JUBA. It’s time the people of South Sudan shook off their attachment to tribal identity and embraced unity for prosperity and development President Museveni has said.
Museveni who jetted into Juba direct from Dar-es-Salaam in Tanzania where he assumed the East African Community chair warned that the misuse of identity can “paralyse and endanger their nation.”
“Identity is important but it can be misused. Why are you not concerned about prosperity, about common interests? Emphasising identity and forgetting common interests is very dangerous. Our other disadvantage is backwardness in technology and science,” said Museveni, who jetted in to South Sudan, on the invitation of his host President Salva Kiir, for launch of South Sudan’s national dialogue and swearing in of the steering committee members.
“There are three problems; misuse of identity. This can paralyse and endanger any nation. Why insist on identity at the expense of other people? The issue of identity broke up Sudan,” the President said.
The President said he was in Juba to lend support to the effort to promote dialogue for peace.
“I salute Salva Kiir for inviting all stakeholders to discuss the problems that afflict the people of South Sudan,” he said.
A 94-member steering committee for national dialogue was sworn in to start the work of bringing harmony and peace to the people of South Sudan. The committee, co-chaired by Molana Abel Alier and Angelo Beda Bangboru, comprises distinguished members of the country, including religious leaders and professionals as well as politicians. Among them is Rebecca de Mabior, widow of Dr John Garang de Mabior.
South Sudan has been struggling to keep its footing since gaining independence on July 9, 2011. Kiir became the first president of the republic with Dr Riek Machar as the vice-president. But the two fell out in 2014, leading to a protracted civil war over the issues pertaining to tribes in leadership.
The war left thousands dead and more than a million others consigned to either internally displaced people’s camps or as refugees in neighbouring countries.
More recently, Kiir sacked his army chief of general staff Paul Malong, heightening fears that the revolutionary General and most powerful person in the restive country, would not go down quietly as he fled to his home town of Aweil in Northern Bahr el Ghazel. Gen Malong was later persuaded to return to Juba and handover instruments of power, before he met President Kiir and State House Juba announced the two had reconciled and pledged to work together.
Museveni commended President Kiir for initiating the national dialogue and called on the people of South Sudan to support SPLM.
“SPLM is a strong movement and has respect of the people of South Sudan that is why it won by over 99 percent. Where did you get all that support…the Dinkas, Nuer and people from Equatorial province. How can you let them down? This is very good political capital which you cannot squander, you should revive SPLM and weed out all those subversive ideas, ” he said.
Undermining private sector
The President called on political leaders to avoid the trap of thinking that only administrative/government positions is befitting, urging them instead of focus on revitalising the private sector, which will in turn create jobs and pay taxes leading to national development.
On party organisation he called for transparency and dialogue where meetings should be convened to raise issues in the right forum instead of using force.
“Force is like a surgeon who, after identifying a problem, cuts you up to fix it after other means have failed. But even then it’s targeted to remove only the disease. But when this is repeated, it becomes butchery not surgery,” Museveni said.
The President also warned against tolerating impunity in cases of killings, rape and defilement, especially by armed forces calling for strict discipline to gain the confidence of the masses.
In his speech, President Kiir also called upon national leaders to embrace the spirit of national unity and join the national dialogue so as to end the violence in the country.
He also declared a unilateral ceasefire to create an environment for an inclusive dialogue and to facilitate the movement of humanitarian aid to famine stricken areas.
“Declaring national dialogue was based on our belief that solutions to the internal conflict in South Sudan are within our reach and that we are ultimately responsible for resolving our internal matters. We have witnessed that imposed solutions can divide and sow seeds of hate and fear among us. It is imperative that we, as south Sudanese, take responsibility for brining lasting peace to our beloved nation,” he said.
Kiir pledged his government’s commitment to provide guidance and leadership through moral, political and financial support to the committee.