South Sudan is preparing to celebrate what President Salva Kiir and Riek Machar have called the ‘final’ peace agreement on Wednesday, October 31.
Juba residents want a culture of peace at every level of society to avoid a return to violence.
Alfonso Albino, 32 is expecting a real political, social, economic and security change. He’s a member of ‘Salam Junub’ or Peaceful South Sudan, an entity that goes around Juba raising awareness about the need for peaceful co-existence amongst communities.
We expect that after the celebrations of Peace Day created by the government, things will return to normal and everything will change.
“We expect that after the celebrations of Peace Day created by the government, things will return to normal and everything will change”, Albino said.
For Juba resident John Ayom “this is a day when South Sudanese can come together, gather and reflect on why peace is so precious to all of us. Especially with our war history, you know. And we must start talking about and developing the culture of peace. And having this day is so important to achieve this culture of peace objective, you know, for this country of Southern Sudan”.
It is not clear whether Machar will attend the celebrations. On Friday, a spokesman for his group said in a statement “we are still waiting for the release of political detainees and prisoners of war.” Presidents of Sudan, Uganda and Kenya are expected to attend the celebration.
Machar was last in South Sudan in 2016, following his reinstatement as vice president under a short-lived peace deal agreed in 2015.
The East African country has been torn apart by an ethnic civil war since late 2013, two years after its independence.
This agreement aims to end years of civil war in Africa’s youngest state, which has claimed 400,000 lives, according to a study by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.
Earlier this week, the World Food Programme said violence in Southern Sudan is blocking the delivery of food aid badly needed to fight hunger in some areas.
It said this confirms that the peace agreement signed last month is not holding.