Kiir backs out of Juba dialogue for fear of criticism

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South Sudanese President Salva Kiir has excused himself from being the patron to the national dialogue, a process he launched last week, in a bid to bridge gaps created by three years of conflict in the young east African nation, a leading figure said.

“He [President Kiir] has relinquished the patronage over this [political] process because of the criticisms that have come around and has left it free for us. We, the two chairpersons, should see to it that we are the ones moving with it ahead,” said Angelo Beda, a co-chairperson for the Steering Committee of the National Dialogue.

Beda applauded President Kiir for relinquishing the “patronage” and appreciated steps taken by the leadership including releasing a journalist last week as well as other political leaders.

The co-chair of the process was speaking at a workshop attended by civil society activists and religious leaders in Juba on Thursday.

He and his other co-chairperson, Abel Alier-wal Kuai, said at the launch of the national dialogue last week that the process must be inclusive stressing that “no one dialogue alone” in a complete rebuttal to President Kiir’s rejection of the participation of his political rival and rebel leader Riek Machar.

The opposition groups criticised the chairmanship of national dialogue process which is supposed to achieve reconciliation and endorse democratic reforms by President Kiir saying he cannot be both judge and party.

Beda reiterated that the process will include “all South Sudanese”, echoing the committee’s decision earlier in the week to approach armed oppositions groups to take part in the process.

He said South Sudan’s 64 tribes will be accorded space to speak freely.

“They are going to discuss the war, they are going to discuss the conflicts, they are going to discuss the killings either for cattle rustling or for land or by the government’s army, which is supposed to protect us and is [now] killing us,” he said.

Source: Sudan Tribune