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In South Sudan “we need freedom of speech; let people talk”: Catholic Bishop

Bishop Erkolano Lodu Tombe of South Sudan's Yei Diocese. Credit: Courtesy Photo

There is need for people in South Sudan to express themselves freely about their experiences amid challenges, including the rise in insecurity, a Catholic Bishop in the East-Central African nation has said. 

In a Wednesday, November 24 report by the Catholic Radio Network (CRN), Bishop Erkolano Lodu Tombe cautions against falsehood saying freedom of expressions needs to be governed by the truth.

“No South Sudanese should be controlled from speaking the truth. In this country, we need freedom of speech. Let people talk and let nobody be controlled from speaking provided that he or she speaks reality or truth,” the Local Ordinary of South Sudan’s Yei Diocese has been quoted as saying. 

The slogan “security and peace,” the Bishops says, is “not just peace and pieces. Freedom of speech! Not only in Yei River County, but in the whole of South Sudan.”

“I am free to say there is no peace. Let people be free to say there is no peace in this country because there is no security,” Bishop Tombe further says, and adds, “Anybody is free to say that there is peace in this country. I respect their opinion. Let them also respect (my opinion) that there is no peace because there is no security.”

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The South Sudanese Bishop further notes that those responsible for insecurity refuse to take responsibility for it, noting that this is the "reason why the situation is bad.”

“If they have consent and brain and hear, they will know that they are the cause of the (insecurity) situation in the nation,” the 78-year-old Bishop says in reference to those behind insecurity in the ten-year-old nation, and laments that people “live in fear because there is still killing being witnessed in South Sudan.”

South Sudanese live in fear “and the fear is not for nothing,” Bishop Tombe further says, and explains, “There are criminals along the way and I don’t know who they are? There are people still being killed.”

Making reference to Yei, the headquarters of his Episcopal See, Bishop Tombe says, “The town is okay though there are people being killed slowly.”

In the November 24 report, the Catholic Bishop expresses his appreciation for Commander John Lual Tong for contributing to improved security in Yei, and adds, “of course, in any country, there are criminals but for the brigadier of Yei garrison, we can see there is improvement for one year.”

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He explains, “Security in the town has been improving because of him (Tong). He controlled the movement of the army under his responsibility. Those who are far from his responsibility, they are the criminals or some criminals joined them.”

“Let us continue with the same spirit. Let us not disturb ourselves about what (we) shall eat, what shall we drink; let us be united in our relationships with love and prayers,” Bishop Tombe is quoted as saying in the November 24 CRN report.