Bishop Santo Loku of the Auxiliary Catholic Dioceses of Juba said President Salva Kiir and his main political rival are responsible for the more than three-year civil war in the country and must be personally involved in resolving it.
“I hear IGAD [Intergovernmental Authority on Development] want to revitalize the peace agreement by evaluating the whole agreement so that they see where progress has been made and where there is a need to conform to the provisions of the agreement, which is encouraging,” the Bishop told Sudan Tribune Saturday.
He added, “But I also hear one of the leaders, Riek Machar will not participate in revitalization forum. I don’t know how true this information but if it turns out to be true, the IGAD needs to reconsider their position because the war was not started by civilians.”
The cleric blamed President Kiir and Machar for peoples’ suffering.
“The people are now dying behind these two people,” he stressed.
Ten of thousands of people have been killed and nearly two million displaced in the country’s civil war, which started after disagreement within the ruling party (SPLM).
The outspoken cleric, however, said any process that excludes one of the parties in the conflict would undermine the objectives for which the efforts were being made, equating attempts to deny either of the parties to the conflict an opportunity to participate in the process as taking sides against those with common interests.
The religious leader called on the regional leaders to step aside for the international community to take over the process, saying some leaders in the region have direct interests in the war to perpetuate.
“Clearly people South have lost faith in the process because some of the leaders in the region have interests in the conflict. IGAD has failed to stop war and bring peace in this country because some of the leaders have interest in the war and they are benefiting from the death of civilians,” further stated the Bishop.
He added, “I think they should now give it up to the international community”.
His comments follow a proposal by South Sudan youth leaders who requested the African Union to take over the process, accusing regional leaders of lacking impartiality and interest in the country.
The youth called for an all-inclusive forum through representatives of different stakeholders would participate in contributing ideas and make proposals aimed at ending the conflict in the country.
However, the IGAD foreign ministers said after a consultative forum in Juba this week that they would not guarantee participation of Machar in person, but said he was free to send representatives.
“For the time being, physically we shall not be inviting Machar,” the Ethiopian foreign minister, Workneh Gebeyehu said, adding that their objective was to evaluate the peace process and prepare grounds for elections in which Machar and other leaders would participate.
The Machar-led armed opposition faction have dismissed IGAD’s proposal, describing it as a plan to legitimize and consolidate Kiir’s regime against the will of majority of South Sudanese.