Recent UNMISS peace concert in Aweil draws massive participation and useful debate
NORTHERN BAHR EL GHAZAL – With the recent agreement on the Roadmap and the extension of the transitional period, the United Nations Mission in South Sudan is increasing its engagement with communities across the country.
A cogent example: A recent peace concert in Aweil, Northern Bahr El Ghazal, which drew more than 8,000 attendees.
The focus of the gathering was to raise awareness on the current state of play regarding the Revitalized Peace Agreement.
The large-scale event, organized jointly by UNMISS and the state Ministry of Peacebuilding provided a safe space for various stakeholders, including youth representatives and women, to discuss the way forward as the world’s newest nation continues its efforts to draft a permanent constitution; hold free, fair and peaceful elections; as well as build a lasting peace.
“Nobody can usher in sustainable peace in South Sudan, except the South Sudanese themselves,” stated Reuben Inaju, the Head of the mission’s Community Outreach Unit.
“Peace begins with all of you,” he continued, addressing the gathering. “More importantly, peace and progress are two sides of the same coin. So, we urge every community member to leave past scars behind and do their bit to pave the way towards a prosperous future. UNMISS is here to assist in every way it can, within its capabilities,” added the committed UNMISS staffer.
The platform saw spirited and free discussions on key challenges and issues that people face on the ground.
“This peace concert is special,” said William Anyoun, Acting Minister for Peacebuilding in the state. “The large numbers who have gathered here is testament to the fact that the people of Northern Bahr El Ghazal are peace loving. We want the international community, represented by our friends at UNMISS, to bear witness to this,” stated the Minister, who explained various chapters of the peace deal.
Importantly, parties to the Agreement discussed the intricacies of the process via which South Sudan is navigating its way towards becoming a true democracy.
“The implementation of the peace deal is challenging. One of the key issues is that most South Sudanese aren't well-versed in the provisions stipulated by the document. Therefore, we are here today: To answer your questions and, hopefully, explain that we are all working extremely hard to create the political and civic space necessary for a durable, inclusive peace in our country,” stated Daniel Akot Akot, a representative of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement – in Opposition.
“I am confident that all parties to the Agreement will come together in the spirit of compromise to do what is best for our people. The Roadmap is an example of our collective commitment to peace and development,” he added.
Sebastian Uchan Kic, who represented Other Political Parties (OPP) was eloquent as well.
“For real peace, we must all demonstrate wisdom, commitment and be courageous enough to make necessary sacrifices. It is only then that all South Sudanese will enjoy the peace dividends that they have waited so long for,” stated Mr. Kic.
For her part, Angelina Thiep Malek highlighted the need to include women’s voices in the highest levels of decision-making.
“The Revitalized Agreement stipulates 35 per cent affirmative action for women,” she averred.
“It is vital that we include women in all levels of decision-making and politics so that we have a say in deciding on issues that impact us directly. We must address gender iniquities because women constitute 50 per cent of any society and South Sudan is no exception. It is a proven fact that peace agreements that include women fully have a greater chance of being more successful. So, I stress the need for women to be a part of disseminating the peace deal to communities as well as consultations on our permanent constitution,” she said passionately.
The event, held under the theme, “Stand Up for Peace” concluded with stirring performances by local musicians, the UNMISS in-house band—Flamingoes—as well as cultural dances.