By Bonifacio Taban Kuich
February 13, 2013 (BENTIU) – The commissioner of Mayiandit county in South Sudan’s Unity state has urged communities that signed the 2002 peace initiative to adopt the spirit of nationalism, seen as a remedy to the rampant threat posed by cattle rustling.
In an interview with Sudan Tribune on Wednesday, Gideon Gatpan Thoar said the government should put in place joint inter-state border patrols to maintain peace and security in territories within the young nation.
“We have to step up efforts through transparent communication, in order to successfully maintain peace in our regions. We need a supportive patrolling system for our security forces to make sure they don’t allow pockets [of] arms in criminals’ hideouts”, he said.
Since it attained independence in July 2011, South Sudan’s path to development has been shaky. Absence of proper roads, for instance, have hindered efforts by security forces to protect civilians affected by cattle raids in various parts of the country.
After decades of civil war with neighbouring Sudan, several arms have also remained in the hands of local people, with subsequent disarmament exercises aimed at recovering such weapons proving less successful.
Last week, Lakes state authorities in collaboration with their counterparts in neighbouring Unity state, initiated a move in which they claimed more than 300 head of cattle, raided from Lakes last year, were recovered and returned to their rightful owners.
However, Unity state officials claim only 57 animals were recovered in the process, dismissing numbers indicated by Lakes state authorities.
During the interview, Thoar urged other communities in South Sudan to embrace such collaborative efforts with neighbouring states, which he says will minimise threats posed by cattle raids.
“We need to behave as citizens of one nation, citizens rather than bringing division on tribal line bases,” he stressed.