South Sudan President Salva Kiir says after disagreements with his rival-cum-deputy Riek Machar, and the outbreak of the war 2013, he never thought he would ever work with his opponent.
Kiir made the remarks in a televised 9th independence anniversary address, where he asked South Sudanese to embrace peace “individual and collectively” and make necessary compromises to unite the country and rise from the rubble of war.
“I did not make these concessions because of any weakness on the side of the government I lead [but] in the interest of moving forward the cause of peace in the country,” he said.
He called for genuine and meaningful dialogue on peace and other pending issues in the spirit of give-and-take.
“I am appealing to you all on this important day in our history to embrace the message of peace individual and collectively … let us all work tirelessly irrespective of our political leanings to restore trust among ourselves and to mend the social fabric that was torn apart by war we are now putting behind us.”
Kiir says he although a permanent ceasefire “was largely holding” and negotiation with holdout rebels is progressing through the Rome Declaration, the ongoing inter-ethnic violence across the country are now threatening the “success in ending political violence” and South Sudan’s stability.
He is looking to launch an “inter and intra communal dialogue” for healing and reconciliation among the warring parties and also “strengthen the institutions tasked with the enforcement of law and order as well as those administering justice”.
“Secondly, alongside this process, we shall launch full-scale disarmament of the civil population, an exercise which is already underway in some parts of the country,” he explained.
These steps will help create an improved environment for safety and security, which will, in turn, enable us to deliver services and promote development across the country.
Over 800 people were killed in South Sudan including three aid workers the since February.