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National Dialogue is ill-timed – citizens

Author: Okot Emmanuel | Published: Friday, November 6, 2020

Greater Upper Nile conference of the National Dialogue in Juba in May 2019 | Credit | Deng Gai

Some citizens say the ongoing national dialogue conference in Juba is ill-timed as some parts of the country are still experiencing instability.

They suggest that it should have taken place after full implementation of the peace agreement.

“National dialogue should be done only when we have nothing called rebels, when there is no more killing of aid workers. This is what people should understand about national dialogue,” argues a Juba resident.

The national conference commenced in Juba on Tuesday under the theme: “Come lets dialogue, come let’s heal our nation.”

More than 500 representatives of various communities and political parties are participating in the 14-day conference.

President Salva Kiir launched the dialogue initiative in 2017 to unite, reconcile and project the country’s future.

Various regional conferences have been held across the country and in the diaspora while the government and the opposition were negotiating the revitalized peace agreement.

But some members of the public says the implementation of the agreement is a priority.

They argued that the national dialogue conference is taking place while there are active opposition groups in parts of the country.

Others say there are still holdouts groups and continuous killing of civilians by gunmen in urban areas and highways in the country.

“National dialogue is a good thing; it can unite all in the country, but we are supposed to first implement the peace agreement,” John (not real name) told Eye Radio.

In addition, the SPLM-IO and the National Democratic Movement have declined an invitation to participate in the National Dialogue conference.

The two parties are led by First Vice President, Dr. Riek Machar and Dr. Lam Akol.

“This so-called national conference is meant to avoid certain articles in the peace agreement and give an impression that the people of South Sudan are united, which is not true,” Dr. Lam Akol, NDM chairman, told Eye Radio.

“The peace agreement provides for how to unite the people of South Sudan. It has a forum for reconciliation and healing. It has a provision for reparation, and most importantly, it has a forum for accountability and it calls for a hybrid court which will address the atrocities committed during the war.”

However, the head of the UN Mission in South Sudan says the National Dialogue Conference will strengthen the demands of ordinary South Sudanese who wants a government that represents them more fully.

David Sharer, who is also the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General in the country said the 2018 peace deal is much different from the current dialogue process.

He argued that the revitalized peace agreement is about the parties coming together and agreeing.

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