Today thousands of South Sudanese have assembled in the capital Juba to mark the first anniversary of the independence of the world’s newest nation. South Sudan attained independence on July 9, last year after breaking away from Sudan in a referendum in January 201.
There were fears recently that an all-out war could break out again as tensions rose over the disputed boundaries with the North and sharing of oil resources spelt out in the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA).
Citizens of South Sudan and Sudan have been joined by civil society from around the world in a united call for peace within and between Juba and Khartoum. The global campaign dubbed, “We Choose Peace” is backed by 150 organisations.
They include; Crisis Action, the African Council of Religious Leaders, the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, the Enough Project, FIDH, IKV Pax Christi, the Norwegian Refugee Council, Refugees International, Reporters Without Borders and Secours Catholique.
They want the United Nations (UN), the African Union (AU) and the League of Arab States (LAS) to persuade the two Sudans to resolve outstanding issues within the UN deadline of August 2.
“With only three weeks to go before the deadline for compliance with UN resolution 2046, now is not the time to lose hope and condemn the world’s newest country to failure,” Edmund Yakani, Programme Coordinator at Community Empowerment for Progress Organization (CEPO) in Juba, South Sudan remarked.
“Now is the time to act. We are coming together today to say to our governmentsthat citizens on both sides of the border and around the world want an end to the fighting,” Yakani appealed.
Arnold Tsunga, Vice President of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) observed that “there has been too much suffering, too much bloodshed, and there is too much to lose to let this crisis carry on or escalate.”
Dismas Nkunda, Co-Director of the International Refugee Rights Initiative pointed out that the leaders of Sudan and South Sudan need to honour their responsibilities to their people. “That is essential for sustained peace. It would be nothing short of a tragedy if the gains of the past few years, and the hopes of so many people, were thwarted by pointless war,” Nkunda advised.
By Henry Mukasa, The New Vision