, 28 February, 2020 / 2:45 AM
Few days after rival leaders in South Sudan formed a transitional coalition government to end years of political rivalry and conflict, the Local Ordinary of the country’s Diocese of Yei has called for servant leadership among coalition government leaders and urged the leaders in the East African country to work towards the long-awaited peace.
“Everybody, even children are crying for peace. We are fed up with war and now all we want is peace. Please don’t return us to war,” Bishop of Yei Diocese Erkolano Lodu Tombe said in an interview with ACI Africa Wednesday, February 26.
President Salva Kiir, on Friday, February 21, dissolved his government, paving the way for the February 22 formation of the long-awaited coalition government that had been postponed twice.
Referencing the power sharing modality envisaged in the Revitalized Agreement on the Resolution of Conflict in South Sudan (R-ARCSS), Bishop Tombe noted, “The priority (of the government) should be to maintain peace and not to seek positions of power out of greed for material gain. The government needs to look towards the needs of the people who are fed up with war.”
He added, “My hope is that the parties to this government are equally fed up with war.”
According to Bishop Tombe, what people are hoping is “a government that serves the people characterized by peace and security and open roads so that the citizens go back to their villages to rebuild their broken structures in ancestral homes.”
Advocating for a civilian freedom in their territory, the Prelate said that there is a need for South Sudanese to enjoy living in their villages without military “roadblocks and the police should be the ones in charge, the army gets back to the barracks, just protecting the borders for the country as before.”
The World’s youngest nation glided into civil strife in December 2013 as supporters of President Kiir and opposition leader Riek Machar clashed in the administrative city, just two years after winning a long-sought independence from Sudan.
Attempts by the international community to bring lasting peace failed, including a deal that saw Machar return to the country as vice president in 2016, only to flee the country later amid repeated conflict.
As the country awaits the full cabinet formed contemplated in R-ARCSS, the Bishop desires to see ministers with people at heart.
“The personalities that people want to see in government are those with the people in their hearts and not positions,” the South Sudanese Prelate shared and added, “If people working in the government focus on the position because in the position there is money, those are not the personalities.”
The religious leader has expressed concerns about people who get to the government with a desire to enrich themselves materially instead of being service-oriented.
Meanwhile, the Catholic Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Khartoum in Sudan has urged the faithful in South Sudan to cooperate and avoid tribal problems in the country.
Voice of Hope Radio quoted Archbishop Michael Didi at St. Mary Cathedral in Wau as appealing to the South Sudanese Christians to avoid conflicts “for the sake of peace and stability in the country.”
“It is obligatory to have wider development for communities within South Sudan,” Archbishop Didi stressed on Sunday while ordaining new deacons at St. Mary Parish in Wau diocese.
He added, “Cooperation help people to develop their life and create a spirit of a peaceful coexistence within communities.”
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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