Kiir declares 2023 year of peace, reconciliation and development

Kiir declares 2023 year of peace, reconciliation and development

President Salva Kiir declared 2023 a year of peace, reconciliation, and development as he amplified the message of stability in the face of inter-state turmoil.  

President Kiir pledged the government’s commitment to achieving inclusive peace in order to end the current humanitarian situations caused by inter-ethnic violence, natural disasters, and a failing economy in his remarks on New Year’s Eve.

He said one crucial path to achieving total peace is genuine engagement with the opposition groups who are not part of the ongoing peace process through the Revitalised Peace Agreement on the Resolution of Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan (R-ARCSS).

“We are committed to the peace agreement and achieving inclusive peace in our country. “As you may know, we were engaged in the Rome peace process led by the community of Sant’Egidio with the holdout groups,” he said.

“Since the start of the peace process, we have reached some positive steps with this group, which we were preparing to engage with in October. But they continuously engaged in destabilising activities, even when we had signed a commitment to a cessation of hostilities with them.

“Given that this group has not shown seriousness in the Rome peace process, I suspended the talks with them until they are ready to hold genuine talks with the government,” he stated of his move to suspend government participation in the Sant’Egidio mediated Rome talks with holdout armed opposition groups in October.

Kiir said the current challenges plaguing the country could be addressed through forgiveness and reconciliation.

“In my brief remarks on December 25, 2022, during Christmas prayers in the Catholic Cathedral in Kator, I declared the coming year as the year of reconciliation, forgiveness, and development.

“I would like to repeat myself again in this address that 2023 is the year of forgiveness, reconciliation, and development, and urge all of you to work to achieve them in this coming year,” he said, stressing that forgiveness and reconciliation were more pressing than ever now that the country is set to receive the leaders of world churches.

The head of the Roman Catholic Church, Pope Francis, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby of the United Kingdom, and the Moderator of the Church of Scotland will visit Juba in February this year.

Their pilgrimage has been long overdue since 2017 when Pope Francis expressed interest in making a visit aimed at consolidating peace in the country following the outbreak of civil war in 2013.

“We are honoured to have this first-of-its kind trip by the leaders of churches to our country,” Kiir said.

South Sudan has lately been experiencing waves of inter-communal conflicts that have paralysed the northern parts of the country. Since August last year, forces allied to Gen Simon Gatwech of Kitgwang and those allied to his former faction deputy Gen Johnson Olony have been locked in an on-and-off fire exchange in parts of Upper Nile State. The fighting erupted when a local militia known as the White Army joined the fray, resulting in massive displacement to the Malakal PoC. Aside from that, a recent clash in which armed youth from Jonglei State overran villages in Gumuruk County heightened tensions, necessitating faster intervention.