The Co-Chair of the National Dialogue has condemned a senior cabinet member in the national government for reportedly walking out of the Equatoria regional conference over the sitting arrangement.
Dr. Martin Elia Lomuro reportedly left the venue of the dialogue at Freedom Hall in Juba after the organizers failed to acknowledge seating “protocol” of the attendees.
Over 300 delegates representing traditional leaders, faith-groups and politicians from the Equatoria region have gathered in Juba to deliberate on issues affecting the country.
The regional conference is part of the healing, reconciliation and agenda-setting for the nation as was envisioned by President Salva Kiir in May 2017.
The delegates at the Equatoria conference have been designated seats not based on their positions in government or seniority.
This has reportedly offended the Cabinet Minister, Elia who was seen on television walking out of the hall.
In response, the Co-Chair of the National Dialogue, Angelo Beda said the conference does not consider the status of individuals.
“I would like to apologize to Martin Elia –who walked out because he saw that we were not right in the protocol. Tell him that we are from the grassroots,” Beda said as the hall explodes into applause.
He said the dialogue is not about the leaders, but about the ordinary person’s desire for a better country.
“The National Dialogue is about going back to the grassroots to discuss and get their wisdom, and force you elites to implement them. We are calling on the elites to see how we are crying for what they have done –so that they can take our words seriously,” Beda added.
The conference was attended by other prominent leaders from the Equatoria region, including the Minister of Gender, Child and Social Welfare, Jemma Nunu, and all the State governors.
It is being chaired by Abel Alier, supported by the entire team of the National Dialogue Steering Committee.
The Equatoria regional conference was initially scheduled for August 19 but was postponed due to lack of space.
Two regional conferences -for Bahr el-Ghazal and Upper Nile have already been held in Juba at Freedom hall -ahead of the national conference.
Angelo Beda also told the delegates to openly express their grievances, and not withhold any views in the dialogue.
“What caused the war, why is there rebellion, what is happening, and how can it be solved; politically, administratively, security-wise, socially and otherwise?” he said.
According to President Salva Kiir, the National Dialogue initiative is meant to also discuss political, social and economic problems facing the country.
In May, the Upper Nile regional conference urged people from the region to shun violence and withdraw support from any leader who asks them to fight to settle political scores.
They also called for the review of oil contracts that were signed with oil companies before the independence of South Sudan.
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