December 8, 2016 (JUBA) - The Governor of South Sudan’s Yei River state has assembled a team comprising of religious and prominent community leaders to negotiate with armed dissidents in the area.
- Governor David Lokonga Moses speaks to the press in Yei May 31, 2016 (ST)
David Moses Lonkonga announced this on the state-owned SSBC that the team will comprise of representatives of different faith based groups, academic community and from non-governmental organizations with contacts with the parties involved in the conflict.
“The core negotiating team will partake in creating a negotiating position, and report to the government on the negotiation process with the armed dissident groups in the area,” the statement reads in part.
Lokonga, also claimed the state was relatively calm in recent days because of security measures his leadership put in place for peace.
Some of the measures taken in the area, he said, included arresting and punishing those members of the security forces found to be looting or harassing civilians and government has formed a para-military force comprising of military and civil police, the fire brigade unit as well as the wildlife unit to help patrol the streets of Yei town.
“Soldiers in plain clothes roaming the town with firearms are more criminal than those in military uniforms,” further stressed the governor.
The official made these remarks during a visit to Yei by teams representing the United Nations and the Ceasefire and Transitional Security Arrangement Monitoring Mechanism (CTSAMM) respectively.
According to Jacob Aligo, Yei’s minister of physical infrastructure, residents of the newly-created state are yearning for peace, which would allow the displaced people to safely return to their homes.
“Thousands of civilians are trapped in the bushes without food, shelter and medical care,” he said.
Muki Batali Buli, an advisor to Yei River state governor, said that the major challenge in bringing lasting peace is the inability of relevant stakeholders to make contact with leaders of the armed groups.
Buli said that continued dialogue would help chat a new page, de-escalate tensions and build confidence and trust in the community.
“We also have to talk to our own soldiers to stop harming civilians, so that the soldiers will help restore hope to the people and reduce the soaring mistrust between them,” he said.
Dan Lizzul, a member of CTSAMM, said all armed forces in the country must respect international humanitarian and human rights laws during combat.
“Professional armies fight only other professional armies. They do not attack, rape or harass civilians,” he stressed.
The armed opposition’s earlier claims of being in control of Yei River state was dismissed by pro-government forces loyal to President Salva Kiir.