August 2, 2014 (BOR) – The committee for national healing, peace and reconciliation has conducted a prayer service in South Sudan’s Jonglei state, calling on both the Nuer and Dinka tribes to sow peace rather than hatred among themselves.
- A prayer service calling for peace and reconciliation was held in Jonglei state capital Bor on 1 August 2014 (ST)
The bishop of Malakal, Hilary Garang, led the prayers on Friday in Bor’s freedom square, saying the prayers are part of the healing and reconciliation process among the people of South Sudan.
“The Nuer and Dinka are brothers. One day they will be in peace,” said Garang in statements to the press on Friday in the Jonglei state capital.
“Our politicians must reconsider their positions, the long history of our struggle should not be lost in one day,” he added.
Garang, who now lives in Uganda after he was displaced from his home in Upper Nile state capital Malakal in December, said civilians throughout the country were affected by the conflict, which he said stemmed from misunderstanding rather than hatred.
South Sudan has been mired in conflict since a political rift in the ruling SPLM turned violent in mid-December last year, reigniting tribal tensions across the country.
The fighting has pitted troops loyal to president Salva Kiir, who hails from the Dinka tribe, against rebels aligned with former vice-president Riek Machar, a Nuer.
Despite the long-standing issues between the Dinka and Nuer tribes, Garang maintained the current conflict was the result of the internal political dispute in the SPLM.
“When we look on how this even began, it began as [a] political issue. It made us victims while we were not part of it,” he said.
SPLM FAILED TO MANAGE AFFAIRS
Bishop Garang has blamed the country’s ruling party of failing to manage its own affairs, leading to political division and the loss of civilian lives in what he described as an “unjustified war”.
“It is the SPLM that has to admit that they have failed on how to manage their own affairs and it has affected us,” he said.
He said the ongoing dialogue between Dinka and Nuer representatives in
Jonglei is a big step towards realising peace and end the suffering of ordinary citizens, adding that similar dialogue had been initiated in Malakal.
Jonglei state was the scene of heavy fighting at the height of the conflict, with thousands forced to flee into the bush or seek shelter at the UN camp in Bor.
Garang said restoring peace to South Sudan would help alleviate the suffering of those sheltering at UN base camps and elsewhere in the country.
The dialogue initiative between the two tribes came after a visit by the archbishop of Canterbury to denounce hatred and accept peace and reconciliation.
“This is a national prayer so that we repent [our] mistakes. Our prayer is that the
citizens of Jonglei and South Sudan should reconcile in peace and forget
what happened in December and January,” Maluak Philip, the spokesman of the diocese of Bor, said.
He said it’s hoped the message of peace will reach people across South Sudan regardless of their tribal or religious affiliation.