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National dialogue starts with release of political prisoners: Bishop

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March 6, 2017 (JUBA) - The Catholic Auxiliary Bishop of Juba, Reverend Santo Laku Pio has urged South Sudan President Salva Kiir to ensure the national dialogue initiative extends amnesty to political prisoners and those convicted for various offenses, including the ones incarcerated without due processes of the law being followed.

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Catholic Auxiliary Bishop of Juba, Reverend Santo Laku Pio (ST Photo)

Speaking during a sermon held at St. Joseph Cathedral in Juba in Sunday, Rev. Laku challenged President Kiir to show his genuine calls for forgiveness, peace and reconciliation ahead of national prayers on 10 March.

“For the last four years since 2013, people of South Sudan have undergone untold suffering because of the conflict. Now that President Kiir is calling for forgiveness from the people, let him demonstrate his sincerity, first by forgiving all political prisoners currently imprisoned or being held at various security detention facilities across the Republic of South Sudan”, said the Bishop.

The cleric wondered why the South Sudanese leader was pushing for forgiveness without first forgiving people who have been in detention for several decades.

He advised President Kiir to exercise his powers enshrined in the Transitional Constitution of South Sudan and forgive people who are still suffering in prison.

Similar amnesty, further stressed the Bishop, should be extended to all prisoners and not just those who took up arms resistance against the Juba government.

“The war must be stopped immediately and freedoms of speech, expression and assembly as enshrined in our constitution must also be guaranteed so that people are able to sit down and initiate the national dialogue, forgiveness and healing”, he emphasized.

In an interview with the Voice of America (VOA) last week, Bishop Laku openly criticized President Kiir’s calls for forgiveness ahead of national prayers, describing it as a “political gimmick” to blindfold the international community.

He vowed not to attend the prayers since the people of South Sudan are not in their homes because of fighting between the government and rebels forces.

Last year, South Sudan’s Vice President, James Wani Igga uring said President Kiir was considering amnesty for inmates convicted of various crimes in the country.

The amnesty, Igga reportedly said, would cover those unlawfully convicted, those who may have committed crimes without knowing and the ones brought to prison by some powerful forces, yet they may not have committed any crime.

But despite the optimism generated, what Igga hinted on never came to pass.

Meanwhile, the civil society task force also called on President Kiir to release political prisoners currently being held by various security organs as a good gesture for consolidating peace and stability in the world’s youngest nation.

Rajab Mohandas, a member of the taskforce, said the South Sudan leader should also guarantee safety and freedom of all the people who are going to participate in the national dialogue expected to be launched this month.

The national dialogue agenda should include national vision, identity and unity, economic reforms, historical grievances among communities, distribution of natural resources and system of governance,” Mohandas told reporters in Juba.

He further stressed that the national dialogue should be inclusive and open to allow the full participation of all the people living in and outside the young nation.

(ST)

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  • 7 March 07:00, by Future1

    You sound better now by calling all POWs across the nation released by government. Be realistic when talking about stopping the war in SS. How? Folding hands and allow rebels to slaughter the army? Why always political comments and sermon. Are you really spiritual leader? Pray more to have spiritual and divine wisdom. U made St. Teresa the Equatorian church. You are so disgraceful for catholic!!!

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    • 7 March 07:05, by Future1

      All your comments incite Equatorians and radicalize against government and have more deaths. Talk peace don’t add your immoral statement into such situation. Release James Gadet Dak musu?

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      • 7 March 07:11, by jubaone

        Future 1,
        This prayer thing or peace dialogue by Kiir is bogus, stupid and just a luakjieng gathering to socialize, eat and drink at this times of hunger and starvation. Equatorians and non-jienges just keep off and do something worthwhile for your families. Leave the fools to do their "MTN" thing.

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        • 7 March 08:22, by Future1

          Jubaone/Another Kiir
          You have contradicted your beautiful comment by adding Dinkajieng and "MTN" as your subject of argument. I completely not happy being in South Sudan without eye,hear,nose,hands,feet,brain,mouth(whole body/64 tribes). You are now blaming Kiir but you are another one. Do you believe in South Sudan without Dinka? Unless u create another country. Let us be intellectual in comments

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        • 7 March 11:02, by South South

          I have heard that this bishop is a child molester. Sleeping with a little boys in God’s house.

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    • 7 March 07:48, by Midit Mitot

      Bishop you are very right, but every thing in Kiir government is just a covering seal, they can say these are the true things while behind down there it,s completely false. They talk of forgiveness while they don,t start forgiveness with prisoners which suppose to be start with.

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  • 7 March 07:31, by Thiep Mawien Thiep

    The call by Auxillary Bishop Rev. Mr. Pio is a voice of reason, and should not be undermined by the enemies of peace. If need be,for there would a need for national dialogue, national reconcilliation, national healing which needs the participation of all the citizens of this country, then president kiir must releases the political detainee, political prisoners, and anybody convicted of any crime

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  • 7 March 08:15, by Kat Cok

    The Catholic Auxiliary Bishop of Juba, Reverend Santo Laku Pio is telling fails,there is not political prisoners in South Sudan, and it is clear that the incident which had happened against Dinka in Juba - Yai, Juba - Nimule road is the result of their incitement in Churches.

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  • 7 March 08:17, by Freedom Advocate

    Bishop has already put it well that he will not attend that luakjienges gathering in the name of national prayer.
    Kiir must stop copy paste of things which are only done in peaceful places.
    What prayers when you’re ordering your men to kill everybody in the broaden daylight. Man you must be kidding. No one is going to attend that bias prayer except your fellow jienges who might go there for dinner

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  • 7 March 10:35, by Mila Henry

    I think all of you guys have lost from the right direction, i thought that maybe it is also your responsibilities to bring peace in South Sudan, but to my surprise i found that all of you are against each other yet you belong to each other as a children of one mother which is South Sudan. You guys are a scheming us internationally by posting a fake comments against
    each other, am so sorry.

    repondre message

  • 8 March 07:11, by Nyesi Ta

    The Chairman and C-in-C SPLM-IO is set to arrive Juba a day ahead of the national prayer day. Kiir al Awiir, if serious should arrange for Dr. Riek Machar’s arrival.

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