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Activists warn of "genocide" in S. Sudan’s Jonglei conflict

December 16, 2011 (JUBA) — The lack of political will to resolve the
persistent tribal conflict between the Murle and Luo Nuer communities
in South Sudan’s Jonglei state could spark an outbreak of "genocide"
in the region, activists have warned.

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Prof. Alfred Lokuji, a Juba university don speaking during the Murle/Luo Nuer briefing in Juba, December 15, 2011 (ST)

The caution emerged out of Thursday’s round table discussions on the
Luo Nuer and Murle conflict organized by Minority Rights Group
International and Boma Development Initiative in Juba, the South Sudan
capital.

Afred Lokuji, a Juba university don, who was the key presenter
at the occasion called for thorough investigations on the perpetrators
of the conflict, beyond mere reporting on the victim, mainly children
and women.

"The political feelings and passions that may have originated from the
war times could be one of the major causes of this conflict. [Thus]
Those reporting on the conflict in Jonglei state need to find more
details on the perpetrators rather than the victims," said Prof.
Lokuji.

He also blamed the weaknesses in the judiciary system, which he said
remains largely incapacitated to handle culprits suspected in the
conflict.

Lokuji, also described as “disastrous” South Sudan government’s
alleged failure to merge the traditional laws with the existing
constitution and statutory instrument, which he says exacerbated the
conflict.

Timothy Taban Juch, the Akobo South county lawmaker advocated for
widespread disarmament, and strongly denied reports that the conflict
in Jonglei is an instigation of politicians from the region.

"Let’s get the records straight," he said, adding that, “The conflict
between the Luo Nuer and the Murle is not a making of lawmakers as
many people have been saying. It’s a complex issue requiring strong
political will.”

Edmund Yakani, a civil society activist warned that disarming the
population in the two communities without taking into the account
their livelihood aspects would serve no purpose. He called for
empowerment of local government authorities as the most ideal remedy
towards handling community disputes.

At least 3,000 people, Jonglei state officials say, are believed to
have been killed in the ongoing inter-ethnic conflict in 2011 alone,
while the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
(OCHA) reported that about 2,500 people were killed in violent
conflicts in 2009 throughout the whole of South Sudan.

A recent briefing on, "Communities Perspectives on the Nuer/Murle
conflict in South Sudan" urges the UN mission in Africa’s newest
nation to strengthen its presence in the state and develop effective
monitoring mechanism to the conflict.

It further calls upon the judiciary and the police to carry out
effective investigations into all acts of violence and prosecute
perpetrators in accordance with the internationally accepted
standards.

Meanwhile, the highly anticipated Jonglei peace talk, which was
earmarked for Monday in Jonglei failed, according to a statement
issued by Ismail Konyi, the chairperson of the Murle mobilization
team. No reasons were, however, given for failure of the talks.

(ST)