By Bonifacio Taban Kuich
September 14, 2012 (BENTIU) - Nine counties from South Sudan’s Lakes, Unity and Warrap state’s have vowed to bring an end to the cattle raiding between their communities after completing a two day peace conference in Unity State capital Bentiu on Wednesday.
- County commissioners from three states conducting a peace conference on cattle raiding in Unity State sponsored by the AECOM international with funding from USAID, 12 September 2012 (ST)
The commissioners and paramount chiefs of the nine counties, who are founders of the Wunlit peace initiative, discussed ways to eliminate cattle raiding, which is major security issue in South Sudan. It is especially common between the Dinka and Nuer communities that make up most of the population along the Lakes-Warrrap-Unity border areas.
Peter Gatloth Kiir Weal, a paramount chief from Unity State’s, Mayiandit County said that the two days conference between bordering counties would bring some changes between the communities.
Decade of civil war between South Sudanese rebels and the Khartoum government has left South Sudan, which became independent last the year, an unwanted legacy of large amounts of small arms in the hands of civilians across the young nation.
This has turned cattle raiding, into a far more dangerous practice in the past few decades than it was in the past, resulting in higher numbers of people injured and killed and consequently revenge attacks between rival ethnic groups.
Weal added that despite some perception cattle raiding was not just an issue among the Dinka an Nuer, two of South Sudan’s largest and most powerful tribes and urged South Sudanese to be peacefully and not covet the belongings of others.
“I believe God will help us and we hope that issue of cattle raiding could come to an end, let us ask God to pardon us through spirit of loving each other, all issues that face us during our time with Khartoum is already over and we want South Sudanese unity and to compare themselves like the rest of African countries”, said Weal.
It is hoped that bringing the nine Commissioners of the counties along the Lakes, Warrap and Unity borders progress can be made in stopping cross border raids.
Abraham Mayen Kuc, Commissioner of Rumbek Central County said, the meeting enabled the leaders to join hands to find immediate solutions to cattle raiding in South Sudan.
As part of the Wunlit peace process border courts and markets are being established to establish better relations and communications between groups, Kuc said.
Hundreds of people have been killed along the Warrap, Unity and Lakes border, which is one of the worst areas for cattle raiding in South Sudan, forcing the authorities in the three states to look for ways to eliminate the practice through peace building initiatives across the country in order to improve security in the new nation.
Cattle raiding not only affects counties which share borders with other counties but also Rumbek North and Rumbek Central, the area’s Commissioners told the conference.
Stephen Mathiang Deng, the Commissioner for Rumbek North called all the nine bordering counties to maintain peace as people from the same nation. Deng urged citizens from three states to respect rule of law.
“We are one government under Unity State, we are one under Lake state and under Warrap so they need to know if we are one government there is no reason of cattle raiding, there is no reason of killing because there is no point of killing ourselves, and I’m assuring them if you think of getting cattle from Unity state, there will be nowhere you will keep them, we must see to it, we have return to the looted or stolen cattle to the rightful owners whether from Warrap, Lakes or from Unity”, Deng added.
The acting Chairman of the the SPLM - South Sudan’s ruling party - in Unity State, Samuel Lony Geng welcomed the initaitive to bring together the authorities from the three states to find ways to stopped cattle raiding.
Geng expressed hope that new strategies will be developed to improve on cross border relations that will have real impacts the security of communities.
Leaders from Yirol East, Rumbek East, Rumbek Central, Cuibet counties in Lakes state, and their counterparts from Payinjiar, Mayiandit, and Koch counties in Unity state, as well as those from Tonj East from Warap state. All agreed to work to end the practice.
The conference was facilitated by ACOEM International and funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).