More than 20 months of armed conflict has ravaged South Sudan, killing more than 10,000 people and forcing millions to flee their homes.
Speaking at St. Theresa Cathedral Church in Juba, Catholic Auxiliary Bishop Santo Loku Pio blamed South Sudanese politicians, saying they were collectively responsible for dragging the nation into war.
Don’t use the privileges of the country’s uniform to devastate the nation.”
“Don’t join politics to oppress others and don’t use the privileges of the country’s uniform to devastate the nation,” he said.
“Many of you are generals because you have killed and committed many crimes but not because you do something good to protect the nation,” the Bishop added.
He fired criticism at President Salva Kiir and rebel leader and former Vice-President Riek Machar, saying they should fully commit to resolving the crisis, and encourage their troops to do the same.
“As we all know, unrest and insecurity are major factors in holding back development, and this requires leaders of all ranks in the country to be active in promoting the people’s well-being,” he said.
As a religious leader, Bishop Loku said he would continue to work to ease people’s deep suffering while assisting the country’s leaders to become aware of the role they should play in caring for the population.
As we all know, unrest and insecurity are major factors in holding back development.”
Bishop Loku said leaders should actively combat poverty and end what he called South Sudan’s “paradox” of a country rich in resources but with extreme poverty and widespread food shortages.
He urged all organised forces in the country to respect human rights at all cost. “Many people are now in prison with charges against them. Why are you sponsoring arbitrary arrest against innocent people?” he asked.
Bishop Loku also criticised the SPLA’s high military command in Juba and those in opposition with Riek Machar for widespread recruitment and use of children as soldiers.
Information recently received by the UN shows that new recruits, both adults and children, continue to be deployed in the front lines, more recently in Upper Nile, Jonglei, and Unity states respectively.
Bishop Santo Loku has made a name for himself, often expressing frank comments about the failings of the government and opposition forces led by Riek Machar, since conflict started in South Sudan in December 2013.