South Sudan’s peace solution in Juba: Raila tells leaders
Peace messages dominated the inauguration of the Juba Freedom Bridge nearly 10 years after the Japanese government commenced its construction.
Security officers clad in their uniforms were assigned to man various access roads in Lologo, where the 560-metre bridge is situated. The top leadership of the land, led by President Salva Kiir and the First Vice President, Dr Riek Machar, were lined up to grace the occasion and usher in another milestone in the country’s pursuit of infrastructural development.
The African Union (AU) High Representative for Infrastructure Development, Raila Odinga, told South Sudanese leaders to look inward for peace since a lasting peace in the country can only be achieved by the people of South Sudan.
“I have talked with my brothers here in South Sudan about the crisis, but I have told them the solution is here, the solution is not in Addis Abba (Ethiopia), not in Kampala or Entebbe, not in Nairobi (Kenya) not in Khartoum, it is right here,” Odinga explained
President Salva Kiir seemed to agree with Odinga’s sentiments.
“We should take the advice he gave us seriously because of peace. When they shook hands with President Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta whatever difference that was within them disappeared and they are now in peace in Kenya,” says President Kiir.
He said that it was a great honour for Odinga to witness the opening of the Key Bridge that links South Sudan to many countries in the region.
“In your capacity as a champion for infrastructure in our continent I would like to say that the opening of the Freedom Bridge today is just the beginning and we need your support for us to accomplish the remaining projects,” President Kiir said.
The president called upon the Juba community that received the Freedom Bridge to work hard and maintain peace in the country.
“Having peace will allow us to focus on service delivery and development projects. Wars hold our progress and the time it took to complete this bridge is a living example of how war delays development,” he said.
The construction of the only post-independent South Sudan Bridge began in 2013 after the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) signed a grants agreement with South Sudan which amounts to $91 million.
The bridge was expected to be completed by 2018, but its construction was put on hold at the end of 2013 following the outbreak of civil war in the capital Juba after a power struggle within the ruling Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) party).
South Sudan signed a peace agreement in 2018 to end five years of civil war. However, the agreement has now taken four years to fully be implemented.
The implementation process has been slow and the opposing forces have clashed regularly over disagreements about how to share power.
Riek Machar, the First Vice President, added his voice to calls for peace, saying the country was on track despite the slow pace of the peace process.
“We are committed to peace. It is slow but we are committed to it to see that our country becomes peaceful and becomes competitive and prosperous,” says Dr Machar
He added saying, “This is a commitment we want to tell you that the people of South Sudan are committed to peace,” Dr. Machar promised.