The new leadership of South Sudanese Civil Society Organizations in Uganda (NOSSCOU) has kicked off full swing with their community engagement activities in Kampala.

Late this afternoon (December 27, 2018), four executive committee members met with Hon. Betty Bigombe, President Museveni’s envoy to South Sudan Peace Process, at her downtown residence in Kampala City.

The Civil Society leaders appreciated the work the Government and people of Uganda have done in moderating their peace process, mediating the SPLM political leaders and hosting over a million South Sudanese refugees for a long period of time.

NOSSCOU presented a number of concerns to the peacemaker, who has engaged in the peace processes since the Sudan Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), the Lord’s Resistance Army and now R.ARCSS, to forward to the leaders of the two sister republics of Uganda and South Sudan.

The issues are majorly based on R.ARCSS implementation process and mutual coexistence, especially the comprehensive explanation of the content of the agreement to both the refugee and host communities in Uganda.

Among the methods of bringing the communities together is joint cultural event to be staged early next year among the integrated communities of the two East African nation’s in Kampala.

Ter Manyang Gatwich, the Network’s new Coordinator, enumerated a number of Challenges facing the communities, especially the Civil Society, in the implementation of the Agreement and why the need for a community-driven approach. “Since most donors have trust issues with our peace stakeholders, there is need to use our local means to play our part,” he told our Aftaboss Reporter.

To further explain the approaches, Jon Pen de Ngong, the Deputy Secretary General, presented in detail the way the peace dissemination should be creatively availed to the South Sudanese as well as their host communities.

“We owe our Uganda host communities a great deal of appreciation. For example, from primary to the university level, I was educated in Uganda, including my marriage and children here. So we really need a joint event to tell the hospitable Ugandans, thank you.”

Mr. Ngong, who has been a CSO representative at the peace talks since 2014, told Hon. Bigombe that they almost held one joint event in 2017 with the local organization called Mustard Seed Foundation, but then found it premature as the peace process was still underway.

Deputy Coordinator, Daniel Juol Nhomngek and Kuol A. Kuol, another member of the Executive, raised a number of issues, including the importance of opening up civic space to facilitate smooth dissemination of the Agreement. They gave examples of activists like Peter Biar Ajak being still under arbitrary detention as a negative political will from the Government that is the key peace signatory.

South Sudanese staging a skit at the celebration at the Sharing Youth hall at Nsambya, December 27, 2018

On her part, Hon. Betty assured the activities to share their concerns with the peace guarantors and diplomatic leaders. “We know the peace process has inclusivity issues, but you must own it at the community level in order to have a successful implementation.”

She expressed interest in the fact that the host communities are going to be involved inbtge sensitization as peace for South Sudan means peace for the region.

On similar development, the Coordinator, Ter Manyang Gatwich, expressed his gratitude to the South Sudanese communities and local organizations for their cooperation among themselves and with the network, so far.

“I am impressed with the level of unity our communities have already shown in the 4 community events that we have taken part in since our election last week. This assures us that the year 2019 is a year of true peaceful networking within our refugee communities.”

Of the challenges the Network is facing in particular and the South Sudanese civil society movement in general, the Coordinator clarified that mingling with the leaders, including political leaders like the Western Upper Nile deputy governor with whom he was seated in a community event, does not mean engaging in politics.

“Meeting leaders like Hon. Betty Bigombe and deputy governor means genuine networking. We should not segregate when talking about peace for our country,” Mr. Manyang said during the South Sudanese Christian Women Association and Shilluk Community Christmas celebration at Sharing Youth Centre, Nsambya, in Kampala, on the evening of December 27, 2018.

The NOSSCOU’s new Executive members are optimistic of achieving better results this year than in 2018. Daniel Juol pointed this out after the Committee’s strategic meeting with Dhoran Foundation International early today. The Foundation are also into the Thanksgiving drive to the host communities under the Network.

“By the time of our swearing in early next month (January 2019), we are looking forwards to doubling the number of the current Network’s membership.” He said, “The higher the number of our local member organizations, the better our diverse communities are networked for peaceful co-existence.”

NOSSCOU, which is the official body of South Sudanese civil society organizations in Uganda, has more than 30 local South Sudanese NGOs, and counting.

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