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Kiir says national dialogue "not meant to consolidate power"

February 21, 2017 (JUBA) - South Sudan president Salva Kiir has said the national dialogue he declared last year was not meant to consolidate his grip on to power.

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President Salva Kiir speaks during the inauguration of the new SPLM premises in Juba on 15 November 2013 (Photo Moses Lomayat)

"I also want to make it absolutely clear to those who question and doubt our intentions and to our regional and international partners that the National Dialogue initiative is not a trick, a delaying tactic or a calculated strategy by the government to consolidate its grip on power as anti-peace elements claim”, he told MPs Tuesday.

President Kiir said he saw no logic of playing tricks, but was working to protect the sovereignty, territorial integrity of the country and uniting people as part of his duties.

“We are not in the business of playing trick, we are a government and our business is to work for the unity of the people of South Sudan, protect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of this land and to uphold our constitutional and international obligations, he added.

The South Sudanese leader, however, called upon members of the country’s opposition and partners to the 2015 peace deal to put aside doubts and join him and members of his administration in the restoration of peace by uniting the population.

“I therefore call upon our partners and those in opposition to cast any doubts aside and join the national dialogue as we genuinely seek to restore peace and security through unity of our people," stressed the president.

The dialogue initiative, according to the South Sudanese leader, would encompass all the country’s rival political parties and groups. He further said a number of eminent statesmen, who are "trusted", "genuine" and "credible" would lead the dialogue.

"National dialogue in my view is both a forum and process through which the people of South Sudan can gather to redefine the basis of their unity as it relates to nationhood, and sense of belonging," said Kiir during the launch of the dialogue initiative in December last year.

"In the light of national endeavour, I am calling upon all of you to forgive one another, enter dialogue with one another in your personal capacities, embrace yourself," he added, stressing the need for the population to forgive him as a leader.

A dialogue committee has been earmarked to work with independent experts from Juba-based think tanks such as the Ebony Center for Strategic Studies, Sudd Institute and the Centre for Peace and Development.

(ST)