, 11 November, 2019 / 5:41 AM
On November 8, South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir Mayardit and the Vice-President designate Dr. Riek Machar decided to extend the Pre-Transitional period expected to end in the formation of a unity government by one hundred days effective November 12. This is a renewed extension from the original May 2019 deadline.
In a statement dated Saturday, November 9 and titled “Let Hope and Opportunity for a Peaceful South Sudan Prevail,” leaders of the South Sudan Council of Churches (SSCC) have joined the Civil Society Forum in welcoming the extension of the formation of a unity government envisaged in the Revitalized Agreement on the Resolution of Conflict in South Sudan (R-ARCSS).
The Christian leaders consider the 100-day extension as an opportunity that can lead to the realization of R-ARCSS and the formation of a legitimate government, among other justifications.
“The extension of the extra One Hundred days can serve as an opportunity to dialogue and implement the unresolved issues in the agreement,” reads in part the statement issued by the SSCC leaders, where the Archbishop of Juba, Paolino Lukudu Loro represents the Catholic Church.
“We ideally support the formation of the Revitalized Government of National Unity (R-TGoNU) when essential preconditions have been met, and when it is truly inclusive, including non-signatories to the R-ARCSS,” SSCC state referencing political parties that did not sign the September 2018 R-ARCSS.
The implementation of R-ARCSS “has lagged behind especially in the areas of the Security arrangements and the Boundaries and number of States,” the Christian leaders have stated, bringing forth some of the reasons Dr. Riek Machar has given for his reluctance to return to Juba.
Similarly, Dr. Machar has given the reason of cantonment to which the Christian leaders have noted some progress but still think “the process is far from complete.”
SSCC leaders are keen on a legitimate government since, in their considered view, “the new government will only have legitimacy if it addresses the root causes of conflict and provides Peace, Justice, Security, Basic Services and Good governance for the people.”
Therefore, the SSCC leaders think the latest extension provides for the opportunity of time and engaging relevant human resources to address the “root causes” of the protracted conflict.
In this regard, the Christian leaders have outlined their active involvement at the grassroots stating, “We are working together across the nation to stand in solidarity with our communities and work with them to address the root causes of conflict, as realized through the Action Plan for Peace (APP), which connects us in peace across local, national and international levels.”
SSCC leaders encourage constructive dialogue that can lead to political consensus and lasting peace so that “the violence of 2013 and 2016 will not be repeated, and critical issues are adequately addressed.”
Going forward, SSCC leaders state, stakeholders to R-ARCSS need to go beyond the politics of sharing positions of power and instead focus “on the dignity of every human person; prioritizing the safety and prosperity of the South Sudanese people, the maintenance of the ceasefire, and should continue to work towards an inclusive government.”
The Christian leaders have reminded the political leaders of the words of Pope Francis in Rome when he “knelt with visible suffering to kiss the feet of the political leaders … a gesture of the purest humility.”
In particular, the leaders have recalled the Holy Father’s plea with the key political leaders in South Sudan to have open minds and heart and to “turn away from violence, abandon conflict and hatred, put an end to war, and (lead) the people of South Sudan to God’s promised land of unity, harmony, joy and prosperity.”
ACI Africa was officially inaugurated on August 17, 2019 as a continental Catholic news agency at the service of the Church in Africa. Headquartered in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, this media apostolate will strive to facilitate the telling of Africa’s story by providing media coverage of Catholic events on the African continent, giving visibility to the activities of the Church across Africa where statistics show significant growth in numbers and the continent gradually becoming the axis of Catholicism. This is expected to contribute to an awareness of and appreciation for the significant role of the Church in Africa and over time, the realization of a realistic image of Africa that often receives negative media framing.
Father Don Bosco Onyalla
Editor-in-Chief, ACI Africa