Homegrown solutions are needed to bring sustainable and durable peace in conflict-torn South Sudan, a conflict resolution expert has said.
Ashad Sentongo, director of Africa Programs at Auschwitz Institute for Peace and Reconciliation, said South Sudan’s five-year-long civil war has moved beyond ethnicity and politics into a national disaster that requires homegrown remedies to end it.
“The biggest problem that Africa has always experienced is that no country has ever had the conversation about the nature of state they want at the community level,” Sentongo told Xinhua in a recent interview.
“It has always been defined as an elite process and that is what South Sudan is falling into the same thing,” he said.
South Sudan descended into conflict in December 2013 and the civil war has created one of the world’s biggest humanitarian crises as some 4 million people have been displaced, according to UN estimates.
A peace deal signed in August 2015 between the rival factions under UN pressure led to the establishment of a transitional unity government, but it was shattered by renewed fighting in July 2016.
Sentongo said past peace initiatives spearheaded by the UN and east African regional bloc, Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), only focused on the national actors like incumbent president Salva Kiir and his rival, Riek Machar, and failed to bring in aggrieved local communities.
Such a strategy, he said, would only create conditions for unsustainable and negative peace because it does not address the root causes of conflict in the world’s youngest country.
“You can have every country in Africa sending a soldier in South Sudan. It won’t produce peace until South Sudanese define the peace they want in a localized and participatory process,” Sentongo said.
For South Sudan to enjoy durable peace, local peace forums have to be created to enable communities have dialogue with leaders across tribal, religious, civil society and youth groups, Sentongo stressed.
“All South Sudanese have a level of suffering that they want to be addressed. Let the process be participatory at the local level and inclusive at the community level, and generate output that is going to inform the kind of leadership that the community envisions,” he said. Enditem
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