Faith Leaders in South Sudanese State Decry Rising Insecurity, Condemn Hate Speech

Faith leaders in South Sudan's Western Equatoria State. Credit: AMECEA

Religious leaders in South Sudan’s Western Equatoria State (WES) have expressed concern about rising insecurity, and are calling on the population to remain calm.

In a communique issued Thursday, April 27, members of the Inter-Faith Council for Peace Initiative also decry hate speech among politicians, and advocate for constructive language.

On April 21, representatives of the Azande Community in Western Equatoria State (WES) issued a statement accusing the governor of deploying members of the South Sudan Defense Forces (SSPDF), a move that they said endangers the lives of civilians in Tombura and Ezo Counties of WES. 

“The interfaith council for peace initiatives in Western Equatoria State condemn the insecurity taking place now in the state, particularly in Rii-Yubu Payam of Tambura County,” the faith leaders say in their statement.

They add in reference to the violent conflict, “The truth of the matter is not evident yet but it (the conflict) is affecting the lives of people and causing immense havoc and suffering in the communities.”


The religious leaders also express concern about the presence of the Ambororo and Seleka in WES.

“The presence of these two groups is a national security threat that needs to be addressed while taking into account the interest and wellbeing of communities and the national integrity of the Republic of South Sudan,” they say.

The faith leaders say they find the infiltration of foreign influence and elements that can implicate, divide and destabilize WES regrettable.

They plead with WES leaders to employ constructive language, using words that can build communities rather than using harmful, destructive words.

“Hate speech, defamation, the character of assassination can never be ingredients for peace,” the religious leaders say, urging the use of “words that build bridges, reconcile and create relationships among the people rather than incitement.”

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“It’s the responsibility of leaders and their community to work for peace,” the faith leaders further say, and continue, “Without peace, there shall not be the development and prosperity for the people of Western Equatoria and South Sudan at large.”

They appeal for “calm, understanding and peace amongst the people as well as among the leaders of the state.” 

“The society of Western Equatoria State needs peace and peace will only be realized by consciously working for it and cultivating it,” the faith leaders say in their April 27 communique.

On April 25, the launch of the centenary celebration of Ave Maria Parish Ngboko in South Sudan’s Catholic Diocese of Tombura-Yambia (CDTY) that had been scheduled for April 29 was postponed due to “ongoing insecurity” in the area.

In a statement shared with ACI Africa April 26, the Local Ordinary of CDTY said that the launch had been “postponed until further notice” and that he regretted the “unexpected happening”.


Bishop Edward Hiiboro Kussala expressed gratitude to the Parish Priests of Ave Maria Parish and St. Thomas in Rii-Yubu “for the credible preparation they have been doing for the launch of this centenary celebration.”

“It has been our wish to have this launch to materialize but the ongoing insecurity in the area has turned everything down,” the Catholic Church leader further said in his statement dated April 25.

In their April 27 communique, faith leaders in WES express their sentiments about the postponed event amid insecurity, saying, “There was a three-year long preparation to celebrate the centenary of Christian faith between April and May in Rii-Yubu but it has now been postponed due to this insecurity.”

The religious leaders further call on the South Sudanese government to investigate the ongoing insecurity and prioritize the safety of the members of the affected local communities.

“We appealed to the government to form an independent commission of credible persons to listen to the communities of WES and come out with results of investigation into the incident before it deteriorates to loss of lives,” they say.

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The faith leaders also call on the international communities, including United Nations agencies and those tasked with monitoring the implementation of the September 2018 Revitalized Agreement on the Resolution of Conflict in South Sudan (R-ARCSS) “to intensify their collaboration and support for peace initiatives in WES.”

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.