Civil society and faith-based groups in Northern Bahr-el-Ghazal State have called for the speedy formation of a state government to strengthen peace and security and improve service delivery, not least the construction of roads and health facilities.
“Forming a state government has delayed, and this has a big negative impact on everyone living here,” says Agou Kon, a female representative of a local faith-based group at a one-day forum organized by the United Nations Mission in South Sudan, adding that competition for political appointments is fierce.
“If you are not selected to be part of the government, you should not feel as if you have been rejected. Instead you should accept the decision and let your brother take the position,” another participant, Sheikh Ibrahim Deng, Secretary General of the Islamic Council, advised.
The forum, aimed at promoting unity and social cohesion, brought together ten women and twenty-five men from different civil society organizations and faith-based groups in the area, and they know what they want.
“We recommend that qualified and experienced people are appointed. That way the next government will be able to deliver essential services, like better roads,” said Mayoul Diing Mayoul, representing the Civic Engagement Center.
Several speakers, including Bishop Wol Tong Tong, stressed the need for the new government to always have what is best for the state as a whole in mind.
“Whichever constituency a politician represents, the right decisions are the ones that are in the best interest of all of our citizens. That is the kind of government we expect and demand,” he said.
With many men and women interested in a small number of government positions, many forum participants expressed their fear of resulting conflicts.
“There will be fighting and quarrelling over political positions,” Alom Atak, a 26-year-old woman, noted.
To counter such risks, local authorities have urged people to embrace unity and reconciliation, as stipulated in the revitalized peace agreement. Citizens, they urge, should forget the past and forge a new path towards prosperity.
“We are here to live together as brothers and sisters, whether we support the government or any of the opposition parties. We cannot accept a tribal South Sudan plagued by primitive fighting,” counseled Peter Aguer, the government representative at the gathering.
Ataklti Hailu, head of the peacekeeping mission’s field office in Aweil, echoed these sentiments.
“Civil society organizations, religious leaders, opposition forces, the private sector – you must all work together. By doing so, we can create a sense of shared responsibility among ourselves and mobilize resources together to implement agreed on policies,” he said.
Forum participants also recommended the provision of psychosocial support for currently internally displaced people returning to the region.