Residents of Juba’s Gumbo-Sherikat urge implementation of peace agreement at a neighbourhood event
A community-based rapprochement event saw residents of Juba’s Gumbo-Sherikat neighbourhood converge in one place with the aim of building durable peace together following the signing, in Addis Ababa last year, of a peace agreement that has seen relative calm return to South Sudan.
“We are waiting for this peace,” said Keji, one of the women attending the event. “This is what we want in South Sudan so that we can rest a bit; we have suffered enough – with poverty, war, looting on the roads, no food, no water – I really want roads to be open,” demanded the resident of Rajaf.
Organized by the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), the neighbourhood advocacy event was designed to create an opportunity for citizens to engage directly with their neighbours by asking questions, sharing their views, and ensuring that there is accountability for the progress that is made towards implementing the agreement.
“In 2013 trouble started from above. In 2016 the trouble started in J1, where our current vice president was present, and our president was there, too. All the important people of the country were there. What is the guarantee that this time around you will not disagree again?” Ajing John Bul asked, in one of the many questions of the day.
“The Independent Boundaries Committee (IBC), up to now has no clear report, why?” asked Maker Deng, another resident of the area.
Located on the southern outskirts of Juba, just across the Nile River, Gumbo-Sherikat provided the perfect setting for such an event, as it is a melting pot of many South Sudanese ethnic groups, including the Bari, Dinka and the Lotuka, who all graced the day with their respective cultural dances.
From the UN Mission, the Rwandan battalion mesmerized the crowd with their graceful dance, rhythmically stomping to the beats of their traditional drum.
“Stop raping women when they go to their farms!” declared Lina Juan, the area women’s representative in parliament, to the crowd of approximately 1500 participants. “And Women can no longer be ignored; the revitalized peace agreement has allocated women 35% of decision-making roles in the government, and even in domestic affairs,” she said proudly, referencing the gender clause in the revitalized peace agreement.
“I want tell the anti- peace elements that peace is now in South Sudan,” continued Lina Juan. “It has come to Juba, and it is here today in Gumbo-Sherikat to stay.”
The one-day event, organized in partnership with the Reconstituted Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (JMEC), also aimed to create a platform for the National Pre-Transitional Committee (NPTC) to talk directly about the September 2018 peace agreement to the people.
Recognising the significance of the event, the South Sudanese government ensured high-level representation, with Vice President James Wani Igga’s presence.
Mr. Igga said full implementation of the agreement required more political will and resources, yet time was limited.
“As we now begin to leave behind the history of violence, all of us as South Sudanese must step up to embrace and even kiss this peace, forgive one another, and reconcile,” said the vice president.
Speaking during the occasion, Mr. Guang Cong, the head of the Civil Affairs Division at UNMISS said the UN has been working collectively with partners to support the peace process, and that he strongly believed that the bodies were united in their stance that the six-month extension of the pre-transitional period would be the last one.
“UNMISS will continue providing political and practical support to help the parties achieve full implementation of the peace agreement” said Mr. Cong, adding, “We are using our good offices to advocate for reconciliation and peace at the national and local levels.”