March 15, 2014 (RUMBEK) – Pakam community elders from Rumbek North’s Maper county in Lakes state held a meeting in the South Sudan capital, Juba, on Friday following the outbreak of inter-clan clashes in the region.
Pakam leaders have urged youths in Rumbek North to immediately disengage from clashes, calling on pastoralist youths to apologise to each another without precondition.
The meeting, which was chaired by Pakam elders Peter Muoranyar Biet and Daniel Deng Monydit, who represents Rumbek North in the national parliament, was called as part of efforts to calm tensions in the area.
Biet said the region’s youth must live together as one community and not resort to violence to solve their problems.
Tensions flared at the Yhaga cattle camp between members of the Gaak and Manuer sub-clans last week reportedly over a dispute about a girl.
Nine people were killed during the clashes, with another four admitted to hospital for treatment after suffering gunshot wounds.
Rumbek North MP Marik Nanga Marik later described the incident as “regrettable”.
According to Monydit, last week’s clashes marked the first time youth pastoralists from the Gaak and Manuer sub-clans had turned on each other.
Inter-clan clashes have intensified in Lakes state over the past week, with 34 people reportedly killed and more than 20 people injured after violence broke out at a remote cattle camp at Wunthou in Tiaptiap payam (district) about 80km from Cueibet.
Sticks and firearms were used during the clashes between the Waat and Panyar clans of the Dinka Gok tribe, with a dispute about a girl also blamed for triggering the incident.
Cueibet MP Veronica Ujuma Philip Dak said state authorities had failed to step in to quell worsening tribal tensions.
A delegation composed of state lawmakers representing Cueibet in Lakes state parliament is due to visit Tiaptiap, Pagor and Wunthou to assess the situation on the ground in a bid to end the cycle of revenge clashes.
However, community leaders have called on Lakes state members of parliament to urgently speed up reconciliation efforts in Rumbek North before the situation deteriorates further.
On Thursday, South Sudan’s ruling party (SPLM) acting secretary general Anne Itto made a surprise visit to the Lakes state capital, Rumbek, amid rising tensions in the region.
As part of her visit, Itto held separate meetings with two senior state officials, including caretaker governor Maj. Gen Matur Chut Dhuol and SPLM state secretary Mabor Ater Dhuol.
Lakes state authorities have become increasingly isolated since governor Dhuol took over after his elected predecessor was removed last year.
Traditional chiefs, students and activists have called on president Salva Kiir to remove Dhuol, but public demands have so far been overlooked. Under South Sudan’s constitution, an election should be held within 90 days, in the event that the president removes a governor from office.
However, in the three states where governors were removed last year this has yet to occur.