Bishop in South Sudan Emphasizes Need for Civilian-Military “dialogue” to Rebuild Trust

Some participants during the May 26-27 military-civilian dialogue in Yei River County of Central Equatoria State (CES). Credit: Courtesy Photo

There is need for continuous dialogue between the civil population and the army in South Sudan to re-establish trust that seems to have been lost over the years, the Catholic Bishop of the country’s Yei Diocese has said. 

Bishop Alex Lodiong Sakor Eyobo who was speaking at the end of the May 26-27 military-civilian dialogue in Yei River County of Central Equatoria State (CES) underscored the value of dialogue.

“Dialogue is very important in bringing peace between soldiers and civilians,” Bishop Lodiong said on May 27 event, and added, This dialogue should rebuild hope and trust among the civilians and the army for peaceful coexistence in the Counties.”

The South Sudanese Catholic Bishop who has advocated for the enhancement of “military-civilian relations” to facilitate the return of refugees to their respective homes said dialogue has the ability to “prepare a suitable environment for internally displaced persons and returnees” to get back to their ancestral places.

He went on to acknowledge improved relations “between the civilians and the army in some parts of the county,” and added, “Peace is a dividend of a good relationship.”


Establishing and maintaining good relationships guarantees lasting peace, the 52-year-old South Sudanese Catholic Bishop who started his Episcopal Ministry in May 2022 said, adding that devoid of good relationships, “there will be no peace even if we sign it on paper.”

Speaking at the same event that brought together more than one hundred participants, the Director for Community Empowerment for Progress Organization (CEPO), Edomd Yakani, attributed the violent conflicts in South Sudan to “tribalism”.

“The conflicts arising among the civilians and the soldiers are just because of tribalism in the nation, which needs unity, common understanding, and love amongst each other,” Mr. Yakani said during the event that brought together faith-based leaders, civilians, and military personnel, and government officials, including chiefs, county commissioners, among others.

The Director of the South Sudanese non-profit entity that is engaged in peace and conflict mitigation, human rights, rule of law, livelihood, governance and democratic transformation further said he found it regrettable that there are people who like “fanning conflicts for their own benefit.”

He expressed optimism about the May 26-27 dialogue session that the International Organization for Migration, CEPO, Whitaker Peace and Development Organization, the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), and other organizations operating within Yei helped realize, saying it will facilitate reconciliation between civilians and the army.

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During the two-day session, participants urged the South Sudanese government to “reduce checkpoints, establish a military hospital, and extend the civil-military dialogues to the grassroots and adequate payment of soldiers.” 

The dialogue session also called for respect among soldiers and civilians, and the need to rotate soldiers within a period not exceeding six months.

“Civilian disputes should be reported to chiefs, and soldiers should be given leave to see their families,” participants in the dialogue session agreed.

Patrick Juma Wani is a South Sudanese journalist with a great zeal and interest for Catholic Church related communication. Patrick holds a Diploma in Journalism and Mass Communication from Makerere Institute for Social Development (MISD) in Uganda. He has over 7 years of extensive experience in leading the development and implementation of media, advocacy, communication and multimedia strategy and operations, with an excellent track record of editorial leadership, budget management, and stakeholder outreach. He currently works as a Journalist for ACI Africa.