African religious leaders express new concerns over South Sudan peace

By agency reporter
September 20, 2019

A new concern for South Sudan is emerging, as African religious leaders warn that the failure to implement the latest peace agreement could push the young nation back into war.

The leaders spoke in Nairobi on 12 September 2019, the day the world’s newest nation marked a year since the signing of the Revitalised Agreement on Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan.

“On this day, we come together as religious leaders of Africa to call for urgent action from leaders of South Sudan’s neighbouring governments to ensure there is significant progress in the implementation of the peace agreement”, said leaders from the All Africa Conference of Churches, African Council of Religious Leaders and Council of Anglican Provinces in Africa at a news conference in Nairobi.

The pre-transition period for the implementation of the one-year-old pact ends on 12 November. By that time, the parties to the conflict are required to have formed a government of national unity. For the religious leaders, a full and timely implementation of the agreement holds the key to lasting peace and stability in the country.

“As the (12 November) deadline set by the signatories draws closer, we are concerned by the continued delay in the implementation”, said the leaders in a statement signed by, among others, Nigerian Cardinal John Onaiyekan and Uganda’s supreme Muslim leader, Sheikh Ramadhan Shaban Mubaje. Both co-chair the African Council of Religious Leaders.

At the moment, more than 7 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance, according to the United Nations. An estimated 2 million are internally displaced while 2.2 million South Sudanese are refugees in neighbouring countries.

According to the faith leaders, the pact carries optimism for the people, who want hope and a rebirth of their nation trapped in decades of conflict. They want president Salva Kiir, opposition leader Riek Machar and other leaders to deliver their promises of peace.

“They must embrace the virtue of sacrifice for the sake of the people and posterity. This is the aspiration of millions in South Sudanese people whose voices are drowned in the din of war and guns”, said the leaders.

The faith leaders stressed the role of regional leaders in helping the country achieve peace. While expressing solidarity with the suffering citizens, the religious leaders urged regional leaders to speak the truth to South Sudan leadership about the millions bearing the brunt of the conflict.

Dr Bright Mawudor, a Ghanaian who is the All Africa Conference of Churches Deputy General Secretary, said the religious leaders planned to use prominent persons to help reach the peace. "We have eminent persons for peace in Africa whom we plan to involve in the work”, said Mawudor.

"I believe the approach taken by the religious leaders will not be dishonoured.  We will engage them in all corners”, added Daniel Deng, a South Sudanese civil activist at the news conference.

* The World Council of Churches promotes Christian unity in faith, witness and service for a just and peaceful world. An ecumenical fellowship of churches founded in 1948, by the end of 2012 the WCC had 345 member churches representing more than 500 million Christians from Protestant, Orthodox, Anglican and other traditions in over 110 countries. The WCC works cooperatively with the Roman Catholic Church.

* World Council of Churches http://www.oikoumene.org/en

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