EES CSOS Demand Grassroots Stakeholders’ Involvement In Peace Talks

A section of CSO represenattives join the AU CoI delegation in Torit for a group photo [photo by Peter Lokale]

While requesting the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD), which leads the on-going South Sudan’s peace negotiation process between the government and rebels in Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian Capital, to continue maintaining complete neutrality, South Sudan’s Eastern Equatoria State Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) have appealed for involvement of grassroots stakeholders who are bearing the heaviest burden of the crisis.

They recommend that the conflicting parties in the continuing crisis in the country must be held accountable for their actions.

The state CSOs further demands that constant updates to the public be made on progress of the peace talks, so to avoid speculations and confusion.  They also insist that the African Union (AU) be responsible for setting up a time frame for the peace negotiations.

The CSOs expect respect for the cessation of hostilities agreements by warring parties. They also demand respect for CSOs, Faith Based Organizations and media agencies. They also demand that AU ensures that countries supporting the warring parties stop immediately. The state’s CSOs are pushing very strongly for their participation in the peace talks in Addis Ababa.

The move followed a meeting between the CSOs’ representatives earlier last week with a visiting delegation of the African Union Commission of Inquiry (AU CoI). The newly elected Chairperson of the EES Civil Society Network (EESCSN), Simon Ebul, briefed the visiting AIC’s delegation, highlighting the grave impacts of the on-going conflict on the country as a whole. He also presented a position paper to the AIC on behalf of the state CSOs, seeking their representation in any upcoming roundtable talks.

The AU CoI delegation included Commissioners Lady Justice Sophia Akkufo and Prof. Mahmood Mamdani and secretariat personnel. The aim of the CoI is, firstly to unearth the root causes of the crisis which led to the outbreak of hostilities in December 2013. 

The CSOs narrated, “On several occasions, the Government of the Republic of South Sudan has acknowledged that atrocities were committed in the context of the crisis that erupted on Dec. 15th, 2013. It’s also a known fact that targeted killings occurred on the basis of ethnicity in late December 2013.

We strongly ask for the International organs and Communities to hold those responsible to account for their actions. The people of south Sudan have suffered much of the brunt of the crisis, especially the women and children. Peace should therefore be restored in South Sudan.”

Representing the state youth during the forum, Paul Lopwa told the delegation that the war has impacted negatively on the country’s citizens as many lives have been lost and properties destroyed and looted.

Disan Dina, who heads the state Women and Youth organization, spoke on behalf of the women. She lamented the fact that women have suffered the brunt of the conflict. She told the team that women and girls faced many problems as some have been raped, tortured and even killed with their children. She also regretted that donors left the country in the wake of the conflict, putting services at jeopardy.

Also speaking on behalf of the local Community Based Organization, Joseph Ukello Atur informed the delegation that the country has witnessed brain drain since the start of the conflict. He added that this is because people, including foreign nationals, have fled for their safety and the protection of their families.

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