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ADDIS ABABA - 14 Mar 2018

National dialogue begins in Ethiopia, Nuer community announces boycott

Members of the national dialogue’s subcommittee for refugees have arrived in Addis Ababa where they started consultative meetings with communities there, amid calls by leaders of the Nuer community to boycott the meetings today.

In December 2016, President Kiir, whose wrangling for power with his former deputy Riek Machar plunged the world's newest nation into a brutal conflict, Kiir called for "national dialogue" to end the ongoing civil war.

Kiir said the national dialogue will be bottom-top approach to address local grievances and political issues in the country. But the opposition rejected the call.

Ajak Kuol, a member of the national dialogue, told Radio Tamazuj today that the dialogue committee team had arrived in Addis Ababa and that the meetings kicked off at Capital Hotel today.

He claimed that the representatives of South Sudanese refugees had already come to participate in the consultative meetings.

But Gabriel Chieng Tot, leader of the Nuer community in Ethiopia said the community had decided not to be part of the national dialogue initiated by President Kiir.

He explained that they want the people of South Sudan to agree on the key issues and unite themselves first before the national dialogue process could take place.

Chieng stressed the need for unity of purpose before South Sudanese could embark on the national dialogue process.” We don’t want any national dialogue right now because we need to agree first as South Sudanese. So, we cannot have a national dialogue while people are still fighting,” he said.

“Kiir’s national dialogue will never bring peace. All South Sudanese need to negotiate peace in Addis Ababa to bring about lasting peace in the country. How can you say that peace will come through talking to refugees? “He asked.

“There should be a reconciliation process between the various communities and there should be stability and peace first. So how can we sit down and organize a national dialogue now when people are being killed?” He asked.

The community leader claimed that the Nuer Community Council in Ethiopia had agreed to boycott the consultative meetings being held by the national dialogue delegation in Addis Ababa.

Chieng accused the country’s president Salva Kiir of abrogating the 2015 peace agreement. “No national dialogue without a peace agreement,” he said.