Inclusive dialogue is key for stability, says activist
By Sasuk Taban
A civil society activistsaysan inclusive and effective dialogue involving all stakeholders is the only fundamentalstep to restorepeace and stability in South Sudan.
Mr. Festo Bali Christopher, the executive director of South Sudan Community Change Agency(SOUSCCA) saidfor a national dialogue on peace and reconciliation to be effective,the people at the grass roots must be included.
“We cannot start from the national level and then head to the grass root level. Opportunity should be given to all the local governments to conduct the dialogue in their respective areas and then the recommendations are forwarded to the national level where people will deliberate and come up with modalities on how the resolutions can be implemented for the bettermentof all citizens,”Balisaid.
He commended the president Salva Kiir and the government for the idea to conduct a national dialogue in the country saying it is a good initiative to restore peace and stability in the country.
Violence will never addressany of thepresentissuesaffecting South Sudanese, he added.
“What needs clarification is that, who is to hold dialogue and with who? Is it the government that dialogues with the citizens, armed groups or it is the dialogue that will bring all the stakeholders together?” Bali questioned before adding that an environment where all can express themselves freely is needed if it is the government to dialogue with the citizens. “For the dialogue to be effective there should be no censorship. The citizens should be given the opportunity to clearly express their views. The government and the citizens have to accept their faults, where they have gone wrong, seek for forgiveness and find ways of correcting their mistakes,” he said.
Bishop EnockTombe, a representative of the Faith Based groups to the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (JMEC) said that for a national dialogue on peace and reconciliation to be effective it must be inclusive so that women, faith based groups, youths, Civil Society Organizations, the government, opposition and other groups areincluded.
All stakeholders should agree upon the agenda for the dialogue, Bishop Tombe said.
“The ideal dialogue is that there should be a representative of the economic committee that brings people at the top, middle and bottom levels to be in the committee and once we know the issues regarding conflict at the grass root level then we can proceed ahead to the national level to address them through dialogue that will restore peace and stability in the country,”he added.
For his part,the Chairman of the Democratic Change Party,(DCP) Hon. OnyotiAdigoNyikwec agrees that South Sudanese need to conduct an inclusive national dialogue that will address issues affecting the country and the people.
That the national dialogue needs to be done in two phases, Adigo said.
“The first phase should focus on uniting the internal front over the peace agreement and to address the issues on why implementation of the agreement is not moving forward and the second one that widely brings out the citizens in the country and those in the diaspora,” Adigosaid.
“South Sudanese are suffering due to insecurity and economic hardships. It is high time that we conducted a national dialogue on peace and reconciliation that will provide the citizens with the opportunity to dialogue with one another, to forgive and reconcile and also come up with tangible results that the International community will acknowledge that truly we are serious about peace and its implementation.”
The DCP leader emphasized that dialogue means: “compromise, forgiveness and accepting one another and is stronger than any weapon.”