By James innocent
Yei River County hosted a three-day stakeholder’s symposium on enhancing civic space in the region during the transitional period and post-elections.
The symposium brought together journalists, civil society activists, and security operatives to discuss ways of promoting open dialogue and cooperation among key stakeholders.
During the symposium, discussions centered around the challenges facing civic space in Yei River County, including issues related to freedom of expression, access to information, and security concerns.
Participants also explored strategies for building trust and strengthening partnerships between the media, civil society, and security forces in order to promote greater transparency, accountability, and citizen participation in democratic processes.
Sony Onyebula, UNMISS team leader in Yei River County’s human rights department, emphasizes the importance of media and security organs in facilitating smooth transitional processes and preparing for the upcoming 2024 elections.
“No one partner is more important than the other, every partner is equal, and every citizen is equal,” Sony said.
She urged the media to disseminate truthful and accurate information and avoid hate speech that could cause chaos.
Sony stated that security forces should also recognize the journalists’ work and provide them with space to do so.
“By working together, everyone can promote the transitional process in the country, ensuring that everyone is seen as a partner in the process.”
For his part, Reverend Fr. Simon Khemis, a civil society member in Yei River County said for the last three days, stakeholders discussed key areas for election credibility and fairness.
“We have been able to touch at least on the keynotes on what will make this election credible and fair.”
Lt. Col. Micheal Machar, the SSPDF civil-military officer for Greater Yei, underlined the importance of strengthening the relationship between security forces, media, and civil society, stating that this relationship is crucial for the security forces’ success.
“We in the institutions of the military have to strengthen the relationship because the civic space is important for the journalists and the civil society,” he said.
“So, this is very important, and we urge each and every person to adhere to this.”
The symposium addressed the issues causing mistrust between the media and the country’s security institutions.
Since the country is gearing up for its first general elections after independence, a lot is still at stake to make sure that the election process is successful, free, and fair.
Among key points include, the constitutional making process, the population census, the security reforms.
The training that was organized by the Centre for Democracy and Development (CEDED) with support from UNMISS, brought together over 30 participants from different institutions in the county mainly the journalists, civil society, and the security operatives in the county.