By Tesfa-Alem Tekle
July 29, 2014 (ADDIS ABABA) – Exiled South Sudan civil society organisations on Tuesday concluded selecting their representatives for the ongoing peace process, led by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD).
The civil society organisations based in Kenya and Sudan were not selected on 8 June after IGAD allegedly failed to bring them to the venue of the multi stakeholders meeting held last month in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa.
Addis Ababa and Khartoum based groups on Sunday met and selected three representatives namely Steven Riek Deng from the National Youth Union in Addis Ababa and Dr Wani Tombi and Rita Tomath Ruai, both from the Khartoum based groups.
The Nairobi group similarly held a meeting today in Addis Ababa where they selected four representatives, two women and two men, who will join the other three of Addis Ababa and Khartoum’s.
“These seven will join the seven civil society representatives already selected on 8 June 2014 plus the four representatives from Citizen for Peace and Justice (CPJ) group which will make the total of 18 delegates for civil society group,” Steven Riek Deng, chairman of the South Sudan National Youth Union in Addis Ababa, told Sudan Tribune.
The Addis Ababa, Khartoum and Nairobi groups will represent the victims, families of the victims and communities most affected by the ongoing South Sudan conflict
While demanding their voices and concerns are heard, the representatives asserted to contribute positive role to bring about sustainable peace and lasting political settlement to the crises in the young African nation.
Deng called up on all the civil society representatives to jointly work together whether they represent rebel-controlled areas, the government side, or camps for refugees and displaced people displaced camps from neighbouring countries.
“We have to form one united front as civil society. Speak one language with unify voice and represent the millions of voiceless South Sudanese who are suffering from cold, rainy season, hunger, disease and dying everyday,” he said.
The civil society selection process was concluded one day before the resumption of the next round of negotiations between South Sudan government and rebels led by former vice-president Riek Machar.
The South Sudan conflict which erupted in mid December has killed tens of thousands and displaced over a million people.
The UN has previously accused both warring factions of committing wide-ranging human right abuses against civilians including women and Children.
The civil society representatives said they will seek justice and accountability for those who committed gross violations of human rights and atrocities against innocent civilians.
The representatives hoped that the fresh round of peace talks will result in tangible and concrete steps toward permanent, lasting and sustainable peace in South Sudan.
Edmund Yakani, a South Sudanese activist said he believes civil society organisations play critical roles in the peace process aimed at restoring peace and stability in the country.
"Our task and responsibility is to bridge the gap between the public and their representatives. But our work as civil society can only be realised if we put our house in order", said Yakani