1 A UNMISS-funded roundtable for religious leaders in the South Sudanese capital, Juba, focused on a single goal: to inject new momentum into the ongoing peace process by exploring the progress made, the challenges faced and, what is more importantly, to highlight the vital role that religious leaders can play in galvanizing the momentum for peace.
3 “The permanent ceasefire largely continues and we must take advantage of the relative stability it has provided us as a nation to further consolidate peace gains,” said Gabriel Guy, Director of Communications, Reconstituted Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (R- JMEC). ).
4 Mr. Guy, speaking in his role as panelist, highlighted the urgent need to graduate the Unified Forces Needed; the need to establish a hybrid court for South Sudan; and the long-awaited establishment of the Commission for Truth, Reconciliation and Healing, if the country is to meet all the benchmarks contained in the Revitalized Peace Agreement during the remaining 12 months of the transition period.
5 Victor Fasama, team leader of the Civil Affairs arm of the UN peacekeeping mission in Central Equatoria state, agrees.
6 “While significant progress has been made, there must be a sense of urgency to comply with all provisions of the Revitalized Agreement if the elections are to be held on time,” Mr. Fasama said. “The people of South Sudan deserve the opportunity to shape a peaceful and prosperous future.”
7 According to Madinata Kamara, a panelist and colleague of Mr. Fasama, an important step towards lasting peace is for communities to avoid violence and foster social cohesion.
8 “There is power in unity, while conflict brings only devastation in its wake,” Ms. Kamara said simply but eloquently.
9 Moses Telar Cindut, Director of the Religious Affairs Bureau, echoed their views.
10 “To silence the guns in South Sudan, we must first purge our hearts of negativity and peacefully disarm our communities,” he said.
11 For Pastor Richard Okello Taban, one of the participants, these discussions were of the utmost importance.
12 “I have learned a lot from today’s conversation,” said Pastor Taban. “The church plays an important role in fostering peace and reconciliation between communities. I think we have a very important role in spreading people’s participation in the ongoing peace process in our country”, he stated. “Going forward, I will work even harder to ensure that members of my congregation actually avoid violence and instead start thinking about the future they want to build,” he added.
14 “This debate enriches us because we learn about the role that each individual can play in promoting peace and tranquility on the base. I will make sure to get the word out to my community that we need to start embracing our diversity. Our different cultures are a strength, not a weakness, and we have to come together under the umbrella of our national identity as South Sudanese,” she stated passionately.
15 Final message from Dominica: “I urge our leaders to listen to the voices of their people. We have suffered enough and now we deserve peace.”
16 Other panelists included members of the Community Empowerment Organization for Progress, the South Sudan Peace Commission, and Favor Africa Ministries International.
17 The event was organized by UNMISS in collaboration with Favor Africa Ministries International and brought together some 80 interfaith leaders from major churches and mosques in Juba.