Victims of ethnic violence in Jonglei state in South Sudan wait in line at the World Food Program distribution center in Pibor to receive emergency food rations, last week., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
Sunday 29 April 2012
Jonglei Peace: Communities give conditions for reconciliation
April 27, 2012 (BOR) – Jonglei State’s communities outlined a set of conditions for the peaceful resolution of conflicts amongst their warring ethnic groups; including the return of abducted children and compensation for losses including those killed.
The resolutions were made at four meetings being held in Bor, Ayod, Waat and Pibor towns ahead of a joint peace conference scheduled for next week in Bor, the capital of Jonglei.
South Sudan President Salva Kiir appointed a 23-member Presidential Peace Committee following the peak of ethnic violence in December and January to mediate and find solutions to the fighting.
In 2011 conflict over resources, cattle, abductions, raids and counters between the Lou Nuer, Bor and Murle led to the death of over 1,000 people. In December and January the violence peaked when 6,000 armed Luo Nuer men entered Pibor County the home of the Murle tribe.
The assault and the counterattacks by the Murle displaced over 100,000 others according to the UN.
Jonglei State’s eleven counties have been grouped into four regions for the sake of the exercise; Greater Bor, Greater Fangak, Greater Pibor and Greater Akobo.
At the greater Bor meeting in Bor, traditional leaders and members of parliament outlined the conditions under which they would accept peace with the Murle.
Bor County says 276 children have been abducted by Murle since the Comprehensive Peace Agreement was signed in 2005 as well as killing of 730 people.
Alongside the peace process a disarmament campaign has been taking place but had met resistance from some groups who fled to Ethiopia to avoid handing over their weapons.
“After disarmament, we lost seven people in Murle attacks on our villages,” Maker Lual, the Commissioner of Bor County said.
The are claims that some cattle were raided from at Kolnyang Payam [district] on Friday 27 April, while the meeting was occurring in Bor.
Commissioner Maker said that alongside returning of children, the Murle should also pay for the people killed in blood compensation, arrest those suspected of committing crimes and return all of the cattle that had been looted.
In a meeting in Pibor, a source told Sudan Tribune that the Anyuak, Jie, Kachipo and Murle agreed to peace provided that the government “make assurance[s] for security", which been one of the sticking points over disarmament.
They also demanded that "mobile police" be created between the communities.
Pibor County’s press secretary said that all communities in greater Pibor found the “Murle guilty” for causing local internal unrest but pointed out the the Murle had also suffered from cattle raids and child abductions. He also called for children to be returned.
There was no immediate response from Waat and Ayod for confirmation on what leaders there demanded as a condition for peace with neighbours.
Experts say calls for children to be returned to their families could top the list.
Confusion over leadership roles between traditional and political leaders, loss of cultural values, unemployment, separation of church from the state were listed in Bor as some of issues causing insecurity.
Participants remained divided on the approach to achieve peace in Jonglei. Traditional chiefs say lack of justice and holding suspected criminals to account contributed to failures of past agreements.
Some political leaders say the government of the Republic of South Sudan is yet to understand the problem of Jonglei State and calls for greater action to restore peace including developmental projects and building of roads.
Jonglei State has a notoriously bad road network and communities often live in isolation of each other, the leader said, making themselves strangers for themselves. Poor infrastructure also makes it hard for police and the army to respond to incidents.
The Presidential Peace Committee is headed by Archibishop Daniel Deng and all members appointed by the President are intellectuals prompting criticism from local leaders that the peace process could ultimately be fruitless like other agreements have in the past.