KAMPALA, Dec 28 — Ugandans have expressed solidarity with the people of South Sudan, calling for an end to the civil war that has shaken the world’s youngest nation.
Uganda’s northern neighbor saw a civil war start last year in December when former vice president Riek Machar reportedly attempted a coup to oust President Salva Kiir.
Thousands of people were reported killed and hundreds of thousands displaced in the ensuing unrest – the bloodiest in the new nation’s history.
Here in Kampala, peace activists have called on the warring parties to “end the war immediately”.
They told reporters at Pope Paul Memorial Hotel that continuation of war means “more bloodshed, more suffering, instability and risks of famine”.
One of them, Canon Joyce Nima, said more strife will amplify the threat to peace, security and stability in the region.
In a statement representing peace advocates under the umbrella of Regional Network on Peace and Security (RENOPS), Rose Othieno urged the leaders of South Sudan to set aside their personal interests and instead put the interests of their people first.
This, she said, would help safeguard the hard-won independence and values of their liberation struggle.
South Sudan became independent from Sudan in July 2011 following a referendum earlier the same year which had seen 98.83% vote for independence.
The peace advocates observed that despite the secured cessation of hostilities (CoH) agreement following peace talks in Ethiopia, the protagonists have continued to violate the agreement, casting doubts over the adequacy of political will to end the war.
The RENOPS called on regional governments – Uganda, Ethiopia, Kenya, Burundi, Rwanda and Tanzania – to step up pressure on the South Sudan leaders to immediately end the war.
They also recommended regional governments to fully support peaceful and negotiated settlement and denounce any military efforts to resolve the conflict, as well as imposing sanctions on leaders who are obstructing peace efforts.
Donning black T-shirts emblazoned with the message ‘STOP THE WAR NOW!! The people of South Sudan want peace’, the campaigners expressed concern that since 98% of the country’s revenue comes from oil exports, continuation of war will collapse the economy.
They also noted that the militarization of South Sudan further will affect the neighbouring countries as arms trafficking can translate to a spike in civilian ownership.
SOURCE: NEW VISION