Call for peace and unity in South Sudan

Posted in News

The South Sudanese Christian community in Australia united to call for harmony and reconciliation as the third round of peace talks to resolve the African conflict began last week.

A group of 26 church leaders from seven different denominations – Uniting, Anglican, Catholic, Lutheran, Salvation Army, Presbyterian and Baptist – gathered in Canberra last week for a national dialogue. Uniting Church SA leader Rev Amel Manyon attended the event, along with fellow Uniting Church leaders Rev Paul Dau and Rev Dr Apwee Ting.

The gathered leaders penned an ecumenical statement, which was delivered to the peace talks in Ethiopia on Thursday 17 May.

The first round of peace talks in December 2017 ended with a ceasefire agreement that was violated within less than 24 hours, while the second round of talks ended in a stalemate.

This third round of peace talks started on Thursday 17 May and was due to conclude on Monday 21 May. The talks were extended for a further 48 hours. Reports from this round of talks have so far shown that little progress has been made.

In its joint statement, South Sudanese church leaders acknowledged the urgent need for healing and the importance of bridging tribal divisions, both within the diaspora community in Australia and in South Sudan.

“We diminish our potential for healthy lives and flourishing communities when we have allowed tribal and denominational loyalties to supersede national loyalty,” they said.

“When tribal or denominational loyalty dominates, we cannot provide, under God, the quality of leadership that our people need.”

The statement also identified the role of social media in inflaming tensions within the South Sudanese community in Australia.

The church leaders reaffirmed their commitment to promote responsible use of social media so that it becomes a platform to unite, rather than divide.

Female leadership was another area of focus, with the South Sudanese church community calling for greater involvement of women in the current peace talks.

“Women have a major role in peace building and challenging the way that our society has been dominated by militarised conflict for decades,” the statement said.

“Right now and going forward women need to be given their own space in the mediation process, and a mechanism established and followed, that selects non-partisan women to be involved in current peace talks.”

Rev Amel Manyon describes the consultation as a “very important gathering”.

“This is the first time people from different tribes, languages, church traditions and political views have come together to sit, eat, discuss, pray and produce a unified statement [on this issue],” she says.

The full statement is available online here.

This article was originally published by Crosslight, the Uniting Church Vic/Tas magazine. It has been updated to include information about the most recent round of peace talks and to include information from an article by Rev Dr Apwee Ting published on the Assembly website.

 


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