Open Letter to AU on Supporting an Open and Genuine National Dialogue in South Sudan
Published: 26 Jan 2017
We, the undersigned organizations from the continent in solidarity with the people of South Sudan, urge you to seize a potentially powerful opportunity for a sustained peace in South Sudan by committing your leadership to the development of an open and inclusive national dialogue for our continent’s newest nation at the 28th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the African Union. Your support would give the people of South Sudan confidence to move forward, knowing that the AU stands in their interest.
Your Excellencies, our South Sudanese brothers and sisters continue to suffer from seemingly perpetual cycles of violence with little hope for respite from their leadership. They face a political crisis which continues to fuel horrific violence and atrocities committed by armed actors affiliated with both government and opposition forces. They have been subjected to the devastating effects of a deep economic crisis that makes life unbearable. Vast numbers of people have been displaced from their homes and are on the brink of famine.
It is in this context that President Salva Kiir launched a call for a national dialogue on 14 December 2016 to “save the country from disintegration and usher in a new era of peace, stability and prosperity.” This is a worthy intention. South Sudan is in desperate need of a solution to its prolonged crisis. But worthy intentions bear no value if they are not followed by genuine action and commitment. This is where we believe the AU must hold South Sudan’s leaders to account.
National dialogues can be a powerful tool to prevent or end further conflict and ensure national healing and reconciliation if conducted in a credible, inclusive and participatory manner. In the past, they have been used to mediate a peaceful dialogue to enable the bridging of political and religious divisions. However, national dialogues can also be deliberately misused by leaders to consolidate their grip on power and delay democratic processes.
Your Excellencies, it is in this regard that we urge the Assembly of the African Union at the 28th Ordinary Session to support South Sudan’s national dialogue by:
● Stressing the need for the National Dialogue process to be conducted in a credible, independent and impartial manner and for the facilitators of the dialogue to be supported to convene all major stakeholders to agree on how they will work together to restore peace and stability to South Sudan;
● Ensuring that the national dialogue is citizen-driven and open to full public participation, and that it has a clear mandate, structure, rules and procedures;
● Ensuring that it addresses the root causes of South Sudan’s conflict;
● Affirming the need for a credible implementation plan, so the people of South Sudan can be assured that the process is genuine and will lead to concrete changes to their lives and the future of their country.
Your Excellencies, we come together to stand in solidarity with the people of South Sudan to ensure that their voices are heard in shaping their country’s destiny. Their hopes and aspirations are one and the same as those held by the rest of our continent’s people. Together, we encourage you to manifest this solidarity by helping South Sudan forge a durable path to peace.
Download the Open Letter to AU Leaders