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Rift Valley Institute

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Civil Society Seeks Citizens’ Representation In Peace Talks

A section of the panellists’ during the civil society meeting in Nairobi organised by the Rift Valley Institute's Nairobi Forum and supported by the Open Society Initiative for Eastern Africa. [Teddy Chenya - Gurtong]

On Friday 10 January leading South Sudanese civil society institutions came together to discuss the current situation [in South Sudan]… According to David Deng, Director of Research at the South Sudan Law Society, human rights violations in the past and the lack of accountability create room for further violations if the perpetrators are not punished… He said that sidelining justice in peace negotiations may help to expedite political settlements in the short-term, but fails to address the question of impunity that lies at the heart of internal conflicts in South Sudan…

Don Bosco Malish, Program Officer Open Society Initiative for Eastern Africa, said that South Sudan civil society needs to examine its relevance, competence and credibility… He said most of the current generation of civil society emerged from the humanitarian crisis during the civil war and never participated in governance during the last eight years.

“Because of our background in service delivery, we have cushioned the government from interacting with people.,” he said adding that most of the services like health and education are done by organizations and the government [knows little] about the issues being faced by ordinary citizens.

According to Jok Madut Jok, Co-founder of Sudd Institute…the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A) was built “haphazardly” as militia groups were absorbed into the system and this was bound to create division in the nation…

Priscilla Nyagoah, Advocacy Officer at the South Sudan Law Society, said that there is need to develop laws on gender-based crimes to help protect women during conflict…

During the discussion, Rev. James Ninrew of the Presbyterian Church of South Sudan revealed that five pastors have so far been killed in the conflict, including two from the Presbyterian Church. He said that the problem is no longer between two tribes, Nuer and Dinka, or a political wrangle in the ruling SPLM, but it is a South Sudanese problem which needs all citizens to be involved in finding an inclusive solution.

The meeting was organised by the Rift Valley Institute's Nairobi Forum and supported by the Open Society Initiative for Eastern Africa.

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