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US rights activist calls for inclusive dialogue to halt South Sudan conflict

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February 12, 2014 (JUBA) – A leading US human right activist visiting South Sudan has reiterated the need for inclusive dialogue in order to halt the nearly two-month-old conflict in the world’s youngest nation, which erupted in mid-December.

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US activist John Prendergast of the Enough Project speaks in Washington at the National Press Club studios on 13 October 2013 (Photo: AP/J. Scott Applewhite)

John Prendergast, co-founder of the Enough Project, an advocacy group aimed at ending genocide and crimes against humanity, made the remark at a meeting with cabinet affairs minister Martin Elia on Tuesday.

Prendergast also travelled to Jonglei capital Bor, where he held extensive discussions with key government officials, activists and members of the media.

Lieutenant General, Malual Ayom, who commands government troops fighting an insurgency in Jonglei, was among those who met with the US activist, with discussions focused on the progress of the recent peace deal between the government and rebel leader David Yau Yau, as well as the ongoing presence of Ugandan troops, who were deployed to South Sudan following the December outbreak of violence.

Conflict erupted in the capital, Juba, on 15 December following clashes between rival members of the presidential guards, quickly spreading throughout the country as troops loyal to South Sudan president Salva Kiir battled rebel forces aligned with former vice-president Riek Machar for control of strategic areas.

Prendergast also visited Bor’s Anglican church, where he was given a general briefing by pastors on the situation in the town.

Among the issues Prendergast discussed with leaders was the need for inclusive dialogue between warring parties in order to address the root causes of the conflict.

He called for the establishment of a platform for discussions, involving a broad cross-section of society, including religious groups, local and state actors, civil society and displaced populations, in order to expedite the reconciliation and healing process.

“I have come to meet with the authorities and the people of South Sudan so that I hear from them how they plan this conflict can be resolved. We are pained and heartbroken, because here is a young nation that wanted its independence after spending decades [at war] in which million lives were lost”, Prendergast told reporters after meeting Elia on Tuesday, referring to the South’s protracted civil war with the north.

Prendergast said Enough remained committed to highlighting the plight of those affected by the conflict, as well as the dynamics that lead to what is South Sudan’s worst post-secession outbreak of violence.

“We are very much concerned about this conflict, which we don’t want to cascade into a more violent repetition of the past. That’s why we are very concerned and remain deeply committed and personally engaged in efforts to try to help the people of this country define their own future in peace and prosperity”, he said.

Minister Elia, who described discussions with Prendergast as “fruitful”, said topics covered included government efforts to resolve the conflict, as well as how to identify those responsible for committing atrocities.

Pendergast also discussed the current peace process and political developments in the country which with various leaders in relation to the positions taken by the government and rebel forces.

Discussions with the civil society organisations and the media also explored ways that groups could work together with the stakeholders and partners, including the African Union Commission of inquiry, which is expected to make key recommendations on the way forward for reconciliation and healing in South Sudan, as well as how to hold those found to have committed human rights abuses accountable.

A best-selling author and former special advisor to the US government, Prendergast has been campaigning for peace in Africa for nearly 30 years. In 2010, he established the Satellite Sentinel Project in collaboration with Hollywood actor George Clooney, which aims to provide an early warning system through the use of satellite imagery to deter mass atrocities.

(ST)

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  • 13 February 04:15, by Ahmed Chol

    Peace will prevail only when US and UN resort to CARROTS and STICKS. They have to unveil the consequences to those not adhering to halt the conflict. There has to be punitive actions against those prolonging the suffering of civilians who got nothing to do with the wrangling and greed in Juba. Without these the war will continue for at least 10 years. Guess how many will die if 10,000 is now dead?

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    • 13 February 06:20, by Tong dut

      The only peace is to remove salva Kirr, so that south sudan will be in peace.

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    • 13 February 06:27, by choldit

      Mr. Predengast
      you have met one side of the people of SS. you and Eric Reeve have always symphasy only for Dinka people in SS, especially the Dinka Bor. now u talk to them but did u talk to the nuer who were the victims of President’s massacre that caused the war. they are in UNMISS cmpds in Juba,Bentiu, Malakal n Bor. did u bother to talk to rebels to know their side of story, John?

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      • 13 February 06:38, by dinkdong

        Dinka Bor as well were victims of the president and Machar war

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    • 13 February 08:34, by Johndumo14

      The USA demanded the withdrawal of Ugandn troops from S.sudan!!
      Why can`t USA demanded the withdrawal of France troops from CAR(central African Republic)???
      What is the differrence betweent Uganda troops and France troops? Are Ugandan troops have no interests in South Sudan.
      Only the colonial troops have interests in CAR(central African Republic)???

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      • 13 February 09:11, by choldit

        JohnDumper
        are u admitting that the Ugandan are colonial of Dinka? We don’t need Ugandan to protect us from Nuer dude. President Kirr massacred nuer in Juba becoz he want us to fight them not becoz we gonna sellout the country to ugandashit! go away dogs(UPDF)!

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    • 13 February 08:54, by Johndumo14

      TIME FOR COLONIAL IS OVER!!
      Washington must tell france to withdraw from African`s land.
      Not Uganda troops!!
      These countries have many things in common,Uganda and s.sudan
      In their border almost tribes from both countries speaks same dilects,infact is one country ,is only the thieves (British and france) who divided them in colonial times.

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    • 13 February 08:57, by Johndumo14

      TIME FOR COLONIAL IS OVER!!
      Washington must tell france to withdraw from African`s land.
      Not Uganda troops!!
      These countries have many things in common,Uganda and s.sudan
      In their border almost tribes from both countries speaks same dilects,infact is one country ,is only the thieves (British and france) who divided them in colonial times.

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  • 13 February 04:28, by 4Justice

    The mere abscense of Kiir would create a conducive atmosphere for meaningful dialogue, peaceful coexistence and development.

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    • 13 February 04:54, by Akook

      America should not wait from taking a decisive step to ending this violent. Kiir had lost ways and risk representing a danger to all South Sudanese! America must not buy the notion that Dinka where pres Kiir hailed is the biggest tribe and could be a threat! Kiir has no tangible support among Dinka and this is evidence of why he brought in foreign Ugandan force to cleanse his political opponents!

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  • 13 February 06:35, by dinkdong

    The American (the Republican) that will support and make peace in S. Sudan will come in 2016, not the man of diplomacy, Obama.

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  • 13 February 06:49, by Konan

    John Prendergast,self-proclaimed human rights activist, well known warmonger and anti muslim, don’t expect something good from this clown. Lol.

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    • 13 February 07:33, by Tata

      This John looks a gay. See his hairstyle! The point isn’t assuming power at all cost on the expense of the people. The crisis isn’t a result of popular uprising. It is an armed conflict, probably an attempted coup which molted to rebellion and not revolution. There is no opposition party in South Sudan except SPLM-DC whose members challenge government agenda in National Assembly.

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      • 13 February 07:44, by Tata

        The mistake SPLM pays price today is the same suggestion of "inclusive" government of all political walks. Hence, the government since 2005 includes every Briefcase party members, lame people, mad people, and criminals. This is why the GOSS has been paralyzed. More than 3 political parties can’t form a functional government. More than 3 different interests, ideologies can’t merge.

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  • 13 February 07:19, by Son of Ngundeng

    People of my country don’t expect peace will come to us, while this useless president still in power, we cannot move this country with one side, without others tribes. When we were in war with jalaba people are one, when foot come Dinka need to be alone. Shame on you, there is an example, people for food they are many, but for war they are lest.

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