VP Consults Media On National Reconciliation Agenda

The media representatives during a meeting with the Vice President Riek Machar in Juba. [Waakhe Simon Wudu]

Riek shaded light on the reconciliation program outlining that the aim of consulting the media marks the government plan to make the process inclusive by involving all stakeholders in to the process.

“We are consulting with you – media in two aspects; as vehicle for conveying information and as citizens who would be interested in just the topic of national reconciliation in this country,” Riek said.

South Sudan Council of Ministers had endorsed a government plan to initiate a journey of healing for national reconciliation which will be launched in a national conference scheduled to take place this year in April.

The program which is being championed by the office of the President, the Peace Commission and Initiatives of Change International has so far concluded consultations with the civil society groups, political parties, faith based groups and the media yesterday.

During the interactive moments, journalists raised several questions of concern including whether the initiative for the reconciliation program this year is at the right time, questions regarding South Sudan focus on resolving its differences with Sudan first rather than starting a new government project, issues related to funding of the program taking government’s plan to tighten austerity measures.

Other questions also included why the government did not ensure justice first before reconciliation – a concern referring to prosecution of people who committed atrocities during the time of the civil war and even between now and the time of the signing of the 2005 peace accord before the reconciliation process takes place and what kind of atrocities and issues to be discussed during the process.

The media expressed their readiness in enhancing the program and reiterated concern of the media insecurity in the country, calling for the office of the President and to unlock barriers affecting the media operation in the country.

Boboya James, media activist working with the Norwegian People’s Aid (NPA) said “for the media in South Sudan to play its role, I would urge the government of South Sudan to give a space to the media because some of the issues that come here in South Sudan …people are not being given access to information, freedom of expression.”

Dr. Riek said the move is aimed at healing the negative consequences of the more than two decades of the civil war between Sudan and South Sudan which had killed over two million people and traumatized many South Sudanese among other consequences.

The steering committee which composes of the office of the President, Peace Commission and the Initiatives of Change South Sudan and International looks to recruit at least two hundred peace campaigners ahead of the April conference.

The campaigners will after the conference be involved in to a two weeks peace campaign in the country, he said.

The journey of healing for the national reconciliation was approved by the National Council of Ministers last month and it aimed at reinforcing the unity of the people of South Sudan and ensuring sustainable peace stability.

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