Home | News    Monday 11 May 2009

Jonglei state starts intertribal reconciliation talks

By Thon Philip Aleu

May 10, 2009 (BOR) – The long awaited peace and reconciliation conference for Uror, Duk, Nyirol, Ayod and Twic East Counties kicked-off today Sunday in Jonglei capital Bor with calls of permanent agreement.

JPEG - 21.1 kb
From left: (seated) – Peace advisor John Jock Chol, Former Gov. Philip Thon Leek, Governor Kuol Manyang Juuk, Deputy Gov. Hussein Mar Nyuot and Speaker Jodi Jonglei Boyoris (photo Philip Thon)

Jonglei Governor Kuol Manyang Juuk called on local leaders to reach an agreement that would challenge "enemies of peace."

The five counties represent two major tribes in Jonglei State – Nuer and Dinka Bor and though, reconciling them would mean a significant breakthrough in solving the tribal conflicts.

The peace conference, proposed by Jonglei State in collaboration with Pact Sudan, is facilitated by Reconcile International. Communities’ chiefs, Commissioners of the various Counties, Parliamentarians from Jonglei State, South Sudan and National levels as well as UN agencies are attending the 5-day talks at Dr. John Garang de Mabior Institute of Science and Technology.

The chairman, peace organizing committee Mr. John Jock Chol who is also the State advisor for peace and development challenges the Counties’ delegates to make history for the time to love one-another has come.

"The best time to love is now….because you don’t know how long you will have the opportunity," Chol said.

"A peaceful world is the greatest heritage that this generation can give to the generation to come," he said adding "to make this precious inheritance a reality, men and women of good-will must work together to make Jonglei a better state."

Tribal relationships twisted rough after the signing of the Sudan’s Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) between former rebel SPLM and the government of Sudan in 2005. Thousands of people lost their lives as the result of ethnic conflicts.

With six difference tribes of Nuer, Dinka, Murle, Anyuak, Kachipo and Jie inhabiting Jonglei, the State has suffered severely from cattle raiding, child abduction and competition over grazing lands in the last four years of peace but worsens in 2009.

Duk County and Lou Nuer Counties of Uror and Nyirol in particular have unstable bounds especially after the latest attack on a business car near Poktap in Duk County on January 11, 2009 where more than five people were killed.


But do politicians complicate intertribal conflicts? Hon. Peter Gatkuoth Duop, Uror and Nyirol member of parliament, South Sudan Legislative Assembly denies political role in the ethnic contest.

"It’s not necessary to politicize this condition…for Uror and Duk Counties are one community," he said. Both sides should be committed to end this conflict, he stressed.

Former Governor Philip Thon Leek, Sudan’s Minister of transport, roads and bridges Government of National Unity (GoNU), who hails from Duk County and having a blood relationship with Lou Nuer community, says "it’s shocking to hear of conflict between these communities [for] we are mixed."

Like fellow peace seekers, Mr. Leek urged the communities to forgive the pain caused by 1991 clashes. The 1991 Nuer and Dinka Bor conflict followed a split of SPLM in that year. Thousands of people lost their lives as many more properties were destroyed.

With the historical 2005 peace accord, Jonglei state is yet to end years of misery but "we must agree," he argued. "The ultimate aim is to agree. We have agreed with the north, why not among ourselves? Why do we die when there is peace?" Leek wondered.

Minister Philip Thon Leek was removed from Jonglei Governorship in December, 2007 in a move thought to have come at a climax of tribal hostilities. Much as 2008 was generally peace - the first year of Governor Kuol Manyang, the real peak of tribal contest appears to be 2009 where over 1,000 people died in the first quarter of the year.

Jonglei sought forceful disarmament and deployment of South Sudan army between tribes but Juba is yet to respond to the demand of state call for more troops. In 2006, Lou Nuer Counties were forcefully disarmed leaving them vulnerable to surrounding the communities.

Jonglei must make peace, Gov. Kuol said at the opening ceremony today giving a huge responsibility to chiefs and areas representatives.

"The responsibility of chiefs and intellectuals is to ensure that their people leave in peace. That is number one," he said. If Jonglei don’t make peace, Mr. Manyang says, "Who will make it for us?"

Without mentioning any particular group, Gov. Kuol said: "The enemies of peace want to fight and continue killing ourselves. We must reject that." By saying "we must reject that," the Governor refers to those who supply ammunitions for feeding AK-47 that remains at the hands of civilians following 21 years of South-north conflict.

Counties leaders will now discuss the ways to share resources mainly in dry-season, grazing lands and hatred among tribes worsened by possession of arms. Without doubt, disarmament is going to be an issue to discuss.