In a significant gathering of more than 500 individuals, a resounding commitment to peace was renewed in Freedom Square, Terekeka County, South Sudan. The event, organized in preparation for the scheduled elections in December 2024, brought together various stakeholders to emphasize the importance of unity and reconciliation in this young nation.
Collaboratively hosted by the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), the African Theological Leadership School, and the Central Equatoria State Ministry of Peacebuilding, this outreach event aimed to reach community leaders and citizens alike, underlining the imperative need for South Sudanese to unite in their pursuit of peace and prosperity.
Laurence Musoke Samuel, Director General for the State’s Ministry of Peacebuilding, stressed that the responsibility to foster peace rested on the shoulders of every individual. He remarked, “Our families are vital to fostering peace at the community, county, state, and national levels. It begins with each one of us, and it is in our homes that we should pass on the values of social cohesion and unity.”
Empowering Women as Peacebuilders
One notable aspect of the event was the recognition of the crucial role played by women in peacebuilding. Hellen Kaku Kula, a local women’s leader, emphasized the necessity of inclusivity. She stated, “Inclusivity is a must. Women are the first line of educators in every society, because everything starts at home. It is a necessity that we are all involved in the peace process.”
Kula further emphasized the importance of aligning political leadership’s plans for the country with the expectations and perspectives of grassroots communities. This alignment is seen as crucial for sustainable peace and development.
UN Peacekeeping Mission’s Mandate
During the event, attendees were reminded of the United Nations peacekeeping mission’s mandate in South Sudan. UNMISS, whose mandate was renewed until March 15, 2024, focuses on preventing a return to civil war, establishing durable peace, and supporting accountable governance.
South Sudan, which gained independence in 2011, unfortunately experienced a devastating civil war in 2013, leading to the loss of hundreds of thousands of lives and the displacement of a significant portion of the population. The war finally came to an end in 2018 with a peace agreement brokered between President Salva Kiir and rebel factions led by Riek Machar.
In the face of the country’s turbulent history, events like the one in Terekeka County serve as important reminders of the necessity of unity, reconciliation, and the tireless pursuit of peace, especially as South Sudan approaches a pivotal electoral process in 2024.