South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir has said that politicians are behind the wave of inter-communal violence that has led to hundreds of deaths in revenge killings since the youngest nation won independence in 2011.
“Youth are being used for these non-social things, if there are politicians who want to fight tell them to go to war with any tribe they want to fight with but don’t accept to be influenced by politicians,” Kiir told delegates from Jonglei and Pibor Administrative Area on Wednesday during the closure of a three-day peace conference in Juba.
The peace conference came in the wake of violence that broke out on May 16 last year involving Dinka, Nuer and Murle communities that led to hundreds of deaths, leaving thousands displaced and children and women abducted.
The conference, which started on Monday, sought to find sustainable solutions to end the recurring cycle of violence involving these communities over the past years.
“Don’t allow yourselves (youth) to be used like firewood,” Kiir said. “I have seen now the politicians are playing with your lives, and that is why I am telling you that if the politicians want to fight, let them go and fight and you remain with your parents.” “We don’t want war again. We got our independence with difficulties,” he said.
Last year, the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) warned that delays in the appointment of state and county governments were to blame for the rise in communal violence due to the power vacuum created at the local levels.
In June 2020, Kiir and First Vice President Riek Machar ended their longstanding disagreement on sharing the number of states, paving the way for the appointment of state governors and their deputies, as stipulated in the 2018 revitalized peace deal they signed in Ethiopia.
However, the parties are yet to fully constitute state and county governments amid continuous sporadic violence among communities in far-flung areas outside the capital.
Also on Wednesday, Kiir promised to amicably settle longstanding border disputes with neighboring countries like Kenya, Uganda, the Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of Congo.