South Sudan: Church Leaders Call for Calm, Reconciliation in Troubled Nation

JUBA, December 19, 2013(CISA) -Church leaders in South Sudan have called for calm and reconciliation amid the ongoing violence in parts of the country.

In a statement sent to CISA on December 18, the church leaders said that the political differences between leaders within Sudanese Peoples Liberation Movement (SPLM) in the country should not be turned into an ethnic problem.

Archbishop Paulino Lukudu Loro of the Catholic Archdiocese of Juba said on behalf of the church leaders, “Reconciliation is needed between the political leaders. Violence is not an acceptable way of resolving disputes. This must be done in a peaceful and civilized manner.”

“Reconciliation is at the heart of the Church’s ministry, a key Gospel value, and so we offer ourselves as mediators,” the church leaders said.

The church leaders decried that the way the incident was being handled would have an effect on the future of the nation, whether positive or negative, both internally and in international relations.

“We appeal to the security forces, who are our brothers, our sons and our parishioners, to exercise restraint and responsibility and to respect civilians,” said the church leaders.

On Thursday December 19, South Sudan Information Minister Micheal Makuei Lueth told the Associated Press (AP) that at least 500 people, mostly soldiers, had been killed “in the bushes” around Juba and up to 700 more had been wounded.

The church leaders included Archbishop Paulino Lukudu Loro, Catholic Church Archbishop of Juba, Daniel Deng Bul, ECSSS Bishop, Arkangelo Wani Lemi, AIC Moderator, Rev Tut Kony Nyang, SSPEC, Rev John Yor Nyiker, Secretary General PCOSS Bishop Emeritus Paride Taban, Catholic Church Bishop Michael Taban Toro, Chair SSCC Rev Mark Akec Cien,Acting Secretary General SSCC.

The church leaders further urged the civilians to remain calm and to stay somewhere safe. “The government should give information to civilians when there are security operations and direct them where to go for safety,” they said.

“We wish to see assurances for the safety of our international friends, including those from neighboring countries, who are here to help us,” said the leaders.

“We urge the government, UN and NGOs to provide humanitarian assistance to the displaced civilians in Juba, and to ensure that water and food are available for the population,” they concluded.

Meanwhile All Africa Conference of Churches (AACC) has called for stringent measures to end the escalating violence in South Sudan.

General Secretary, Rev Dr Andre Karamaga said that the situation in the country was worrying not only to the south Sudanese but to all those who wish the country well and needed to come to an end.

“The unfolding situation if not resolved amicably could go out of hand with all the diverse implications for peace, security and development. The political, economic and social cost of heightened insecurity in South Sudan is enormous and should be avoided by all means”, said Rev Dr Karamaga in a statement sent to CISA on December 18.

He further urged the Government of South Sudan to restore responsibility in restoring peace and stability in Juba and the country as a whole by dealing with those responsible for the current mayhem and let the rule of law take its course.

Rev Karamaga called on the neighboring countries of South Sudan to come in and help the young nation since the situation could spill over to neighboring countries.

On December 19, top ministers from four regional nations namely Kenya, Djibouti, Ethiopia and Uganda, flew to troubled South Sudan to kick start efforts to end days of fighting feared to spark a return to civil war in the young nation.

Kenya’s Foreign Minister Amina Mohamed, told AFP that she was “en-route to South Sudan to offer first hand assistance”,

“It’s a regional issue and the government of Kenya must be part of the solution process,” she said.

All are members of the regional body, the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD), whose members played key roles in pushing forward the 2005 deal that ended Sudan’s two-decade long civil war with the south.