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S. Sudan could lose $28 billion if conflict continues for 4 years

April 20, 2017 (JUBA) - The ongoing conflict in South Sudan could cost $28 billion if it continues for four years unabated, the People’s Democratic Movement (PDM) said in a policy brief released on Thursday.

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Arms and light weapons have been used by both warring parties in South Sudan to commit abuses (Photo courtesy of SSANSA)

PDM is an abroad based observatory grassroots movement that was formed by concerned South Sudanese in the country and the diaspora in response to the political crisis and fast deteriorating economic, humanitarian and security situation in the country, amid heightened ethnic polarisation and the devastating conflict.

The group, in a policy brief, Sudan Tribune obtained, claimed an estimation of the economic and financial costs of the ongoing conflict and intransigence lies between US$22.3 billion and $28 billion if the conflict continues for another 1 to 4 years.

The PDM document further argues that the social and economic loss is even greater when the conflict’s effects are measured over 20 years to allow for flow-on effects, the damage to the country is between $122 billion and $158 billion.

By that time, it argued, the crude oil under South Sudanese soil would have been depleted or auctioned as ‘futures’ to the lowest bidders.

"There is a need for a leader other than President Salva Kiir Mayardit, to ensure "unbiased and efficient communication and inclusive dialogue between the people in the affected communities," it stated.

The brief, which examined how best the national dialogue could be an opportunity to reconciling the nation, stresses that a positive outcome can be achieved if President Kiir is persuaded to step aside from being the patron of the dialogue process.

“The convener must not in any way or form be linked to the regime, nor sympathise with the government or the opposition. “The government should instead concentrate on creating a meaningful dialogue that includes the opposition, as well as a path to justice”, it argues.

The brief also questioned the credibility of the two research institutions nominated by the president to provide technical support during the process, saying the founders are either known government, party officials, supporters or Jieng Council of Elders.

“The institutions nominated by President Salva Kiir Mayardit do not meet these criteria and therefore are not eligible to assume the critical role of convener of the national dialogue. These two institutions, the Sudd Institute and the Ebony Centre, are not ethically, or intellectually representative of the diversity of South Sudanese opinion," notes the policy brief.

It added, "The key staff members of these institutions support the regime. Others are members the Jieng Council of Elders (JCE) or have actively promoted the JCE ideology and "unpopular" decrees that were designed to derail the peace process”.