Civil society groups across the Great Lakes & Horn of Africa regions have called on governments to acknowledge the outcry of South Sudanese people and engage in serious peace negotiations instead of stalling tactics while searching for military victory.
(KAMPALA, 15 DECEMBER, 2014) – Today, it is exactly one year since the South Sudan – Africa’s and the world’s newest state – descended into civil war. Civil society organizations in Uganda, Kenya, Burundi, Tanzania, Rwanda and Ethiopia and South Sudan are commemorating those killed since the beginning of the war. Under the auspices of the Regional Network on Peace and Security (RENOPS), events in these countries have been held to remember those who perished in the war and express solidarity for peace in South Sudan. The violent conflict has created enormous humanitarian crisis in many parts of South Sudan and the region. It has resulted into the death of over 10,000 sofar. Besides, an estimated 2,000,000 are left displaced. Most of the displacements are internal, while refugees are mostly in Ethiopia, Kenya, Sudan, and Uganda.
Peace talks underway in Ethiopia have secured a cessation of hostilities (CoH) agreement but the warring parties have time and again violated the CoH agreement, raising doubts over the adequacy of political will to end the war - and the likelihood of a possible comprehensive peace agreement to hold.
RENOPS members across the Horn of Africa and the Great Lakes region are commemorating the deaths through memorial prayers, candle vigils and peace marches. RENOPS stands with the people of South Sudan in calling for an immediate end of the war and a peace deal that sets the framework for essential reforms, stability, accountability, national healing and reconciliation.
During the commemoration events in the respective countries, members of RENOPS are calling South Sudan’s warring parties to end the war immediately. They urge South Sudan’s leaders to set aside their personal interests and put the interest of their people first to safeguard the hard won independence and the values of their liberation struggle. The continuation of war would mean more bloodshed, more suffering, instability and risks of famine in South Sudan as well as an increase in the threat to peace, security and stability of the region.
RENOPS members in the commemoration events further call on their governments to;
1. Step up pressure on South Sudan’s leaders to immediately end the war.
2. Fully support peaceful and negotiated settlement and denounce any military efforts to resolve the conflict.
3. Impose targeted sanctions on leaders who are obstructing peace efforts.
4. Take all necessary measures within their capacity to ensure that no more arms are supplied to South Sudan’s warring parties as more arms will fuel the conflict further. In-action would mean funding an arms race between the political belligerents. Besides, militarising the South Sudanese nation further, this development also threatens to affect neighbouring countries as arms trafficking can translate to a spike in civilian arms ownership in the region.
This statement is a clarion call to governments in the region to acknowledge their people’s outcry and call for serious peace negotiations instead of stalling tactics while searching for military victory. We call on regional and national civil society in the six neighbouring IGAD member states to mobilise and remind their governmental institutions (executive, parliament, local governments and judiciary) to engage the antagonists in South Sudan to make and observe their commitments in the Addis Ababa peace process.
While IGAD did not threaten arms embargo for violating the CoH agreement and sanctions against spoilers, neither sanctions nor arms embargo have hitherto been imposed by IGAD or any of its member states.
Without an inclusive dialogue, there is no guarantee that the peace process will be effective and legitimate. Citizens dialogues from outside could feed into the peace process, yet freedom of speech in South Sudan is limited, with civil society also vulnerable to threats. Such an environment denies the general public a medium to have their voices heard. The public also forbids the South Sudanese public a neutral medium through which they can participate in shaping the direction of the peace process.
98% of the country’s revenue being from oil exports means that a continuation of the war will lead to a collapse of the country’s economy. This portends long-term suffering for an already war-ravaged country, given its two decades war prior to cessation. Rather than building a cohesive nation, the ruling elites have been in conflict. The current conflict has seriously harmed gains made in nation building as inter-ethnic strife has been fuelled in parts of South Sudan.
Since after descending into violent conflict there have been arms races between the political belligerents. Besides militarising the South Sudanese nation further, this development also threatens to affect neighbouring countries as arms trafficking can translate to a spike in civilian arms ownership.
The Regional Network on Peace and Security (RENOPS) is a consortium of national civil society organizations, networks and experts. The current members of RENOPS are drawn from; Kenya, Uganda, Burundi, South Sudan, Sudan, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somali, Rwanda, Burundi and Tanzania.
RENOPS’ thematic areas of focus include electoral conflict management; terrorism and radicalization; interstate and intercommunity boundary conflicts; peace-building and crisis prevention; security sector reforms; and arms control and humanitarian disarmament in the Horn of Africa and the Great Lakes Region. In all these themes, RENOPS will encourage and monitor the implementation of international and regional instruments and best practices. It was founded in Naivasha, Kenya on 12th October, 2014 at a regional civil society workshop that sought to map out challenges to peace, security and stability in the Greater Horn of Africa in order to strategize on and implement ways of contributing to sustainable solutions.
The vision of RENOPS is “A peaceful, stable, secure region of the Horn of Africa and the Great Lakes region”. Its mission is “To harness regional CSO capacities for networking, capacity building, dialogue, research and advocacy in order to contribute to regional peace and security efforts”.
For more information or to arrange an interview please contact:
Rose Othieno – Executive Director, Center for Conflict Resolution (CECORE) Email: [email][email protected], Tel: +256 (0) 772 462319 / 755 145440
Canon Joyce Nima – Uganda Joint Christian Council (UJCC); Tel: +256 (0) 783 537444 Mr. Murithi Pius: E-mail: TEL: +2547 2889 2994