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Upper Nile peace conference called off

Authors: Daniel Danis | Woja Emmanuel | Published: Wednesday, December 16, 2020

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

The Office of the First Vice President has announced the postponement of the Upper Nile state conference that was scheduled for today.

In a letter seen by Eye Radio, Dr. Riek Machar’s office informs the people of Upper Nile and the public that the conference has been suspended due to delays in preparation arrangements.

The letter signed by the Executive Director could not specify what arrangements caused the delay.

On Monday, Dr. Riek Machar wrote that the three-day peace and reconciliation conference for the communities of Upper Nile State would take place in Juba.

496 participants comprising of political and community leaders from the state were expected to attend.

The delegates are drawn from Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Juba, Malakal IDP camp, and from the 13 counties of the state.

Yesterday, a senior member of the SPLM-IO stated that the conference would help expedite the appointment of the governor of the state.

There has been a difference of opinion between the President and the First Vice President over the appointment of General Johnson Olony as governor for Upper Nile state.

Olony is the commander of Agwelek forces that signed a military merger and incorporation into the SPLA-IO, under the leadership of Dr. Machar in June 2015.

Puok Bok who is the SPLM-IO Director for Information and Public Relations said the conference will be a significant step towards resolving the political stalemate on the issue of Upper Nile.

“We are hoping that the governor of Upper Nile will be appointed after this conference so that the people of Upper Nile will have the same rights as other states in South Sudan and have county and local governments as soon as possible so that this government can provide services and other necessities to the people of Upper Nile,” Mr. Bok said.

Before the cancellation of this conference, there were concerns over the hasty manner in which the conference was summoned by the office of the First Vice President.

Some said the information was impromptu because it was mentioned just 48 hours to the day of the event.

Others wondered how possible it would be to mobilize and transport delegates from inside and outside the country to Juba within the time limit.

Some current and former officials from Upper Nile state who spoke to Eye Radio also said they were not been officially invited for the event.

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