Archbishop offers peace plan for South Sudan

The Archbishop of Juba has written an open letter to the people of South Sudan detailing a joint peace plan authored by the church and civic groups to end the nation’s civil war.

The Archbishop of Juba has written an open letter to the people of South Sudan detailing a joint peace plan authored by the church and civic groups to end the nation’s civil war.

The “plight of our people who have lost their loved ones and many others who continue to live as refugees in their own country saddens my heart,” wrote Archbishop Daniel Deng Bul. “How to reverse this situation is the reason I am writing this letter.”

Over one million people have become refugees and several thousand have been killed since December when a political dispute between President Salva Kiir and Vice President Riek Machar devolved into a tribal war between members of the Nuer and Dinka tribes. The UN warned the fighting could lead to genocide after Nuer and Dinka civilians were singled out for execution by rival militias in Bentiu in April. The violence has disrupted the rhythms of rural life, disrupting the planting season, with the prospects that millions of people will be without food by years end.

Meeting in talks brokered by Hailemariam Desalegn, the prime minister of Ethiopia, on 10 June 2014 Kiir and Machar agreed to a cease fire and pledged to form a unity government within sixty days. However, past deals to end the violence have been broken by both sides.

In his 6 June 2014 Open Letter, Archbishop Deng stated it was essential that there be an “independent voice for peace and reconciliation” within the country.

“The war is dividing and polarizing the people and communities of our country. The middle ground is eroded,” he observed, noting that those who sought to broker peace were themselves being accused of bias. “When you listen to one side you are criticized as biased towards one or the other. Each side wants you to be with them. And if you are not with them you are against them. Tribal allegiance is expected and people labeled accordingly.”

But it was this capacity to listen and to bring to the conversation the voices of all people in South Sudan, Nuer and Dinka, men and women, young and old, traditional and government leaders, that was essential in bringing peace to the country.

“We have to show we have a common goal no matter what tribe we belong to, what part of the country we come from or what position we have in society. Our independent actions must find unity in our collective aspiration to end war, heal our nation and build momentum for peace, security and development,” the archbishop said. 

Daniel Deng Bul Letter of June 6, 2014

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