By Ronaldo N. Kalangi
President Yoweri Museveni has told the people of South Sudan that war should never be used again to solve political arguments between brothers and sisters, saying war is wasteful and this was an unnecessary conflict.
“Thank you very much for attending to logic in the end and signing. The grinding stone that the people of South Sudan have been carrying has now been put down. We have performed ceremonies of peace and African ceremonies are very serious. Am sure this is the end of the conflict in South Sudan,” the President said while addressing thousands of people who braved the days heat for over 10 hours at the Dr. John Garang de Mabior Mausoleum in Juba to celebrate the peace day.
On arrival at the Mausoleum, the President laid a wreath on Dr. Garangs grave before proceeding to the ceremonies.
“War is wasteful. You have lost a lot of development time. In 2005 during the interim period, Juba was a very small town near the river. Now it has grown wide. If we had not had this war between 2013 – 2015, there would have been even greater development. Make covenant like the one Israel made with God. No war will solve political arguments between brothers and sisters. Political arguments can be solved by discussions or free and fair elections. It is ideologically incorrect to use war for an argument. Also make sure state institutions are national to build people’s confidence,” he said.
President Museveni joined other regional leaders including Sudan’s President Omar Hassan Ahmad al-Bashir, Somalia Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo Mohamed, Ethiopian President Sahle-Work Zewde and Egyptian Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly for the peace celebration day at the invitation of President Salva Kiir. Museveni and Bashir are both guarantors to the revitalised peace agreement.
The celebrations held under the theme “Celebrating the dawn of peace, appreciating friends, cherishing reconciliation and Unity,” saw all the Presidents present at the peace ceremony dressed in ceremonial white linen loose clothe, green waist ribbon and blue neck lance by traditional women. The women also set free doves and balloons to symbolize the return of peace to South Sudan.
The President cautioned the leaders against the dangers of pushing sectarianism of identity, including tribalism, religion, etc and forgetting development and economic transformation that is important for all people.
“I want to thank President Bashir who took the last initiative in peace making. Am glad we have done it. Am happy you shunned foreigners who want to establish hegemony over Africa by using weak enemies to divide us. Foreigners wanted South Sudan to become a vacuum like Libya and Somalia. Somalia is now coming up,” he said.
Opposition leader Dr. Riek Machar thanked President Museveni for his unwavering support to the peace process in South Sudan and for always being on call for the people of South Sudan.
President Bashir urged the people of South Sudan to own the peace process and take it to their hearts. He said his country will always stand with South Sudan to ensure that the revitalized peace agreement is implemented.
President Salva Kiir congratulated Dr. Machar and other opposition leaders for agreeing to come and celebrate peace. He said their presence is strong testimony for peace in South Sudan. ‘The war era has ended, peace and prosperity has come,” he said. He apologized on behalf of government for acts of war which he described as a total betrayal against the people of South Sudan.
“The war in South Sudan was not a tribal war as the international media tried to portray it, it was a war for power. We are for peace and from today, I will preside over a peaceful Sudan,” he said.
As an act of reconciliation, President Salva Kiir said he would release two political prisoners today as part of the peace process.