Peace Celebration should mark a new beginning
By Opio Jackson
The planned peace celebration expected to take place this month must mark a new beginning in our aspiration for peaceful and prosperous South Sudan after the 2011 independence celebration hopes were strewn by the 2013 conflict. It should be focused on development and reconstruction of the country after the five year devastating war.
Seven years ago, tens of thousands of South Sudanese danced and cheered as their new nation declared independence on Saturday, 09th July 2011. I happen to be among the luckiest people to witness the declaration of an independence state in their live time. The crowd cheered as President Salva Kiir unveiled a giant statue of the SPLA civil war hero Dr. John Garang, who signed the Comprehensive Peace Agreement [CPA] with the north.
The word “Free at last” was at the lips of every South Sudanese and their expectation for better lives was so high. In a similar way, the Revitalized Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan (R-ARCSS) should act as another restoration of hope for the citizens.
Its celebration must have real meaning in our hearts. It should not be a celebration for the new positions in government for those who might want to understand that way round. What is needed is the willingness to end the suffering of our people but the taste for positions and this ultimately will not happen without a moral conviction that is expected from all the parties to the agreement.
The new Transitional Government of National Unity should put the integral good of its citizens at the heart of all initiatives. This peace agreement if well implemented would restore the dignity of our citizens as well as the country.
The R-ARCSS has also given another extension to the life of the government and it should be utilized for the provision of service delivery to the citizens. More than half of the population was cut off from basic services due to conflict. As peace returns in the country, we need peace so that services can be accessible by all the citizens. The citizens of this country are in dire need of clean drinking water, electricity, better health service, education and security.
The conflict in the country had killed tens of thousands of lives leave alone those who perished of hunger and preventable diseases as they could not access their needs due to insecurity. We must use this peace celebration to remind us on how these situations were caused to avoid another escalation of conflict in future.
One thing we always need to remind ourselves is our rights as citizens, and there should be a peaceful handover of power from one person to another through a democratic process. Application of violence should never be used to get our rights- The impact of violent conflict affects everyone whether you are a participant to it or not.
Hence, this forthcoming peace celebration should mark a new start in South Sudan towards a prosperous and stable nation with equality after we have lost the expectations that were developed during the 2011 independence celebration.