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Panyinjiar communities in Uganda welcome new commissioner

By Bonifacio Taban Kuich

January 27, 2013 (KAMPALA) – Members of the Panyinjiar community from South Sudan’s Unity State, currently living in Uganda, have welcomed the recent appointment of Simon Choul Biel as their new commissioner.

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Unity State Governor Taban Deng Gai speaks to the media in Bentiu, November 15, 2011 (ST)

Biel, a lawmaker elected in 2010 to represent the county in the Unity state legislative assembly, became a commissioner through a decree issued by the state governor, Taban Deng Gai, last week.

In various interviews with Sudan Tribune in Kampala, the Panyinjiar community strongly backed the governor’s decision, with many expressing optimism for improvements in security. Nearly 500 people from Panyinjiar currently live in Uganda.

During a joint meeting held on Sunday in Kampala, Panyinjiar students from various colleges and universities urged the public to unite and promote peace, both locally and internationally.

The call comes amidst many disagreements and statements from area politicians, many of whom agitated for a move to partition the county. This, however, did not proceed as planned due to advice from elders and the introduction of austerity measures.

Sarah Nyabuath Majak, the chairlady of Panyinjiar community in Kampala said her association remains in full support of the new commissioner, whom she urged to implement what his predecessor failed to fulfill.

“We need our commissioner to have cooperation with people and walk around in areas affected by conflicts. He should [be] engaged in negotiating on border peace talks with Lake state authorities in order to [stop the] issue of cattle raiding through community dialogues between counties”, said Majak while addressing the students.

Peter Bangoang Yoak, a 22-year old student from the county currently studying in Uganda, called on politicians, both at state and national levels, to abandon the idea of splitting the county into two.

Yoak, in an interview with Sudan Tribune, urged those trying to create divisions within the county to revisit their agenda and instead focus on uniting people.

Panyinjiar county remains one of the most insecure parts of Unity state, often experiencing cattle raids from neighbouring Lake State. The over two-decades-long north-south Sudan civil war has also left thousands of illegal arms in the hands of civilians, posing a setback in efforts to maintain instability in the region.

Simon Chuol Bipal, an engineering student in Kampala, welcomed the appointment of the new commissioner, calling on communities abroad and in neighbouring East African countries to unite for development of the county.

Bipal urged the local government to “involve their hands” in settling unrest between Dinka and Nuer communities, saying the new commissioner “should cooperate with the state government in order to deploy more security forces to avoid [the] unnecessary death of people”.

Meanwhile, although some individuals remain unhappy about the dismissal of former commissioner Peter Gai Joak, critics insist his removal will have a positive impact on the deteriorating security situation in the county.

To-date, Panyinjiar County remains one of the poorest and least developed parts of Unity state. The area, despite South Sudan’s independence two years ago, still lacks a proper roads, a telecommunications network and basic health care services.

(ST)