South Sudan: National Dialogue Progress Explained
A number of critics wonder whether the South Sudan National Dialogue is dead, inactive or up to any good? Some cynics went as far as accusing the Initiative of ‘wasting money and time.’
Today, the leadership of the National Dialogue held a press conference at Freedom Hall to address emerging misinformation about the peace-making body.
On the progress of the ND, Hon. Angelo Beda, the Co-Chair of the South Sudan National Dialogue Steering Committee said the process was “active. It hasn’t slowed down.”
From the start, 27th November 2017, the ND began holding animating and free plenary debates in Juba to define its methodology for collecting data from the grassroots. Since then, the Steering Committee has dispatched its sub-committees to the former 10 states of the country to conduct bottom-up consultations with the citizenry and gather their thoughts about pressing issues and how to fix them:
- The sub-committee for Refugees & International Outreach has held meetings in Uganda and Kenya and is soon heading to Sudan and Ethiopia to hear from refugees in the displaced camps there and eventually in North America, Europe and Australia.
- The sub-committee for Upper Nile has heard from the state populace in Malakal.
- The sub-committee for the headquarter is deliberating with the parliament, business community, civil society groups and other stakeholders to take stock of their views
- The sub-committee for Northern Bhar-el gazel has finalized its consultations
- The sub-committee for Central Equatoria travelled to Yei, Juba and Terekeka to talk to the citizens about their challenges.
- The sub-committees for Jonglei and Unity states are currently wrapping up consultations in their areas
- The sub-committees for Warrap and Western Bhar-elgazal have concluded consultations in the states and are compiling and analyzing their data
- The consultations for sub-committees on Abyei, Boma, Eastern Equatoria, Western Equatoria and Lakes State are incomplete and are to be redone.
As the ND sub-committees near finalization of their duties, the next steps are to analyze and submit their preliminary reports in late March to set an agenda for regional conferences, also expected this month. In May, recommendations from the regional conferences would form a comprehensive agenda for a National Conference, which will be attended by delegates from the states and the society’s institutions, political parties, government, opposition, religious groups, youth groups, women groups, civil society groups and all the country’s major stakeholders. “The National Dialogue Conference will recommend a credible mechanism for implementing the resolutions,” Hon. Angelo Beda emphasized.
During today’s press conference, the Steering Committee equally crystalized its position towards the High Level Revitalization Forum, a peace process that’s being mediated under the auspices of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development, IGAD.
Hon. Angelo Beda said that the HLRF and the National Dialogue aren’t mutually exclusive. They aren’t competing. “National Dialogue is not against HLRF. They’re national instruments” for ending the conflict, he said. The two processes can reinforce themselves in that the National Dialogue can reach where the HLRF doesn’t, he said.
According to the Co-Chair, the National Dialogue explores “comprehensive” challenges in the society such as corruption and socio-economic, political, security and environmental issues. The Co-chair believes the ND can benefit tremendously from the HLRF if it succeeds in enforcing permanent ceasefire, which would enable the ND ambassadors to reach out to conduct outreaches in insecure locations, including areas controlled by the SPLM/SPLA-IO.
To the critics of the National Dialogue, Hon. Angelo Beda concluded that the National Dialogue is an historic process that can make a big difference in the society. “We want to stop violence, not war.”