de-escalate tensions and uphold their respective obligations under the 2018 agreement, including its ceasefire provisions. In a statement released on Tuesday, the US State Department expressed concern over what it called the deteriorating situation in South Sudan. It cited recent clashes between the SSPDF and the SPLM/A IO in Upper Nile and Unity states, saying neither Kiir nor Machar has made good faith efforts to implement key provisions in the peace agreement.

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