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Participants in Rumbek Political Forum Demand Increased Political and Civic Space

Stephen Mathiang Deng, Minister for Cabinet Affairs in Lakes state, South Sudan, reflects on the progress made since the civil wars of 2013 and 2016. He acknowledges the newfound freedom for people to gather and discuss the future of the nation without fear, thanks to initiatives supported by the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS).

The three-day interaction brought together key stakeholders from various sectors, including politicians, youth, women, community leaders, faith-based organizations, and academics. Together, they initiated conversations on the upcoming free, fair, and inclusive elections scheduled for December 2024.

Minister Deng highlights the significant shift from a time of fear and insecurity to a more open and dialogue-oriented environment. He emphasizes the government’s commitment to fostering spaces for civic and political engagement for all citizens.

The discussions among participants focused on the roles and responsibilities of key institutions like the National Elections Commission, the National Constitutional Review Commission, and the Political Parties Council. They also sought updates on the Tumaini Peace Initiative in Nairobi, aimed at guiding South Sudan towards a consensus-based democratic transition.

Guy Bennett, Chief of the UN Peacekeeping Mission’s Political Affairs Division, stresses the importance of connecting state-level actors to national developments and raising awareness among citizens ahead of the elections. He underscores the need for trust between citizens and leaders, factual information dissemination, and timely electoral processes.

The event, supported by UNMISS, marks a significant moment for political engagement at the state level. The participants express a desire to actively contribute to shaping a better future for South Sudan, emphasizing the importance of collective efforts towards peace and development.

Women’s representative Nyandiar Mabor emphasizes the vital role of women in peace processes and governance, advocating for gender-sensitive political spaces and equal participation in decision-making. She appreciates the actionable ways identified during the forum to strengthen women’s voices.

In a joint communique, the delegates commit to fostering trust, building confidence, and promoting dynamic civic and political dialogues across Lakes state. Christopher Murenga, Head of the UNMISS Field Office, praises the commitment shown by participants and calls for the dissemination of the forum’s recommendations.

The participants’ conversations over the three days serve as a strong foundation for community participation in nation-building efforts. The open and inclusive civic space created through such initiatives is crucial for South Sudan’s progress towards a democratic and peaceful future.

Press Release by APO Group on behalf of United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS).

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