COVID-19 safety measures threaten National Dialogue conclusion
By Kitab Unango
Dumping the unfinished task!
The National Dialogue Steering Committee, established to engage citizens on how to end the country’s protracted conflict that wrecked South Sudan for years, is struggling to drag its mandate to a conclusion amid COVId-19 safety guidelines.
The dialogue process started three years ago with grass-root consultations followed by Bahr El Ghazal, Upper Nile and Equatoria regional conferences as well as sectorial conferences of religions, businesses, and political parties.
The whole process was to end in March with the committee presenting its findings and recommendations at a national conference that would draw participants across the country to make final resolutions for leaders to adopt to end wars in the country but failed due to coronavirus outbreak.
In its extraordinary meeting Tuesday, Angelo Beda, Co-Chairperson of the National Dialogue Steering Committee unfolded committee’s plan to end the process without further delay.
Beda pointed out the process has to come to an end either by holding a national conference or without or suspend the process till coronavirus ends.
“All that remains now is the national dialogue conference which we wanted it to happen in March but unfortunately we could not. So we have been waiting and we cannot stay longer, we want to end the process either with the national conference or without it,’ said Beda.
‘There are many alternatives to ending it. We are thinking of bringing them to Juba using technologies or leave them in Malakal, Wau and hold a visual conference or freeze the conference until such as the time when it will be suitable to hold the national conference,’ he added.
President Slava Kiir constituted the National Dialogue in 2018 to end wars and bring comprehensive solutions to problems that engulfed the country in December 2013 two years after it gained independence in July 2011.
However, some opposition groups including Dr. Riek Machar’s faction objected to the initiative and opted for round table talks that culminated in Revitalized Agreement on the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan as the only viable means to ending wars.
The Steering Committee Co-Chaired by Gabriel Alier and Angelo Beda is yet to hold a national conference for participants to make final recommendations to conclude the process in a country with deeply fragmented societies needing sensitization on peaceful co-existence.