March 19, 2012 (JUBA) – Chiefs from the Lou-Nuer communities expressed their readiness on Sunday to handover their guns peacefully to the authorities as part of the comprehensive disarmament taking place in Jonglei State in response to insecurity, cattle raiding and tribal feuds.
- Vice President, Dr. Riek Machar, received by Lou-Nuer chiefs during his visit to their counties. March 18, 2012 (ST)
Last week South Sudan’s president, Salva Kiir Mayardit, launched the disarmament process in Jonglei state’s capital, Bor, and authorised the deployment of 15,000 troops and police to carry out the exercise.
Jonglei governor Kuol Manyang Juuk was the first to hand over his two rifles to the disarming forces commanders, Lt. Gen. Kuol Deim Kuol and Major General Peter Gatdet Yak. More than 4,000 illegally owned rifles have already been collected from the civilian population inside the state’s capital, and the disarmament is continuing in the other areas of Bor County.
On Sunday the country’s Vice President, Riek Machar Teny, visited Akobo County and Uror County, urging the Mor and Gon sections of the Lou-Nuer community to handover their guns peacefully and expeditiously.
Machar was accompanied to the Lou-Nuer counties by the state governor Kuol Manyang Juuk, national ministers in the security sector and state ministers and MPs from Jonglei State as well as the defence minister, John Kong Nyuon and the SPLA Chief of General Staff, James Hoth Mai.
According to the Vice President’s Press Secretary, James Gatdet Dak, chiefs from both sections of the Lou-Nuer community commended the deployment of the forces to collect the guns from the civilian population. The chief of Uror County was the first to hand over his PKM machine gun and all its ammunition to the Vice President, saying the rest of his people were also ready to hand their weapons over when the process begins.
The chiefs however, criticised the government for not protecting them after the previous two disarmament campaigns. The Luo Nuer say that they have been left vulnerable to attacks from the Murle tribe the last time they handed over their guns.
The Luo Nuer chiefs asked for assurances from the government to make sure that the Murle community is fully disarmed, claiming that many armed Murle men are not in their villages waiting to be disarmed but hiding in the bush to avoid the process.
Machar paid condolences to the people of Akobo for the last week’s attack by the Murle which, according to a report presented to the Vice President on Sunday by Akobo commissioner, Goi Jooyol, killed 303 people mainly women and children.
South Sudan’s Vice President assured that the army and police deployed all over Jonglei State will carry out the disarmament and will stay in Jonglei as long as it takes to make sure that all the communities are disarmed.
He urged all the communities of Jonglei state to learn to live together in peace and harmony as the same people of South Sudan.
“South Sudan is a nation of different tribes and should learn to interact peacefully and love one another,” he told them.
He told the chiefs to make sure that all the weapons each person or household illegally owns are handed over, warning them not to only handover one and keep the other hidden.
He also warned the civilian population against resorting to violence with the South Sudanese army (SPLA) and police urging them to cooperate in the disarmament process, which he said will eventually bring in development to the state.