South Sudan does not attack religion, Deng Dau tells US

South Sudan does not attack religion, Deng Dau tells US
The Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Deng Dau Deng. [Photo: Courtesy]

The Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Deng Dau Deng, has rubbished the accusations by the US alleging that the South Sudanese government harasses or kills worshippers and religious leaders.

Deng reiterated that the government had been granting freedom of worship, citing no interruption of church services as well as Muslim worship on Fridays.

“This is not correct. We have all the religious groups that are freely praying, like Christian denominations, Muslims, and African traditions. 

“You can attest to the fact that all the churches on Saturday and Sunday are full to the brim and all the mosques on Friday are full.”

He stressed that Americans were poking their noses into other people’s affairs while they were yet to even comment on the killing of students in their own country.

He noted that the government of South Sudan does not permit any killing but the presence of insecurity brought about by holdout groups like the National Salvation Front (NAS), was the major cause of killings.

“Any killing is not permitted by the government of South Sudan, and we don’t condone the lives of our citizens being lost in our territory. All that has been happening is due to insecurity and this is why we are implementing the revitalised peace agreement,” the Deputy Minister said.

He urged holdout groups to accept the ceasefire and join the implementation of Revitalised Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan (R-ARCSS).

“We are calling those who are still in the bush to come to the table for us to be able to implement the peace agreement,” he concluded. 

Accusations

The United States decried the absence of Freedom of Worship in South Sudan calling it a breach of the transitional constitution, according to the latest report released on June 2, 2022.

The report linked serial killings to the government of South Sudan and South Sudan People’s Defence Forces, which it claimed has deprived worshippers of their freedom.

They cited the killing of nuns along the Juba-Nimule Highway by unidentified gunmen, ECSS Central Equatoria’s report of five people killed by SSPDF, four worshippers killed during worship in Lainya, Central Equatoria State, as well as detaining of Bishops of ECSS Dioceses of Bor in Jonglei state, in relation to the religious feud in the state.

“The transitional constitution provides for separation of religion and state, prohibits religious discrimination, and provides religious groups freedom to worship and assemble, organize themselves, teach, own property, receive financial contributions, communicate and issue publications on religious matters, and establish charitable institutions,” it read.

The US government estimated that 60.5 per cent of the South Sudanese population were Christians, indigenous regions followers (animists) had 32.9 per cent, and 6.2 per cent were Muslims. It stated the presence of Bahai Faith, Buddhism, Hinduism and Judaism are in lesser proportions.

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