• Obaj Okuj

UN rejects National Dialogue Conference criticism

Obaj Okuj, Juba

The National Dialogue Conference will act to strengthen the voice of ordinary South Sudanese citizens, says the head of the UN Mission in South Sudan.

David Shearer’s statement comes in response to criticism of the National Dialogue Conference by South Sudanese politicians, many of whom claim it is a diversionary tactic away from the 2018 peace agreement.

Earlier this week, the National Dialogue Conference steering. committee reported that the SPLM-IO and National Democratic Movement had rejected invitations to participate in the conference.

These two parties, led by First Vice President, Dr. Riek Machar and Dr. Lam Akol, respectively, declined even to send delegates to the conference.

Dr. Akol went questioned the need for a National Dialogue Conference, given the looming National Constitutional Conference.

Despite this, David Shearer argued that the 2018 peace agreement is largely separate to the current aims and goals of the National Dialogue process.

He argued that the recent peace agreement is about the parties coming together and collaborating.

Shearer told delegates at the Conference on Tuesday that“The National Dialogue is much different. It has reached right down to the grassroots with wide participation ranging from community, to farmers, women, youth and faith-based leaders across the country”.

“It’s given those people across the country the chance to have an opinion and their voices heard in order to be able to shape the future of South Sudan.”, he noted.

Over 500 representatives of communities, political parties, religious organisations and civil rights groups are attending the conference at Freedom Hall in Juba.

A range of issues are being discussed, including security, governance, rule of law, corruption, land allocation and general reconciliation.

The Conference continues.

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