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Friday, 14 December 2018

Celebrating Peace, Unity, and Prosperity for South Sudan

Amid huge presence of South Sudanese citizens in Juba, South Sudan government celebrated Peace Day on October 31st, 2018, with the participation of the Ethiopian President Sahlework Zewde, Somalia’s President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, Sudanese President Omer Al Bashir, Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni and Egyptian Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly.
President Salva Kiir and the leader of the SPLM-IO opposition group Riek Machar vowed to work hard for peace implementation and stability in the country, saying they want to end the suffering of the South Sudanese people.
President Kiir started his speech by apologizing to the South Sudanese on behalf of the parties to the peace agreement for the suffering that the five-year war caused to them.
He further confessed that the first thing that convinced him to strike a peace deal with the armed groups was the suffering that people are experiencing in the country.
"When I went to Khartoum (last June), I told my negotiating team I want peace I’m coming from Juba and people are in a bad shape. So in your discussions with the opposition whatever they want let’s give it to them," he said.
He added that he looked at what President Omer Al Bashir did in 2005 when he accepted the Comprehensive Peace Agreement preferring to have two countries in peace instead of one country at war.
"So this agreement is yours and you have to protect it from spoilers who should not sabotage it again," he stressed.
Kiir and Machar were largely the heroes of the day. Also, both were keen to address the ordinary people in the country as they almost spoke in Arabic. Further, both stressed their commitment to the signed peace agreement and told South Sudanese that they would not fight against each other again.
Kiir was keen to make the release of Machar’s spokesperson as a gesture of goodwill to the opposition leader who is expected to be his first deputy again within eight months.
For his part, Machar said he came to show that he is a peace lover, adding that if he abstained from coming to Juba on Wednesday people would think he is not a man of peace.
"Peace in our heart and I want to assure you that we have a strong determination to restore peace in the county. So, if you meet someone who did not come to the Freedom Square today tell him that you saw me," he said.
After thanking the regional leaders, the opposition leader directed his speech again to the people speaking about the  revitalized peace agreement and its main points.
The regional leaders in their speeches encouraged the peace partners to work together to achieve development and prosperity of South Sudan and reiterated their continued support for the implementation process.
President Kiir in his speech said the war tainted the reputation of South Sudan and announced that one of the main duties of the transitional government would be to carry out an aggressive diplomacy to correct the image of the country.
During the celebration, the University of Juba awarded President Omer Al Bashir a horary doctorate for his role to achieve peace in South Sudan.
Vice-Chancellor Professor John Akech said the University’s Senate decided to honour President Al Bashir with a Doctorate of Philosophy in Peace and Diplomacy from the Institute of Peace, Development and Security Studies at the University of Juba.
In a brief interview during the celebration South Sudan Information Minister Michael Makuei, said that the best thing IGAD did is delegating Sudan to bring South Sudan rivals round negotiations’ table in Khartoum.
“Khartoum knows the problem so the issue doesn’t need to be studied and makes Sudan qualified to resolve the conflict between the rivals of South Sudan in a short period” said Makuei.
Makuei urged the international community to support the peace process in South Sudan without any pre-conditions.
Sudan Vision also caught up with Mrs. Fatima Nyawand who is a member in the legislative council representing the SPLM women sector in Unity State.
She said that she has just come from the United States to attend this historic event, affirming that she is very happy to see the citizens expressing their joy in this event.
“Peace has come and what has been a story has become a reality” said Fatima.
“The concessions provided by the leaders of South Sudan and the Sudanese leaders, particularly Al Bashir, Al-Dirdiri and Gosh shuttle moves make it possible to reach the compromise.” She added.
“Al Bashir, Al-Dirdiri and Gosh made the peace out of scratch” said Fatima.
The Presidential Advisor for Security Affairs Hon. Tut Gatluak told Sudan Vision that the implementation of the security arrangements has already started and the assembling of the forces is going on 
Meanwhile, and as a sign of good intentions in respond to Machar’s demand South Sudanese authorities released two former high-ranking followers of Riek Machar who were facing death sentences.
President Salva Kiir’s government had imprisoned former Machar spokesman James Gadtet and former Machar security adviser William John Endley on charges of treason and conspiracy.
The two men were smiling and appeared to be in good condition as they were released by guards at Juba National Security Headquarters.
Interior Minister Michael Chienjek said, "Their release comes as part of the peace [agreement] implementation."
The Sept. 12 agreement requires the parties to release all political detainees and prisoners of war. Kiir said his administration was checking to see whether there were more detainees to be released.
Chienjek said he expected Gadtet to travel to Khartoum and that Endley would be deported to his native South Africa.
Both men were first sentenced to 20 years in prison, then later were sentenced to death by hanging.
Gadtet said he was happy to be free after two years in prison.
Endley said he was thankful for the hospitality of the South Sudanese people.
"Unfortunately, in all walks of life in all countries, you will get the good people and the bad people, and my memories of South Sudan always will be positive," he said.
Seif Magango, deputy director of Amnesty International East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes, welcomed the release of the two men but also said more must be done.