[Anglican Communion News Service] The president of South Sudan has appointed the archbishop of the Episcopal Church of Sudan to chair the national reconciliation committee “trying to heal the mental wounds”’ in the world’s newest nation after 40 years of war.
Archbishop Daniel Deng Bul was appointed by Salva Kiir, who was facing many questions from the public and the media about why the he had earlier suspended the “much-needed” national reconciliation process.
The committee will launch a national campaign for reconciliation coordinated over the next four to five years by the Office of President and the South Sudan Peace and Reconciliation Commission.
“The appointment of a church leader to lead the process of reconciliation is not a new thing for the church,” Deng told ACNS. “The Church is a reconciler: we are an independent body and not government and hence the right organization to spearhead this process.”
Responding to the proposed time-frame of four to five years, the archbishop said, “Reconciliation is an ongoing process and until everyone is able to live together in peace, there is no telling when the process will end.”
The archbishop is not a newcomer to peace building and reconciliation. This is the second time the president has appointed him to a reconciliation process. The first was his appointment to chair a similar process among the tribes in his home state of Jonglei, last year.
Meanwhile, Bishop Anthony Poggo of the Diocese of Kajo Keji in South Sudan was delighted by the appointment. “This is a vote of confidence in the church and the Body of Christ since the committee represents many denominations and religions,” he said. “Reconciliation is the core business of the church. Christ came so that he could reconcile human beings to God. [Therefore] the church’s desire is to see peace prevailing.”
Manasseh Zindo is the program coordinator for Peacebuilding at Finn Church Aid (FCA) in South Sudan and a member of the Sudan Council of Churches (SCC). He is also a nominee to the national reconciliation committee.
“Since the beginning of the process I held the view that a church leader would be better placed to lead the progress and I still hold the same view,” he said. “It’s an open secret in South Sudan that the church has been involved in processes like these in the past and that almost all South Sudanese trust the church. Peace practitioners in South Sudan hold the view that the church would manage to rally South Sudanese behind any process leading to a genuine journey of healing for national reconciliation.”
The South Sudanese state of Jonglei, has witnessed two major rebellions since the independence of South Sudan in July 2011. Zindo hopes that in the next five years of the reconciliation process, “we will manage to rally all South Sudanese into the mood of healing for a national reconciliation. South Sudan will only be able to experience genuine reconciliation, true healing and a lasting peace in the country if the leadership of reconciliation process is accepted by the nation as a whole.”