December 14, 2016 (JUBA) - South Sudan President Salva Kiir on Wednesday launched a national dialogue that encompasses all the country’s rival political parties and groups.
- South Sudanese president Salva Kiir (Photo: Reuters)
The dialogue will be led by eminent statesmen that are "trusted, genuine and credible."
Addressing members of South Sudan national legislative assembly one the capital, Juba on Wednesday, President Kiir asked for forgiveness for wrongs committed.
"National dialogue in my view is both a forum and process through which the people of South Sudan can gather to redefine the basis of their unity as it relates to nationhood, and sense of belonging," the South Sudanese leader told the country’s lawmakers.
"In the light of national endeavour, I am calling upon all of you to forgive one another, enter dialogue with one another in your personal capacities, embrace yourself," he said adding "I am asking you, the people of South Sudan to forgive me for any wrong I might have committed."
A national committee of eminent personalities and persons of consensus will be instituted to steer the process, Kiir said. The committee will work with independent experts from Juba-based think tanks such as the Ebony Center, Sudd Institute and Centre for Peace and Development.
The three institutions will also constitute secretariat work for the committee.
The process will have bottom-top approach with the first phase being "grass-roots consultation" to map out grievances unique to each community and the region. Second phase will converge regional peace conferences and the final phase will lead to convergence in Juba for the National Conference.
"The National Conference shall tackle remaining issues that are not addressed in the sub-national processes, which would have direct baring on national cohesion," Kiir said, in what has been described by experts as his first detailed plans to address issues in a tribally divided, war torn country.
The resolutions adopted will aid writing of a permanent national constitution. Kiir said experiences has shown that South Sudanese can dialogue. He recalled his disagreement with late SPLM leader John Garang in 2004, return of Riek Machar to SPLM in 2002, SPLM convention of 1994 and Dinka and Nuer communities conference of 1999 as evident of viability of local led peace initiatives.
He promised address all issues and "no grievances will be left undressed in this process."
"More importantly, my comrades [First Vice Presdent] Taban Deng Gai, [vice president] James Wani Igga and I will also do our part in the process of national dialogue," he added.
The president said he will hold peace rallies for the first time peace was signed in August 2015 in main towns of South Sudan.
Armed opposition groups, Kiir said, will be invited to take part in the dialogue. He did not say when the process will start but revealed having instructed the ministry of fiancé to avail funds.
Meanwhile, the South Sudanese leader also called for help from the international community and warned citizens against hate speeches that target Americans and the United Nations.
President Kiir expressed disappointment with the economic and security situation affecting lives of the people, declaring that peace and reconciliation would be his priorities.
"My comrades, Taban Deng Gai, James Wani Igga and myself will do our part in National dialogue. We will hold peace rallies within Juba and across the Country to educate our people on peace and unity. I have directed the Minister of Finance and Planning to mobilize necessary resources", Kiir told lawmakers.
He said he was particularly concerned with the rise in living costs because of the shrinking economy resulting from effects of war his administration struggles to end.
"I am deeply concerned about the parents who can no longer feed their children because of our shrinking economy". I am also concerned about the growing number of street children and women who have lost everything due to the ongoing political situation. I am deeply concerned that all our citizens are distraught over the current political conflict and drastically declining economy", said president Kiir in a prepared speech he delivered before legislators.
He continued:"At this festive season, I have come before you to share your government’s efforts to end the conflict and to consolidate peace in the Country".