April 4, 2014 (RUMBEK) – A group of 57 lawmakers have launched a reconciliation process in a bid to quell inter-clan clashes in South Sudan’s Lakes state as calls grow for the governor to resign.
A team of lawmakers from the nation’s capital, Juba, joined state MPs in Cueibet county where about 50 people were killed last week in clashes between the Panyar and Waat at Tiatiap payam (district).
Pastoralist youths, however, have rejected the efforts of lawmakers, demanding that Lakes state’s military caretaker governor Maj-Gen Matur Chut Dhuol be removed.
Dhuol has been accused of intimidation and of imposing harsh security measures since his appointment 14 months ago after elected governor Chol Tong Mayay was removed by presidential decree.
Lakes state minister of information and communication Marik Nanga Marik said that lawmakers are stepping up efforts to reconcile warring factions, which has led to an escalation in violence in the region.
“People die everyday; in the morning you can hear [a] person is killed and in the evening you can hear [a] person is killed - so the lawmakers say we must try to bring peace and restore trust to those clans in Lakes state to have stability although they mistrusted their caretaker governor,” he said.
Marik said the initiative was aimed at delivering a message of peace and reconciliation. to affected communities.
Following their two-day visit to Cueibet, MPs are expected to travel to Rumbek North, Rumbek East, Rumbek Central, Yirol West, Yirol East and Wulu counties.
Of those only Wulu, where no insecurity has been reported, is considered peaceful.
Lakes state civil societies, students and traditional chiefs have demanded that a special court be established to bring those suspected of tribal revenge killings to justice, however, the state government has so far ignored the demand.
However, Marik said efforts were underway to investigate and solve murder cases, as well as speed up trials.
Insecurity has been on the rise in Lakes state over the past week, with dozens of people killed in cattle raids and inter-clan clashes.
On 10 March, a dispute over a girl reportedly triggered fighting at the Yhaga cattle camp between members of the Gaak and Manuer sub-clans of the Dinka ethnic group.
Community and traditional leaders in Lakes’ state’s Rumbek North county subsequently convened a special reconciliation meeting last month aimed at easing tensions between the to ease tensions between the two clans, in which parties resolved to work together for “stability and togetherness as brothers”.
Police insist that young people and the wider public refuse to share information with them, blaming the poor relationship between the administration and the people of Lakes state.
Under South Sudan’s constitution, an election should be held within 90 days should the president remove a governor. However, this has yet to occur in the country’s three states where governors were removed last year.
Meanwhile, in a communique issued on 31 March, Lakes state’s administration condemned the outbreak of violence in mid-December last year, which has plunged the country into crisis, reiterating its support for the Salva Kiir-led government.
The seven-point document urges rebel forces aligned with former vice-president to reconsider their position and allow the country to move forward and “embrace [a] peaceful solution to the destructive conflict”.
It further appealed to the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), which is mediating peace talks, to uphold the rule of law and legitimacy of the elected government, urging the international community to “nurse” the young nation through the crisis.
Leaders also called for a collective response to help address sectional fighting across Lakes states and neighbouring regions.