October 15, 2017 (NAIROBI) – Civil society activists currently exiled in Kenya have petitioned regional bloc (IGAD) demanding that they be included in the ongoing IGAD-led peace revitalization forum.
- President Salva Kiir pose with the IGAD FM after a meeting held at the South Sudanese presidency in Juba on 13 Oct 2017 (ST Photo)
The group, however, welcomed IGAD’s decision to interact with different stakeholders in the peace revitalization process and have requested that refugees and exiled civil society leaders be included.
“We condemn the deliberate exclusion of diaspora civil society and youth, forgetting that we were among the first progressive groups in the diaspora that called for peace. We have ideas and we want IGAD to include us in the revitalization timetable so that we can offer what we think can bring peace to our beloved nation,” partly reads the group’s petition.
The group urged IGAD to consult them and other diaspora groups.
“That we are cognizant of indisputable fact that the Addis-Ababa peace accord dubbed ARCISS [Agreement on Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan] collapsed on 8 July 2016, and we condemn President Salva Kiir for not adhering to his mandate to respect the peace agreement and for reigniting the war in the country”, it adds.
The group also appealed to the IGAD-plus mediation body to move faster to stop and hold those warmongers accountable.
MACHAR’S UNCONDITIONAL RELEASE
Meanwhile, the group demanded the unconditional release of South Sudan rebel leader, Riek Machar from exile in South Africa.
“We want IGAD to come out clear on this emotive matter because we know what went wrong and where in this chaotic situation; we equally know the practical solution that would bring sustainable peace in South Sudan,” further stressed the group’s statement.
The group, however, applauded the regional bloc for holding separate consultations with the various opposition parties in war-torn in South Sudan and urges all leaders being consulted to end civilian sufferings through positive responses to bring peace to the people.
In June, a summit of IGAD heads of state and government decided to convene a meeting of the signatories of the South Sudan peace agreement to discuss ways to revitalize the peace implementation. During the June summit, it was agreed that all groups be included in the discussion aimed at restoring a permanent ceasefire.
IGAD recently unveiled the timetable for the revitalization forum to start consultations with South Sudanese leaders and the nation’s citizens. The process, it said, began on 13 October and ends on 17 October.
South Sudan government earlier warned that the revitalization forum by the regional bloc, which mediated the 2015 peace accord, should not be another platform for negotiations of the peace agreement between the two factions to the conflict.
IGAD is an eight-member economic bloc that brings together Ethiopia, Djibouti, Somalia, Sudan, Eritrea, South Sudan, Kenya and Uganda.
Over a million people have fled South Sudan since conflict erupted in December 2013 when President Salva Kiir sacked Machar from the vice-presidency. Tens of thousands of people have been killed and nearly two million displaced in South Sudan’s worst ever violence since it seceded from Sudan in 2011.