By Bellah Zulu, ACNS
A South Sudanese bishop has attributed the continued conflict in his country to bad governance saying the country’s leaders at various levels are not willing to “to change from rebel commanders to politicians.”
Bishop of Wau Diocese in South Sudan the Rt Revd Moses Deng said this in an interview with ACNS today. “The Country is ruled by former rebel generals from the President to State Governors and the County Commissioners," he said.
It is estimated that thousands of people have died and around 900,000 have been displaced by the fighting in South Sudan in the last five months. The country consequently faces a major food crisis, which the United Nations warns could be dire if immediate and appropriate action is not taken.
In his Diocesan newsletter shared with many church friends and partners around the world, Bishop Deng explained: “It’s had to really imagine 900,000 people because it is a number that may have no meaning to you,
“But if you stop and think of how many people live in the town or city where you live then suddenly you can understand better how big this number is.”
He explained: “All these people have been forced from where they live and now must exist by the kindness of others as refugees in the country that not so long ago they fought for, voted for and gave so much to defend. All that they had is gone and the life that they led is stopped.”
“There are of course many who were never given any chance of survival which is a shame we must bear as a country. The leaders of our country have agreed a peace deal but fighting and killing has been intense for five months and caused much devastation,” he added.
The Church has a responsibility to help bring about peace and reconciliation in times of conflict and disagreements. But what exactly is the church in South Sudan doing to help bring a stop to the on-going conflict?
Bishop Deng told ACNS: “The Church has been playing a great role in peace and reconciliation. Had it not been for the Church, South Sudan would not be where it is today, but could have been worse than Somalia.”
The bishop said the Church is not failing and that it is just a matter of time before South Sudan achieves lasting peace. “The Anglican Church and other church organizations are praying and working hard to build and bring lasting peace to our country,” he said.
Bishop Deng said that various churches in South Sudan were contributing on different ways in an effort to end the conflict. He said that South Sudan Council of Churches is currently playing a role of observer and adviser to the warring parties at the Peace Talks in Addis Ababa.
“The church is also part of the National Platform for Peace and Reconciliation (NPPR) which brings together the three national peace and reconciliation mandated institutions, the National Committee for Healing, Peace and Reconciliation (led by the Anglican Archbishop Daniel Deng Bul), Peace Commission and Parliamentary Committee on Peace and Reconciliation,” he explained.
The Bishop was worried that the country has been divided along ethnic lines and that the conflict is also affecting the unity of the Anglican Church. “The Anglican Church cuts across ethnic divides and we are working hard to ensure that the Church remains united as it is the only institution which will facilitate reconciliation of our people.”
He concluded: “No one is blameless in this and as a country and a people we must wake up to the truth that this situation cannot be allowed and we must look for a peace that binds us all if we are going to be a country.”