May 13, 14 (BOR) – The citizens and residents of Bor town in South Sudan’s troubled Jonglei state have given a mixed reaction to the peace initiative between the government of president Salva Kiir and the rebels led by Riek Machar.
- Panchol Deng Akol, speaking to press in Bor town on Tuesday 13 May 2014 (ST)
On Friday Kiir Machar met for the first time fighting began in December and agreed on the cessations of hostilities, in what could be a major step in ending the conflict, which ha killed thousands and forced over a million to flee there homes.
Panchol Deng Akol, from Makuach payam [district] of Bor County, congratulated the president and the rebel leader for their pledges to cessations of hostilities and re-commitment to negotiate a peaceful solutions to the conflict in South Sudan.
"Congratulations to the president for having involved himself in the peaceful process to end the conflict. This is good to serve the lives of innocent people of South Sudan who are suffering now”, said Deng, who is in his fifties, on Tuesday in Bor.
Deng said he has not left Bor, which has changed hands four times during the conflict, either taking refuge at the United Nations base or hiding just across the White Nile River where he could not be seen.
"People are suffering in Guol-yar (Mingkaman), houses had fallen, and all the villages went busy, no body in his or her farm here in Bor County, all these happened because of the war”, he continued.
- A destroyed part of Bor market. 13 May 2014 (ST)
Over half of South Sudan’s population are in need of aid and there are fears of a famine if people to not return to their areas to plant their crops.
Another man, who is common known by his nicked name Gum-boot, expressed his doubts about the commitment of the two sides to the ceasefire. He also questioned the effectiveness of the negotiations if they do involve elders, women and youth representatives from all corners of South Sudan either affected or not affected by the war.
"Yes, cessation of hostilities signed by the president and Riek Machar is good but not enough to grantee us any peaceful solution to this problem. There are those elders, chiefs, women and youth plus highly respected people from all over South Sudan- should be collected and brought to one places. Rebels should bring those in their areas and the government has to bring those people in the government areas, these people are the ones dying in the war, their sons and daughters are the ones being killed. Give them a chance to challenge themselves, disagree till they agree to end the war”, said Gumboot in Bor.
"If youth don’t participate in the war, Riek Machar would not have forces to attack the government, he can easily surrender himself. Youth and their parents are the problems."
Some youth said they had “no mercy” on the rebel fighters to enter peaceful negotiations.
“If I am the one in charge of South Sudan today, I wouldn’t agree to anything to do with peace, let us fight because Riek Machar chose to”, said a man while paying Dominoes in Bor.
Another person blamed the rebel leader Riek Machar for killing the people for which he wanted to lead.
“All the elders both women and men were all killed. Children were killed with their mothers. All these happened because of one person who wanted to rule us, but why do you create war to kill your people whom you want to lead”, said the man who declined to give his name.
"When you want to have a coup, you only do it in the barracks, even those soldiers who surrender should not be killed. But his plans were different, his fighters targeted children, women and elderly. His problem should be treated with seriousness", he added.
Both sides have been accused of committing war crimes during the conflict. Machar has denied staging a coup attempt and says he was forced to go into rebellion after his life was threatened during the clashes in mid-December.
JONGLEI GOVERNMENT REACTION
The government of Jonglei state released a written communiqué, congratulating president Kiir and Machar for signing the cessations of hostilities deal in Addis Ababa last Friday and immediately ordered the army generals in Jonglei to remain in defensive positions in the areas they controlled.
President Kiir, who is also the Commander in Chief of the South Sudan armed forces, issued orders last week to his generals to stop engaging the rebels. The orders also instructed the army to remain in their positions to allow the peaceful negotiations to continue in Addis Ababa.
According to the Jonglei information and communication minister, Jody Jonglei, the government also signed a final peace deal with the rebels led by David Yauyau who defected four years ago besides signing of the cessations of hostiles with the Riek Machar on the same day.