June 20, 2012 (RUMBEK) - Lakes State has denied allegation by neighbouring Northern Bahr El Ghazal (NBEG) State that their citizens have been targeted when passing through the Lakes State by armed gangs of bandits and robbers.
Last week chiefs from Aweil, the capital of NBEG, visited Juba to complain of the dangers of passing along the Tonj-Rumbek road as many of their citizens had been killed in attacks.
On Wednesday Lakes State’s Minister of Information and Communication, Charles Badiri Mayen, responded by asking officials and chiefs from Aweil, not to accuse people of murder without evidence.
Those shot were "killed by unknown gunmen" shooting at moving vehicles. The bandits had no way of knowing where the victims were from, he said, adding that all efforts were bring made to capture "criminals".
Northern Bahr El Ghazal State called on June 17 for a peace and reconciliation conference with Lakes State but Mayen denied the problem was big enough to warrant talks.
He said that relations between Lakes and NBEG could not be compared with Rumbek’s issues with Warrap and Unity State. Cattle raiding and violence between groups in the three states is some of the worst in South Sudan.
"The authorities of the three states [Lakes, Warrap and Unity] are working out substantial measures to end such acts among our people” said Mayen.
“We are South Sudanese with one common enemy known to all of us”, Mayen said referring to Sudan, from which South Sudan seceded last year. Tensions are still very high between the two nations with many post-separation issues yet to be resolved.
Mayen pointed out that the incidents referred to by the Aweil chiefs occurred before a recent disarmament campaign in Lakes State.
"Lakes state is stable now in terms of security".
Lakes State’s government has long battled insecurity caused by cattle raids and looting along the roads carryout by unknown gunmen. Rumbek has promised to reduce the insecurity and embrace development across the state’s eight counties.