April 7, 2017 (JUBA) – Senior officials in South Sudan Friday said the national dialogue that was declared by President Salva Kiir could not be launched because the funds have not yet been secured to facilitate the activities of the secretariat.
The dialogue was supposed to start in March.
A cabinet minister in the unity government, who preferred anonymity told Sudan Tribune that he was uncertain if the dialogue would start because the international partners who indicated their willingness to provide support were now reluctant to come forward.
“The main reason is that there are no funds. The funds allocated in the budget for peace implementation have not been provided. The ministry of finance is unable to avail funds because there is no money. You know very well that civil servants and those in the army have spent more than two months without payment. This is now the priority,” the official added.
He said the national dialogue was supposed to fund by the Japanese government who indicated their readiness to provide funds, but they are now reluctant. The delay is a direct result of the development of the regional protection force and the demand to make the dialogue an inclusive process.
“Things that include other people are always not reliable. The Japanese government which initially indicated the willingness to assist with financial support is now reluctant. They are talking about the regional protection force and inclusivity, it seems these are their conditions for assistances,” said the official.
His comments echoed similar comments made by Ateny Wek Ateny, Presidential Spokesperson, who said in a separate interview that the money had not yet been put in place to organise the national dialogue.
The national dialogue, which President Kiir announced in December, was supposed to start a month ago but nothing has been done thus far.
Top officials from the dialogue steering committee appointed last year said progress on the program seen as an anchor of people-to-people reconciliation had stalled and committee members had not yet been sworn in.
Joseph Okello, a member of the steering committee said separately they have not been called for swearing in even after their names were announced through the presidential decree.
“We have heard President that the national dialogue arrangements are underway. Our names were announced but we have not been called to be sworn in as members of the committee and therefore we are waiting to hear from him when this will take place,” said Okello.
While several officials, including Ateny have linked the cause of the delay to lack of funds, Michael Makuei Lueth, government spokesman and the Minister of Information told reporters earlier this week that the cause of the delay was due to documents which the secretariat was developing.
President Kiir and the members of cabinet announced after the declaration of the dialogue and the appointment of the officials that the steering committee would come up with a budget to start the process.
The President also organised the National Day of Prayer in March to commence the dialogue in which he publicly asked to be forgiven for the failures of his person that have plunged the nation into chaos.