A marathon race event was held in Juba on 9 March, organized by the Grand Debaters and supported by the Government of Japan, to create awareness and to sensitize citizens on the National Dialogue and the Revitalized Peace Agreement.
Also supporting the Peace Marathon event was the National Pre-Transitional Committee (NPTC), South Sudan National Dialogue Steering Committee, UNMISS, and UNDP.
The running event included a short run for VIPs, a five-kilometre run and ten kilometres “marathon”. All races started and ended at Dr. John Garang Mausoleum.
Grand Debaters Executive Director Philip Malaak commended UNDP for facilitating the event and called on all stakeholders to join Japan in supporting peace in South Sudan through grassroots initiatives.
“The role of citizens in the National Dialogue process and the implementation of the revitalized peace agreement cannot be overemphasized. It is our view that the citizen can do more. They have a vested interest in the success of their country. They can advocate, they can hold leaders accountable to the letter and spirit of the revitalized peace agreement. That is why UNDP is working with other stakeholders to sensitize communities, especially women and youth, on the content of the revitalized Agreement and the role of the citizen in the process. It is from this starting point that every person in South Sudan can find their voice, choose their peaceful tactics, and engage in the process leading their country into the future,” said UNDP’s project manager Judy Wakahiu, at the launch event of the marathon during a ceremony at the Ambassador of Japan in South Sudan’s Residence.
“This event is a highly important imitative for all peace partners as we unite to raise awareness on the revitalized peace agreement through this marathon. UNMISS is your partner for peace. We are here to support the peace process in line with our mandate. The signing of the agreement injected fresh hope in the hearts of the people of South Sudan,” said UNMISS Civil Affairs Director Guang Cong, as he urged all parties to the agreement to unite.
UNDP, with support from the Government of Japan and other stakeholders, is supporting citizen-driven peace processes in South Sudan, including the National Dialogue, which has thus far conducted over 200 grassroots consultations drawing participation from more than 20,000 people.
“It’s time now for young people to play effective roles to see that peace is maintained,” said National Dialogue Steering Committee Representative Hon. Betty Achan. “The National Dialogue is about building trust among the South Sudanese people by getting to know one other. Both processes are important and complement each other.”
“This event glorifies the peace that all of us as political leaders and South Sudanese committed ourselves to on 12 September 2018. What we are doing now is disseminating the agreement to the people so that they understand the content of that agreement,” said NPTC representative Hon. Gabriel Changson Chan. Copies of the R-ARCSS were distributed at the conclusion of the races on Saturday.
Ambassador of Japan in South Sudan, H.E Seiji Okada, emphasized: “There are many important processes happening in South Sudan: the implementation of the peace agreement through NPTC and, the other important movement, the National Dialogue. Japan is happy to be working together on the implementation of the peace process in South Sudan.”
He further explained Japan’s commitment “to support this peace process and the National Dialogue”, as well as the agricultural and education sectors, and recovery and economic prosperity in the long-term.