S. Sudan hopes to use national unity day to rally for peace

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JUBA,  A South Sudanese senior official said on Wednesday that they hope the upcoming National Unity Day (NUD) will help create purpose of unity in the war-torn country. 
Nadia Arop, the Minister for Youth, Sports and Culture said the third annual NUD will fall on January 27 and will be led by the First Vice President Taban Deng Gai in a bid to achieve unity and togetherness in the country that has been hit hard by four years of violence. 
"The previous events were successful and this upcoming event will be led by the First Vice President to help bring peace and social cohesion. If we are talking of peace it means we can take sports as a tool to achieve peace in this country," she told journalists in Juba. 
Arop added that NUD under the theme "Sport for peace and social cohesion" is a symbol of unity and peace and it aims to make contribution to lasting peace in South Sudan since its launch in 2015. 
Meanwhile, NUD coordinator Taban Koma said they believe the event will transcend beyond tribal, political and cultural differences that are splitting South Sudanese at the moment with continued intermittent fighting between the various opposition groups and the government. 
"We are hoping that this event provides the people of South Sudan with an opportunity to appreciate the diversity of South Sudan to be inspired by the sportsmanship and fine play by the youth and to reaffirm commitment to bring peace to South Sudan," Koma added. 
He also disclosed that they aim to bring youth from across South Sudan to Juba that will help them to get to know each other during the nine day-program. 
South Sudan descended into violence in December 2013 after political dispute between President Salva Kiir and his former deputy turned rebel chief Riek Machar led to split within the SPLA, leaving soldiers to fight alongside ethnic lines. 
The 2015 peace agreement to end the conflict was weakened after outbreak of renewed fighting in July 2016 caused the SPLA-in opposition rebel leader Machar to flee the capital. 
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