South Sudan

Radio Miraya: President Kiir calling for peace, says national dialogue to start in March

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Patricia Okoed

President Salva Kiir addressed a public rally in Yei town earlier today, calling for peace and stability and promising that a four-month-long national dialogue process will begin in March.

The president, accompanied by several ministers and government officials, announced the start of the national dialogue in March and rallied the people of Yei to focus on peace.

Radio Miraya reporter Lwak Nelson with the details from Yei (including audio mainly in Arabic)

Crowds gathered at the Yei Freedom square to listen to the president in his first visit to the area since fighting broke out in July leaving scores dead and displacing thousands from their homes. Mr. Kiir used the platform to call for unity and rally the country towards the national dialogue which he said will start in March and last four months.

The national dialogue was announced in December last year, but how inclusive the process will be is the concern of many, including parts of the international community. Today the Salva Kiir responded to those fears by directing authorities in Yei to contact armed opposition elements in the area to join the dialogue.

“I want you to send them messages, your relative who is with them, send them a letter, ring them and tell them to come and the dialogue we have put is the way of bringing back our people who are fighting us in the bush”, the president said.

The president said the national legislature will begin preparing for the dialogue when they return from recess in the next few days.

Salva Kiir also called for all fighting to stop, to enable preparations for the general elections in 2018 as stipulated in the peace agreement. He says insecurity can only delay the process.

“If we don’t stop the fighting, 2018 will come and find we have not organized our parties. Let us stop war and then the political forces sit down to organize themselves so that parties are registered before time”, Mr. Kiir said.

The president travelled to Yei on Monday to attend celebrations organized by the Episcopal Church of Yei to mark 100 years of Christianity in the area.